Tag Archives: story

JOY

Something strange happened to me the other day.

I was in the airport bathroom en route to Phoenix when two Latino ladies approached me. One was older with lines of age marking her face and hints of grey about her forehead. She was dressed in some heavy clothing for August and had a work apron on top of it all.

The other was younger, her wide black eyes more pronounced by the smoothness of her skin. A loose patterned sweatshirt hung about her over black leggings.

They spoke quickly in Spanish to one another as they approached me with some hesitation. The young woman said, “She would like for you to leave a comment.”

I scrunched my brow, unsure of what she meant. “You want what?” I asked.

“Senora, Senora, ” the older one said. She raced back over to a janitorial cart and brought back a stack of napkins. On one of them, someone had written some words in Spanish in a lovely, cursive font.

“See, see.” The woman pushed the napkin closer to me, keeping an expectant gaze. I stood dumbfounded, unable to read it. My one year of language class was not paying off.

“She wants you to write a comment,” the younger one spoke again, “of this place.” She held out her hands. “Of her work.”

“Oh, okay,” I said, finally grasping the meaning. The older woman laid down a new napkin eagerly, placing the previous one close by for an example.

“Olga,” she said, pointing to herself. Her smile brightened as I uncapped the pen and started to write.

When I handed it back, she thanked me repeatedly and then went right back to work, wiping all the counters down to even though they were already clean.

I’ve thought back on this interaction in several passing moments now. And what I always circle back to is the woman’s sheer joy for the comment. She had no idea whether i would write something good or bad. But yet she seeked it all the same – language barrier or not.

And I could see her dedication to the job, too. Cleaning bathrooms is not a pleasant job – and the ones at the airport are nowhere near the top of the easy lit. But here she was, so motivated and happy. Utterly happy.

And then I think about my own job and how a day with an emotion like that is nonexistent. I would never ask for a comment card for the feat of making the day that much worse. But why is it like that? Why shouldn’t I seek the same joy?

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – 5

That’s when Janet walked into my life, like some god-damned guardian angel. She had apparently been watching me since I had moved in across the hall and wasn’t a fan of the people who I kept dragging through the door. Trash I believe was the proper term she used.

And she really didn’t like the smell of schnapps that radiated off of my presence.

“Everyday,” she complained at my door, her face infused with rage, “you walk out this door waddling like a fucking duck. Stumbling into things. You like my wall a lot–particularly when it’s fucking three am and I’m sleeping.”

She screamed at me for what felt like hours that morning. The next time I pulled any of that crap, specially bringing around the trash because she knows who they really are–she lowered her eyes–she was calling the cops.

Now that last bit finally got my attention. Jail had been fun and all, but I certainly didn’t want to go back. Cops were not what I wanted to see when probation was still hung around your neck.

And then, as she just kept on yammering, I realized something. The person she was describing….the woman she was so pissed about….was my mother. I had become just like my disgusting, delusional mother.

In my shock, I started crying. I think at one point it got so out of control I had to sit on the ground, clutching my knees to my chest as a strange source of comfort.

I didn’t know Janet and it had become apparent that she hated me with the list of complaints she just presented. But even as I went into this fit of hysterics, she didn’t leave. She stayed right there with me. A little astonished and taken a back at first, but for whatever reason she understood. She sat with me and held me, not saying a word.

For the first time in my life, someone cared. She stayed.

PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – 3

I mean, come on? It can’t be that hard. Pull the trigger. Slide the knife. Drop a forty ton cement truck on his head.

Okay, maybe the last one is a little eccentric, but…

Before you judge me just like everyone else – Tommy included – you should probably know the story first. Like actually take the time to understand. Don’t dismiss me or write me off for a stereotype. There is a lot more to me than that.

When I was ten, a bucking blonde brat that didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quiet,’ my single, trailer-loving mother met a man. Rodney.

