Nothing I see makes any sense. Everything is in a complete disarray. I live in a small studio apartment, just with one big room sectioned into a living area. But where I am now, is not a small apartment. Where I’m standing, there are so many rooms, with brown wooden doors. I own only a few things in my house that are worthwhile. But, I’m in a luxurious house, a mansion if you’d call it. I only saw such glitters and palaces on the covers of magazines or postcards. So, where I’m? What am doing in someone’s house? How did I even get here?
It feels surreal. I hope it’s just a dream, not a nightmare.
I am in the middle of a big room. The room has lots of windows and curtains, and all the blindfolds are fully shut. I only see a dim light at the end corner of the room, where the stairs are. Wait, stairs? My house doesn’t have stairs. Everything feels weird and are out of places. I close my eyes and open them again. Still, nothing changes. I am not in my usual house.
I managed to tiptoe towards the dim light and opened the curtains. Then I found all the light switches and turned the lights on. The room is now lit with lots of shiny lights, like the heavens you’d see in Hollywood movies. There are so many shiny and expensive items in the room, yet covered with dust. This is definitely not my house.
First of all, I hate dust. I mean that in a literal sense, because I’m allergic to moist and dust. This room smells so dump. That’s how I know, this is not my room. Everything is different. Second, the room is full of items I’ve never had—expensive jewelry, chandeliers, China cabinet, wooden mahogany dining table, or red dusty coaches. A red coach? Hell no! I am a fashionable man to know that the red coach doesn’t go with my living room. And on top of that, I can’t even afford to buy a sofa, let alone paintings I had only seen in modern art museums, which are now hanging on the walls of this strange dusty room. Everywhere. I don’t have a multi-level family house. But, I am staring at the walls going upstairs, they’re decorated with family portraits and photos in age orders. I can tell that by the way they’re arranged. I’m never married nor ever I had any kids. I’m the only child and never have I met my parents.
However, what my eyes see does not add up. It feels like I’m in a vault. Am I? Was I kidnapped and being framed for a robbery? I begin to shiver and look for an exit door, so I can just open it and run as fast as I could. But, I don’t know which one is the exit door though.
Too many valuables for one room to hold. This is absolutely not my room.
I only have a few things in my room. I sleep on an old worn out mattress on the floor, not on the bed. I have a computer desk. I look around and can’t find any of them. My wallet and car key are missing. I don’t see my 55 inch TV in my small and cozy living room. I don’t see my bookshelves. Oh no, where are my books? I don’t care losing anything, but not my books. I have collections of books from all genres. My entire living room is basically built into continuously attached bookshelves; it is rather a library than a living area, I suppose. I live and breathe books. Now, they’re gone. I see a sign that read “Library,” which I never had.
My head is spinning out of control as if I’m orbiting around the sun. Where am I? Where the fuck did all my stuff go? What’s that lavender smell? It is coming from the candles, lit and sitting on the long dining table.
As I look for a place to sit and unwind, I see someone walking towards me. She is tall, wore aprons, white shirts with black skirts and flat black shoes with white socks. When she gets close, her eyes look away and down politely. She puts her two hands behind her back and says, ”Excuse me Mr. Lockwood, there is a phone call for you. I forwarded it to your library desk.” I was really stunned. I frowned at her, as if she insulted me on public. My mind couldn’t process the latest information she just uploaded into my mainframes. I tried to speak but no words came out of my mouth. Finally, I managed to say, “I am sorry, who did you call me?” My eyes now are even opened widely and eagerly awaiting for her response. To my surprise, she said, “Are you okay Mr. Lockwood?”
She’s still standing there, until I responded. But, I remained silent.
My mind begins its quest. Where am I? Who am I?
Though nothing is still making much sense, I am processing all the available raw data. Maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that I might be who she said I am.
Lisa and Jerry
Lisa wakes up early in the morning when the alarm sings. Yet, she still managed to miss her train. Now, she is standing outside, in the fiercely pouring rain, hailing for a yellow cab. Being the busiest weekdays in NYC, Wednesday is no special. The traffic is hot; somehow more than usual, everyone has somewhere to go today.
Taxis become the expensive commodities of the day. Even the stock market has never soared so high like this. She’s waited here for more than thirty minutes now.
“I cannot miss this interview,” she says.
While scouring the streets with her eagle eyes, she sees a taxi a block away, standing on the traffic light. She runs for it.
“I am not going to miss this interview!”
She keeps playing that same phrase in her head like a broken cassette player.
Her hands in the air, almost touching the sky, she keeps running towards the cab. Once the green light lit, as if the cab was also specially ordered for her, it races towards her too.
Meanwhile, she sees someone else also cutting in front of her, hailing for the same cab. But, this is now becoming a deadly war, she won’t afford to lose.
