Keep Coming Back

by Miles Rost

15.

The number of years since Gary Takamura left high school and went to a new country to get his bachelors. He would eventually get his master’s and then his doctorate. Three universities around the world took him in, and gave him a lesson in education. Yonsei University gave him his Bachelor’s, then National University of Singapore for his master’s, and finally Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for his final doctorate. At 34 years old, he was a social sciences doctor, dealing with statistics, cause and effect, and other such sundries. He had gone very far in his life.

However, in his whole mind, he was unable to leave Rehoboth High School behind. His home for four years in the middle of the Colorado Rockies, Rehoboth was where his greatest triumphs and his shattered dreams all came from. He specifically looked back on one event. Rather, he looked back on a two year event with great warmth and with great heartbreak.

He was reminded, every day, of Becky Franklin. His one and only girlfriend in high school.

15 years had passed since he had left Rehoboth for Korea, and while he was successful in his job, he saw that there was that nagging hole, a hole about the size of a fist, lingering where his heart should have been. He remembered the soft curves of her face that were perfect for his cheek to rub against. He remembered her laugh, and how she would roar at the hint of a bad pun. He remembered her spirit, how she fought for everything in school and succeeded where many had failed before. Finally, he remembered her faith. Unwavering, unshaking, a faith in Christ that he never could understand or imagine.

His memory turned to a night, the last night they were together.

“I received an opportunity. Full ride in South Korea,” he said, with brightness in his eyes.

“But what about us? I thought we were going to head to Oregon, go to the U of O together…” she replied quietly, with disappointment and sadness in her voice.

“That was the plan. A full ride, though. And it’s one of the top schools in Korea,” he said, oblivious to what she was talking about.

“I…see,” she simply responded, dejectedly.

15 years after that night, Gary looked back as he sat in his apartment in Los Angeles. He was successful in just about every venture he had. He should have been happy with where he was and what he was doing.

The hole that was in his heart ached that night. A longing that was indescribable. He felt lost, and so full of regret for the past. He wanted that feeling back. The feeling of bliss, contentment, and simple human contact. He wanted Becky back. As he closed his yearbook, putting it on a glass table near the window where he looked over the LA Basin, he smiled a mournful smile.

“Becky, I just don’t know why I keep coming back to you. I don’t want to get over you, it seems,” he said, out loud to the air, thinking in the most vain of hopes that she might hear his words.

He poured himself a drink, downed it in one shot, and proceeded to his bed. It was going to stay with him, just one more day…

Harbour Town

Harbour Town 

by Miles H. Rost

Across the entirety of the port city of Stewartsport, it was said that when 5:15 came around, the only thing you could hear were the many whistles from each of the 20 terminals in the city. Like a choir opening a Sunday service with a loud start, the whistles blew simultaneously.

It was this signal that the day ended, the night began, and on a Friday night like this one, it would be one humdinger of a night.

Down at Terminal 10, Cha Yeong-Jin had just finished loading a skid of incandescent light bulbs. Affectionately known as CJ, he was someone who finished his job when he finished his job, not when the whistle blew. However, today, he was right on time and was able to leave quickly.

CJ grew up in South Korea, the son of a shipbuilder father. Growing up in the island town of Geoje, the seas were in his blood. However, he was also a traveller, and someone who wanted to see the world. Working as a stevedore, he worked in places like Luzon, Singapore, and Sydney before he ended up in Stewartsport. The longest he stayed was a couple of years, and he left only because he felt too comfortable.

He was in Stewartsport for only two months before this night. As he walked off the docks and out to his small truck, a hand landed on his shoulder. CJ immediately turned around and looked into the big mean eyes of his co-worker, Tarik “Evil Eye” Adadark. Eyes which immediately brightened up, and expressed relief and happiness.

“Ah, CJ. Isn’t it great that Friday night has come?” Tarik chuckled, slapping CJ on the back like an old pal. Which was to say that they were, as he and Tarik were friends since their time in Singapore, and travelled together on the same jobs.

“It is a great thing indeed. I just can’t wait to clean up and hit the town. Since it’s a three day weekend, I want to wake up tomorrow in an unfamiliar room,” CJ responded, his command of English impeccable for a kid who never had any academy training.

