fighting for breath.
my lungs are filled with
brackish and cold.
as the world
fades to grey
One Man’s Curse
Back to school sucks. Especially this year. Normally you can numb the pain by catching up with friends or by getting back into sports. But not now. It’s only classes this year, nothing fun, everyone separated by sheets of plexiglass like we’re at a bank or something.
And back to school sales? They always make it seem so joyous with posters of smiling, anthropomorphic pencils and apples that for some reason are just so damn happy to see you. Total BS. Everyone wears masks at the store now, but I know exactly what faces they’re all wearing—the same, dull, mildly annoyed expression that says “shut up and let me get my pencil sharpener and notebooks so that I can leave.”
I look anxiously down the road for any sign of the bus, but the street remains painfully empty. I told my aunt I was going to the store to get some school supplies, which I did, but I may have taken a detour through the skate park along the way. I can still make it back in time for the stupid dance classes she’s signed me up for—apparently, she doesn’t think skating is a good enough hobby for someone of my, you know, gender—but there won’t be enough time if I skate back. The bus is my only option at this point.
Finally, I hear the glorious sound of a diesel engine, and the big, blue city bus pops into view from around the corner. As it pulls up to the curb, I shoulder my bag—now full of colored pencils and erasers that I will never use—and am about to head up the steps when I feel someone push past me and cut their way to the pay station.
“Hey, watch it jagweed!” I call out angrily. I recognize the boy. He was in a couple of my classes at school last year, but I don’t really know his name. He’s super quiet most of the time and keeps mostly to himself. I let out an annoyed sigh as he disappears into the mass of people standing in the aisle, and I climb into the bus with angry steps.
“Sorry, ma’am. We’re at capacity. You’ll have to take the next one,” the bus driver says apathetically.
“No! Seriously? Just let me through, I’m small.”
The driver shrugs and covers the receiver on the pay station. “Sorry.”
With poison in my glare, I tug my mask down, stick out my tongue, and bound back down the steps, kicking the side of the bus as I disembark.
Well crap. I’m definitely going to be late now. I look at the rear of the bus just as it’s pulling away, and before my mind even knows what my body is doing, I drop my skateboard under my feet and grab a hold of the back bumper, just like in Back to the Future. I duck down low as the bus pulls me forward, adrenaline surging through my veins.
I laugh, shocked at myself. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff before, but this has to be at the top of the charts. If my aunt saw me right now, I’d be in so much trouble. Shoot, if a cop saw me right now I’d be in so much trouble. There are a few pedestrians on the street, but no one seems to have seen me yet. My hands turn sweaty as the wheels of my board vibrate dangerously against the uneven pavement, and I consider letting go and forgetting the whole thing before we get going too fast, but a battle rages in my mind between my desire to avoid the wrath of my aunt and my natural sense of self-preservation.
If I could only turn invisible.
Then, just like that. I am.
I almost let go, that’s how surprised I am. In fact, at first I think I have let go when I look down and see nothing connecting me to the bumper. My arms, legs, clothes—shoot, even my board is invisible.
What in the actual hell?
My first instinct is to panic, but I’m too amazed and too excited about the endless possibilities to stay that way for long. Imagine all the places I could go skating that are usually off limits, all the movies I could see for free—whenever theaters open again, that is. This is nuts!
A few stops later, I’m scrolling through a mental list of ways to exploit this new development when I see the boy get off the bus and walk towards a patch of trees a ways off, his steps slow and his head held low. I wonder what he’s doing out here. This part of town is notoriously sketchy, and most of it is just abandoned warehouses and train tracks anyways. What this kid could be up to is beyond me.
I’m so distracted by this weirdo that I don’t even realize the bus is pulling away again, and I suddenly lose my grip. I rush to grab the bumper again, but it’s too late. The bus is already moving too fast. I cus internally and slam my board against the street. This fricken boy. That’s twice now he’s caused me some sort of delay in getting home.
He turns around at the sound of the board clattering along the street, and I pause as he looks directly at me, but then his eyes move on, unaware of my presence, and he continues walking.
Well, so much for making it home in time. As long as I’m stuck here, then, I might as well put my invisibility to good use. A fiendish thought crosses my mind, and I decide it’s about time to deliver some sweet justice to this kid. I’ll just scare him a little, just enough to make him piss his pants. I follow him into the trees, making sure to soften my steps as I walk, and trace his path through the loosely packed woods. We continue on for several minutes, with nothing but the trees and an occasional squirrel to keep us company, and soon the minutes begin piling up to an uncomfortable level. There’s a weakly defined dirt path, but certainly nothing trodden enough to indicate that it’s frequently used. I begin to worry that he’s headed somewhere weird or creepy. I don’t want to know what this guy does deep in the forest.
