Only Words

“I met a man.”

“Really? Tell me everything.”

“Well… It was Saturday night,”

“Oh my God! You were at a club, weren’t you?”

“Uh,”

“Oh, I can see it now. The lights are dim, the strobes are high, and there he is. Shirt unbuttoned, sweat dripping, skin glistening. He slowly makes his way across the dance floor, bedroom eyes in full effect, hips─”

“We weren’t at a club.”

“So a coffee shop, right? I can see it now. You’re sitting by the window, the night life outside dewy with rain. Did it rain Saturday night? He walks in, white shirt soaked so every muscular detail shines through. He looks at you, you look at him. He approached your table, hips swaying─”

“Why are you going on about hips so much?”

“It’s been awhile…”

“No hips. None whatsoever.”

“Is there at least a puppy involved? He was walking his new puppy and it got off the leash and ran to you sort of thing?”

“Actually we met through work.”

“Oh, so some secret broom-closet action huh?”

“No.”

“Not at all?”

“It was a business dinner. He’s from the next department over. We sat next to each other and really hit it off. Nothing more happened, but we’re meeting next week for lunch.”

“Can you do me a favor and pay attention to his hips this time, please?”

“I’ll make sure to request he wears a white shirt too.”  

You Can’t Pick Your Family (Based On A True Story)

“Listen Alley,” Wendy tried to sound stern as she straightened her sister’s shirt collar. “Mom had to work really hard to get us into our new school, so don’t screw this up. I’m not changing schools again because you can’t control your attitude.”

“That teacher was asking for it.” Alley pouted.

“And what about the school before that? Do all teachers deserve black eyes?” Alley raised her eyebrows, wondering if an answer was really asked for.

Wendy struggled with life ─ which is to say she struggled with the people in her life. Namely her younger sister, who had a knack for finding trouble where none existed. Thirty detentions, five suspensions, two expulsions, and one assault charge (later dropped) tickled just the tip of the iceberg. “When you get in trouble I get in trouble.” Wendy said. “This is a private school, which means they have even stricter rules than public ones. Just try to behave, ok?”

“What for?”

“For sanity’s sake.” Wendy snapped. “If you last a week without fighting anyone I’ll give you my ice cream money.”

“Deal.” Alley nodded soundly. Shaking hands they departed their room for the kitchen in search of their mother for their ride to school. Unfortunately due to their mom’s infatuation with the “bonafied” garbage man, who always seemed to visit every week for an extended period of time, the sisters arrived late.

Rushing into the building their mom hustled them to the principal’s office. Formalities where quickly swept aside and Wendy waved down the hall as Alley was led in a different direction to a different class. She hoped and prayed for an uneventful first day.

By lunch Wendy had a favorite everything picked out. Her favorite teacher, her favorite subject, her favorite kid she sat next to. She looked around the lunch room and allowed her usual a-little-too-manic-mature self a sigh of relief. Maybe she’d finally found a place she could settle and grow some roots.

A ruckus over her shoulder drew her attention. There it was. The principal she’d only met that morning and who she judged to be a relative stand-up guy clutched her sister’s shirt as she struggled to run away and pummel anyone within arm’s reach at the same time.

He yelled, she yelled back. Wendy sat too dejected to move as the students around her rushed to the scene. She was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her sister swinging around and socking the principle right between the eyes, knocking his glasses clean off his nose, before heads blocked her view. Calmly, fighting tears of frustration, Wendy stood and threw her lunch away before heading to the office. Goodbye favorite everything.

By the time their mother was on speaker phone Alley had calmed down and the principal had on a spare pair of glasses. “Miss, I’m sorry, but we cannot have someone with your daughter’s behavior at our school. With her record it was a miracle we even let her in,” he trailed off, glaring across the desk at the young girl. Alley stuck her tongue out. The conversation went on a bit longer but the outcome was unavoidable.         

Their mom made them walk home as punishment. “I am never giving you money for ice cream. Ever.” Wendy cursed her luck for having a sister such as Alley.

“Could be worse,” she argued. “Mom could always marry that garbage man she’s in love with.”

Wendy had to agree. Thank god that would never happen. (The official dating between Mother and the garbage man began about a month later. Marriage followed shortly after.)

