A Meeting Of Like Minds

Standing on the shoulder in the fog, a steady drizzle shrouding visibility he pulled the drawstrings on the hood of his parka tighter and stared into the gloom waiting for the right one. His monkey mind jumped from thought to thought searching, restless, wanting.

His right hand reached under the edge of the parka and fondled the cold bone handle of the Bowie knife that nestled in the waistband of his jeans. His mind running over images of the things he would do with the knife. Sweet caresses of gleaming blade on soft, tender flesh ripe for the opening.

He could almost hear the screams, the begging, and the pleading. The eyes shining with raw terror staring into his searching for deliverance, then going blank as the lifeblood flowed from every jagged crevice. It would be sweetness, oh yes.

He snapped to attention as a pair of headlights cut through the gloom. He strained his eyes to see the driver’s face, his thumb twitching. He waited until he could see clear then relaxed his thumb. No, not this one, not this time. There were children in the car. There were rules.

He shifted his weight from one leg to the other and resumed his reverie. Time was on his side. Another hour passed and the gloom deepened. Still he waited and watched. Another car approached. He strained to see a face, his thumb ready to shoot out from his side. No, not this one either, she would not do. The eyes never lied. She looked him over as she passed, her face an open book of question, wondering why he didn’t have his thumb out for a ride.

He did not give her so much as a glance as she passed. He was back in his sweet daydream. He opened his mind to possibility. He imaged sliding into the seat next to the bunny and flashing the disarming smile he had practiced to perfection. Winning their confidence. Putting them at ease. It was important, that. He needed them to feel trust. It made things so much sweeter.

**********************************************************

As he rounded a sharp curve he down shifted the baby blue Cadillac he’d hotwired in a parking lot a hundred miles back. He cursed once again under his breath at the gloom, the fog, and the drizzle. The urge was upon him and he would not be denied. Still, he was quite aware that the weather meant the possibility of hitchhikers was diminished. Ah, but fate would see him right. It always did. He need only be patient and vigilant. The right one would appear. His need for fresh meat would be sated soon enough. He kept his eyes on the shoulder, searching for a victim.

He drove on. Ten miles. Twenty. Thirty. There was nothing to be seen. He tried hard to quell the undercurrent of longing that was taking hold in the pit of his stomach. Unscrewing his thermos he took a swig of brandy-laced coffee and enjoyed the soothing warmth in his throat.

Five more miles and he thought he saw a dark, hooded figure in the road a quarter of a mile ahead. Fifty yards more and he was certain. He slowed as he approached. The figure was standing like a statue, his hand hanging still at his side. At last the hand shot out, thumbing for a ride. He slowed to a stop, suppressing the smile that played at his lips.

***************************************************************

His eyes strained to make out a face as another pair of headlights appeared. Yes, this was the one. A small niggle at the back of his mind but it was probably just the long wait in the cold gloom.

He reached for door handle and looked in at the driver.

“How far are you going?”

“Denver.”

“Great.”

He slid in next to the bunny and flashed his winning smile, feeling the cold bone handle of the knife nestle against his belly.

“Where are you headed?”

“Eternity.”

Burying The Hatchet – Part 2 – The End

I was glad I had some time to think before the meeting. See, me and Jonny go back a long ways. High school actually. We used to do shakedowns together. Dealt some dope too. We were doin’ so good we both decided to lose the whole school thing. I mean; it just wasn’t our bag. We quit school on the same day and never looked back.

Our parents didn’t like it so we moved in together and vowed to watch each other’s backs from then on, which we did for a long time. Then about a year ago we had a falling out over a dame, which is kinda funny when I think about it. Seems dames are our weak point.

Anyways, we parted company. Mostly we stayed out of each other’s way out of respect. We ended up at the same party last weekend and when I saw he was there I was gonna leave but he came over to me and started talkin’ about how we should make amends. Told me he had this sweet deal lined up and it was the sort of thing he’d only want to do with me.

I was touched, I tell ya. So this was the night we were to sit down together and talk it all out and start fresh. Yeah, that’s what I thought anyway. I had to wonder why he’d gone after my woman. I mean it was a woman that came between us in the first place.