I’m about to head back and forget the whole thing when the trees clear and we emerge alongside an old, rusted railway bridge that spans the length of a canyon. It has to be hundreds of feet deep, with a small river curving lazily around a series of bends, its water green and brackish. What could he possibly be doing here?
I follow him to the edge of the bridge but I draw the line there. I’m terrified of heights. To my horror, he jumps up onto the rails and continues along the side of the bridge, making his way toward the other side. There are bits and pieces missing from the planks below the rails, and he’s forced to hop over certain sections, something he does with complete fearlessness.
This kid’s psycho, I think to myself.
Then, when he reaches the rough mid-point, I see him take a deep breath and climb up the barrier along the side until he’s practically standing at the very top. He closes his eyes and stretches out his hands, and I feel my heart stop, suddenly realizing what he’s about to do.
“WAIT!” I yell, practically flying up onto the bridge by instinct alone, my panic overriding my fear of heights. The boy lowers his arms and looks around frantically, but clearly he still can’t see me.
“Who’s there? Who are you?” he shouts, still scanning the edge of the forest. I run the final steps to where he’s perched on the ledge and take a second to grab my breath, a little unsure of how to respond. He turns back and looks down at the river again, and I can tell he’s about to proceed, so I force my mind to work harder than it ever has before in its life and spit out a quick response.
“Your angel! Yeah, your angel!” I say breathlessly. Crap, I need to work out more.
“My angel? Now?” He turns his head skyward, an enraged expression carved onto his face, and he begins shouting. “You know how long I’ve prayed for an angel, and you decide to send one now? I’ve been praying for miracles, I’ve been praying just to be seen, and now, after years of silence, right when I’m about to remedy my pain on my own, you send an angel, now? For what? To stop me? You want me to continue living like this? What kind of sick god are you?”
He takes one final step up onto the railing and leans forward, but I hurry and grab his jeans with every last bit of energy I have. He stumbles as I pull him back, hitting his chest and head against the cold, rusted steel before collapsing to the ground on top of me. I let out a strained wheeze and shove him off onto the space between the rails and the barrier along the side.
I look over and see him staring through the holes in the barrier, blood spilling from a gash on his forehead and tears rolling down his cheeks. I almost feel bad, but then again, I did just save his life. Then, without warning, he gets up and begins climbing again. With an exasperated groan, I grab him by the shirt this time and pull him into a bear hug, squeezing him so tight that he can no longer use his arms. After a couple minutes of a struggle, he gives up and slumps back down to the ground. Sobs penetrate the peaceful air, and he buries his head in his hands.
I sit down next to him, my mind alight with all sorts of questions, and I try to decide how to react next. I can’t really leave him here, can I? But what can I do? He doesn’t even think I exist; I’m invisible for heaven’s sake.
I’d guess probably a half-hour slips by quietly. His sobs stop after a while, but his head remains firmly fixed to the insides of his arms. I don’t want to abandon him, but I’m beginning to worry about what my aunt will think if I don’t show up soon. Still, I can’t leave him to do something stupid. I could drag him, maybe? But I don’t know, he might think it’s the devil or something, seeing as he’s religious and all.
“Please don’t make me go back to school. Please.”
“What?” I ask, surprised by the sudden break in silence. He lifts his head up and stares past me.
“Why didn’t you send an angel earlier? When I needed you?”
“Well,” I begin, making crap up as I go along. “I’m here now, yeah?”
“Can you make me normal?”
“Normal! Can you make me normal? Like everyone else?”
I feel like throwing up, and guilt suddenly rocks my chest.
“Hey, no one’s normal, kid.”
“More normal, I mean.”
I’m silent. For once, I don’t have a witty remark or a throwback, and even if I did, now probably wouldn’t be the time. He shakes his head, seemingly taking my silence as a rejection.
“How about making someone see me? I don’t need much. Just something to let me know I’m not invisible.”
A tear rolls down my cheek as I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the intimate dive into this boy’s heart. I can hear the pain infused into his words, his longing pouring out of his eyes with each tear. Funny, how all I wanted earlier was to be invisible, and it turns out that’s this kid’s living nightmare. I stare at him through my clouded eyes, feeling more powerless than I ever have before.
“Why don’t you go talk to someone or something? You know. I’m sure people just need the chance to get to know you.”
“No! I can’t! If you’re my angel, then you should have been listening to my prayers! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just can’t. I try, but I can’t. It’s like something takes my voice and I stand there looking stupid!”
“Well, you seem to be talking to me just fine.”
He lets out a tired sigh and puts his head in his hands, kicking a broken piece of wood with his toe.
“That’s different. You’re an angel.”
