Tag Archives: Fiction

The Corner Of State And Main

The Corner Of State And Main

I am a woman of habit. I find a lot of comfort in knowing what is coming next and have always had a strong aversion to surprise.

For instance, I drive the exact same route to and from work every day. I drive this route at the exact same time each day. I know which song will be on the radio at the exact time I pass a certain shop or hit a specific intersection.

Other than the possible deviation in the timing of the traffic lights, it is the same thing day in and day out. And I like it that way.

On one particular day, however, an additional deviation was introduced to my tidy and controlled commute.

It was an unusually gloomy day. Swollen, dark clouds hung low in the sky, making you instinctively duck like you were passing through a smaller than usual doorway. The Thanksgiving holiday and time with family loomed as ominously as those rain clouds.

I was stopped at the traffic light at the corner of State and Main. As I often did, I was thinking to myself that every town in the nation must have an intersection of State and Main. And, as always, I thought this while humming along to an old Beach Boys song because it was 7:47AM and that’s what was always played at 7:47AM.

Glancing to the left, I saw Mandarin Palace, the best Chinese restaurant in town. Mu Shu pork, six pancakes and extra hoisin sauce every Friday night.

But today there was a girl, no more than 16 years old, standing outside the ornate red and gold doors to the restaurant. She wore ill-fitting jeans, a couple of sweaters topped with a jean jacket and a knit cap. She looked unwashed and exhausted, like so many others I had seen on these streets.

But rather than smoking a cigarette and looking angry, like so many She was playing a well-worn violin.

I turned off the radio and rolled down my window. I strained to hear over the hustle and bustle of street noise as a mournful and beautiful melody wafted into the car. It may well have been the most moving sound I had ever heard.

I closed my eyes and let the ethereal music wash over me.

I was unpleasantly startled out of my reverie by an annoyed car horn and I saw the light had turned green. I quickly rolled up my window and continued my drive.

The following day, at the corner of State and Main, I once again saw the girl and listened to her beautiful playing until the light changed and I was forced back into my routine commute.

She was there each day for the next two weeks, always playing the violin but never playing the same song. Each piece more beautiful and perfect than the last. I never knew what I would hear each morning and I liked it that way.

Until the random Wednesday when I pulled up to the intersection of State and Main, rolled down my window and heard nothing but street noise. I looked up to see only the gold and red doors of the Mandarin Palace, but no violin player.

She never appeared again and I returned to my predictable mornings thinking of who she was and where her music had come from. After a while, I began to wonder if I was the only one who had heard it.

But, my tidy and controlled commute never held the same appeal to me again and from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

 

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Dipping my toe, once more, into a little bit of fiction through the Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge.

This is my response to the Speakeasy prompt, which was to write a fictional piece in less than 750 words using “Every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her” as the last line.

Please take a minute to click on the badge below to check out all the details!

Peace out,
Irene

1:11 PM

1:11 PM


She traded it all for a silver kiss. A slow, smooth, cool, decadent kiss that reminded her of who she was.

She marked the time of the kiss, so simple and benign at first, at exactly 1:11PM. A time that, for some metaphysical, astrological or numerological reason, she was inextricably tied to.

Years later she would continue to be slightly obsessed by this time of day. If it was 1:09, she would stare at the time until it progressed to 1:11 and would feel a small outburst in the pit of her stomach. At 1:12, it would be gone.

On the first instance of 1:11, she was on a plane flying to attend her mother’s funeral.  She had always been exceptionally close to her mother, but in the past five years she had been swallowed slowly but steadily into the vacuum of dementia. She would have preferred to be able to say goodbye in a much more cinematic way with a last thank you to the woman who raised and loved her unconditionally, and her mother gifting her some final words of wisdom and love. But, they were destined to have the kind of farewell that slowly slid into oblivion without any real end point to refer back to over the years for some sort of solace. Her last lucid conversation with her mother went unchecked and, try as she might, she could not remember what it was or when it took place.

She felt  her own life had taken on some of the tone and color of dementia. The thread that connected her to her unique likes, dislikes, passions thinning to the point of breakage. She could only picture herself in a hazy, watery reflection, no longer in sharp focus.

This is what she was thinking of as she stared out over the fluffy marshmallow landscape outside her small window at 1:11 Mountain Standard Time.

Then, the second instance of 1:11. The kiss.

She was at a crossroads. Possibly the first of her life, or at least the first she took note of. She’d always been a person who winged it. Never a planner, just waited for the signs of what her next step should be by what crash landed at her feet at a particular moment. Then, she’d stop, say “What the hell?” and move into that direction. She lived her life as if she were in a maze of life choices. Hit a wall, turn right. Hit a wall, turn left. But, always keep moving.

WIth this new wall there didn’t seem to be any logical way to turn. She just kept moving against it like some kid’s wind-up toy.

Unbelievably, as she now stood in front of her husband, unsure of what to say, she allowed herself a glance at the clock.

1:11.

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(Now, if you are so inclined, please go directly here: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/107-voting/ to read other great writers and vote for your favorites…hopefully mine being one of them!)

