The Alphabet Challenge: “R” Story No. 3 of 3 — Reflex

This is the 18th round of The Alphabet Challenge mentioned in THIS<<link post. As a refresher, the Broxson twins, Gary and Perry, and I will each write one story for each letter of the alphabet. Meaning, a story whose title begins with the given letter. For this round, it’s the letter “R“.

Readers have two weeks from the date of publication to vote for their favorite story in the current round. Points will be assigned to each writer based on total votes received.

In each round, the story with the most votes gets three points. Second place gets two points, third place gets one point. In the case of a tie, the points for the tied rankings are added and then split equally among the writers who tied. At the end of the year, we tally up and crown the winner with the most points.

Long or short, each story will appear on its own post and the trio will be followed by a fourth post where readers can vote.

The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the PG-rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Some readers might find a few of the stories disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, and if so, stop reading and move on.

Here we go. Presented anonymously, the third of three stories with titles beginning with the letter “R” as submitted by its author.

Reflex

Copyright 2020 — E. J. D’Alise

(2,115  words – approx. reading time: about 8 minutes based on 265 WPM)

It wasn’t my business. Two boisterous men, obviously a few sheets to the wind — more than one, less than three — were getting louder by the minute. I was about to leave when she walked in. She was way out of my league, and beautiful. I mean, beauty is subjective, but odds are, most people — male and female — would have agreed she belonged in the upper part of the upper part of the scale.

And aloof, like most beautiful people. Wait, that’s unfair. I mean, it could be a defense mechanism. People, even people who say they aren’t, are attracted to ‘beautiful people,’ be they physically or socially beautiful, or both. I imagine — because it sure isn’t a problem I have — it gets tiring having the world’s attention focused on you all the time, whether you want it or not.

Anyway, she waltzed into the place, eyes straight ahead, seemingly not looking at anything, and followed the restaurant greeter toward the back of the room. That brought her within range of the boisterous men, and one of them grabbed her arm. That disturbed her precarious balance atop her high-heel shoes, and down she went.

“Oops!” the man said, laughing, just before he swallowed a couple of his teeth dislodged by my fist.

I mean, it’s a reflex I have when I see women in trouble; I intervene.

The other man took a clumsy swing at me, and I batted his hand away and laid a solid punch to the kidney. The sound he made was a bit like a sausage that suddenly realizes it’s on a grill, and someone poked it with a fork.

By then, the first man had come up and grabbed a steak knife from the table. I didn’t hesitate. I kicked his knee, a sideways blow with the heel of my shoe. I mean, boots. Work boots, not that faux footwear that passes for cowboy boots; you know, the kind that wannabe cowboys wear. Probably did a bit of damage to his kneecap and meniscus, but I don’t like people coming at me with knives.

Both men decided they needed to rest for a bit, and I offered my hand to the beautiful lady, but she accepted the greeter’s help instead.

I wanted to speak to her, tell her I was sorry she had to experience violence in her otherwise perfect life. She interrupted me and read me the riot act; something about violence never solving anything, and something else about being able to take care of herself, and more stuff about not needing any help from a testosterone-laden brute. Just then, I spied the cop car stopping outside the restaurant.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said, putting on my hat and tipping the rim with my fingers. I left through the back entrance. Not that cops and me have a problem, but cops take a dim view when it comes to dispensing even well-deserved violence; they see others doing it as unwanted competition and strive to dissuade people of the idea that violence is an option for anyone but themselves.

Life went on as usual, with me knocking a few heads here and there, and then it happened . . . again.

I was sitting at a bus stop near a bank when she walked out of the bank. Just then, three banker-dudes, returning from what must have been a mostly liquid lunch, blocked her way, and started harassing her. One of them grabbed her by the waist and tried to kiss her.

My reflex kicked in, and I intervened.

The guy with the puckered lips suddenly kissed my heavy ring, the one with the lip-splitting skull on it. He still had his arm around her and almost pulled her down with him, but I grabbed her and helped her regain her balance just as the other two came at me.

I dodged one punch and took a glancing blow from the other guy.

