I’m Still Standing

by Miles Rost

Blood trickled down the man’s face, mixing with dirt and grime. The flick of the tongue grabbed onto the liquid and brought it into his mouth.

The taste of it was satisfaction for Stan Bernal.

For 23 years, he worked for a large manufacturing firm in the big city across the river from his hometown. It was a good living, making cardboard and paper boxes for a variety of companies and firms. The job was perfect for the man with only a high school education, with one exception:

Jack Blaine.

Blaine was a co-worker, who took an instant dislike to Stan. Every single day, for 23 years, Stan had to deal with at least one insult coming out of the mechanic. For 22 years and 364.25 days, it was business as usual. Stan would walk in, he’d get hit with two insults from Blaine, and he would go to his post like nothing happened.

July 15th, 2011 was a day that would go down in history at the company.

Stan arrived at work like clockwork. Old habits died hard, as they say. He walked in and awaited the first two barrages of insults from Blaine.

They never came.

Stan, shook by the lack of insults, looked around and walked into the lunchroom. Putting away his lunchbucket in his refrigerated locker, he got his safety equipment on and started moving out to the floor for the start of his day. He asked one of the other boys if Blaine was around. Getting past their remarks about him wanting to be insulted, they indicated that they didn’t see him that morning

The first part of his shift passed with no trouble. He fed the machines the new sheets of rough paperboard, which later became cardboard. The tedium nearly got to him, until he walked over to turn his machine off. As he pressed the button to turn it off, a sudden ka-THUNK brought him back to reality. As did the searing pain in his arm.

His machine had pinched his arm in between two metal plates, and the pain was intensifying with each set of seconds. As he screamed out in pain, others came around to pull his arm out of the jam. He sat down and the medic looked at his arm, declaring that he was lucky and that it was only flesh wounds. He would be going home for the first time in 23 years.

Stan walked to the lunchroom, and was just about to walk in, when he heard a cackling sound around the side of the modular lunchroom. He walked around to investigate, and looked in shock.

Jack Blaine was cackling.

And holding two bolts that were from his machine.

Stan’s face suddenly started boiling red, his eyes went white, and with a mighty cry reminiscent of Adam Sandler’s “waterboy”, he leaped upon the laughing gentleman.

Stan’s leap made his arm go into a pain spasm, but with the amount of adrenalin going through his system, he didn’t feel any of it. He pulled Jack down onto the floor and started raining blows with his good arm.

It looked like it would be a one-way fight until Jack flipped Stan over and into a water cooler. As the machine spilled it’s contents over Stan, Jack rushed over to pick him up. Jack lined up for a punch, and connected with Stan’s face.

Yet, Jack suddenly felt a pressure upon his nether regions, and started screeching in pain.

At the same time as Jack connected with Stan’s face, Stan’s foot crunched Jack’s nuts.

Both men went down, Jack howling in pain and Stan lolling about. The fight was now about time, and how much time it would take for either man to get the initiative.

For a moment, it looked as though Jack would be able to get up and take the lead. However, Stan stumbled over to Jack and smashed his foot into Jack’s face. Repeating his blow a few times, Stan lowered himself down and grabbed Jack’s work shirt. He pulled him up and spat in his face.

He then threw two punches. One connected with Jack’s nose and made a sickening crunch. The other blow landed on the side of Jack’s head. The last punch was the last thing Jack would see for two whole days.  His body became limp, and fell out of Stan’s hands.

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OVER HERE?!?!” a bellowing sound echoed throughout the warehouse.

Nobody moved, while Stan turned to look at the incoming foreman.

“Stan! What the hell are you doing?”

Stan looked up at the foreman, and gave him the two bolts that were in Jack’s hand.

“Jack tried to kill me. I was about to leave for home, and I heard him laughing about it. I wanted to make sure that I was the last one standing.”

The foreman looked at the unconscious form of Jack Blaine and sighed.

“It took 23 years to finally get you two to get your differences ironed out.”

“I’m still standing, boss. Better than I ever did. I feel like a true survivor, though no longer like a little kid.”

“Well, I can guarantee one of you two will not be here on Monday morning. And more than likely, it’ll be him. It all depends on you.”

Stan smiled, looking down at Jack’s still body.

“We’ll do the paperwork now. I’m still standing. I just may need the next couple of days off to recover from the near death I got today.”

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The Beginning of Something New (aka “Supernova”)

The Beginning of Something New
(aka
Supernova)
By Miles Rost

New feelings were always so hard to understand.

Coming out of a mentally abusive relationship was not one of the plans that Mayumi Shiomi had in mind for the weekend. She hoped to have done that earlier in the week, so she could heal over the weekend and not have to deal with the crying she would ultimately do at work.

The 22-year old was finally able to say goodbye to the abuse she took. Seeing her old boyfriend leave on his motorcycle for the other side of Australia was a relief for her. Now that the hound was away, “The Fox” was likely ready to play.

She looked at herself in the mirror quickly, but after a few moments looking away from the mirror, she decided to take an inventory.

Ah need to do this, she thought, Since the old baka won’t be back in West Penfield, Ah have to see what’s left.