His words make me feel all fuzzy for a hot moment, but then the guilt returns, guilt for not noticing this kid before, for stalking him through the woods, for impersonating deity. Deity? Are angels deity? I don’t know, I never really went to church. Regardless, whatever they are, I’m not it.
“Okay, here’s the deal. You give me one more day, yeah? And I’ll see what I can do. Just go home for now, get yourself to class tomorrow, and I promise I’ll help you out. Deal?”
School starts tomorrow, so maybe I can find him or alert someone or something. I don’t know, it’s a long shot. Hopefully I’m visible by then again. I’ll go home and see if I can reverse what I did earlier and wish my invisibility away or whatever. There’s a stab to my heart as I realize that’s what this kid has been trying to do, for years apparently, and to no success.
He turns his head to look in the direction of my voice, his cheeks stained by the dirt tracks where his tears cut into his face, and he gives me a small nod.
I stand on top of my board, looking above the crowd of students milling about before the beginning of class, taking care to look out for teachers as I do so. Turns out this invisibility thing only lasts a day, for me at least. So, one less thing to worry about.
The bell’s about to ring and I haven’t seen the kid yet. I looked him up in the school directory by his picture, and, as luck would have it, we have our first class together again this year, but I’m by the door to the classroom and he hasn’t shown up yet. The seconds tick away the final minute on the clock across the hallway, and each flick of the little red hand sends my blood pressure spiking even higher, my breaths quickening with each moment. What if he broke his deal? What if he went back to the bridge and flung himself off? The thought brings the threat of tears back to my face, and I’m a fraction of an instant away from breaking down when I see him.
He’s over by the stairs to the second floor, curled up and hugging his backpack, staring at the linoleum floor as the masses flow around him, all oblivious to his presence as they rush to their first class. I jump off my board and cut across the hallway, ignoring the insults hurled my way as I bump into people. Then, my good sense makes a presence and I slow to a casual walk, not wanting to appear weird and creepy for running up to him.
He looks up when I stop beside him and I lower my mask to give him a friendly smile.
“Hey! How’s it going? You were in my class last year, right? I think we’re in the same boat this year, too.”
He lowers his own mask. A smile passes his face, and I wonder if he recognizes my voice. I reach my hand out to help him up and he takes it.
“Sorry, I never really got to know you. My name’s Tess, what’s yours?”
“Wyatt,” he says shyly. It’s probably the first time I’ve heard him say anything inside school boundaries. I smile wider and take him by the hand back across the hall.
“Well, come on Wyatt. Don’t want to be late for class on the first day.”
As we’re crossing the threshold into the the room, the chiming of the bell echoes loudly across the campus from one end to the other.
Just in time.
Running For Existence
He could feel the wet stringy grass bellow his feet. He pushed off the ground and tried to give himself more momentum. With all the thoughts in his head, pulling him down and allowing him to stumble, he did not stop running.
Out of all the thoughts in his head, not one told him his destination. he was running an endless path, thinking of nothing but sorrow, and dying without ever living.
The Sun had set and he continued his path. He couldn't remember when he had started, or what day it was or how many hours. Maybe at first, he wished he knew but after now he had no care in knowing, and wished he didn't know anything. Knowledge was the very thing keeping him awake and keeping him in misery. If he could just forget everything, If he had no idea why he was running, he could have something to look forward to or to know. He knew exactly why he was running. So many times he wished he didn't, and so many times he wished he could stand still, rest his eyes and let go of all his knowledge. But no, he must keep running, no choice was involved. He had no choice in anything.
He continued running, which he never stopped, and closed his eyes. He saw the same thing as before, the stars, the moon, the sun. He saw everything there was to see. There was nothing that a human being, reptile, mammal, animal, plant, living or non-living thing, that had experienced something that he had not. Nothing, no one, anything. Only God, Himself knew more than he. He had lived everything. He never stopped.
There was no end, he continued until they had stopped, and he believed that there was no end until he knew. One day, it would stop, and he would stop and fall. He would no longer live and no longer die. Everyone had a beginning and end but he only had the beginning and end of existence.
He wasn't real and didn't have a real purpose except for running. He ran the life of all existence and once nothing existed he would die.
He could never push this thought away but then he stopped. His feet no longer moved and his knowledge became small. He blinked twice and awakened in a bed of blue and green covers.
The Tiny Intruder
"Mommy! Mommy! They're everywhere!" little Antoinette screamed.
"They aren't EVERYWHERE," her mother laughed, "I only see one, and it's not going to do anything to you. We're much bigger than those little pests now."
"But I'm scared, mommy!" Antoinette cried.
"Alright. If it's that bad, you can just squash it," her mother suggested.
