First up, the photo . . .
That’s a photo of a chicken at a Bread and Breakfast we stayed at. I had to look them up, and figure out what type they were . . . but now I can’t be bothered. I leave it to the reader to hunt down the breed (and if not, obviously it’s not as important as just looking at the photo).
And now, the Flash Fiction. Well, once again, it’s not exactly flash . . . 2,200 or so words. Them be a lot of words for people to read. Almost sounds like hard work.
But you know what? Once again, I’m proud of what I wrote. Perhaps you, the reader, might find it to your liking, and a worthwhile read.
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright March 2013
Sam slammed the door shut on the way out. The sound of it closing, finding herself looking at the empty corridor of the apartment building, the sudden quiet after the loud argument . . . all of it overwhelmed her, and she started to cry.
She hated herself for it; she was stronger than this, but sometimes it felt as if the world wanted no part of her. For not the first time, the thought crossed her mind the world might be better off without her in it. It was not a serious thought; more of an “I’ll show them!” impulse she would never consider following through on. “Too rational for that!” Sam thought with a touch of irony.
She could not stay out here in the hallway, but she had not grabbed her wallet, and no way was she going back in. The five miles walk to one of her few friends was out of the question with the snow storm raging outside.
She heard the stair’s door open and quickly wiped away her tears. Probably one of her nosy, judgmental neighbors. She could not just stand there and suffer their stares; she decided to head to the basement’s storage areas. Sam headed toward the door, determined to hold the stare of whatever old bitty had just returned home.
Bill stepped onto the worn carpet and started toward his apartment. The girl from a couple of doors down was coming the other way. Flattening against the wall, Bill held his grocery bags along it so she could pass.
He tried not meeting her eyes, but could not help notice she had been crying . . . again. She went by, and he peeled off the wall, resuming walking to his apartment.
“Are you OK?” Bill was as surprised as she looked at hearing his voice ask the question. He had not meant to speak but had reacted to her obvious distress. Having asked, he hoped she would ignore the question and continue on her way.
Samantha did not know his name and, like most teens, was not good at judging the age of older people; he was older, but not ancient, so that put him somewhere in the early 30’s to late 40’s. A big guy, very muscular, with a rough look that did not match his eyes. He had looked away when she defiantly met his gaze, just before he drew to the side to let her pass.
His question stopped her. It sounded rough, but the words themselves did not. She meant to reply with the standard “I’m fine, thanks”, but that’s not what she said. She answered with a “No”, and then stood there, shaking, not knowing what to do.
“Damn!” . . . when will he learn to shut up! Now what? She stood shaking, her eyes focused somewhere near the vicinity of his shoes. It took only a split second for Bill to make up his mind.
“Here,” he said, handing her one of the shopping bags, “come with me.”
Samantha grabbed the bag out of reflex as the man turned and walked down the hall. Her instinct was to go hide someplace, but she still held his bag. He was already opening his door when Samantha went after him. She was just going to hand him the bag and walk away.
By the time she reached the door of his apartment, he had put his bag on the counter, and was walking toward the back, removing his coat.
Hesitantly, she stepped in and slowly walked to the counter. “Hey, mister,” she spoke loudly, not knowing where he was, “I’m just going to leave this here, and go.”
The sound of the door closing behind her made her jump. He had walked around the other side of the center wall and had closed the door, locking it. Samantha did not know what to do. No one knew she was here, and he was walking toward her. He did not look friendly.
“Let me take that,” he said, grabbing the bag, and walking past her. “Do you want anything to drink?” He put the bag on the counter, next to the other one, and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. When she did not answer, he shrugged and closed the fridge door.
Samantha eyed the apartment door as he made his way to the sofa. As he plopped on it, she casually wondered how it had not snapped in two. He unscrewed the top, took a drink, and pointed to the recliner.
“Have a seat.”
To Samantha, it sounded like a command and she considered making a run for it. Would she be able to unlock the door before he reached her?
Bill was out of his league. He should not have done this. Christ! But, having started it, he meant to go through with it.
He had tried sounding casual when speaking to her but knew how even his calm demeanor and voice came across to others. He was now trying to look friendly but wore it like a bad suit. “I probably look like a creep,” he thought.
The girl was leaning slightly toward the door. “Run!” he thought, “Run before . . . “
They both turned to stare at the door as they heard a key in the lock.