The large bathroom allowed her the comfort of being able to walk around and not worry about being in an enclosed space. She made sure of that when she bought the new townhouse. With all the room , she would be able to get a good view of what she looked like now.

The young woman looked at herself in the full length mirror, hung delicately on the wall close to the shower. She ran her hand through the short, incredibly light brown hair that she wore. It was a good look on her, seeing as she kept it since the middle of high school. It also helped her when she had to deal with drinking a bit much, as having too much hair would mean vomit smell constantly.

She gazed at her reflection, the face that people called a “Kitsune” face. She didn’t care much for her nickname of “The Fox”, but she was willing to live with it as it did adequately describe her normal, everyday look. At least, what the look used to be before she was involved with the baka. She did have beautifully colored hazel eyes, but they rarely were seen as she had a constant squint to her eyes. It was part of “The Fox” charm that people knew.

She analyzed the rest of her visage, noting that her body still had the curves that she inherited from her Australian mother’s side of the family. She was definitely a beauty, and she knew it. She knew that guys would look at her and immediately fall at her feet, even knowing that her reputation kept pointing to the phrase “Dangerous Curves Ahead”. She did a slight wiggle, and smiled.

Yep, ah still got it!

She drew a breath, as she pulled a chair to her. As she sat down, she looked in the mirror, directly into her own eyes.

The hardest part of her analysis was about to come.

She was fine on the outside, but she needed to take an inventory of her inside. She needed to look at her mind, her spirit, and the wholeness of her being on the inside of the beautiful shell.

“Alright, Mayumi, how’re ya doing?”

She looked at herself as she waited for her spirit to answer, while her heart blazed a thousand words a second describing how good it was that she was free of the bastard that hurt her. She snickered that her heart would be the first one to send off the signals of relief. Her spirit would be the one that she would need to focus on, as her relationship had gone on for very long time.

“Are ya ready to get movin’ on with life?”

Somewhere within her spirit, a peace that was indescribable finally appeared to her. It was like it was saying, “You will be healed, be free.”

Her mind, however, was the one that raced through a million possibilities about why things would go wrong. Her mind, the one part of her being that just would never shut up. It was where the biggest attack on her would come from, and she knew this was a possibility.

She looked at herself in the mirror again, leaning forward in the chair to get a closer look at her face. She knew she didn’t need the baka, but everytime she tried to quit him, she’d always go looking for him again. She never realized that a lot of her problems surrounding him were less about her and more about a part of her past that had since been rectified. She realized this, and said the only thing that she could.

“Lord, ah think it’s time for me to get livin’. Ah need your help to get through this.”

It was the best prayer she could think of, seeing as she was now able to be restored to a condition that would be perfect for her.

She was about to continue analyzing herself when she heard a loud buzzing sound. She forgot about her phone, and the alarm that was set for 5PM. She had two hours to get over to Shine FM, a relatively new radio station broadcasting to the suburbs of Sydney, including West Penfield. The job she held, for such a long time, was one of the saving graces that helped her in the dealings with her baka boyfriend.

“Time for this girl to get herself on the air,” she said to the mirror, putting on a smile that would show that “The Fox” was back on the stalk.

Today was the first day of her new life, a new air of freedom. She would never go back to that baka again, and she would most certainly spend a lot more time on the things that she loved.

“Lookout, world. Ahm back!” She said, giving her reflection a wink.

The Lady In White (Take Me With You)

The Lady In White
(aka Take Me With You)
by Miles Rost

I’ve seen her before. In the recesses of my mind, when I haven’t been paying attention, she’s there.

It usually starts the same way. I’m doing some sort of work-related task, maybe grousing a bit, or I hear a certain song. My mind drifts off to a beautiful beach. I assume that I am on a beach somewhere in the Southern Pacific, somewhere like Australia. That seems to be where my mind drifts off to, lately.

I’m on this beach, and I see this woman in front of me. She’s grabbing a hold of my wrist and forearm, laughing and being playful. Never do I see her face, but I do see what she wears. Each time I have the dream, or vision, she’s always wearing the same thing.

She wears a white cord-knit sweater, a slight bit bulky but not too big. Big enough to hide things, but not enough to make it a true mystery, even though most times the dream is a bit fuzzy (like when I don’t wear my glasses.) The sweater is a long-sleeved one, and reminds me of an older style of dress. She also wears a pair of white pants. I’m not sure if they’re jeans, capris, thin material, or whatnot. They show her curves off, but not so much as to make her look like a Kardashian or Mitsune Konno. Finally, she wears a pair of white canvas shoes. I know that they are because I cannot perceive holes anywhere on the shoes. It would also fit the idea of beach attire.

Strangely enough, I never see her face. She seems to have long hair, but I’m not sure what color it is exactly. It could be brown, black, or even red. But never do I see her face. It’s always obscured, or blurred out like one of those pixelated pictures to hide a person’s identity. Always a bit frustrating, but hey, who said dreams and visions weren’t a challenge?