“No way woman,” Lisa rushes as fast as her feet could master.
She takes off her short heels and passes the older grey-haired woman. The woman almost gets in the cab, when Lisa reaches for the door. Lisa then jumps in the cab.
“I am sorry,” she says, feeling so terribly bad when she looked at the lady’s frowned and puzzled face.
“I am sorry, I really do need this,” repeats Lisa, and then hops into the taxi, and closes the door.
After she put away her purse and a light brown folder, she tried catching her breath. She inhaled and exhaled like a newborn baby.
”Where to?” the driver says.
”The New York Times,” Lisa replied; then, the yellow cab speeds towards her future.
The rain worsens over time. She looks at her watch in every turn the cab takes.
The driver notices that she is anxious and worried.
“So what do you do?” politely he asks her.
She doesn’t seem invested in the conversation. So she remains quiet. Seconds later, his question rings in her ears.
”I am sorry, that was rude of me.” She sends him the smile that sparkles from her radiant exotic face. He grins back in an understanding way. She continues.
“I am going for a job interview. But, I am running super late for it.”
The tidy driver in his thirties, with long ponytails and dark hair, with wide grins on his face smiles back at her.
“Well, let’s see how we can get you there sooner,” confidently he sends her his confirmation.
”Thank you, please try.” She grins back.
The driver switches the radio on to 107.6FM, and begins to maze through the traffic, navigating via short-cuts. A smooth jazz song comes on the airwaves. It was one of her favorite songs, “When the sky cries.” Lisa loves smooth jazz. She never sleeps without putting one on each night at bedtime.
The driver watched her reaction to the song, so he cracked up the volume. He sees her relaxing as she puts her head back on the backseat, stopped kicking and shaking her feet, letting time fly by.
Her ears glued to the song, she lets her eyes steal the outside views from the window, frowning at the rain.
“Please, stop for the day,” she begs the crazy moaning sky. “Please!”
Yet, the sky disregards her demands. The rain picks up the pace as if the sky opened more floodgates to ruin her day.
“Thanks a lot!” Lisa says in frustration.
When the taxi reached the NYT building, she was already forty-five minutes late. She pays the taxi fare and gives the driver an extra tip.
“Thank you, for your help,” she says with her big smile.
”Break a leg,” he replies.
She knows that she was late; nonetheless, she zooms into the building anyway. At this point, she got nothing to lose, even though she might’ve screwed up her dream of working for the NYT.
The day flew by. It’s in the afternoon now. When Lisa came out after finishing up with her interview, the city was quieter like a daybreak curfew being ordered. The sky was clear and the ground was dry. The city appeared a locked down quarantine zone. She got puzzled.
“What the fuck? Where did all that rain and people go?”
She’s a bit famished and frustrated. She is in need of some food and caffeine, to come down her anxiety.
Empty taxis are standing on the Taxi Stand by the NYT building. The line is more than fifty feet. She walks to get a ride back to her place. The On-Duty lights on every passing by yellow cab in the city are also on, without any booked fares; they are hunting for passengers like scavengers.
She gets into the first yellow cab standing inline.
“East Village, please.”
Once she hops into the taxi, she begins thinking what has happened today. She can’t turn the clock back now. Though the interview went well, her gut is telling her that she threw away a reporter career out of the window. She thinks they interviewed her out of formality.
The cab takes off like a jet towards Houston and Avenue B. Before she reached her place, she changed her course and asked the driver to drop her off to the famous Molten Cafe Shop on Houston and Mott St.
As soon as she walks into the café, the sky begins to cry heavier than before. She looks outside and frowns, as the thunder lightning flashes with rainbow colors.
She looks up the posted menu behind the counters. Once she checked today’s specials list, she orders half a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole grain wheat bread and tomato soup, with Mocha Latte. Till her number is called, she looked for a sit and found one, in the corner, against the window. She takes off her jacket and sits.
She looks outside, at the pouring rain.
“This is just fucking ridicules.” She says.
As she sits comfortably, she unfolded the events of the day. She dreamed of working for the NYT as long as she could remember it. Since she graduated from City College in journalism, she never applied to any other newspaper reporters, except the NYT. But, somehow, she fucked it up the one chance she ever gotten.
“Idiot, idiot,” she bangs her forehead.
Her order got delivered to her table. She quickly picks up the sandwich and takes a satisfying bite to calm down her hunger. Then, she sipped her coffee as if she wanted to push down the food into her growling stomach. Suddenly, she felt a warm liquid falling down from the corners of her eyes.
She tried to control it, but the tears rolled down like the pouring rain, messing up her massacre.
The small and cozy café is very crowded and busy. No one seems to notice Lisa’s sobbing or cries until Jerry walks in.