Samantha had made the decision; she was going to make a run for it. She tensed slightly, and . . . was that a key in the door?!
She looked at the man on the sofa, and then at the opening door.
Two guys, long leather coats draped over their arm, entered the room. She could see the tattoos on their necks and forearms. “How the heck does one wear short sleeves in winter?” was her first thought. Her second thought was “I’m in trouble.”
The two guys looked like bikers. Rough bikers. Samantha considered screaming. “That would just piss them off,” she thought.
The two men looked up and down at her, then over at the sofa. She followed their gaze. The man on the sofa nodded. She looked back at the two men still at the apartment door. They nodded back, and one turned to close the door.
“Hey, Bill,” spoke one of the men, laying the coat over the chair. Walking up to Samantha, he continued “What’s going on, and who is this?” He smiled, but it did not look too reassuring. Meanwhile, the other man leaned his back to the door, and folded his arm, an amused look in his eyes.
“Hey Frank, hey Mike. That’s Samantha.” The man on the sofa answered so that must have been his name. “She lives a few doors down. She needed a place to hide from her family, so I invited her in.”
Samantha was surprised, and not thrilled, that he knew her name.
“Wait . . . her folks don’t know she’s here? Jesus, Bill . . . she’s what, 14? 15?” The man looked at her up and down. “Are you nuts?”
“She’s gay. Her family does not approve.” Bill’s statement shocked Samantha. How the hell did he know that?!
Bill, noticing her reaction, continued. “Sorry, Sam. You guys scream a lot, and you can hear it fairly well in the hallway.”
Frank, the big man in front of her, made his way to the sectional. He sat, and called Samantha over, patting the seat cushion with his hand “Come here, Sam.”
Samantha looked at the door, the man leaning on it, then Bill, then Frank. Tears welling in her eyes, she slowly made her way to the sectional, sitting as far from Frank as she could.
“It gets better, you know.” For such a big guy, his voice had gotten incredibly gentle.
Samantha looked up. “What?” She was not sure what he meant.
“We,” he said, pointing to Mike and himself, “can tell you that it gets better. It never goes away, but it gets better.”
Samantha looked at Mike, then Frank. “I . . . you mean . . . “
“Yeah, we’re gay.” He did not move, but leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
“Look, it’s crap now, because you have no voice, and you apparently have assholes for parents,” she smiled at that, and he continued, “but you are still young, and it will pass. Four or five years from now, you will be in control of your own life. And it will be a better life. Not perfect, but better. Like us, you will find someone, will draw on each other’s strengths, and help each other through your weaknesses.”
Samantha looked down at her hands, now in her lap, one over the other. “It’s . . . I don’t have anyone now. Sometimes . . . “ She closed her eyes, shutting them tight, and raised her head, as if she were looking at the ceiling.
She felt Frank’s hand on her shoulders, and just lost it. Burying her head on his chest, she let go. Finally released, her tears flowed freely, her sobbing the only noise in the room. At some point, Frank had put his other arm around her, and was rocking her gently.
She was not sure how long it was, but she finally straightened, his arms releasing her at the movement. She did not want to look up, ashamed of her moment of weakness.
“You can always talk to us.” Mike had come to sit on the recliner, and Samantha could swear his eyes were perhaps a bit misty as well. Must have been her imagination.
Bill rose and went to the drawer in the kitchen island. He came back to stand in front of her. “Here,” he said handing her a key, “you are welcome to use it whenever you need to get away.” He pointed at the bedroom visible through one of the semi-open doors. “You can stay there. It’s an extra bedroom, and I never use it.”
“Are you . . . “ The lack of confidence in her own identity made it difficult asking others about theirs.
“Gay? No.” He hesitated. “Look, it may sound weird these days, but I have honor. You don’t have to worry about me ever trying anything.”
“Besides,” Frank interjected, “we would beat the crap out of him if he ever got out of line.”
“You and what army?” Bill’s tone had some mirth in it, as this must have been an old joke. “Oh yeah,” he continued, “I forgot.”
“I’m starved,” said Mike, getting up, “let me put something together.” He headed toward the kitchen and stopped at the coat over the chair.
“Here, I bought the Blu-Rays.” He said, tossing a DVD case at Bill.
Bill caught it, put down the water, and turned to Samantha. “Sam, have you ever watched Firefly?”