The first part of the dream or vision, as I said earlier, is her pulling me along the beach. I can feel the salt in the air, and I can see that she is laughing. Apparently, she’s either wanting me to see something, or she’s just happy that I’m there. It’s in slower motion, but I noticed that she’s trying to keep me close as we stumble down the sandy shore.

Each time I’ve had the vision of her, it’s been a bit different. The first time I had the vision, we were as said above. But in later ones, she’s always been in my mind. Recently, when going through the final processes of giving up an addiction from which 20 years descended, I saw her in my dream. She wasn’t pulling on my sleeve. The air about her seemed to be serious, but with loving concern, and she gave me a thumbs up. It seemed like she was saying “You’re gonna make it through, and I’m here for you.”

Other times, I’ve had more than one dream or vision in sequence. The other dream is of both of us on a porch, looking over a hilly meadow and a tree that has afternoon autumn sunlight peeking through the browning leaves of the tree. She’s laying against my shoulder, while I hold her gently. We just sit for hours as the sun falls below the hills off in the distance.

I keep wondering about this lady in white. It feels quite a bit like one of those bad anime where a boy makes a promise to a young girl that they will be together and get married, and they move away from each other for 15 years or so, and meet up again to find that they’re different…and yet, so alike.

There are so many different possible explanations to what it could be. From wild and creative ideamaking, to a personal prophecy, to inter-soul communications, there are hundreds of explanations.

But I realize that sometimes, an explanation is not the thing that one needs. Maybe, just maybe, one may have to enjoy those fleeting moments in your own mind. If it turns out to be true, then all the better…

Friday Fictioneers – Open The Door

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Open The Door

*bang bang bang*

“Carole, why won’t you open the door?”

“I don’t want to come out! I’m scared!”

“Scared of what?”

“I’m scared of what the world will do to me?”

“Honey, that was 15 years ago. The people who accused you of the crime have long since left the area.”

“But everyone else is still there!”

“Sweetie, if you don’t come out of there, I will have to come in and get you.”

“You don’t want to do that, James. You could be the next one.”

“Carole, I made you a werewolf. What could you do to me?”

“I could have your litter…”

She’s A Mystery To Me

by Miles Rost

“She has taken over your life, Stu.”

The light conversation between Anatoly Churkhin and Stuart “Stu” Yorkszin took a dark turn with the phrase that Stu just heard from his longtime colleague.

The sounds of the diner were drowned out by the silence between the two men, two veterans of the 70’s KGB corps. Since retired to rural Kentucky, both men plied their trades in different fashions: Stu was a law clerk with expertise in international business in Lexington, while Anatoly involved himself as a hostage negotiator for the Covington Police Department.  The diner, an old-style luncheonette just off the interstate, was a convenient meeting place for both of them. It was in the middle of nowhere, and they could keep their conversation between them and no one else.

“Anny, how do you figure that Chelsea has taken over my life?”
“She found you 6 months ago. Within that amount of time, she has your schedule wrapped around hers. Do you remember what Yuri Andropov told us back in the day?”
“I don’t know, but I wish he would have Androppedov the earth earlier than he did. He caused more trouble than he was worth. He becomes leader, we become nothing.”

Anatoly looked at him crossly and sighed.

“You are not listening, Stu.”
“I am not listening because she is not taking over my life. She is sweet and kind, and she loves me for all my faults.”
“But, do you really know her? Do you know what is in her past? You don’t seem to know. I do.”

Stu looked at him, as he was pleading his case. He chuckled, knowing that his one-time partner in spying was about to pull out his “I Spy” card.

Darkness falls and she will take me by the hand. She will take me to some twilight land, and she’ll give me what I need. Which doesn’t involve sex.”
“Are you hearing yourself speak? You don’t know her that much! I know this because you don’t talk about her history!”
“I know her history.”

Anatoly bore his eyes into Stu’s, and gave him a deep warning. Stu just looked back at him, a reassuring smile on his face.

“Then tell me, Mr. KGB Agent of the Year 1973: What do you know about her history as a “historian”?”
“She wasn’t a historian. She was an agent for the FBI, an analyst for the area we called Kazahk. She retired from that job in 1996.”
“You already knew this?”
“I wouldn’t have started dating her if I didn’t. Come on, Anny, do I look like Konstantin Chernenko?”
“More like a Ukrainian Orson Welles.”

The guffaw coming from Stu brought all eyes in the diner onto him. He sheepishly looked around, and smiled as his portly frame did the rest. To those in the diner that day, he was merely imitating Santa Claus. And that perception was good enough for Stu.

“Anny, you need to understand that we’re no longer KGB, FSB, or whatever acronym they’re calling themselves today. We are not allied with Putin. We are retired, with no more running and hiding.”
“But, Stu…”
“My friend, Chelsea is a mystery to me. It’s a mystery how a 50 year old woman can deal with a 70 year old warhorse like me. It’s a mystery how she can do so many things for me, and yet love me without reservation regardless of my past.”
“This woman, this Chelsea, she really must be something special.”

Stu just looked out the window as he took another sip of his borscht.

She’s a mystery girl. She’s my mystery girl. And I love her for it.”