You know, it don’t pay to try to figure things like that out, that’s what experience has taught me. You just have to work with what is. I grabbed my bag and headed to the car. It was time for our meeting.

We had planned to meet in a little club on the edge of town. A place we used to hang back in the old days. Quiet, out of the way, a good place to sort things out. I parked around the corner and checked the street as I headed for the door. I saw Jonny’s car parked out front.

I sling my bag over my shoulder and shove the door open. Just the bartender and two others guys. I see Jonny sittin’ in a booth at the back. He had a shot and a beer in front of him and a cigarette hangin’ out of the corner of his mouth. Same ol’ Jonny. I give him the nod and slide into the opposite seat, puttin’ my bag between my feet.

“Hey Stan, how’s tricks?” he says to me.

I tell him I’m good and order a beer. He takes a drag on his smoke and then crushes it out. I can see he’s thinkin’ how to start the ball rollin’. He looks up and me and smiles.

“Stan, I want ya ta know I’m really sorry about what happened last year. I been thinkin’, it was real stupid. It shouldn’t never have happened.”

I nod. “You’re right Jonny. Why’d we let a woman come between us?”

Jonny shrugs and leans in. “It’s history, pal. Like I told you, I want to make a new start. Let bygones be bygones, ya know?”

“I hear what you’re sayin’ Jonny. You wanna put the past behind us. Bury the hatchet.”

“See, I knew you’d understand. That’s what I want. Let’s bury the hatchet.”

I reached down into my bag and grabbed the handle and brought it up quick smart and did just that. Boy did I. It must have gone four inches into his head. He didn’t even make a sound. Just sat there with his eyes poppin’ out.

I got up and walked out without lookin’ back.

So like I said, now I’m sittin’ here waitin’ for the cops to take a powder so I can get my stuff and hightail it out of here. You gotta think things through.

The End

Burying The Hatchet – Part 1

Sometimes you don’t think everything through and it’s no big deal. Other times it can be annoying. Like now for instance. See, I’m sittin’ here wanting to get in to my apartment so I can pick up some stuff and get the hell out of Dodge.

No can do. The cops have got my place staked out. For the life of me I don’t know how they got onto me so fast. If I’d packed my stuff before I did the deed that got them staking me out I’d be long gone. Now I gotta wait.

No matter, gives me time to relive the satisfaction of settling things with Jonny. See, today was the day him and me were gonna get things straight between us. Work it all out; make a fresh start and what. I tell ya, if I hadn’t stopped in to the Stone Rose for a beer this afternoon it would all be different right now.

I was sitting at the bar, had Journey on the jukebox; everything was copasetic as my old man used to say. I was lookin’ sharp too. Every hair in place and my new black leather jacket just shoutin’ stud. Couple of the ladies was checkin’ me out but I had things to do, people to see.  A man’s gotta have his priorities straight before he lets other things get straight if you get my drift.

Anyways, Ralphie comes boppin’ in and parks it right next to me. Asks me what’s up. Hey Ralphie, I says. Goin’ ta see Jonny pretty soon. Mend some fences. Now Ralphie had this shit eatin’ grin on his puss like he does most of the time but as soon as I tell him the plan I see his smile flicker and then he gets a tic in his left eye.

Now I’ve known Ralphie since we were kids. Something wasn’t right.

So I says to him, “Hey Ralphie, what’s the buzz?”

He tries to wave it off and takes a long pull on his beer. I’m not goin’ for it. I tell him to spill or else. Ralphie knows when I say or else I mean it.

“Um, well, okay Stan, but don’t get pissed off at me, okay?”

I nod.

“You know I respect your old lady, Stan. But, um…well, I saw her at this road house out by the highway Tuesday night and she was…well…she was…”

“Hangin’ with her sister?”

“Not exactly Stan. She was with Jonny.”

He mumbled the last part into his beer but I caught it. I shouldn’t have grabbed his neck so hard but I was more than a little pissed off. He spilled his beer and I bought him another one.

“I’m sorry Stan,” he spluttered. “I was gonna tell ya anyway but when you said you were gonna see Jonny…”

“Yeah, okay. You sure she was “with” him?”

He averted his eyes. “Yeah, she was. There was no doubt.”