"Squash it?" Antoinette repeated in surprise.
"Of course," her mother smiled, "It's quite easy to do. Just place your foot over the little bug and press down hard."
At the sound of this, the tiny intruder scurried off into a corner, fearing for its life. It heard Antoinete's sniffles as she quieted down to concentrate on the premeditated murder. The ground shook as she inched closer and closer to it. It tried to stand still, MAYBE she wouldn't see it? Of course, she would still see it.
As she walked over, its life began flashing before its eyes; its friends, its mate, its children- everything. Why had it even decided to come here? I guess at the time it thought the payoff was worth risking life for. After all, it needed to provide for its family.
It backed up until it couldn't go any further. Antoinette was now towering over it. She was smiling, it was sure. She raised her leg and came down upon it with a "HUMPH!"
"I did it, mommy! I did it! I kilt it!" Antoinette shouted as she pattered all six of her legs, shaking the entire chamber.
And, lying there squashed, life slipping away, the scientist knew how all the bugs he had smashed before must have felt.
"What fitting revenge," his last words were, "being smashed to death by an ant."
Healthy Dose of Advice
Do not approach this creature, but
Remember, if you do, …
As frightened as you are of it,
It’s just as scared of you!
It doesn’t understand us
and we can’t expect it to.
Our ways are very different
From its slipshod avenue.
We work together at all costs,
preserve the greater good.
It looks out only for itself.
This must be understood.
Although it’s detrimental to
our way of life at times;
in other ways it helps us out,
so do keep that in mind!
Perhaps it won’t be menacing
if only you will flee.
Leave it alone! That’s my advice,
my darling, baby bee.
This people text me when they feel that am high,
I do the same,
I cant deny,
I’m not a saint,
Sometimes I lie,
My lies be judged the day I die....
This guys they think I’m an easy prey,
I wont deny,
I’m that way,
I live for fun,
A careless life for which I would pay.
The night is young,
Am out again,
Away,away, till God knows when
A careless soul am free to roam
A creature wild dont have a home.
I get so high,
I touch the skies
I’ve been to heaven countless times
Not scared of death but lonely lows,
So hit me up let’s share a dose...
This people text me when they’re high
I cant resist so I reply,
A life so short I live it fast
Cos nothing last,
I’ll have a blast.....
It was a foggy morning in the town of Marfa, Texas. The bitter, cold wind slashed against your skin like shards of glass. It had snowed yesterday. The sun had not entirely come up, but you could still see the ice melt in front of your eyes. A black SUV skidded down the road and stopped right in front of a dingy barbershop. The old shop had a wooden, well-built front, and flashy glass doors, which were an unusual sight in this part of the town. The door was locked, though you could see the inside of it if you cared to squint enough. The shop had a small, wooden staircase leading up to the doors. The door of the SUV, which was an even more unusual sight in this part of the town, opened in a quick motion, and a tall, muscular man stepped out. He closed the door closed behind him. He was wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear. A gigantic black overcoat over a brown, shabby sweater, which barely seemed to fit; dark grey pants, the kind which are narrow at the top and loose as they reach the ankles; and polished jet black shoes, which shone when light fell on them. He wore a cowboy hat, and a muffler which covered most of his face, leaving only his eyes bare, which today, had a pair of sunglasses perched in front of them. The man looked around him suspiciously, and then, finding no one in the vicinity, proceeded to walk towards the shop. He reached the door and tried opening the door. The lock rattled, but didn’t budge. The man looked around once again, and in a swift motion, with his gloved hands, he detached his pistol from the holder on his belt. He struck the glass door with the handle of the gun. The glass shattered, and shards of glass pierced his skin like the cold, ruthless wind. He jerked his hand, and once the pain subsided, he moved on to the matter at hand. He kicked the remaining glass down, and carefully entered the shop, avoiding the sharp edges. He pulled the curtains once he was inside, as if they hid the shattered door. He knew why he was there. There were three barber-chairs, all in a single, horizontal row; all facing a long, shared mirror. There was a small, mahogany cupboard kept at the end of the horizontal row, which held the instruments (a pair of scissors, blades, razors, shaving cream) a barber might use. The man had the number inscribed on his mind, and yet he picked a piece of paper out of his pocket, just to be sure. seven-one-eight. the digits were scribbled in neat handwriting. He folded the chit