“Then I think I know the place to go. There’s a great place just off Chambers that has not only good quality drinks and good quality women. It may just be your lucky night!”

After an hour of cleaning up and getting things ready, CJ and Tarik were dressed up and on the way down to the bar on Chambers.

“You’re doing the blue jean thing, T?”

“Yeah, I’m feeling a bit lucky tonight, too. At least you have the chance to not only catch a woman, but land a good business deal at the same time. Taking tips from Barney Stinson?” he responded, making reference to a popular character on a show that they watched constantly while there.

“Dress to impress, dress for success, do not settle for anything less,” CJ responded, smiling, “My dad taught me that. Probably explains why he had three wives.”

They went to a grill and had something to eat, then proceeded to the bar that Tarik referenced.

Since it was payday, they had a good amount of money on their persons. Knowing how rough some ports could be, there was always a second set of documents on their person just in case they were robbed. Three wallets were the usual with stevedores and longshoremen. CJ knew this, and patted the side of his knee, acknowledging to himself that he still had his most important wallet with him.

They passed by two beautiful women as they made their way to the bar. One was a tall, black haired Chinese woman who looked like she walked out of a fashion magazine, and the other was a striking redhead who seemed have features found in Irish women. CJ looked at the redhead and he instantly turned on the charm as they passed.

“Oh, come on baby! Take a hold of my hand! The fire is burning!” he called out, just after they passed. The redhead turned around and smiled. She gave him a wink, turned around, and kept walking. CJ cursed his current luck.

The bar on Chambers was called “Underworld”, and the owner/bartender was a tall wiry fellow named David. A former Israeli Defense Force soldier, David may have looked like a pencil, but he was able to kill a foe with two clicks of his fingers.

“Oy, Daveed!” Tarik called out.

“What’ll it be, Evil Eye? Did you bring the Korean with ya?”

“Right here, ya nut.” CJ responded.

“Glad to see ya! Care for some Rumple Mintz?”

“Not tonight! Get me a Glen and Ginger Ale, and another shot of Glen 12 Year.”

David acknowledged and made up the drinks for CJ. CJ, in return, gave him a hundred dollar bill and hold him to keep a tab on his drinks.

“Don’t worry about me, let’s just get you a woman tonight. “

Stay The Night

by Miles Rost

“Mmmmfmfmflhmfm”

Teresa’s eyes slowly started to open as she turned over and mumbled. She saw her husband sitting up and the lamp turned on. Stifling a yawn, she sleepily looked at his back.

“Why are you up?”

Her husband turned around and smiled a weak, sad smile.

“They called me in. A patient is barely holding on.”

Teresa glowered at this, and lowered her eyes a bit. Lately this had been a common occurrence, and she did not want to wake up to an empty bed anymore. She was clearly unhappy, and Rahim Carlson, her husband of over 5 years, knew it.

“I really wish they’d quit calling you at night. I mean, why can’t they find another surgeon?”

“Honey, the next closest thoracic surgeon to us is down in Thousand Oaks. That’s nearly 2 hours away.”

Teresa slowly sat up and rubbed her green eyes. She smoothed her satin chemise as she looked up at him, wisps of blonde hair falling in front of her face.

“Maybe we should think of moving somewhere else. You’ve been doing this for more than two years now!”

Rahim looked at her, and gave a funny smile.

“I’ve thought of that too. Right now, though, we are here in Bakersfield for a purpose. They need a thoracic surgeon of great quality. The good news is that the prospect from USC Medical Center is looking at Bakersfield General for a move. If we can get him in, I can look for another surgeon’s job somewhere else. But that’s almost 6 months down the line.”

She sat, slumped in defeat as she knew there was nothing she could do.

“Rahim, I really do wish that you could stay the night. Let a little of that love show. Just for one week, I want to have you all to myself. I don’t want all that matters turning around, over and over again.”

As he was buttoning the top button, he looked at her. This woman, his wonderful wife, was in need and he felt like there was nothing he could do. He had his duty, and he had his wife. He studied her face, every part of her that was exposed to his vision, and sighed to himself. He looked in the mirror, and stood stony for a moment. Teresa knew this. It was his “prayer stand”, where he would ask the Lord for guidance. As she got out of bed and turned towards him, he turned back to her, a slight smile on his face.