“Well then, I guess I got some thinkin’ to do. See ya around Ralphie.”

I headed out to my car and sat watching the traffic and thinking things through. I remembered something Jonny had said on the phone when he called me about workin’ things out.

I decided he was right, it was the thing to do. I headed home to get the necessaries.

Part 2 Tomorrow

Interval – Part 5 – The End

“There has to be an explanation. I’ll bet it’s a simple one.” Phil ran his fingers through his short grey hair and stared at the ceiling for a moment.”

He looked around the room and his eyes settled on the clock. “You say this clock hasn’t moved since you’ve been here? Well if time has stopped…”

He looked into Alice’s eyes and he saw a light come on in her head.

“Then that would mean…”

Phil and Alice disappeared simultaneously. Brenda let out a loud gasp and Mike and the new woman sat with their mouths open.

“This is insanity. How can people just disappear?”

“How can they just appear in the first place, Miss…?”

“I’m sorry. Becky. Becky Miller. You’re right, but that just means this whole thing is crazy. How the hell did I get here?”

She beat her fist against her forehead for a moment. “Why can’t I remember where I was before I was here? Maybe that’s a clue.”

Mike nodded. “Yeah, we’ve all been trying to remember. I think you’re right, if we could figure out why we can’t remember that then maybe it would help.”

Brenda was staring off into space and didn’t seem to be paying attention but then she spoke up.

“Did you hear what Phil said right before they vanished? ‘If time has stopped.’ But has it? Or has it only stopped for us?”

Mike frowned. “Somehow I don’t think that was what mattered. I think he was going with the notion that time had, in fact, stopped. At least that would make the most sense. Then he and Alice got something from that and they both disappeared.”

“But how does that help? What did they realize?”

Becky stood up suddenly as the blood drained from her face.

“Oh my god…I think…listen, what does it mean when time stops? Don’t over think it, just go with it.”

Mike and Brenda considered it but as they did three more people appeared in various parts of the room.

“Guys, don’t get distracted. I think I know what’s going on. When does time stop for any person? When you’re dead!”, she hissed.

As one Mike, Brenda and Becky vanished. The three people who had just appeared looked at each other and then at the table where the other three had been sitting.

One of the men stood up and scratched his head.

“Where the hell are we?”

One of the others was still staring at the table. “And who were those people that just disappeared?”

They all began looking around the room.

“Hey, there aren’t any doors here.”

“Yeah, and the clock isn’t working.”

The End

Interval – Part 4

“Look.” Mike let out a sigh and shook his head. “Here’s what we’ve been over – we’re all non-believers in the whole god, heaven and hell thing. None of us can remember the last time we ate but we aren’t hungry, nor do we have to relieve ourselves. We know who we are but details of our lives are sketchy. That’s it.”

The newcomer thought it over for a moment. “Well, okay. My name is Art. Art Samuels.” He looked at each of them in turn as they greeted him.

“How long have you guys been here?”

Mike pointed to the clock on the wall. “We have no idea. I mean, not long I don’t think, but there’s no sense of time here.” He thought carefully before his next comment. “One person disappeared right before you showed up.”

“Disappeared?”

Brenda nodded her head. “Yeah, he just vanished. Right after he said he had it all figured out.”

Alice could see that Art was dubious. “It’s not so strange when you consider that none of know how we got here and there are no doors.” She shrugged her shoulders and fell silent.

“He figured out what was going on?”

Mike nodded. “We think so. He was standing over there and then he said ‘I know what’s going –‘ and then he vanished.”

Art shook his head and shuddered. “Look, I don’t see any reason you’d have me on about this but…oh, I don’t know.”

He was staring at the table as they all sat in silence when his headed jerked upright.

“Oh shit, I’ll bet we’re all – “

He disappeared right before their eyes. They all stared at the seat he had been. Dumbfounded, they looked at each other in turn hoping against hope that someone knew what he was in the middle of saying. Brenda began crying. Alice comforted her again and Mike stood up and began pacing.

After a few minutes he walked over to a wall and punched it hard. He came back to the table rubbing his hand and cursing under his breath.

“This is a fucking nightmare if you’ll pardon my French”, he growled. “We’re all what? What could it be?”