She shook her head. “No; what is it?”
“WHAT?!” Frank’s mock surprise made her smile. “Well, young lady, you are in for a treat!”
A few days later, the snow storm a memory, Samantha contemplated her life as she walked home from school. It was already a little better. Just knowing she was not alone, knowing others had survived, thrived even, made all the difference. She turned the corner and stopped.
Damn! She needed to be more aware of her surroundings. She had nearly run into some of the boys from her class. She turned to go back the way she came, but two more blocked her way.
“Well, if it isn’t the Snap-on girl.” The speaker got really close to her as he continued. “You know, we’re taking bets you just never saw a real man before. What do you think? You want . . . “
The sound had been growing, but now it became deafening. The motorcycles came around the corner, and a few went past the group before turning and riding up onto the sidewalk, the other did the same, encircling Samantha and the boys. Leather-clad, dark sunglasses, the bikers sat there for a few moments, gunning the engine before, one by one, switching them off.
The closest man got off his bike, and stood, all six-feet-four-inches of him, exuding a fair amount of displeasure.
“Hey, Samantha. These guys giving you trouble?” As he spoke, the other bikers got very close to the boys, now huddling with their backs to the wall.
“We were just . . . “ the boy, his voice shaking, stopped when Bill put his finger to his lips. He grabbed the boy by the coat and pulled him over.
Putting his arm around the boy’s shoulders, Bill spoke. “You listen; I talk.” He leaned a bit more to speak directly in the boy’s ear. “What’s your name?”
“J . . . Jason.”
“Jason. I’ll remember that. You see, Jason, Samantha there,” he pointed at her, “is a friend of ours. Now, what I want you to do, is pass the word around; none of us . . . “ he pointed at the other bikers, some of whom also had arms around a couple of the other boys, “ . . . like it much when she is unhappy or upset.” Bill straightened.
He slapped the boy on the back. “Understand?” he asked.
Staggering, the boy managed a reply. “Yes . . . yes, sir.”
“Good! We’re clear, then.” Bill motioned with his head, and within a few minutes, after roaring to life, the bikes carried the bikers off, their engines sounds fading in the distance.
“Jesus!” One of the other boys spoke the lone word.
“I . . . we’re sorry, Samantha. It won’t happen again.” The boy who had accosted her spoke even as he backed away, pulling up the rear of the group that was already retreating at a good pace. He turned, and broke into a run.
Samantha resumed her walk home. “Shiny!” she said out loud.
I write mainly to paint a world that does not exist. A world where, ideally, the strong would protect the weak. The many would protect the few. The norm would accept the different. The world I live in, for the most part, is not like that.
Sure, there are pockets. There are people who live by that creed. Damn few, if you ask me.
I am not gay, but there are other things that, since I was young, made me different. I used to wonder why life was so incredibly shitty; why people went out of their way to make it so. No one told me at the time, but I worked it out. At some point, I would be an adult. Whatever I was going through, it would pass.
I looked to a time when no one would tell me what to believe, who to be, even at the cost of having few friends, and of not “fitting in”. Most of all, I swore I would never excuse certain behaviors. I judge harshly. Some see it at a fault, but I believe I am doing people a favor, holding up a mirror, and saying “See this? This is a jerk. Is that what you want to be?”
The surprise, of course, is how many answer with a resounding “Why, yes!”
There is pressure to conform. To lie, cheat, steal, to take advantage, to leverage power, privilege, connections. Not gonna happen; I have to look at myself in the mirror every day.
You know what? I would have it no other way. What I don’t understand is why that is not the norm.
Anyway, if you enjoyed reading this story, please tell everyone you know. After all, why deprive your loved ones, your friends, and your work colleagues, of the joy associated with the discovery of these little gems?
BUT . . . If you did not enjoy reading it . . . well, not everything can be shiny, and please; don’t tell anyone.
I was asked about these little designs. Click on it to read more about them.
Please, if you are considering bestowing me some recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so. I will decline nominations whereby one blogger bestows an award onto another blogger, or group of bloggers. I appreciate the intent behind it, but I would much prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way. That would actually mean something to me.
Should you still nominate me, I will strongly suspect you pulled my name at random, and that you are not, in fact, a reader of my blog. If you wish to know more, please read below.
Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not personally hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.
. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.