“I just had a thought…give me a moment,” he said, as he grabbed the phone. He quickly dialed a 10 digit number and waited.

“Hey, Smitty. Sorry for waking you up so early. You doing okay?” He waited a moment, then launched right in. “Hey, you know how you said you wanted to take a shot at doing some surgery up here at Bakersfield, right? I just got called in, but I can’t make it to the hospital in time. It would take me about 4 hours to get there. You’re closer, would you like to take a run at it?”

He paused again, a flit of a smile running across his face.

“Great! Call up Nurse Chelsey Marks, and have her connect you with Brian Markinson. You remember him, right? He’s in charge of night shift, and should be able to accomodate you. I’ll call him in just a moment and get you cleared.” He waited a moment. “You got it! We’ll talk next week, okay? Uh huh! Bye.”

He then proceeded to call Dr. Markinson and inform him that he was unable to make it. He was, unfortunately, detained and wouldn’t be able to make it there on time. After a little shake-off, he closed the phone, and proceeded to take his shirt back off.

“What do you think, Teresa? You still want me to stay the night?”

Teresa looked at him, as she slowly walked over. She put her arms around him and laid her head on his chest.

“I hate the fact that you actually lied to your bosses to get out of work tonight. But in this case, I will forgive you.”

Rahim looked at his God-given wife, and smiled.

“Sweetie, you’re worth it even if I would get fired.”

Voices

When I found Paul, he was on sitting back on his feet, his knees on the floor. He was in the middle of his old bedroom, in the old house where he used to live all those years ago.

Paul never used to be like this. For the longest time, he was a vibrant kid. He was an artist, someone who people depended on to help cheer them up. The people of the town loved what he did with the murals, especially. On the side of Hamm’s Grocery was a mural of flowers and hopeful children’s faces, and Old Man Hamm appreciated Paul’s expertise with his brushes. The one space that people loved, though, was the mural on the side of the old First National Bank building in town. It showed an eagle with a olive branch in it’s beak, flying toward a twisting spiral of a building. He painted that old mural just after 9/11. And the town very much appreciated it.

That was before the headaches. Before his mom passed away. And before he started withdrawing from the world. As the sheriff of the town, it was my job to take care of all my people. However, I also had to spend more time looking after Paul. He was my best friend during high school, where he defended me constantly. And it was my burden to bear in taking care of him.

What scared me most, though, was when I went to visit Paul only a few days ago. He was rocking back and forth on his knees in the living room of that old house that he refused to leave. He was muttering something unintelligibly, and I had to try and snap him out of it so he could get to his doctor’s appointment. As I leaned over to tough his shoulder, he turned and glared at me with eyes that I did not recognize.

“Paul?”

“I’m not here right now! Please try again later!” he said, even though it didn’t really sound like his voice.

After a few minutes, I was able to get him to go to the doctor. After a couple hours of tests, they came back and told me he was showing some signs on borderline personality disorder, but that he hasn’t hit the stage where he could be treated properly for it. I knew what that was code for. It meant that he couldn’t be institutionalized until a later stage. So, after leaving the doctor’s, we went to the grocery store and I picked up as much as I could so that he would be stocked for the rest of the month. He did not say a word or even blink once while we were there.

A day went by after that, and that leads to where we are now. I walked into the house and saw Paul in this bedroom, resting on his legs, an eerie calm surrounding him.

“Carl?” he slowly asked, in the voice I normally recognized.

“Yeah, Paul?”

I hear voices. They are telling me to do many things.”

“Like what?”

“To take my own life, or to open Pandora’s door and let the other voices free.”

That’s right. I was now officially concerned. I pulled out my cell phone, and was just about to call the doctor…when he pounced on me.

I don’t remember how long I seemed to be out, but when I finally woke up, I was not in that room. I was in a meadow full of bright butterflies. It took only a few seconds for me to realize that I was no longer in Kansas.

Paul killed me.

The Changes

by Miles Rost

Mike and Chelsie walked into the theatre five hours early, expecting to practice in the silence of the hall without any problem before the big performance that night. Mike was a horn player with his expertise in the trombone, though when asked he could bring out his trumpet and whip up a Herb Alpert production that would put the man himself in awe. For Chelsie, she worked with Mike for many years as his piano accompanist. She was adept on the ivories, and could be brought in for session work for any major band as a pianist or a keyboardist.