Brenda sat upright and let out a deep breath. “We’re all fucked, that’s what.”

Alice felt like she was losing it. “Now look, we can’t afford to think that way. Two people seem to have figured this out. I think that’s why they vanished.”

“Yeah, but vanished to where? That’s another thing we can’t figure out. What if wherever they went is worse than here?”

Two more people appeared. This time Mike saw it happen, a man and a woman. They sat up and looked at each other. He looked at the two women; then went to far side of the room where the newcomers had appeared.

“Please, don’t be alarmed. We got here the same way you did. We don’t know what’s going on. My name is Mike. Please join us over there and we can tell you what we know.”

Introductions were made and the newcomers were filled in on everything that had happened up to that point. The man, Phil, appeared to be thinking hard. He hadn’t said anything up to then. He looked at Mike.

“Tell me something, these people who disappeared, the one’s you think figured out what was going on, were they the first ones here? I mean, was there anyone here when you guys appeared?”

Mike thought for a moment. “No. Well, Alice was here when I got here. Neil came after me.”

All eyes turned on Alice. “I can’t remember. It seems like there was but I don’t remember anyone vanishing before Neil did.”

She tried hard to remember what she’d seen when she arrived. “This is so strange. I don’t remember. In fact, I’m remembering less and less about everything.”

She hugged herself and hunched her shoulders forward.

“I’m so scared” she whispered.

part 5 Tomorrow

Interval – Part 3

Mike Jumped up and ran to where Neil had been standing while Alice tried to calm Brenda. He waved his arms in the now empty space and then backed away shaking his head.

“This can’t be happening. It’s just not possible.”

Brenda was crying and shaking her head. “What the hell is going on? Why is this happening?”

“We don’t know Brenda. We’re trying to figure it out.” Alice put her arm around the girl and spoke soothing words in her ear.

Mike walked back to the table and fell into his seat. He continued staring at the place Neil had been standing. He bit his lip and then let out a soft laugh.

“Well, apparently there is a way out. It just doesn’t involve doors.”

They all went silent. Brenda calmed down and Alice leaned in toward Mike.

“What did he say before he disappeared? I know what’s going on?”

“He didn’t get to the last word but I think that’s what he was going to say. What do make of it?”

Brenda wiped her face and frowned. “He figured all this out. Why we’re here. He must have.”

“And that made him disappear?” Alice was dubious. “We can’t say for sure, can we?”

“No”, Mike allowed, “You’re right. It could have been a coincidence, but what did make him disappear? Where is he now?”

Brenda shrugged her shoulders. Alice was deep in thought.

“What is it Alice? What have you got?”

“Do you remember what we were talking about just before he disappeared?

Mike thought for a moment and shrugged. “We were saying how strange it was that none of us remembers the last time we ate.”

Alice stood up and began pacing. “Right, and then he walked over there. He must have realized something. Maybe he figured out why we can’t remember and that led to figuring out why we’re here.”

“Yeah, but what good does that do us? We don’t know what he figured out and we don’t know if that’s connected to him disappearing.”

He rubbed his eyes and sighed. “Look, everything here is impossible. If there are no doors then how did we get in here? How can someone just disappear into thin air?”

“Okay, look, we don’t remember the last time we ate. We know our names, but what else do we know? I know where I live. I know what I do for a living, but the more I think about it there isn’t much else.”

“Alice, do you believe in Heaven and Hell?”

The look on Mike’s face unnerved her but she brushed it off. “No, I don’t. I’m an atheist. Why?”

“That’s what I figured. Now there are three things we all have in common.”

“I don’t see how – “

A gasp from across the room had all three of them swivelling their heads in unison. A man was lying on the floor near the far wall staring at the ceiling. He sat up abruptly and stared at them.

“What’s going on? Why…who are you people?”

They looked at each other and Mike let out a low whistle.

“This just keeps getting stranger. Come on over and sit down. We’ll tell you what we know if you’ll do the same.”

The man stood and looked around the room before moving toward the table.

“I don’t see any doors.”

“Well, you figured that one out faster than we did,” Alice allowed. “Tell me, when was the last time you ate?”