Jerry was standing in the long line when he saw Lisa crying. When he assessed the bright loud room, he sees nobody seems to ask her well-being. Everyone kept distance, yet their eyes fully fixated on her with admiration, yet not with sympathy. But, he figured that it had to be because of her magnetic radiant beauty that kept them away. He thought of a story once he read about how some exotic and beautiful creatures have an overwhelming power to intimidate others. Thus, that just fit perfectly here for him, for she looks like a rare breed of creatures that has the power to freeze anything with her wild green eye.
Jerry strides by her table. She doesn’t look up, consumed in her own tears. He stands there for a second.
“Are you okay?” he asks her.
No replies, but she nods her head. He wants to know why she’s crying rivers.
“Are you sure, you’re okay?” he persists, giving her a napkin.
She takes the napkin and sniffs loudly. Yet, she still says nothing back, except send him her cold silent treatment while nodding.
Jerry pulls a chair and sits across her, trying to guess the random reasons that got her into sadness.
”I think I know why you’re crying,” he smirks, as he gets situated.
So, the long battle of his persistence quest started to draw her in.
Jerry and Lisa
When weary eyes cry
pouring tears like rain,
the trees dance in the wind,
nature’s way of balancing pain.
The sky finished shedding its last tears, and the rain finally stopped pouring down.
The patrons have long gone from the Molten Cafe Shop, making the place feel like a deserted island. Only Lisa and Jerry still remained, as the nightfall is pacing to arrive.
A minute before Jerry sat down uninvited at her table, Lisa was searching on her Smartphone, trying to find anything for a distraction. While mascara was running over her red soft face, and she looked up, her hazel brown eyes locked on a tall handsome man, in a moment when she only wanted nothing but silence and being left alone. Yet, she didn’t mind Jerry pulling a chair and sitting down with his own accord.
Her coffee was still steaming hot like lava.
“I am sorry to bother you, but you don’t sound okay,” Jerry says, handing her a napkin.
She takes the napkin and blows her nose; and feels a bit embarrassed, but doesn’t answer him, yet only nods.
He smiles and says, “It’s okay; whatever it is, I am sure we’ve all been there, one way or another.”
She nods again and gives him a faint smile, a bit drawn into his persistence.
He then begins his wild goose chases of inquiring about why Lisa is still crying. He tells her that she lost a cat she loves. She shakes her head (but her smile creeps on her face). He went on and on, to a point he almost gave up and walked away. Finally, he says, “ You spilled coffee on your feet.“
As if he cracked opened a Pandora box, she bursts out laughing. She feels a bit better. Her eyes now more focused on him.
“You see, that wasn’t that bad after all. Was it?” as he gets fully situated, like her smile was a missing key to open a black box in his heart.
She agrees, nodding her head and wiping off her tears.
He notices a philosophy book on the table. A while later, he says, “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.”
She frowns, retracting her vibrant glows, surprised by the complete shift of his conversation.
After seeing her sudden shock and dark reaction, he says, ”Ludwig Wittgenstein,” the Austrian-British philosopher said that. “I bet he’d be mentioned in this book you’re reading,” Jerry says, pointing to the large book on the table. A vast collection of notable philosophical quotes you must know.
She laughs out loud again. She grins happily, getting warmer. She seems interested in him more.
He says, ”What, did you think I was hitting on you? “
She smiles with a bit shameful tease. And, she says, “No, I was just surprised, because the compass suddenly changed 360 degrees, that’s all.”
They discuss everything under the sun, fighting and arguing over ideas and philosophy, politics, music,current issues. While she focuses on his sweet talks, she forgets about her problems completely, and her tears are dry like Sahara Desert.
“I think my job is really done here. I hope for at least a time being, I made you forget your problem.” He smirks with confidence.
She smiles at his smugness and is more relaxed now. She sees what he was trying to do, and she appreciated it.
Jerry looks at his Apple Watch and says, ”Oh shoot, I should’ve been to my office a long time ago!”
Lisa feels bad and very surprised.
“What? did you have to go to work?” She is a bit worried about his job.
“That’s okay. I couldn’t help seeing you sobbing like that. My mommy always said that a gentleman never leaves a woman crying on a road, especially a beautiful woman.”
“She’s such a wise woman,” she exclaims, running her long gentle fingers through her long dark golden hair.
“That, she was,” he says with smugness.
“What do you do, if you don’t mind me keeping you more?” She laughed at her own question.
She is eager to know and worries at the same time, if he might lose his job over her silly tears.
“I own a coffee shop.” He smirks, giggling like a child.
“What? This coffee shop?”
“No, that one, across the street.” He points at the busiest place that’s shimmered with light. There are people sitting outside, having coffee and pastries.