His sudden presence in mine and my younger brother’s life was surprising. You see, my mother had always worked hard. She pulled two jobs and rarely ever took time off throughout the year. And the time she did have was filled with her collapsed on the sofa watching soap operas and filling her veins with booze. And I can’t forget the constant slurred shouting at us about her feet that felt like jello and the endless exhaustion she had felt since the day of my birth. It was, of course, our fault that she had to work so hard. Nevermind the fact that she chose risky sex in the back of sedans as a highschool past time.

With all this work my mother did, I was stunned in how she found the time to meet a man. And more stunned that any man took the time to notice her. Rodney was okay looking if you go for the tight wife-beater and pot-belly types. But what my mother really liked was his money.

He bought her things. Lots of things. Flowers, clothes, jewelry, cars. Yes, cars plural.  My mother even go to go to one part-time job with him around. She was in heaven.

So you’re thinking much like my twelve-year-old mind was one day after fixing me and Jake our third box of mac and cheese. Where does this guy get this money? And why on earth my mother? I mean, I heard the screaming and bed bumping game they loved to play at night, but was that enough?

It didn’t take me long once he found me old enough to start taking on responsibility. That’s really what he said. “You are now old enough to start taking on responsibility.” With that he shoved three pounds of cocaine into my Hello Kitty backpack and told me to stop at fifth and Lewis on my way to class. The guy there would know what to do. Just say Rodney sent you. I still remember seeing my mother standing behind him, smirking with white powder crusted around her nose. Now her kids may finally start knowing what working hard is all about.

And that was my first drug run.

I made out with a whole single chocolate bar from the ordeal. With each visit that continued after, the reward got sweeter.

By the time I was sixteen, I was running the system with Rodney and we worked well together. Really well. I handled the clients and delivery. He handled the cash and product. He was never late in meeting my customers demands, and I was never late in bringing in the profits. My own brother even became my top runner. (It’s hard to believe those sweet kids could do any harm.) It became the family business. Sure, mom had a little concern every now and then but a new bottle of Captain Jack would always shut her up.

The money was amazing. True it was hard to leave and take a vacation on it, but it could still get you what you wanted to make home that much more comfortable.

Everything was smooth sailing. I even became popular at school. “Paging Paige,” they would say. Highschoolers were constantly in need of a fix. Something had to transcend them out of their boring, suburban lives. And they would pay you close to anything to make it happen.

At one of those parties is where I met Trevor – this red head, geeky kid with dad jean’s and a plaid button up. He looked so out of place in the crowd, just standing with his hands tucked neatly in his pockets. Everyone around him drunk or high and shouting to speak. But his voice was calm and smooth – he had everything under control for a teenager. Or so it seemed.

Trevor was unlike the other boys I had met before. That usually started with a nod and ended with a quickie on the bathroom counter. But Trevor was shy and was actually more interested in me. You have to understand that was a total shock. Everyone else just wanted to know what I could do for them. Never would they ever ask about what they could do for me. Or even about me for that matter.

And so we started dating – me and Trevor. I told him a lot about myself. Rodney, Jake, my mother. Everything from age one to present day. And he just soaked it up. Nodding, smiling, offering advice. Listening – it was a new part of human life for me.

He would park his bike in the drive at five sharp and we would take off for our daily walks. Down and back my street, stopping sometimes at a small park; enjoying a streak of normal in my otherwise strange life. I learned a little about him and he learned a lot about me. For months this continued, just me and him.

Funny thing is, Trevor never forgot a word of our conversations. No, it was near possible for him to. Oh and he just played it so well on the witness stand, spilling our secret words and amusements to every fucking reporter, judge, attorney, and god-forsaken juror in the courthouse. You see, every time we met he wore a special little wire that fed our magnificent lovebird voices to a DEA van a few blocks away. For him the whole thing was just another undercover job.  I was the mouse and he was the cat, tenderly waiting to sink in his teeth. And sink them he did.

All said and done, our operation was raided and picked bone dry. I missed out on the action, being cuffed and sitting in a cell at the time, but word has it that Rodney fought back, firing all the AK’s that we kept lying around. He didn’t win, but did manage to accidentally nail my brother in the back of the head during the commotion. They say he died instantly with my bereaving mother dwindling between tears and vomit beside him. I have always felt regret for my brother – it should have been me beside him instead of the trainwreck called mother. His thirteen years were short and ugly.