Noona

She was a much older woman, and maybe I liked that. As she walked towards me, seductively stripping off one article of clothing at a time, her eyes in full bed-room mode, I had to admit my heart quickened. But enough was enough.

“Suzee,” I back away rapidly from the advancing woman. “This has to stop. I don’t like you like that.”

“Oh baby,” pouncing forward she grabbed hold of my shirt collar. “Don’t say that. You know you want it just as bad as I do. And I could show you such a good time,” she licked her lips in an exaggerated manner, making me cringe.

“Doesn’t matter,” I tried to gently detangle myself from her grasp. “I’m not interested in older woman.” Honestly that wasn’t the full truth, but it didn’t take me long after meeting the cougar currently pawing at my chest to realize experience comes at a price, usually sanity.

Suzee refused to let go and instead pushed me up against a wall, kissing me long and hard. I struggled to break away and finally caught a breath of air around thick lipstick. Suzee busily unbuttoned my shirt until I tightly gripped her hands in my own. “Listen to me.” I said seriously, looking her in the eyes. “I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding, but I’m not interested in you. Please put your clothes back on and leave my house.”

“Aww baby,” she cooed. “What’s wrong? I don’t bite.” She leaned forward and snapped playfully at my collarbones. I pushed her away roughly, not longer so concerned with treating her like a lady.

“I can’t be with someone as old as you.” I blurted out.

“As old as me?” She scoffed. “I’m barely over… I’m not old.” She snapped in my direction. “You’re hardly one to talk!”

“I’m only – ”

“You’re legal; that’s all that mattered.” Suzee turned away and I sighed with relief until a finger stab my chest. “You know what your problem is? You’re not man enough for me. You’ll see, older women are better. You’ll learn once you grow up.” Turning on her heels she stormed off, picking up each article of clothing she’ d tossed aside on her way to the door. Slamming it shut behind her she cut off her perfume trail, leaving me slightly scratched by her foreplay nails but otherwise no worse for wear.

Sighing fully in relief I sank to the floor, grateful I’d managed to avoid the mauling. I decided from then on to never see a woman old enough to be my mom ever again. It was just too weird. It was like dating the Crypt Keeper or something.

Steven (part 1 of 4)

The only child of two prominent biological scientists Sara grew up wanting little. Recognized for her brains early on in life she felt herself carried place to place by boat, by plane, and by car to experience the life her parents saw fit. By five she stepped foot on all major continents and by eight achieved great scholastic achievements in more schools than she had fingers. Everyone marveled at her many gifts – none of which were sociability.

Distant since birth only when laying alone in her crib did she not fuss or whine. As she aged she learned to cope but still regarded physical and emotional attachment with mild annoyance. Her parents, although socially awkward themselves, recognized what an issue it could become. The love in their hearts propelled them to test the desire in their minds in the creation of a solution.   

“Now darling,” Sara’s mother cooed, leading her down the hall by hand. “Mommy and Daddy are very excited about this.” A few months ago Sara noticed a change come over her parents. Never ones to be considered home-bodies they’d begun spending even more and more time at work until simply moving there full time, toothbrushes and all, leaving the house to her and the maids. Of course Sara was a little curious as to what new life-stage brought about such change, but kept well enough to herself and bothered with it little. But when her mother gathered her from afternoon studies, on a rare week of vacation at home and not abroad, Sarah let herself feel a little excited.   

Entering her parent’s laboratory and current home, a large high-ceilinged room far underground. Her father straightened from his cluttered desk and stood. “Darling,” he greeted, unable to hide his enthusiasm. Sara knew her parents were diligent in their work, devoting all their time and energy in whatever they set their minds to, but she felt they could have spared a moment to at least take out the trash. It was piling in the corner… “Come here,” her father held her at arm’s length, admiring how she’d grown since last he saw her. “We have something wonderful to show you.” Without further ado Sarah’s hands, held by her parents, led her to the center of the room where a giant circular tank posed, a story high and several yards wide.

Stopping a few feet away she gazed into the clear water. The exhibit left no space for hiding, so there he was. He remained still but she never doubted for a second he was alive. “What is it?” She asked.

“Not what, sweetheart, who.”

“Where did you get him from?”

“Nowhere sweetie.”

“You had to have gotten him from somewhere.”