She gets surprised, more like intrigued why he came here, when he has a business to run, especially the same kind of business, especially what seems a busy hour at his Cafe. She laughs warmly and says, “Are you serious?”
He says, “Yes.”
“So, why did you come here then?” “This can’t be real.”
“A bad habit I suppose,” he says because he’s been coming to this place for as long as he can remember. He even had worked here before he started his own business.
For a moment, a ghostly shadow of silence stood between them, as she looks at him, wondering is this guy real?
He shifts the conversation and asks her why she was sad.
She hesitates. Then, “A long story,” she replies.
He pulls the chair even closer to her, almost breathing under her nose like two lovebirds do and says, “ I think I can spare few minutes.”
Lisa sips her steaming coffee, from the sealed brown foam cup. She relaxes, leaning in closer to him, too, then begins. “Well, I arrived way too late for an important job interview today, because I missed my train. I had waited for that opportunity for many weeks. Now, I basically fucked up my entire future.” She looks away.
He saw that some tiny drops of tears making their way down her red cheeks.
“Where at?” he says, wiping off her tears with his soft fingers.
She felt the warmth of his hands, sending jolt feelings in her spine unexpectedly.
“The New York Times,” she replies, with shameful regrets. “For a senior foreign reporter position.”
He seems surprised, and she notices his surprise. Then, she asks him, “What? what’s wrong? You don’t think I can be a journalist?” Her eyes widened, glowing like a firecracker, ready to burst out her raging offense.
He notices her disappointment, “My apologies,” he says, putting his hands on warm hands.
She didn’t resist his touches, and she waited a second and says, “Then why were you so surprised?”
He responds quickly, capturing this moment, as if he’s in a confession room, wanting to mend his sins to God. He needs not to think of his full responses, for he’s a smooth talker, a man who dances with words. Then, he continues,” Well, no offense to you, but, most beautiful people like yourself only want being a movie star or a model, wanting to never put a foot outside this country, or their hands in the dirt, let alone travel across the continent to report news.” He pauses for a second and continues. “I was just surprised that you want to be a foreign reporter, which is really admirable, in a time where nobody cares much about true journalism or the craft of writing anymore.” He continues, “People have stopped reading today! All they do is staying glued on their handheld devices, and don’t even know what’s going around them.” He stops for few seconds, gasping for some fresh air into his lungs, waiting for her reaction. Seconds later, he sees her warm response from her blushing face, as she nods with an agreement.
“I guess most of this generation is a product of technology,” she says, ” a generation who’s over-fed information with a silver spoon platter.”
He nods in excitement as she moves her soft mouth gently. He’s exhausted making his points about the generational gap.
She listens to him carefully, intrigued by his words, his maturity, as he spoke eloquently, articulating his moral defense for condemning today’s youth. His intellect is like gravity, a magnetic force, for it is pulling her heart closer to his. She reaches for his hands, unintentionally and she smiles, yet keeps listening to him.
“Am I boring you,” he says in mischief. He knows he got her full attention.
“A little bit,” she replies jokingly with a glittering tease. And she giggles and says, “God no,” looking deep into his bright brown eyes.
As the night gets closer, they seem to get closer and closer like two lovers. She has warm hands, his is colder. The combination made them feel comfortable and heavily. He blushes and gives her a warm smile.
Later he tells her, ” I used to be an inspiring writer.”
She lifts her eyebrows. This man is getting more and more interesting. She studies his features. She watches the way his mouth moves, those moist lips, especially his genuine laughter which makes any room look brighter. She stares at him, her eyes not leaving his like they’re in sync.
The Cafe is about to close, as they forget about the world around them, diving into each other’s eyes, and sharing the perfect moment. She fixes her long golden brown hair and keeps staring at him like she likes being in his company as if they knew each other for years.
It starts to get darker; she hears his stomach grumble. They laughed. He looks at her. She noticed his stare was of a mystery, very powerful and irresistible force. She dreams of getting lost in those eyes. They talk about their adventures and embarrassing moments. She burst into laughter after hearing his stories. Their chemistry collides.
She looks away and down and bites her lips. He likes that. He is drawing to her without even knowing it. She is so interested in him too. She puts her hands on his hands and traces his palms like a psychic reader. Her touches send vibrant electricity to his heart.
He excuses himself for a second and dials a phone to his shop. She lifts an eyebrow, wondering who he was calling. Moments later, she hears him saying, ” Close the shop and go home.” She feels relieved. Nobody important he called. She’s happy that he wants to stay with her. So they just sit there, two strangers, perfectly at ease in their own company, harmoniously intertwined.
“We should eat something,” Jerry says.
“I think so, before somebody faints on my hands,” Lisa says, making fun of him, of his growling stomach that had roared liked a Lion earlier.