and put it back in his pocket. He bent down, and under each of the leather chairs was a metal trunk. Three-digit numbers were written on each of them in crimson red marker. He pulled out the one labelled seven-one-eight. The cold, grey metal felt nice against his wrinkled skin. He unlocked the trunk. Click. Click. And opened it. Inside was a black, plastic polythene. He picked it up and glanced inside to check if what he needed was inside. The black polythene contained a clear, small pouch, filled with white powder, and a couple of firearms. The man placed the polythene in the inside pocket of his coat, and started to walk out of the door. As he walked out of the door (carefully avoiding the sharp edges), he heard the sound of an engine approaching. Startled, he hid behind a small fence that was just beside the shop. Unfortunate as it was, the car stopped suddenly in front of the shop. A tiny man got out, and went to examine the door. Finding it shattered, he became a bit scared. A robbery? Something this ‘criminal’ hadn’t happened in years. He quickly pulled out his mobile phone. A few meters away, a muscular, overcoat-wearing man sighed. Something twinkled in his eye. Something evil. He tried to believe he was doing the act unhappily. That he had remorse. Guilt. But he couldn’t. He knew what was about to happen, and he was excited. He rarely had the chance. He pulled out his pistol once again, this time with a motive. He saw the tiny man a few meters away, dialing a number on his mobile. He sighed again, and stood up with a small grunt. The man dialing on the phone didn’t notice. He rushed to the side of the shop, so that he was adjacent, in a sense, to the other man. He regained his breath, and tried very hard to control his emotions. He was standing with his back to the wall, his broad shoulders hunched, the gun shivering in his hand. He removed the safety, and cocked his gun. The other man had his phone stuck to his ear, visibly scared. ‘Um-Hello, is this the police depart-’ The man with the gun had now rotated, and was standing directly in front of the other man. Two men, standing in a horizontal line in front of a dingy barbershop. ‘Uh hey, do you know who was here?’ He asked the man with the gun. Somehow, he hadn’t noticed the pistol in his gloved hand. The man with the gun couldn’t control it. He started laughing. A cruel, menacing laugh, that young children sometimes have. The other man was confused now. Before he could express this confusion, the man raised his hand, and in an experienced motion, pulled the trigger. The sound of a bullet shattered the cold morning air, and the other man dropped down in the snow like a puppet, and the phone fell out of his hand. Crimson red blood bloomed on his chest, and stained the white snow. The alive man’s face was stern now. The laugh had been wiped off. He stared at the dead men blankly, with dead eyes, refusing to show remorse. He raised his hand, and shot him squarely in the chest again. He was professional, usually, and did not waste bullets until he absolutely had to. But today was an exception. He hadn’t had the adrenaline rush through his veins in so long. His index finger pressed against the warm metal. His palm rested against the rough, wooden handle. Comfortably adjusted. Like a child in his own bed. He hadn’t heard the sound of the bullet blasting through the air. The sickening sound of a bullet on bones. Warm blood gushing down wet skin. Those gorgeous, dead eyes that he cherished like gold coins. He hadn’t killed in so long.
He felt a sense of victory overcome him. He was overwhelmed with the sight. He dragged the body and plopped it into the backseat of his SUV. and just as mysteriously as he had come, he was gone.
Detective Brown sipped his coffee on the cold, bitter morning, as he sat on a black, foldable chair. There was murder in the air.
‘Charles, do we have anything except the blood?’ The young detective asked. ‘We know that there was a call made to the police station at around seven in the morning. Neighbors reported that there were a couple of gunshots, too. Pretty good chance that it was a murder.’ A tall, handsome man, who was about an inch shorter than Brown answered in a low, matter-of-fact voice. Brown didn’t say anything. He sipped on his coffee, as if trying to make out what murder meant. ‘What about the barbershop? How in the world is this all related to an old-town barbershop?!’ He asked again. ‘That’s the confusing bit, boss. Apparently, the shop had been closed down a few years ago when the owner died. It has been locked up since. No one saw anything suspicious happening around it. We’re trying to locate the kin, you know, maybe he knows something, but no luck yet’ He answered in his low voice. ‘Did we find fingerprints?’ He asked, still sipping his coffee, still gazing into the distance. ‘Nothing, they reckon he was gloved’ He answered. Inside the shop, the forensic team was working to find the fingerprints of a murderer. Charles looked up at them. ‘Hey, Chris, when you’re done with this, bring me some lye, and put it on my tab, I still owe you three bucks for gas’ He ordered the forensic expert, who was kneeling down on the barbershop floor. ‘Will do’ He answered uninterestedly and went back to looking for fingerprints on the floor. A tall, muscular man stepped out of the shop, wearing dark Raybans, and a slick hairstyle. He wore a leather jacket and dark trousers. He had a stern, resting face which could’ve easily been punched at. He adjusted his sunglasses and walked up to Brown, who glanced at him only to confirm who he was. ‘Hey, Brown’ He said in a deep, sexy voice. ‘What the fuck do you want, Jim? I’m really not in the mood to see you’ Brown responded, a bit too harsh, if you ask me. ‘Uh-huh, that’s not how you talk to the forensic head’ He said, clearly flaunting his title, as if he’d won it in a wrestling championship. Forensic Head. ‘Look, Jim, we all know who you are, okay? There’s no point in flaunting it every two seconds’ Brown said aggressively. Jim chuckled, and lit a cigarette. ‘So, whodunnit?’ He said. ‘Jim, let me break this to you. You’re a lonely, lonely man, and nobody wants to talk to you. Would you please inhale smoke somewhere else? We’re trying to work here!’ His voice rose towards the end. ‘Well, I gotta go and buy a shovel’ Jim said, walking away. ‘Why do you need a shovel?’ Brown asked, as Jim reached his ride. ‘I need to bury someone’ He said, and chuckled. But something didn’t fit. There was definitely something wrong with the way he smiled, or so Brown thought. It seemed too real. He blew off these thoughts. He had work to do, he couldn’t afford to be blinded by personal vendettas. Brown closed his eyes, and imagined the crime scene. He often did this, to ‘get in the mind of the killer’, he told Charles. It wasn’t a very successful technique, but Brown insisted nevertheless. ‘Charles, come on, let’s go’ He said, standing up from the black, foldable chair. He couldn’t get the thought of Jim out of his mind. This frustrated him. He needed time to think. Charles the lackey followed him, holding a yellow-paged notepad in his hand, noting down bullet points in neat cursive, as the world around them got ready to erupt into flames.
Brown sat on a comfortable leather sofa, holding a glass of dilute scotch in his right hand, and rubbing his chin with the other. Charles was standing on the blank, mauve-coloured wall opposite him. It had been a long day, and it still wasn’t over. The sun had just set, and the fireplace beside Charles was crackling with deep orange flames. Charles sighed-‘I don’t understand, there’s not a single fingerprint there, no body, no suspects-’ ‘Oh, there is a suspect’ Brown cut him off. ‘Who?’ Charles asked, expecting their first lead. ‘Jim’ Brown answered hesitantly. Charles shook his head disapprovingly. ‘No, Charles, don’t dismiss the thought, wait, let’s add up the facts’ Brown said excitedly, getting up from the comfortable leather sofa. ‘Jim drives an SUV, and we found the same tire marks on the snow; Today morning, he said that he was going to buy a shovel! If that isn’t a sure shot-’ ‘Boss, I really think you need some rest. That was a joke!’ Charles interrupted. ‘Come on Charles, throw me a bone here! He was wearing sunglasses!’ Brown said, almost jumping up and down. ‘How do the sunglasses give him away?’ Charles asked, sarcastically. ‘You know what, you’re the worst’ Brown said, like a child says when his parents refuse to buy him a toy, and sat down again on the sofa. ‘Oh, his hair! he has a murderer’s hair!’ Charles said mockingly. Brown knew he was tired. He just couldn’t get around the fact that he’d wasted an entire day without a single lead. Thee ringtone of Brown’s phone broke the heavy silence of the room. He answered-‘Hello, who is this? Oh, Chris, what’s up?’ Charles watched Brown’s smile getting bigger and bigger. ‘WHAT!? Are you kidding me, oh my god Chris, you’re the best!’ Brown hurriedly stuffed his mobile phone back in his pocket and dashed towards the door. Naturally, Charles followed. ‘Brown, what is this about?’ He asked, pulling off his coat from the coat-hanger. ‘Chris called, he has a lead. We found a fingerprint’ Brown said, sprinting down the stairs. ‘That is great’ Charles said, following Brown. ‘What, that’s it? You’re not excited?’ Brown asked, jumping straight over the last three stairs. ‘Oh, I am, it’s just, there’s a lot on my mind’ He said, as he reached the bottom of the staircase. ‘Oh, well’ Brown muttered, and took out his car keys. ‘Uh Brown, I gotta pee, can you wait for me?’ Charles said, just as they both settled down on the warm car seats. ‘Oh my god, Charles, are you kidding me, dude? We JUST came down! You know what, this is an emergency, I’ll just drive to Chris, you call a taxi’ Brown said, and unlocked the passenger door. ‘Okay, sure’ Charles said, and got out of the car. Brown turned on the ignition, and drove away.