“Well darling, humanoid sea creatures don’t actually exist in real life.” Her mother explained. “They just don’t. Odd, I know. We don’t really know why. So we thought: why not make one?”

“We know because of your travels and studies you don’t have time to make friends, so we made one for you. We thought, maybe if you’re interested, he could be a sort of play companion for you. Like a brother. You always wanted a brother…” Her mother clasped her hands fondly.

“Of course he can never leave this room.” Her father interjected. “He can’t leave the water for extended periods of time and even if he could, people would become jealous of you and steal him away. So don’t tell anyone about your new sibling, alright Sara?”

“Can he talk?” She asked.

“No, not yet.” Her father frowned. “He was created a blank slate and we have slowly been introducing him to different subjects. Maybe someday he’ll be as smart as you.”

Sara slowly approached the tank and, peering inside, touched her nose to the glass. She watched as the long-bodied creature, “Steven V” a plaque above her head numbered him, opened his eyes. Slowly he rose up and swam closer. She gauged him part mermaid, part dog.

Swimming up to the glass he examined her, sizing her up. Never had she seen such deep eyes. She heard her parents hold breaths in the background. Nothing was certain. Would they like each other? Would they bond as hoped? Would she appreciate him or continue to show little interest in any sort of interaction? Would he fulfill his purpose in life or would the fifth installment backfire at the most crucial moment?

After agonizing moments Steven touched his nose to the glass as well. In the mind of a child, even one as intellectually inclined as Sara’s, with that simple act and the knowledge he was hers there was no question. “Certainly,” she said. “Like a brother.”      

Bazooka 5

“Mistaken identity?” I repeated.

“Seems that way,” she observed.

“So some other guy committed a bunch of robberies and everyone thinks I’m him?”

“Seems that way,” The young girl and I walked along the boardwalk. The sun was setting, sending pretty pink hues over the land. The scene was stunning. I would rather be anywhere else. A man also going by the name of Mike just so happened to be a notorious bank robber. At large for more than a year, showing no signs of slowing down, the authorities were desperate. Lacking a last name or even a photo they called out the big guns; placing a hefty bounty on his head a flood of bounty hunters, the girl to my right included, flocked to the city from all over the world. “You look similar to the description and after some asking around I found out your name is Mike,” she continued and shrugged. “So I thought you were him.”  

“So what’s your name?” I asked, trying to take my mind off the reality looming over me.

“Shorty.” The girl answered simply. She held my hand, fingers laced. She insisted on the physical contact lest I “be tempted to dump” her. Others walking by probably thought I scored a girl half my age, the lucky bastard.

“Shorty?” I licked my second ice cream cone of the day.

“It’s what my mom calls me.” She smiled brightly at the mention.

“Did that start before or after you learned to punch like a street fighter?” I could feel my jaw move in a way it never had before. I was certain something was not where it should be.

“Oh, she doesn’t know I do this for a living. She thinks I work at a fruit stand.”

“Both sound ridiculous.” I couldn’t see it. The girl, Shorty, looked like she weighed all of a single pound and spent too much time at comic conventions. True, she’d gotten the upper hand on me twice, but she had the element of surprise preceding both.  

“How’d you get all those cuts?” She asked absentmindedly, working away at her own cone. “I only hit you a couple times, yet you look like you’ve been mugged by a gang. Better not hit you again or they won’t take you.”

“Who won’t take me?”

“You’re pretty slow too. No matter,” throwing the remainder of her ice-cream over her shoulder ( I felt slighted at the waste) she reached towards the handcuffs still dangling from my wrist. 

I pulled back, hands outstretched. “Please,” I begged a kid half my age for the second time in less than an hour. “I still don’t get it. Who are you?”

“I told you, I’m Shorty the Bounty Hunter.”

“But I’m not the guy. Mistaken identity, remember?” She advancing – I retreating, trying to bide time to think of an escape. Maybe I could bribe her with more ice cream?

“For the record, I believe you.” She said. “I believe you when you say you’re the wrong Mike. I believe you when you say you haven’t done anything wrong. But there’s a wanted poster hanging front and center in the downtown police station that’s got your face written all over it. Money is money and I got a cat needs feeding. Sorry pal…”

Young Grasshopper 3

After my talk with the elder I felt all the more compelled towards Dusty; to prove not only to myself, but to everyone, that the impossible was possible.