He likes her sense of humor.
Soon after that, they left Molten Cafe Shop, and begin walking in the streets of New York City, with their hand entwined, basking in the cooler night weather.
The night moon is out. The sky is clear as if it hadn’t poured down all day long. He wraps his arm around her vast shoulders. She tells him that now she’s hungry. He says that he knows a good place, so she lets him take her there. She wants this moment to last forever, somehow, she trusts him, she wants him around her.
When they reached at Fifty-Third and Sixth Avenue, she was mystified they’ve just walked from East Village to West Side for miles. It didn’t even feel like they walked for a block.
There’s no restaurant but a huge line, almost half a block waiting for a food track. The aroma makes you bite your fingers. It made her stomach growl like a hungry bear.
“What’s this place,” Lisa asks, with astonishment, and shyness.
“This place my dear is the famous New York City’s outdoor restaurant!” He pauses for a second and continues. “Don’t tell me that you’ve never eaten at famous place?” He stares deep into her soul, and sees her shameful eyes, as she nods disappointingly. He then says” Well, tonight, you’ll have the best street food the city’s known for. It‘ll be an epic experience. I promise!”
She feels even hungrier now.
When their turn came around, he placed two bowls order of lamb over rice, with lettuce and tomato, and ranch dressing and hot sauce; two bottles of water for their drinks.
She couldn’t believe that she’s never tasted such kind of food before. She feasted on the delicious meal as fast as she could handle, leaving the take-out plate empty in a second. When she looked at his plate, he was still half way, chewing his food like an older person without teeth.
She jokingly says,” Are you watching your diet?” She knows he’s so fit and is in perfect health.
He smiles, watching her finish her water.
After they finished eating, they walk to Times Square, both wanting to watch a movie. As they were walking, he was massaging her neck and hair, as she puts her head on his shoulders. In every lingering stroke his fingers lay on her gentle soft body, she relaxes even more, getting closer to him.
Once they enter the movie theater, and take a sit, they forget the about the lights and sounds emitted from the big screen, when Lisa leaned in and gave Jerry a soft juicy kiss on his lips. He pulled her closer and returned the favor. Instantly, the world around them vanished, and their New York City romance and love affair begins to blossom.
I heard a whisper coming through the sealed walls, followed by a knock on my door. Suddenly, my cozy king size bed lost its warmth and under the soft sheets, I felt a chilling coldness. Then, I also discerned a door slamming closed, followed by a rapid foot stump.
Somehow, I felt the imminent end was nearing by.
I sneaked a look through the desolated darkness, trying to control the situation. When I gained my full strength, it was too late. I felt two cold hands, tapping on my shoulders, and pressing me down tightly. Then they held a pillow over my mouth, suffocating me in my sleep. I tried fighting them off, but the grip was too tight, like a bolted shackling iron. I tried gasping for air, but nothing seemed to work. It was too late to struggle. I just let it be, and allowed myself to take the last breath, as much as my lungs could soak up, and closed my eye forever.
A moment later, when I opened my eyes, I met up with the angel of darkness himself, Mr. Death. He was happy to see me, and grabbing my throat firmly, he began dragging me on the floor to our destination, as if he wanted to drain out any ounce of blood that was left in me.
Unfortunately, to his surprise, I had finished bleeding the moment I stopped breathing.
I laughed as I hauled my two numb and dead feet, because, I thought maybe Mr. Death didn’t get the complete memo about biology class, which is, once all living things die, they feel no pain at all.
On our way there; I didn’t know the exact location, we said nothing. It was quiet and cold. The walk was too long, therefore, I had to break the cold silence.
“Why? Why are you doing this to me now?”
Death looked into my dead eyes in amusement.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough time already?”
I saw the agitation and arrogance in his question. I was fumed with rage and frowned.
Without any pause or thoughts, I replied, “No, I do not. It’s way too early for me to sleep forever. I’ve lots of things to do,” I said angrily.
I saw him roll his eyes and a spark of laughter hanging on his face, yet he was still thinking of a reply.
After a short pause, he cleared his throat and spoke in a faint deception.
“If it was up to me, I wanted to take you with me a long time ago, during the many visits I’ve had a pleasure of seeing you!”
That made me even madder. I was so chafed with his insensitivity. He had no regard for life, or room for any remorse or compassion. He thinks he has the fullest audacity over my life. His words were mean and cruel, as if I didn’t deserve living on this earth to begin with.
No matter how true his assertions might be, the time was too young for my departure. I had assured him of that, my tallest standing, my deep belief with great prejudice.
Yet, in the end, it didn’t really matter arguing with him anymore, for he wouldn’t seem to have any inclination of sending me back, even if he had the power to do so. For the rest of our long journey, I remained cold and silent.