“What? I…damn, I don’t remember…”

“That’s the key,” Mike declared. “That and – “

He turned to the newcomer. “I’ll bet you don’t believe in Heaven and Hell.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” He sat down and looked them all over.

“That’s what we’d like to know”,  Brenda sighed.

Part 4 Tomorrow

Interval – Part 2

Mike snorted and shook his head. “I’d be inclined to think so too if I believed in it, but I don’t.”

Alice perked up at that. “I don’t either. Never have really. I mean they taught me about all that stuff as a child but I never thought it was true.”

Neil looked back and forth and thought for a moment. “It was just a flip comment. I mean, I don’t believe in Hell either. Or Heaven for that matter.”

Putting her head in hands Alice was the picture of despair. She looked up a minute later.

“Why are there no doors or windows? What kind of place is this?”

“I don’t know,” Neil muttered, “but we need to figure it out. I mean, what happens when we get thirsty or hungry or have to go to the bathroom?”

Mike’s face went blank. “Damn. I hadn’t thought of that. Well, I’m not hungry or thirsty anyway. Then again I can’t remember the last time I ate.”

Alice and Neil spoke at the same time. “I don’t either.”

“Doesn’t that seem strange?” Neil’s mind was working hard. “I mean, who doesn’t remember the last time they ate?”

They all sat in silence thinking it over.  Mike was about to speak when they heard a gasp coming from a far corner. They whipped their heads around simultaneously. A girl was sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest. She looked at them wide-eyed as they looked on.

“What the…where am I? What’s going on?”

The three at the table looked at each other. Neil broke the spell.

“That’s what we’d like to know. What’s your name?”

The girl stood slowly and edged her way along the wall looking all around. At last her shoulders dropped and she walked toward the table.

“First tell me who you people are and how I got here.”

Alice smiled and patted the seat next to her. “We don’t know how we got here, love. We’ve been trying to figure it out.”

The girl hesitated; then sat down. “What do you mean you don’t know?”

Mike gritted his teeth. “You don’t know either, why would you expect that we do?”

“I’m Brenda. Brenda Strang. Look, I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m sorry.”

She looked away and Mike kicked himself mentally. “No, I’m sorry. We’re all on edge. We don’t know what the hell is going on. How we got here, where this is. It’s all just…”

“Too much,” Alice offered. No one said anything for several minutes.

“Has anyone found a way out?”

“No. Just before you appeared we realized there aren’t any doors or windows.”

Neil stared at Alice for a moment. “When was the last time you ate, Alice?”

“I…don’t remember…how strange.”

Neil stood up and began wandering around the room. The others sat watching him for a minute then went back to talking amongst themselves.

“There has to be an explanation.” Alice declared. “There’s an explanation for everything.”

Mike took a deep breath and exhaled through his nostrils. “Well I for one will be happy when it gets here.”

The two women looked him over. He was a burly guy with old, faded tattoos and a receding hairline. He was dressed in jeans and a plaid work shirt. Alice noted the dirt under his fingernails. She decided he was telling the truth about being a mechanic.

She was about to question Brenda further when Neil let out with a loud gasp. They turned in unison to see what the matter was. Neil was standing staring upward with a dumbfounded look on his face.

“I know what’s going – “

He disappeared before he could finish his sentence. They all sat staring for several more seconds, what they had seen simply wouldn’t register. Until Brenda screamed and brought them all back into the moment.

Part 3 Tomorrow

Interval – Part 1

Jerking forward with a gut-wrenching start Neil put his hand on his chest and then relaxed as the front legs of his chair connected with the floor. That was close. He looked around and confusion set in. Where was he?

He couldn’t decide if it was a diner or a waiting room of some sort. The décor said dining room but there was no lunch counter and no waitresses. The clock on the wall said waiting room but…waiting for what?

He stood and glanced around. There were two other people in the room and both of them were looking at him intently. Mild embarrassment set in and he sat back down and tried to work out what was happening.

He had been…doing what?  He couldn’t remember. How had he gotten here? More to the point where was he? Alarm began to build. Had he suffered a stroke? Who were these other people and why were they looking at him?