When they received the invitation to play the “New Fillmore” theatre in San Francisco, they jumped at the chance. After playing in smaller venues like Missoula, Montana and Boise, Idaho, they were ready to take their chance. Even playing in larger venues like Sacramento and Reno were good, but they weren’t the big spots. They weren’t San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, or even their dream: Los Angeles. When they got to the New Fillmore Theatre, they expected to have the theatre to themselves.

Boy, were they wrong.

As they opened the door, it was pandemonium. In one part of the backstage area, labeled as “Rehearsal Studio D”, there was a loud raucous band of youth attempting to try and perform like the Tijuana Brass. In Mike’s eyes, they weren’t going to even make the Tijuana Prison Brass Band look bad. And down another hallway, it was a dance troupe practicing only what Chelsie could think of as high school grade danceline work.

They walked up to a woman with a clipboard, wearing a dark blue pantsuit and a serious expression.

“I don’t know if we’re in the right place…”

“Then why are you here?” the pantsuit girl turned around to them, with an annoyed, yet serious expression.

“We were invited,” Chelsie responded indignantly.

“Oh. Names?”

“Mike Clark and Chelsie Daniels.”

The pantsuit girl leafed through some sheets and scanned the paper.

“Ah, the boner/pianist duet.”

“You make it sound so dirty,” Mike responded.

“Shorthand usually does that. You’re in Rehearsal Studio E.”

“Where’s that?”

“Main stage. We’re really full up in places, and Studio A is booked with the main act.”

“Who’s that?”

“Surprise. Can’t tell you.”

Mike looked at her blankly, wondering just where this woman came off acting in such a way.

“Head to the main stage. Make sure you’re only playing what you’re supposed to play for the show tonight. Any sort of musical hanky-panky will get you removed from the schedule. If you want to play such things…”

The pantsuit girl gave both of them a nasty gaze, as she breathed in.

“…play it on your own damn time.”

She suddenly turned away and walked toward another group of people that were not where they were supposed to be.

The duo looked at each other, looked at the programs in their hands, and felt like they were trapped. They knew that even though they didn’t want to have to do this gig, this seemed to be the only time when they could play at a major location and maybe get noticed.
What they didn’t notice was a man, looking at them from a dark wing away from notice. He smirked as he thought about the changes coming.

“These two musicians will work perfectly…” he said to himself, pleased with his choice.

I Get Weak

by Miles Rost

She didn’t know what exactly prompted her to go to the roof of her apartment building. All that she knew was that she had to get out of that apartment. She was too closed in, too shut in when sitting in that place. She wanted to break free and not have to worry about that situation.

As she looked out onto the city, all of the pain and the stress in her life simply melted away. The view of a darkening sky, the lights of the tall buildings near her own, all of it was simple. It made sense to her. She loved the simple things in her life, though today she had another that was invading her life.

DaejeonSunset3

She thought of a man that she had never met. She felt his presence in his mind when she was in trouble, when she was stressed. She felt him in her mind at that moment, as she was looking over the city.

It was a long time since she had been held by someone, since she had been able to allow her entire being to melt into the heart of another. She wanted to catch that feeling again, especially with all of that stress and hardship she had to endure. She wanted that comfort, that warm blanket feeling of care and love that would be there.
The simple things in her life would help her to continue doing her work, as stressful and sometimes as thankless as it was. Being a teacher was not a bad job by any stretch of the imagination, but she did not know how to deal with the young hellions that were running all over her during the day. She got used to it a bit, but halfway into the new semester, she was being run ragged. She was not ready to teach young ones.

The thought brought her back to the roof, to the beauty of the city skyline. She was brought back to the comfort of her space, and it calmed her. She loved all of it, all of the space outside of where she was. It reminded her that there was more to life than just the work she did and the toughness of her job.

Her mind drifted back again to the unknown man of her visions. The man standing on a hill in a faraway city, doing nothing but making her weak all over without even being there. She wanted to have that feeling, that weak-in-the-knees feeling again. As she stood there, leaning and looking at the rapidly darkening sky and the increasing number of lights turning on, she knew that one day she would be meeting that mysterious man. She would have her dream career as a professor, and she would be able to be wrapped up in the arms of her mysterious man.