Since that day, I never trusted anyone again.

 

 

 

PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – ONE

What did he say?” Janet’s face suddenly loomed between the stainless steel counter and shelf. Her eyes were wide, larger than normal with her hair tucked into a cap.
I shook my head. “Nothing you need to know. I split the order ticket and slipped it over to her. “Don’t put onions on that burger. The guy is allergic.”
Come on, don’t avoid the subject.” Janet smirked, her upper lip curling in that distasteful smile. Why did I always tell her my secrets?
I clicked my tongue and tossed my hair over my shoulders. “He said he’d do it. ‘Easy stuff.’ Says it’s actually a pretty regular request.
Janet’s jaw dropped open and she gave a little yelp. “Really? Boy, I would never…” She dwindled off, her thoughts gravitating in that little head of hers.
Hey!” An old man appeared just inside the swinging doors, his face crude and unshaven. “I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes out there just to get a cup of coffee. Do you think that’s a possibility or what?” Spit flew from his mouth as he spoke.
Sorry about that, sir.” I replied, forcing a smile. “I’ll be right out.”
Good,” he grunted, swinging the door hard behind him.
I rolled my eyes and took a seat on the old wooden chair we leave in the kitchen for breaks.
Aren’t you going to help him?” asked Janet, the sound of popping grease started to fill the room.
That grump can help himself.”
Janet laughed. “Just hope that Tommy doesn’t walk in. I’m sure you remember what happened last time, “she added with a serious undertone.
I shrugged. Tommy was as horrible a manager as she was a waitress. I sat back and pulled my cell out, maniacally scrolling through my friend’s latest updates.
So that’s it. You’re really going to do this?” Janet peeked back through the counter. “Don’t you think, you know, there are other ways?”
I shrugged. “It’s gotta be done. Easy stuff,” I repeated with a grin.
Hmph!” I heard the rattle of a basket and paper as she plopped the burger in. I stood up to retrieve it, happy that at least would have one satisfied customer when I walked back out. Maybe even a decent tip for once.
Janet range the bell giving me a sharp look then slid the order over. I hated that damn bell and she knew it. As I grabbed for the basket, she kept her hold firm on the other side until I finally looked up at her. “Just remember,” she said in a low tone, “once it’s done, there is no coming back from it.”

I pinched my lips and gave her a slim nod. Janet may be nosy, but she was always looking out for me. I often wondered what I would doing if she had never moved in next to me. Probably still laying on my couch waiting for my mother to call. A few bottles on the floor, a few pills down my throat. 

She let go of the basket and turned back into the kitchen, giving out a loud sigh.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I can handle it. One more week and it will all be over. I promise.”

She looked up and gave a a weak smile. “I hope so.”

I left the counter, feeling somewhat better about our conversation.  It wasn’t until I had crossed through the double doors back into the main room that I realized the burger had onions on it. And the grump was talking to Tommy.

AFTERNOON

Not sure where I want to go or if I’m even going anywhere on this one…but that’s just what excerpts are…

My back was aching again. I pushed the fabric cart forward trying to diminish the pain, but it kept sweeping up my spine. Pausing in the hall, I lightly pressed my fingers on the lower part of my back and straightened.

Four more hours to go. These sheets weren’t going to wash themselves.

I stooped back down and headed for the elevator.

A young girl waited there, dressed in a yellow pleated skirt holding tight to a small blue purse. Her face was scrunched as she stared down at the patterned carpet of the hall.

Hello.” I smiled warmly.

She glanced quickly at me and then brought her eyes straight back to the floor. I frowned. I usually at least get a smile back from young ones.

The elevator dinged and slid open, inviting us into it’s dull metallic shimmer. I waited for her to walk in and then shifted my weight to slide the cart across the threshold, feeling by back tighten as I pushed.