All at once they stood and walked over to the table he was sitting at sat down. No on seemed to want to speak first. It was the woman who finally did.

“Who are you?” She was looking at neither of them; rather she seemed to be talking to the opposite wall.

Neil took a punt. “My name is Neil Alton. Who are you?”

She turned her gaze on him and furrowed her brow. “Alice…Dover. Where are we?”

Neil shook his head. “I have no idea. I was hoping one of you might know.”

The other man put his hands over his ears for a moment and then looked at Neil.

“Is this some weird joke or something? How the hell did I get here?”

Alice took on a look of fright. “You don’t know either? Oh my…what’s going on here? I can’t remember…what…”

“Okay, look, my name is Mike Stillman and I live at 14 Park Street. I’m a mechanic. I have a wife and two children.”

He nodded his head with satisfaction and looked expectantly at the other two. Neither seemed to know what to say. Alice’s eyes were edged with tears. Neil was getting angry.

“I know who I am and where I live but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. I don’t know how I got here or why this is happening but I’m leaving.”

He stood up abruptly and looked around for a door. The room was not large, nor was it cluttered. It didn’t take long for dull horror to set in. There was no door on any of the four walls. There was no way out of the room. Neil dropped heavily back into his seat and stared at the clock on the wall. The second hand was not moving.

The other two began looking around as Neil sat staring into space. Both seemed to come to the same realization he had at the same time. Alice’s hand flew to her mouth and stifled a scream. Mike gripped the edges of the table and stared at Neil.

“What the hell is happening here?”

Neil barely registered the question but shook his head at last and mouthed the words ‘I don’t know’, shaking his head.

“This can’t be happening. I’m having a nightmare. That has to be it.” Alice folded her arms across herself and looked down at the table. “I just want to wake up now. Why can’t I wake up?”

Neil stood and walked to the nearest wall and ran his hand along it as he moved to the corner. He continued until he came back to the starting point. The others watched him in silence. He walked back to the table and sat down.

“Maybe we’re in Hell.”

Part 2 Tomorrow

A Hip Replacement

Checking her look in the mirror Cheri made a slight adjustment to her boob tube, a bit more cleavage surely wouldn’t go amiss, and hiked her miniskirt a smidge. A girl on the prowl needed to be daring.

Selecting a shade of lipstick two stops past cherry red and a little cornflower blue eye shadow and she figured her look was complete. Still, she couldn’t resist some strategically placed Tabu perfume for insurance.

She blew a kiss at her reflection. “You are one hot momma and don’t you forget it!”

Tonight Darren was going to get the picture. Two long years she had been going out with him and it had been fine, no really, but at twenty-two she was coming into her own and all of her efforts to remake him had been for naught. It was time to ditch Darren and see what life had to offer the new Cheri. It was New Year’s Eve, 1979. A whole new decade was upon them.

Sometimes you just needed to take the bull by the, um…horns. Yeah, that was it. She was a beautiful butterfly coming out its shell thingy, that’s what. She was gonna rock the Kasbah. Well, the club was called The Inferno, but whatever.

Picking out some suitable stiletto heels, hot pink to match her tube top, she did another quick turn in front of the mirror, gave herself thumbs up and went to check the address of the club. She told Darren she would meet him there at 11:30. A glance at the clock told her she’d better get a move on if she wanted to get there in time to generate some interest so she’d be ready when Darren arrived.

Arriving at the club she parked her car and checked out the people hanging around out front. The girls were the usual slags. None of them could hold a candle to her, like, for sure. The guys ranged from hopeless hipster wannabes to a bit of all right. She eyed up a tall bit of spunk with an adorable curl in the middle of his forehead as she went in.

Encouraged by the looks she was getting she swayed up to the bar and ordered a Fuzzy Navel. Peach schnapps was soooo yummy. She sucked on the straw suggestively as she found a convenient column to lounge against and wait.

It didn’t take long for Mister Right to home in on her. She felt her cheeks flush as he flashed a wicked, winning smile on approach. His baby blue silk shirt was a match for her eye shadow and it was unbuttoned half way down revealing a braided gold chain and rock hard pecs without a trace of hair, just the way she liked. The bulge enhancing black pants completed the ensemble.