At least, he couldn’t take that away from me.
A Writer’s Retreat
Last week, while heading on a trip for a couple of days at a writer’s retreat, this particular day was gloomy dark, rainy and snowy to drive in, so I pulled to a small rest area, to escape and shelter myself from the chilling cold weather. Even though there were only a few stores on the premises of the Strip Shopping Mall, it must’ve been my luck that I found one of my favorite places I go to, Panera Bread. Hastily, I barged in.
As soon as I was inside, I began scouring left to right, attempting to get a seat. By the door entrance window, there was a fireplace. An older man, with full white hair, was sitting on a brown couch and reading a book. The scene seemed enticing. The flickering fire, which was igniting from the fireplace made me feel warmer and cozier, like when I was wrapped around in my mother’s soft arms as a child.
I awed the homely feeling of the place. Everyone appeared in good spirits, even though the outside weather was miserably unwelcoming. They seemed to shut-out that reality, deafening their ears and blinding their eyes.
The place was fully packed, so I found the one seat left by the corner and sat down. I put down my heavy grey backpack and took out my fifteen-inch laptop. I marched out the power cord and plugged it into the power outlet, and lay my laptop on the small circular wooden table. I powered on my PC and waited for all the programs to load. After that, I opened a word document and was ready to write.
Before I got lost into a world of no return, however, I went to the robotic ordering machines, which are replacing human cashiers everywhere nowadays. Then, I ordered from the half and half menu; half a cold smoked turkey sandwich with hot peppers and avocado, and half a cup of tomato soup. And of course, a hot cup of black coffee and a bottle of crystal clear water.
I paid a hefty price for a small sized lunch and took the electronic buzzing device that tracks orders. The small pager was light and thin, black, and about eight inches in diameter; it had lots of bulbs, which would flash when an order is ready for a pickup.
After placing my order, I strode back to my seat. Once I sat down, I opened YouTube and tuned to Night of Smooth Jazz from my favorite subscribed channels. Listening to the Blues and Smooth Jazz calms down my nerves and relaxes my mind. I cannot sleep nor write without listening to soothing music. At night, I’d be turning side to side sleeplessly, and my muse would refuse to come out unless my brain dances to cool and comforting music. I let the slow smooth and fine-tunes vibration ring in my ears. Once the tunes reached my soul, then I pressed the first letter on the keyboard and began writing.
My eagerly widened eyes stole a glimpse of the area beside the fireplace. The older man was still reading his book, immersed in what seemed to be a different tranquil world, paying no or little attention to his surroundings. I envied him. He seemed saturated in the story. I truly wanted to be him at that moment, being lost in halcyon dreams, and numbed to the chaos of this world, to quiet down the raging thoughts inside my head. I wanted to be where he sat, where he went, to have that serene feeling for a second. That much, my obvious jealousy was boiling like a sea wave.
I collected my composure and focused back on writing. As I began typing, my hands felt loosened, as if they’d yearned to be in this place. The atmosphere was inviting. I gave the blazing fireplace one last gaze. Before my eyes landed back on my big screen, they met with the eyes of a brunette younger lady in her twenties, who sat right in front of me.
She was having a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. I noticed that she was eating her meal in a hurry. She smiled at me, awkwardly making me feel bad for my stares. After she was wholly done and put down her tray on the collection area, she left the venue in a rush. I thought of her expediency in completing her task, and her courage of trading the cozy warm place for the bitter coldness was fascinating. Besides, it was Sunday, a day every soul should be relaxing and enjoying life, yet, there she was in a rush to go or do something in the cold weather. I thought to myself, what possible reason could she have to run out like that? It felt like she was running away from life itself, or maybe she was rushing towards life. I wouldn’t know.
After she left, I watched her through a plate glass window as she walked in alluring grandeur. When my eyes escorted her to her luxurious car, our eyes communicated silently. She stopped for a second as if she knew and turned giving me a heartfelt welcomed wink before getting behind the wheel. Smirking somewhat, I blushed and giggled slightly, seeing her brand new car. I imagined if I would ever waste my money to buy that type of vehicle, even if I won the lottery. As if she precisely knew what was going on inside my head, she grinned and just vanished into the foggy and cloudy day.
I shook off the idea of chasing after her, so I returned to my writing, to interrogate the keyboard, and trying to catch up with my own thought train, which was speeding sporadically out of control.
The magnetic buzzer went crazy, flashing red lights like an emergency ambulance, to tell me my order was finally ready. I was famished by then, so I run through the masses like a lion chasing its prey, to pick up my lunch. It was placed on a medium sized tray, and was on top of a counter, where the “Pick-Up Orders Here” sign, was hanging down from the ceiling.