Stubbing in the plastic button for level one, I turned and asked, “What floor, hun?”

She shrugged and continued her downward look. Her right hand tightened on her purse.

Alrighty,” I whispered under my breathe. “Hopefully one it is.”
A strange, nas
al whine began to come from the corner where she stood as the elevator began it’s descent. Her face wrinkled and tears began running from her eyes.

Surprised by the girls reaction, I asked, “Do you have a fear of elevators or something?”

She shook her head violently, wiping her hand across her nose. “No….it’s just…”

My eyes widened as I waited for her to finish the sentence, which took some effort as she struggled to composed herself.

I’m pregnant,” she finally said.

The elevator dinged as the shiny doors slid open. Unsure of how to reply, I stood at the doors motionless. Do I comfort her? Or should I be looking for her parents? Why was she by herself anyway?

But before I had decided on the answer, the girl rushed past me in a daze and began sprinting down the hall. I watched as she ran out the glass door and turned towards the street.

FEVERISH (Part 2)

I woke up with a start, shocked at my surroundings. When I had laid down last night, it was in my small uptown apartment on a stuffed down-pillow wrapped with one thousand thread count sheets. But where I laid now was far from that.

A hard, starch white elevated bed with what felt like a rock for a pillow. The bed had been placed in the center of a round room with padded walls. Sunlight streamed in from the glass ceiling above, filling the room with more unnecessary brightness. My eyes started to throb from the numbing intensity.

I looked at my clothes to find them changed as well. A grey tunic hung loosely about my chest with a matching draw-string pant. The fabric had a rough texture to it, leaving my skin to feel dry and slightly irritated.

I flipped myself up onto my side and swung my feet onto the floor. But as soon as I tried to stand I felt my legs give from weakness and I plummeted onto the ground. I let out a moan as I tried to stand back up. Every part of my body felt as if it were mush, fumbling and releasing any tension in the muscles. Why was I so tired? I gave up after a while and lay on the floor, finding it surprisingly as comfortable as the bed I had been placed.

Questions started to fill my head but I was unable to do anything about them as even my mind seemed to feed off the exhaustion that had captured my body. So I relented and began to doze off. Just as the heaviness of sleep came upon me a small door opened up through the padding and a woman dressed in blue entered carrying a clipboard and a book.

“Oh no! Mr. Urnst, you’re not supposed to be up. It’s all rest for you right now. Thank goodness for this padding, right?” She flashed a smiled and quickly walked over to me. After a few heaves, I was back on the bed laying stiff as a board.

“Okay, now.” She started writing on her clipboard as she hummed a tune and walked around me, every so often poking a body part. After a while she nodded and then walked up to an area directly in front of my bed. She gently pressed a square next to a small inset in the wall. A release in pressure sounded and a cabinet-sized door swung open from the panel. Inside was a number of switches and lights. She flipped one towards the far right and instantly a thin white ledge began to protrude from the wall, about the height of my bed.

A click was heard as she shut the cabinet door. “This is for you when you’re ready,” she said as she set the book down on the ledge near me. “It’s everything you’ll need to know about the first phase. And then some.” She smiled.

“Miss?” I had finally charged enough energy to speak “Can…can you te….tellll….llll…” I lost the sentence as I spoke, finding myself breathing deeply.

The woman chuckled as she shook her head. “You testers. All of you are always so surprised. I can just never figure out why. I mean what did you expect? Oh well, just how it goes.” She winked and began walking towards the door. At the last second she turned and said, “I almost forgot, this is your first awakening. Silly me.” She straightened her back, lifting her chin awkwardly and said, “On behalf of the Untouchable Staff, welcome to the training facility. You have officially started you’re testing to become an Untouchable. Or as some of us like to say, a superhuman.”

MIND BLOWING

FADE IN:

INT. LIVING ROOM – MIDDAY

Two young men lounge on an old, flowered couch. The room is musty and dirty. Bottles, greasy paper food bags, wrappers, and other miscellaneous trash litter the coffee table and floor around them. In the center of the table is a glass bong, warm from recent use. Rock music can be heard softly in the background.

