New Dawn

New Dawn
a story by Miles Rost

Paul Meister was a man of the streets.

For as long as he could remember, the streets of the big city were his home. They were the bread and butter he would eat every morning, the cheesesteaks “wit wiz” that occupied his waistline during the afternoons, and the cool air of the night as he drove around the city.

He knew every crevice, every nook of the streets he traveled on. No matter what time it was, he could find a way to get to his destination without worrying about using the GPS in his car. He would take a shortcut if it took a little time off the clock. He grew up on these streets, knowing it was safe to drive at night, and which parts of the city were skeevy enough to avoid in the overnights.

The sound of the lines in the concrete filled his vehicle as he traveled. The staccato of the breaks keeping a steady beat to the music in his head. The interstate was the main way to get to a place, but he always liked to use the side and back roads if possible. This night, however, he needed to be on that stretch of concrete slabs. It was where he was required to be.

He looked up at the tall buildings along the downtown freeway front, of the big pink colored building that the locals called “The Flamingo”; the old Killer Kola factory, which at one time also helped make and store “Billy Beer”; even the double-decker bridge that everyone called “The Iroquois” was able to be seen from his seat. All of these things helped him to realize just how rooted in the city that he was.

The darkness that enveloped the city on this night was palpable. As he pulled off the freeway and onto one of the main surface thoroughfares, he looked around at the area he was about to enter: Old Koreatown. When he first started navigating the streets, Old Koreatown was a place no young man was to go. The area was a mess of dry cleaning shops, liquor stores, shik dangs, and brothels hidden as hair salons. Gangs would make their dough on those streets, and if one wasn’t careful, they could end up in a body bag the next day.

But that was the old Koreatown way.

The new image of Koreatown was the development of high-rise apartment lofts with Korean aesthetics, and trendy coffee shops, or patisseries. It was a gentrified area, lacking the charm of the old neighborhood while still trying to stick with it. Paul missed the old Koreatown, and knew that the new Koreatown was not as good as the old was.

He looked at the signs on the edge of Old Koreatown, and found where he needed to be. He pulled over to the side of the street, next to a stop sign and smiled. He looked to the east, as he saw the faintest glimpses of green and yellow start to tickle the horizon. He started to drift, looking at the beauty of a new dawn.

The rear passenger door opened. Paul looked back and smiled.

“Alright, lady. Where ya wanna go this morning?”

The lady, a striking beauty in the middle of the budding dawn, just sat back and sighed.

“Airport, Terminal H.”

“You got it, ma’am. You’re going to enjoy the dawn as we go.”

She just smiled and settled back in for the long drive.

Paul knew the streets, and this time, he wasn’t in a rush to get his passenger to the destination. He wouldn’t overcharge her for taking the long way and watching the sun rise.

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Stepping On Shadows

(For those who are interested in Part 1 and Part 2, click the links.)

Stepping on Shadows
(aka Mayumi’s Story, Part III)
by Miles Rost

A business card with a number written on the back.

Mayumi found it on her counter, and she never noticed it before. She looked at it and twirled the card and the number around in her mind, thinking of where it may have come from.

In the intervening week between her emotional breakdown and the current time, she was able to get her mind back in order and was focused on moving on. She was pleased, but she knew that there was a lot of work to be repaired within her soul, her psyche. She refocused her efforts on developing her life away from the addiction to her ex. She felt as though things were finally starting to get level.

Saturday morning came quickly for her. More than a week after dealing with all those feelings, she felt like she was on solid ground. Which meant only one thing: Time to clean the house. She washed the dishes, cleaned the living room, and started cleaning off the stand-alone counter where she would have her mail and her dinner.

The card dropped from a stack of mail. Hidden among the junk mail was a business card for a garage that she used to take her vehicle when she was dating the idiot. She looked at the back of it and saw a number.

I wonder where this came from? I don’t remember asking for a card from the garage the last time, she thought to herself.

For a long time, she just sat at the bar and twirled the piece of paper over and over in her hand, debating about whether she should call the number and see what was at the other end, or whether she shouldn’t push it. The battle raged inside her head for a while, but eventually, her curiosity got the best of her logic, and she grabbed the house phone. She dialed the number on the card, and just waited nervously. After about three rings, the phone picked up.

“Hello? Who’s this?”

The voice was unmistakable. The annoyance found in the voice was immediately recognizeable.

She had mistakenly called the idiot in Western Australia.

She immediately hung up the phone and started to panic.

“I can’t believe it…WHAT the hell just happened?!?!” she shouted into the air.

She stood up and started to pace, figuring out how she was able to contact the idiot. She had been trying to get rid of him, and now all of a sudden, he was back…even for a moment.

Mayumi unplugged the phone from the wall socket, then walked over to the couch in the living room. She sat down, feeling incredibly nauseated by what just happened. She felt disturbed by it in a way she never felt before, and it was turning her in knots.

She laid down on the couch, the right sleeve of her sweatshirt covering her forehead, absorbing the sweat and the feelings of nausea rising off her head. In the few minutes that it took for her to blank her mind and do some cleaning in her head, she turned her head and looked next to her.

“Lord, ah don’t know what to do. I wanted to keep it away, but ah didn’t throw the card away. I kept it, and explored it.”

She looked back up at her ceiling, and shook her head. She asked for forgiveness in her mind, trying to ease the feeling of self-betrayal in her. As the minutes turned into hours, she felt her gut slowly become calm and her spirit start to rest. She felt a wave of peace come over her, as one thought crossed her mind.

It’s not the end, and not a start over. It’s a mere stumbling block, and you’ve gone past it. Keep running.

As her eyes slowly closed, taking Mayumi into dreamland, she realized that even with this problem, she would be able to still continue and survive. She could bank on that.