 

My Hit Man

My Hit Man

And now for something completely different….

My Hit Man

I threw it on the ground and burst into tears as I watched the light bounce off the gold ring that had, at one time, held so much promise. It rolled on the pavement and stopped dead when it hit the curb.

Jumping into my car, I drove recklessly, saturated with anger and hurt. I needed to drown myself in a strong drink. I’ve often wondered what possessed me to choose that particular bar. Fate? I don’t believe in fate. Bad luck? Good luck? I’ll probably never know.

You see, I had just received the fatal blow in my crumbling marriage. All the money was gone. He had said it like it had grown legs and walked away. The affairs? So stereotypical and pathetic. But leaving me broke to start over alone, well, it caught me by surprise.

Tear-stained and disheveled, I was relieved I’d chosen a dark little place where I could drown in self-pity undisturbed. As I climbed up on a bar stool, a bartender materialized and asked me what I’d like. I caught myself as I started to order my usual glass of wine. This was a big girl night.

“Tequila” I said.

As my eyes slowly adjusted to the dim lighting, I scanned the room and took in my surroundings. Dingy wallpaper with a sad pattern of stars and hearts. The faint smell of ammonia.

There was one other person in the bar, sitting a couple of seats away from me. His back was to me but I could see a helmet of unnaturally black hair that Hurricane Katrina couldn’t budge. He was wearing a shiny silk shirt and popping peanuts into his mouth nonchalantly. He gave me a glance, nodded and went back to his original position, leaning on the bar, popping those nuts.

The bartender placed my poison in front of me. I knocked it back in one shot and felt the familiar fire. However, this wasn’t college anymore so I proceeded to choke. Loud and hard. I was starting to wonder if I’d pass out when I felt a meaty hand slap my back. I turned to see who was beating me and saw it was my peanut-popping friend.

“You OK?” The accent was East coast, out of place.

“Yes.” I croaked.

I gratefully took the glass of water the bartender put in front of me, sipped it, and asked for that wine.

“You don’t look too good.” Who was this guy, Joe Pesci?

“I’m well aware of that.” I snapped.

He shrugged and took a long pull off his beer.

Now I felt bad. “I’ve had a very rough day.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

And here’s the really weird thing. Before I knew it, I poured the whole, ugly story out to this stranger. It was like a projectile confession.

“Now I see how manipulative he was. How he controlled everything, especially the money.” I was slurring. “And, as I grew older, he started to look younger. He dyed his hair. He looks like a geriatric Backstreet Boy.”

He laughed at this and shook his head.

“So pathetic.” I said, smiling.

There were now several empty glasses lined up in front of me and I was leaning heavily on the bar. This wiseguy was a surprisingly good listener.

“You must think I’m pretty stupid,” I said. And, oddly, I cared about what he thought of me.

“I think you’re a nice woman who got stuck with an a-hole.”

That was sweet.

“What is your name?” I asked, suddenly realizing I never asked.

“Vitorio, but most people call me Vito.”

“Like Vito Corleone?” I asked, facetiously.

He drained the last of his drink. “Somethin’ like that.”

“Wanna whack him? Give him cement wingtips?” I thought I was hilarious.

He smiled, paused for a moment, then leaned in to me.

“I could take care of the a-hole for you,” he whispered to me.

“What?”

“I make a call. Problem solved.”

I looked at him for a moment then burst into laughter. “You are good. You sound just like one of those guys.”

“Listen, this guy is nothing but pollution. I’m very into cleaning up.”

This was getting weird. Well, weirder. But there was something about it that sent a shiver up my back.

“So, are you saying you’d kill him?” I asked, incredulous.

“No, I wouldn’t do it.”

I felt instantly sober.

“Excuse me. I need to go to the ladies room.”

I staggered to the bathroom and looked at the haggard, messed up face in the mirror. Don’t be ridiculous, I said to myself. But, that shiver up my back persisted.

Once I felt a little more in control, I walked back to the bar. My hit man was nowhere to be found.

“The gentleman paid your tab and I’ve called for a taxi to come pick you up.”

“Oh…thanks.” I said weakly. Relieved, I gathered my things and started toward the door.

“Oh, miss,” the bartender stopped me, “Your friend asked me to tell you to consider your problem solved.”

I ran out the front door but the street was deserted.

Sitting in the cab, my mind raced. What do I do? I grabbed my cell phone. No signal! The ride back to my house took an eternity. Once I got home and finally had service, I dialed. Voicemail, damn it! I hung up. What was I supposed to say anyway? I’d sound like a lunatic.

I woke late the next morning with a well-deserved hangover. It was while I was in the shower that all of the events of the night before came rushing back to me. In the light of day I felt pretty stupid. He was probably an actor working on a part. And Vito? Please!

So, that’s what I chose to believe.

And now, as I stand here, throwing a handful of dirt on my husband’s coffin, I wonder again; was it fate? I don’t believe in fate. Bad luck? Good luck? I’ll probably never know.