STEPHEN, wearing a yellow, flat bill baseball cap with the black letters SWAG written across them, leans forward to take a hit. He inhales deeply and releases the smoke lazily into the air.

STEPHEN: Yeah, man. That is some good stuff.

JAKE, with a long, scraggly beard and a dark blue sleeveless t-shirt, big-rimmed lime green glasses atop his head, nods his head and smiles in appreciation.

JAKE: The purple haze will always get you good, my man.

STEPHEN chuckles: Oh, yeah…. Hey, man, did you see Tristan’s sister other day? Woo (whistling out low) She’s grown up into something.

JAKE, nodding slowly: Something is one way to put it….You know, there is something about that word. You know? It’s like some but thing at the same time.

STEPHEN: Yeah, it is a strange one. Because how can something be some and thing be one thing at the same time?

JAKE sits up excitedly.

JAKE: Yeah, man! That’s exactly what I was thinking!

Jake leans back. The two sit shaking their heads, staring into blank space in front of them.

STEPHEN: Hey, man.

JAKE: Yeah? (crosses arms)

STEPHEN: Sometimes…when I’m alone…

JAKE, interjecting: Hey, man. I don’t know want to know what you do when your alone. That’s like…that’s way too personal. You know what I’m saying? You and your little man or whatever, yall can keep it to yourself.

STPEPHEN, rolls eyes: No, no. Nothing like that.

JAKE, furrows brow: No?

STEPHEN: No, man. This is something totally different. Not like last time with…with…well you know last time.

JAKE, raises his eyes: Unfortunately, yes. But go on (motions with hand).

STEPHEN: Ok (swallows). Sometimes, when I’m alone…I try to move stuff with my mind. And, like (lifts eyes up to ponder momentarily, looks back down), nothing moves but I keep trying, man.

JAKE, drops jaw: Like Carrie and shit?

STEPHEN: No, man. That chick is bat-shit crazy. I’m more like the nice kind, you know?

JAKE: I gotcha man. You’re like a good mind-mover, not a ‘I should kill everyone with buckets of blood’ kind of man.

STEPHEN: Right. If I ever do get the powers, I’ll use it for good. I’d become like one of those X-men.

JAKE: That’d be some cool stuff. Moving shit with your mind. You would definitely be an X-man. They could call you Mind Man.

The two sit in silence for a moment, thinking about the X-man concept. STEPHEN imitates fast movements with his head.

JAKE, turning head slowly to STEPHEN: Are you sure it hasn’t worked before?

STEPHEN, stops moving erratically: I don’t think so. I thought I got a paper to move once, but it turned out to just be the AC coming on.

JAKE: Your AC does have some great power though, huh?

STEPHEN: Truth in that (they bump fists)

JAKE: But really though, it’s never worked for you?

STEPHEN, shaking head: No. But I’ll keep trying.

JAKE, sighing: That’s too bad. It has worked for me. In fact, I’ll even show you right now.

STEPHEN, moves to the edge of his seat: What, man?! It works for you. How have you not told me this before?!

JAKE smirks: It’s one of my best kept secrets.

STEPHEN waits eagerly for JAKE to show him.

JAKE: It’s simple, man. You just got to think about what you want. Concentrate – real hard – on exactly what you want. In fact, I’ll show you. Right here…Right now…But – before I begin – do you mind grabbing me a beer (coughs), I’m about as parched as they come.

STEPHEN: Sure, no problem.

STEPHEN gets up and walks off camera to the kitchen. Sound of refrigerator opening and closing. JAKE remains motionless on the cough, smiling. Stephen returns with the beer, un-capped and hands it to JAKE.

JAKE takes a long drink and sighs.

STEPHEN: You were going to show me your powers?

JAKE: Oh, right. I just did it.

STEPHEN frowns: Oh, man! I missed it. What did you move? (glances expectantly around the room)

JAKE, grinning widely: This beer bottle.