A month later nothing had changed. I hung upside-down from a light pole, watching him on his walk to work fiddling with his phone. I sighed heavily, mourning the image of us walking together.

Dusty glanced up and did a double take, stalling dead in his tracks. He stared up a something, something shocking judging from his expression. Pulling myself upright I looked over my shoulder, trying to spot what caused him such alarm. Furrowing my eyebrows I looked back at him severely confused, seeing nothing.

Dropping from the pole to the sidewalk, I folded my wings tightly against my back and slowly approached. Eyes widening more than I thought possible Dusty stumbled back, in his haste tripping over a crack and falling onto his butt.

“What’s wrong?” I asked of myself, mystified as to what was causing such a reaction.    

Slowly, as if staring in a horror movie, Dusty raised his hand and pointed a finger – a finger directly at me. My heart stopped and dropped in realization. Somehow, someway, he could see me. A flurry of scenarios flashed through my mind, all very very upsetting. My world failed me. The baker and his wife divorced and her father burned the bakery down. The banker committed suicide in her new car because stocks suddenly dropped. The things I revolved my world around shifted away one by one, leaving me stranded in a strange new place I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in.

“Why are your eyes so big and orange? Why do you have wings? Are you going to eat me?” He asked. “You look like a grasshopper, only a human one…” He trailed off, turning his head and narrowing his eyes to get a clearer look.

Boldness gripped me. Rushing forward I crouched directly in front of him, relishing my reflection in his eyes. “Can you? Can you really see me?” I asked.

“Whoa, you’re kind of neat looking…” He reached out to touch my face. Instinctively I flinched back, but undeterred he pressed on until his palm rested against my cheek. He laughed. “Yeah, you’re pretty neat all right. What’s your name?”

“Angel,” I answered, and from then on acted as planet to the object which my whole world revolved around, Dusty. For that is all I ever called him. 

Bazooka 3

Bullets exploded a wooden light pole as I frantically rounded a corner. “What did I ever do to you?” I screamed, the woman in the yellow dress flying after me. Needless to say she seemed to be in fantastic shape, as the heavy artillery loaded around her neck did nothing to slow her down. 

Running blindly down one street after another I risked a look over my shoulder, witnessing the lady show surprising versatility as, in one bound, she leaped onto a low stone boarder while reloading her rocket-launcher. I could tell it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I wondered where her semi-automatic went and thought back fondly to those moments she wielded that instead. Upon loading the rocket she stopped, took aim, and fired.

“Oh shi –” The ground erupted beneath me as I was once again thrown through the air. Landing on the ground with a thud I rolled head over foot, coming to a stop in a crumpled heap covered in bruises and cuts, gravel and dirt blasted into every pour of my body. Smoke clouded my vision. I coughed and lay collapsed for an unmeasured amount of time before finding the motivation to sit up.

She was gone, but the damage left behind certainly acted as calling-card. A crowd of onlookers gathered to marvel at the crater in the middle of the street but somehow overlooked my presence. Content with that, I crawled to the curb and tried to clear my head, now nursing far more sores than a broken nose. Police officers came, I can only assume there’s a file on it, and chased everyone away…  

“So,” Officer Buck worried at my pause. “I already know all this. What happened next?” 

“My mom always gave me ice-cream when I fell,” I said absentmindedly. “So I got ice-cream.”

Luckily for me the park was nearby. I felt at this point in the day I should take a break and examine my life, so a bought a cone and strolled. I took a lick and thought back to the woman in the yellow dress. “Man, what a crazy broad…” I chuckled. Hell, maybe I’d imagined the whole thing? Unemployment can do that to a person.  

“Kyaa!” I heard above me. Looking up just in time to offer a landing platform for a foot, I felt my precious ice-cream fall from my grasp as legs locked around me. Fists pounded my head and shoulders left and right, but it felt more like the temper tantrum of a child than an actual assault. Blindly I grabbed an arm and tore the attacker away, throwing them to the ground.

 “You?” I meant to sound accusing, but came off more confused when the figure straightened from her fallen position. Remember the fetus that decked me in the bar? She simply rolled her shoulder and raised her fists. Instead of hitting me again she spun on her heels and performed a perfect round-house kick to my jaw. What was it with this chick and the face? It was all a bit much.