Brown skidded to a stop in front of Chris’s house. For the first time in months, he felt his firearm, which had been reduced to a dummy, until today. He was actually excited about a case. After so, so long. He stopped his car just behind a taxi, and got out as fast as he could. He knocked on the huge wooden door. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then he shouted out his name. ‘Chris! Chris, open the door!’ There was still no response. He decided to do what a policeman in a film would do. Break the door. He adjusted himself such, that his shoulder was directly against the door, and then with all his might, he pushed. His entire weight was flung against the door, and the door came off it’s hinges, though it wasn’t completely broken. Brown was pretty sure he was. Gathering all his remaining might, he threw himself at the door again, and this time successfully broke it. He fell facefirst inside the house with the door. It took him a couple of minutes to regain consciousness, and realize that his hands were wet. In fact, he was lying in a puddle. If it hadn’t been for the door between him and the floor, he would’ve been soaking wet. He looked at his hand and retched. Blood. Crimson red blood that stained white snow had stained his hands. He tried to stand up, but slipped on the wet floor and fell facefirst directly into the red. Somewhere near him, he heard a laugh. Cruel and menacing, like young children sometimes have. He looked up at the unmistakable figure of a man he’d known all his life.
‘Charles!?’ The word left his mouth in slow-motion. He couldn’t feel anything. He felt as if he was in a dream. A cruel dream, where wooden floors were covered with blood. The man above him came closer, and stepped on Brown’s sidewards-face with his right foot. ‘You’re an extraordinary fool, Brown. You try to see the bigger picture, the end of the horizon, and you miss what is lying right at your feet.’ Charles laughed his laugh. ‘What-what does that mean?’ Brown said, rubbing his head, still trying to muster some strength and stand up. He couldn’t. ‘I was operating under your nose all this time. Let’s see, today morning, I ordered Chris to deliver lye at my home. And you didn’t bother to notice. You were to busy trying to frame that bastard Jim. And then, the greatest clue you could’ve gotten- today evening, we sat in the car after Chris called you, when I said I needed to pee? You agreed for me to take a taxi! And you know what? You just parked your car right behind that taxi.’ Brown was shattered. How could he have missed this? His mind wandered to the car ride. When Chris had called- Wait, where was Chris? The question burned in his head like soldering iron. ‘What did you do to Chris!?’ Brown asked, suddenly feeling a lot more nauseous. Charles kicked him in the side of his gut, so that now, he was lying on his back, facing Charles. He looked him dead in the eye. There was a strange twinkle in his eye, an evil twinkle, that he’d never seen before. His lips creaked into an uncomfortable smile. Brown knew what that meant. A strange wave of panic took hold of him. Before he could stand up, Charles took out his gun and pulled the trigger in a single, soft motion. The bullet struck Brown squarely in his face. The sickening sound of bullet on bone. Brown fell down on his back with a loud thump. There was a sort of finality in the way he fell. A strange sort of resignation. His disfigured face stared upwards towards the ceiling. Charles sighed. His face contorted into a stern, deadly expression. He put the gun back in his pocket, and turned around. There was a duffle bag directly behind him. He opened the zipper and took out a large, black overcoat, a muffler, and a pair of dark sunglasses, and set them aside. A few minutes later, a tall, muscular man with neat handwriting, wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear, stepped outside the house. There was murder in the air.
The Man in The Train
Just like how it happens every year, she came clattering along the railway line. Hapa Superfast express, how can I forget her? She was the one who took me all these years to Kerala, God’s own country. With the ticket checker whistling behind, she stopped slowly with a sound of whoosh, letting out a large puff of smoke. I was gazing at my old mate when my father shook me.
“Hurry, let’s find our compartment!” he said. Pulling my hand, he zipped off leaving the crowd in a stare. It is always funny to see a jaw dropped crowd with all eyes on you. With my mother and brother running behind, we entered the train like a movie’s entry scene.
“Where’s my seat?” I asked dad.
“Ha, its not in here. I think you have to share it with another passenger,” he grinned. I grabbed the ticket and went looking for my seat. Forty two, where are you? Ah, here you are. Thank goodness, there was no one in forty one. So I jumped into forty one, the window seat. Then slowly, with frequent halts, our train chugged, leaving Tamilnadu and heading Kerala... Choo choo... Choo choo...
I opened my travel bag and what do you think I would have taken? A camera? Nope, you are wrong. I had actually taken a cutlet which I bought from the station. I know, fast food is bad, but great! And food should always have the first preference, right?
Then I took a book called “Lost in a fair” by Arjun Sinha, who is a great Indian writer. I was enjoying my cutlet when this guy came.
“Excuse me,” he asked, uh oh, now don’t tell me you need my cutlet. And so I stuffed it in my mouth and devoured it.
“I think its my seat,” he said. So this is the guy.
“Is it?” I replied back in a question.
“I think it is,” he smiled and I moved to my seat. Now, where have I seen him? He seems to be more familiar. When he was caressing his bag with his ticket between his fingers, I slowly looked out from the corner of my eye. What’s his name?
“Arrrrrrjuuuu... Arjun Sinha!” I yelped in disbelief.