I picked my lunch and headed back to my seat.
Once I sat down, I bite into the delicious meal like a scavenger. It might have taken me less time than the younger lady from earlier, to finish my lunch. After my hunger was satisfied and I regained my energy, I went back to poking the keyboard to unwind my mind. Thus, I relaxed on the uncomfortable wooden chair and let my imagination take flight.
By the time my fingers stopped functioning, for they were so tired of typing, the sun had already set on the horizon. Outside the window, the ground was covered with piles of snow I had never experienced before. I sighed and decided it was time to face the music. Just like that, I left the coffee shop, swearing at my own insanity, as I ran swiftly to my beat-up car, which was covered with powders of white blanket snowflakes.
A Villain Knight
Call me a villain or a knight, that’s up to you, for it makes no difference to me. However, I had to do it. I had to make the ultimate and despicable calls because nobody wanted to do the dirty job. Everyone was fearfully worried about keeping their hands squeaky clean as if those bastards did not deserve my wrathful punishment. Everyone was so terrified of looking those sinners into their widely opened and lying eyes to deliver justice. I’m not sure why me handing down true justice was sinful. Maybe it was a bad thing, maybe it was something that’d be condoned or condemned, but if I didn’t do it, who else could’ve done it then? According to my rulebooks, those monsters deserved what happened to them. Somebody had to do God’s work. Wouldn’t it be best plucking out a few rotten apples before they spoil the other fruits? I think that’s what true justice means. There’s a saying that always stuck with me. It’s says, very few must pay an ultimate sacrifice, so that many can enjoy the best things that life has to offer.
So, the day I decided to send those bad guys to their early graves and permanent hellish residence, they were beyond redemption. They brought the wrath to themselves and for that, they should’ve gotten more than a bullet in the head. I had to pull the trigger; and hadn’t I done so, hell would’ve broken loose, and our town would’ve burned down to the ground. I couldn’t let that happen unless I’m six feet under. If I had committed a crime, it was truly justified.
This is how the story goes... In a small town of Hillside Pleasant View, where everyone knows each other by names, life was like living in paradise. We lived a very simple and productive life. There was no greed or crime. There wasn’t any class separating us from one another. We were completely living in serene harmony, together respectfully. We had passion, compassion, and understanding among us, for the community worked together in all aspects of life.
Everyone shared pains and happiness together as one, as a community, as a family. We were a small community of descendant families, where a once small village, then turned into a city, then into a big township, I grew up, and loved passionately. It was a very secluded and private place to live in. Outsiders always frowned upon and would never get warm welcomes. Every property in this town occupied as residential or businesses complexes only by residents of Hillside. So, being accepted into our town was like drilling a dry rock seeking water. The town’s list only incremented or decreased due to nature, when life comes to being or another one would be taken away. That nobody could ever fight. Therefore, it was nearly impossible for someone to get a visitor visa, let alone a residential permit of my town. Even a marriage with outsiders was forbidden. I wanted to keep our town that way because everything that’s required for our simple way of living was available. That’d minimize chaos among people. It’d guaranteed safety and prosperity. It’d safeguard our paramount privacy and security. We all lived minimal lifestyle, working hard to give food and shelter, the basic necessities needed. Thus, class separation and luxury life were forbidden, as that’d introduce and create more chaos between us. Because those are the root causes of evil, next to money and power. But when everyone’s bestowed on with the same expectation and responsibility, the fight for the commonwealth happiness of all people becomes very important.
Hillside Pleasant View was like an independent small town, where we governed ourselves as a nation, without any interference from others. One day, a disturbance occurred that altered our way of life forever. We’re told that a couple of outsiders were coming to town, who were proposing a better life for us. I couldn’t fathom the idea, for we needed not any better life than we’d had in our town. The bad news, nonetheless, came because all of a sudden, there were two top township officials, who became greedy.
They broke our codes and made deals behind our backs. They falsified paperwork and signed them without our consent, and then, for mere formality, they called for a town hall meeting. The meeting was just a pretense, so that’d make people feel they had a voice to vote on the changes that were promised to come, which had no effect on the final outcome, regardless. Everyone attended the meeting to voice their sidings.