“My turn,” I said as I let her go and grabbed the first guy’s arm and twisted.

There is a sound a shoulder makes when it gets dislocated, but you can’t hear it when the guy cries out like a little girl . . . with a dislocated shoulder. The other guy was gearing up for another roundhouse when I jabbed him in the solar plexus and followed up with a slap aside the head when he doubled over. I would have kneed him in the nose but was worried blood splatter might land on the lady.

The three dudes backed off, and one of them pulled out a phone as the lady read me the riot act and accused me of stalking her amid lecturing me about the evil of violence and being a chauvinistic pig.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said as I put two fingers to the brim of my hat and nodded, and then I turned around and stepped onto the bus that had just arrived, and left.

Life went on as usual, with me knocking a few heads here and there, and then, you guessed it, it happened again.

I had just gotten off a plane coming back from handling a problem in a nearby state when a vision of beauty flashed in my peripheral vision. It was her. She was walking the concourse going the opposite way while pulling an impossibly small carry-on bag that probably would be the only one on the plane meeting the airline’s carry-on size requirement. She didn’t notice me, and I stopped and pulled aside to enjoy watching her walk.

She was just about to pass by a bar when four drunken Japanese businessmen poured out and slammed into her, and down she went. I held myself back; accidents sometimes happen . . . but then, with the excuse of helping her up, the men started pawing at her. One of them caused the top button of her expensive blouse to pop off.

My reflex kicked in, and I intervened.

The guy with a handful of beautiful lady blouse got a kick between the legs from behind, and he let go of her . . . and made a sound resembling a balloon slowly being deflated. I don’t know if he was naturally cross-eyed, but it looked good on him.

The other three took up poses resembling Bruce Lee preparing for a fight . . . if Bruce Lee had been drunk and pudgy. True to Japanese fighting fashion, they came at me one at the time. The first guy tried a 360° roundhouse kick, but before his foot made it all the way around, I kicked him in the ass, and he managed a good impression of a helicopter before becoming one with the seats of the gate on the opposite side of the aisle.

The next guy did a flurry of arms and fists movements he probably saw in a Dr. Strange movie and then planted himself right in front of me, his right hand in front of him held as if he was going to chop wood. His other hand did the four-finger come-on wave that was Lee’s signature taunt.

I grabbed his fingers and twisted them opposite the way they’re meant to bend. Knuckles don’t usually sound like popcorn; when you dislocate them, they typically sound like celery snapping, but these sounded like popcorn. It must be a Japanese thing; they use weird sounds in their movies as well.

The last guy was already running and jumped while still five feet away, his leg straight out and aimed at my chest. I waited and when in range, I used both hands to flip his foot up, causing his body to turn in mid-air . . . and his head to rotate into my raised knee.

I’ll pay for it in my old age, probably with meniscus problems, but, meanwhile, the knee is quite good at taking care of exposed chins. He landed at my feet, without moving. I don’t think he made a funny sound, and I was mildly disappointed in that; I live for the chance of describing funny sounds people make when you damage them.

Had he made a funny sound, I’d probably not have heard it over the lady’s barrage of indignant accusations of cultural insensitivity, her denigration of my character, and something about how brutes like me have no place in this world.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said as I put two fingers to the brim of my hat and nodded, and then I turned, flagged down one of those silly carts that carry people who can’t walk, and rode out of the area before anyone of importance came.

Life went on as usual, with me knocking a few heads here and there, and then, you won’t believe it, but . . .

After dropping off a client at their penthouse, I was walking across the Park and decided to sit and enjoy the afternoon on a bench in the shade. Yes, she was there, jogging, and wearing one of those outfits designed to give older men cardiac arrests, the kind I’ll never understand how are even legal to wear, the kind that put a severe strain on the tensile strength of spandex. I mean, not indecent, but very useful if one was giving an anatomy class and needed to point things out.

I was about to get up and leave when I noticed a group of young men focus on her and move to intercept. I sat back down and watched as they circled her. They asked for her name, her number, her measurements . . . and when she tried to go past, one of them grabbed her and pulled her to him, the others encouraging him.