“Yeah, that’s my name,” he laughed.
“Oh my God! Arjun sir, is this you? I am a great fan of yours!”I gasped and he smiled showing all his thirty two teeth; Well, thirty one actually, with the last being a caries tooth.
“Sir, can I have a selfie? Pleeeeeeaaaasssssee..,” I was going out of control.
“Ummm okay,” he agreed. And yes, it was a picture to be treasured.
“Aaannddd... can you sign my autograph note?” I was already holding it in my hands.
“Sure!” he said. I wish I could write like him, I thought. So should I inform my parents? No, I would rather not. I can’t have my brother taking pictures with him and posting on social media.
“Sir, so why have you come all the way alone from Bombay to Tamilnadu?” I tried to make a conversation.
“Did you hear about my next book?” he asked.
“Of course! ‘Somewhere in South’, that’s the title, right? You are planning to release it by the thirtieth of December, right?” I burst into words.
“Wow, so accurate!” he exclaimed “and that’s why I have come to visit Tamilnadu and Kerala, just to make sure my plans go right.”
“What’s your stop, then?” I wish he would stop at Alleppey and stay at our house.
“My station is called...” he checked his ticket ”...Aluva.”
Hmm, two stops after mine. But it’s okay, I have got six long hours to spend! Six long hours!
We talked about this, we talked about that and all kinds of stuff and never had a second thought that time was running out.
“Sanjanaaaaaaa...” there came a familiar call. A call I have been hearing for fourteen years. I checked my watch. Gosh, it’s time! Hapa slowed gradually.
“I am coming Mom!” I shouted back.
“It was a great day!” I smiled.
“Me too, kid! I never knew I had fans in South India! Thank you for everything!” he said, patting my head. I was blushing so much.
“Goodbye, then” I said and he waved back. Walking out with my family, I narrated the whole tale and posted the selfie on Facebook. Basically, I never do such things, but this was just to humiliate my brother. Then we had lunch and went to our ancestral home in Alleppey and in fact, it was the best day in my life! Thanking God for such a lovely day, I went to bed.
The next day I woke up and switched on the television, just to hear some news around the globe.
HEADLINES : CHILDREN’S WRITER ARJUN SINHA WAS FOUND DEAD IN HIS HOTEL ROOM IN BOMBAY. SINCE HE HAD NOT OPENED THE DOOR, THE HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER WAS FORCED TO BREAK IN. HIS BODY WAS FOUND FULLY DECAYED AND THE AUTOPSY REPORT SAYS THAT HE HAD BEEN DEAD FOR TWO DAYS! COPS ARE ON INVESTIGATION.
What? What’s happening? I dashed to pick my mobile. The selfie was still there. If he was found dead in Bombay, then who is this..? Who is he..?
A quick glance behind me broadens my grin;
I chuckle quietly to myself.
My dress floats in the wind,
fluttering like a butterfly's wings.
Oh, how I would love to be a butterfly,
free to roam,
my beautiful wings shimmering and shivering,
knowing no stress,
A sharp gust of wind brings me back to reality,
and my grin reappears.
Tilting my face up,
I catch the sunlight,
and feel it refract as it hits my tears.
A drop kisses my cheek and lands on my hand
as I realize that I am still
stuck in the underground cave I have been in for
And I shudder as I think to myself
that my reality
isn't much of a reality at all.
A BROKEN PRICELESS BOND
Naked you came to this world,
Not by choice but lust,
Adolescent is ignorant to me,
I never inquired, I was selfish,
Among the sand castles,
Running, no toys and stubbornness,
Was a light skinned beautiful woman to be playing alongside her friends,
The Most beautiful of her nuclear clan,
The true value of being honest is what she never learnt,
So came the flatterers and her heart was captured,
They played their part in the destiny she chose,
Deflowered and her crown taken she got dethroned,
Casted away with nothing but a garden by the water with just one rose,
Trapped by thorns on long run,
Even with water from the river the rose refused to spurn,
Finally freed by nature,
Along came the flatterers again,
But this time she got a good bargain,
Out of the cold, during the alpha of the year, Emerged another rose from the earth,
She left time to water her roses and added fertilizer,
The hidden pride of her roses was her,
Lack of farming experience made it hard for her to take care of her roses,
But even the spreader, termites & weeds couldn't stop them from growing,
Soon to be harvesting,
In her spare time She got uprooted,
Wonder if she choose that or her choices was looted,
Bond got broken,
Now every time I look at them I see you,
Left her mark at 37,
We wished the numbers had gotten even,
No better words Describes a true mother but you,
controversial character but a perfect soul were once you,
Nothing I wish for now other than to be with you.