Overnight, we went from people who lived peacefully without any complications or worries, to people whose voices were suddenly suppressed to benefit outsiders. So, since the bad news broadcast, however, I had done my own investigations. I’d been poking around about the merits of the newcomers. Since the news was sold perfectly, to my surprise, I discovered that almost everyone in town was nearly inclined to go with the proposed changes. I was really baffled hearing it. That meant everything that our fathers and mothers fought to sustain was going to just change with a snap of a finger. That means having to worry about our daily lives, customs, and traditions. I couldn’t fathom seeing my town overrun by people who became disgraceful. All this was because of the two particular officials that were elected to serve the people. But, they only cared about their self-preservation. The two officials were bought off by the outsiders, and they turned around and bought a few other key people in town, by either threatening them or bribery. After discovering their shady business, I consulted almost with everyone. But, nobody dared to listen to my ideas. I informed many people, but I found not even one person on my side. So, I set myself on a mission to kill the two people sitting in power. Somebody had to stop this—them. They soiled and brought the seeds of greed to Hillside Pleasant View. But, I could not stand aside and let that happen. Never! Many nights, I hid behind the City Hall office and listened to the many conversations held between the insiders and outsiders. They discussed many topics that would alter our daily lives.
But what disturbed me most was the first order of business on their priority list was creating classes between us.
They wanted to use the tactics of divide and conquer. So, I discovered that none of those deals were meant for us. But instead, the benefits were only for a very few, which going to give them controlling power. The main reason our great-grandparents established this town was to avoid these kinds of conflicts by removing money, and power from the few. It’s still a mystery to me how the two officials slipped through and made deals. All the promises were lies. I immediately notified the town people, which I was almost disowned and disbarred to never speak ill of anyone in charge. At this time, all I felt was betrayal and rage. I took it upon myself and decided to kill the two people. After exhausting all my options, the only solution that came to mind was taking the law into my own hands. Then I became the outlaw, lawlessness that decided to commit a crime in the best interest of many. The day I shot the two bad guys in the head, I had my evidence to present. To my defense, I had given them so many chances to come clean. At that point, all I ever wanted was for them to tell the truth in public. But it turned out that they had their own plans to shoot me in cold blood. When I figured that out, I had to act fast, and shoot them first. After they were dead, I surrendered myself and the evidence I had on me. The list also contained other residents of Hillside Pleasant View, who conspired with the two officials and outsiders. Some people were bribed and others were threatened to go along with the original plans, which could’ve destroyed our town.
Regardless, in my eyes, they all committed treason, they must pay for their crimes. After knowing there were many sinners, who were living in paradise, hiding in plain sight, I made it my main and only mission to get them out, too. So, I became the defender of Hillside Pleasant View. Now, I don’t even know if I am the villain or the knight. But, restoring security and prosperity is my top priority. They can call me a villain or a knight, for it makes no difference to me. However, I’d never stop!
The Dark Night
I was never a man who believed in any rumors. Nor have I ever been jealous of my lovers. Because, I had the heart of a lion, yet soft and tender. When I loved, I loved abundantly. When I trusted, I did it wholly. But along the way, someone once told me, “When your promise gets shattered into tiny pieces, and your heart is left in complete disarray, and in the coldness beyond repair, you’ll have a different perspective about life.”
But today, I regret for being blind all these years.
I stood outside, trying to control my anger, my fury rage, as I watched the only woman who stole my heart but now wrapped in the arms of a stranger. They sat by the bar, laughing, joined in body and soul; and their hands intertwined around each other, just like how she and I used to do. They seemed lost in their own fantasy world, paying no attention to whom their actions could badly hurt.
I saw her soft, warm fingers following his palms and his face, as his fingers were also lingering over her lips, the same way I used to brush her lips, looking into her euphoric eyes. She appeared happy and free. That even made me sick and crazy. How could she do this to me? What have I done to her, other than loving her more than my life?
I thought I was her pillar, her one true love forever, the only shoulders she’d cry on.
I felt her sudden betrayal in my bones.
I watched them in my intense and raging eyes, as they swirled in each other’s arms. I saw her glittering happiness. I wanted to barge in and make a mess. But, what could’ve I said to her? Why you loved another man? Why did you find happiness? I felt my head split into two, thinking about it. I left the one woman I adored, cuddling in the arms of a stranger, and quailed into the dark night. I never looked back.
The next morning, I saw an early rising bright sun, and a reason to live, as I inhaled the fresh air.
When Fire Burns Out
As teenagers, we were on fire;
More than in love with one another.
Yet, the last time we‘d spoken, I was ready to leave her, letting our dreams hang in the thin air.
I was young and my mind was surely made up to run away, leaving her behind, to vanish from her entire continent in entirety.
When we met again few years later, we were both belonged to different people, golden rings on our fingers.
We cried together once again, for what we’d missed as a union, but wished each other best of luck in the days ahead, knowing that we couldn’t have changed anything as life stood in front of us since the day we had met.
Now, there’re other people in our lives.
My last meeting with my old flame didn’t change our future, but rather killed our chances of rekindling that young love, which was once so fierce like hot volcano.
It was few years ago the last time I saw her face to face, and said goodbye for the last time, once again.
This time around though, we went our separate ways, with smiles on our faces.