“Hey there gorgeous, tell me something, did it hurt?”

Batting her eyelashes at him she smiled and inquired, “Did what hurt?”

“When you fell from Heaven.”

He was suave. He was hip. As her heart skipped a beat she breathed, “Not at all.”

“My name is Gordon. I see you like Fuzzy Navels. Let me get you another.”

She was almost salivating as she watched him walk to the bar. He would do, for sure. She gave him a smile that left no doubt when he returned. They retired to a quiet booth away from prying eyes and got better acquainted. Darren had been glaring several minutes before they noticed.

“Cheri, what the hell is this?”

She gave him a coy look. “Oh, hi Darren.”

Gordon didn’t like the scene. “Hey, loser, get lost. Can’t you see we’re busy here?”

Darren grabbed her wrist and Gordon was on him in a flash. When he was done Darren was in a bad state of disrepair.

Gordon, pumped and ready grabbed Cheri’s arm. “Come on baby, I know a better way to ring in the new year.”

They walked out of the club arm in arm. Cheri’s face was lit up like a dime store window. Her new life was just beginning.

One Day In Venice Beach

Strolling along the beachfront on the first day of her visit to L.A. Marsha revelled in the heady atmosphere of Venice Beach. She had been to the house Jim Morrison had lived in and Orson Wells’ place too. The canals were nice, though nothing to compare with Amsterdam she had decided. The arcade-like atmosphere of the businesses along the strip was a welcome assault on her senses. There was nothing of the sort in Canton, Ohio, that was for sure.

She had lunch in a wonderful café at the end of the strip then walked back the way she had come to take in more of the sights and sounds. As she passed the weight lifting area she came upon a lone figure sitting on a bench. He looked as though he had been through hell. A cast on his left leg, a cast on his right arm, various cuts and bruises and two very blackened eyes told a tale of woe that tugged at her heart strings. As a nurse she knew only too well the pain he must be in.

He saw her watching him and managed a wan smile. She went and sat next to him. He seemed so shy and vulnerable she just had to speak.

“My, you’ve certainly been through it haven’t you? I hope you don’t mind. My name is Marsha.”

She put out her hand then realized he couldn’t shake it. She gave him a sheepish smile and he managed a small laugh.

“Larry. I’m pleased to meet you Marsha. Beautiful day isn’t it?”

“Oh, I’m enjoying it so much. Um, if you don’t mind my asking, what happened to you? Auto accident?”

He shifted himself around to face her, grimacing as he did. “No, nothing like that. A burly man with quite a temper thrashed me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time you might say.”

Marsh shook her head. “I just don’t know what this world is coming to. Was it something you said to him?”

“No, I never spoke a word. I was trying to get away from him when I saw the look on his face. I wasn’t fast enough. He grabbed me by the hair and threw me to the floor. Then he twisted my arm behind my back and broke it.”

“That’s terrible! You were just trying to get out of his way and he did that? What about your leg?”

“Oh, he stomped it with his heavy steel-toed boots. I tell you, I’ve never felt such pain in my life. After that there was no chance of getting away at all.”

“That’s just horrible!”

“Yeah, then he started punching my face. I begged him to stop but he was an animal. He kept screaming at me, his spit was flying into my face. I thought I was goner.”

“Oh you poor, poor man.”

“Yeah, well, what are you gonna do? I’m been on the street for a week now. I can’t go back to where I live, I’m sure he’s looking for me.”

“Looking for you? You mean he wants to do you more harm?”

Larry shrugged. “Some people just have no sense of balance I tell you.”

Marsha reached in her purse and took out a hundred dollar bill. “Here, I want you to have this. I won’t take no for an answer.”

Larry blushed and took the bill from her hand. “God bless you Marsha, you’re an angel.”

“Poor Larry. So what happened after he beat you? What made him stop?”

“Well, his wife hit him over the head with a lamp and knocked him out.”

“His…wife? What was she doing there?”

“Well, I was in his bed when he burst in. She was under me.”

“What? You mean you were…”

“Hey, how was I to know she was married to a Hell’s Angel?”

As he sat there after Marsha left Larry couldn’t decide which hurt more, the slap or the loss of the hundred-dollar bill.