My reflex kicked in, and I intervened.

“How old are you?” I asked the guy holding her.

“What’s it to you, old man?” he answered.

“If you’re over eighteen, I won’t hold back,” I answered, but I didn’t wait for an answer because I had to take care of the guy sneaking up on me.

The guy was young, so I didn’t want to mess up his face in case he needed it to attract a potential mate. Instead, I kicked him in the shin, and then, once he was on one foot, I shoved him toward the other two guys coming at me.

They all went down and gave me a chance to deal with two more who decided Japanese-style attacks aren’t all that effective and came at me at the same time. I couldn’t worry about their faces as much and just hoped they had personalities to rely on for attracting future mates. I punched one in the jaw, and I grabbed the other and head-butted his nose which was, thankfully, empty and dry. Nothing worse than other people’s snot on your forehead; it makes a poor impression, especially on beautiful ladies.

The guy holding the lady let her go and pulled one of those butterfly knives, and did that thing they probably practiced a hundred times so they could look cool and menacing.  I took a step toward him, grabbed his arm and pulled when he tried to lunge at me, and brought my elbow up, catching him on the chin. I’ll probably get arthritis in my old age, but I have a pointy elbow, and there are very few nerve cells there to register pain; it works well as a weapon of chin destruction.

Two of the guys, still mobile, looked at each other and took off. The others helped their fallen friends and retreated as I listened to a lecture about mistreating disadvantaged youths and violence not being the answer to every problem in life.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said as I put two fingers to the brim of my hat and nodded, and then I turned, flagged down one of those rickshaw drivers, got on, and left the scene while she was still going on about how my kind were dinosaurs who needed to accept our extinction.

It didn’t seem our relationship was improving.

Life went on as usual, with me knocking a few heads here and there, and then . . .

I had a rare day off and was attending an open-air concert in the Park by one of those outstanding groups afflicted with not being tall and thin, and that hence will never make it big in today’s visual-centric world. I was about to leave when . . .

. . . yup!

I noticed her walking from the concession stand, a picture of beauty and elegance, carrying a corndog and a Slurpee-like drink.

I sighed, slipped on my brass knuckles, and waited for trouble to start.

The End

Edited to add (after voting closed): Gary and Perry often take inspiration from classic tales and endeavor to retell them in their own words . . . I thought I would try the same with this piece:

If you’ve already read the other two stories and are ready to vote, click HERE<<<Link and you’ll be taken to the voting poll.

If you’ve not read the other two stories, they can be found at the following links:

Rambler 6 <<Link

Risk <<Link

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Short Stories, Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Alphabet Challenge: “R” Story No. 3 of 3 — Reflex

  1. HA! It does have a vintage classic feel – love the repetition. Nothing more elegant than corn-dog and Slurpee (probably red, that stains…thoughtless woman)
    Great parade of characters and attack styles (Nice to be considerate and avoid moves that might splatter blood on the lady – or mess up the guy’s face as he’d need to attract a mate. Skull ring was a nice touch and neatly, causally, placed in that phrase…)
    So many well written lines – kept the tone light – which is even more funny with the fighting and all
    “…head-butted his nose which was, thankfully, empty and dry. Nothing worse than other people’s snot on your forehead; it makes a poor impression, especially on beautiful ladies.”
    “wearing one of those outfits designed to give older men cardiac arrests, the kind I’ll never understand how are even legal to wear, the kind that put a severe strain on the tensile strength of spandex. I mean, not indecent, but very useful if one was giving an anatomy class and needed to point things out.”

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Thank you, pmoth. I felt weird writing it because I felt I was ripping off the original, but it was singularly fun to write.

      I purposefully avoided revisiting the original before writing it because I wanted to avoid copying stuff too closely. Still, some turn of phrases snuck in.

      As a one-off experiment, it was fun, and I’m glad it was appreciated and enjoyed.

      (p.s. I’ll let the other writers know about your comments. They don’t always keep track of stuff so they occasionally miss comments. Also, they both work, so they don’t always answer, but I know they — as I do — appreciate comments/feedback more than votes.)

      Liked by 1 person

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