(Author’s note: Hoping to have some longer stories up soon. Just need to get through the testing week next week, then there’s 4 months of nothing but classes. (Thankfully). Here’s today’s fictioneers, with a second peek from Marie Osmond!)
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.
88 years of life gave Emil Jacobson lots of wonderful memories.
He sat in his bed, looking out the window as the dawn started to rise. He couldn’t sleep that night, he knew that he had to write down his thoughts. He was in the last moments of writing his memoirs, “The Long Story of an Ordinary Man”. Emil had many years as a writer, and many years as a father and husband. As he went through his memories, he knew the last things he wanted to write.
He set his pen down again, looking out at the garden below his window. He looked at the pumpkin flowers as they were blooming. He smiled as he saw the autumn winds lightly blowing the leaves on the trees. The tall oak tree that he saw behind the garden was gently swaying its branches in the breeze.
He picked up the cell phone next to his bed and slowly typed a message to someone listed as “Publicist”.
“Stop by in a few hours,” he said out loud, with a creaky voice, “The manuscript will be finished. No need for edits. Publish it raw.”
He put down the phone and picked up his pen again. He looked at the brightening sky and smiled. His eyes became bright and glowing.
To those I leave behind, I want you all to know that you’ve always shared my darkest hours, no matter where I’d go. My sons and daughters, you saw me in the darkest of hours. When your mom passed on, when I held that 15 year old girl in my hands as she died in Northridge, when I was hospitalized after my beach house collapsed into the Pacific; you all were there for me, and saw me in the darkness. You lifted me out by just being nearby. For that, I will always be thankful.
He smiled, as he thought of his last sentences. As he thought, his lungs spasmed and he hacked. For a good 10 seconds, he hacked, his old age showing through in each cough. Even with the coughing, he returned to a smile and he wrote again.
He put his pen down, and breathed lightly on the page. Making sure the ink was dry, he closed the book. He sat back in his bed, pulling the covers up to his chest. As the sun started peeking over the neighbors house and the hills of the small coastal town, he closed his eyes and smiled. He breathed in the air and sighed contently.
He took in one more breath, and the smile from his face slowly started to fade. He grew still and stony. His hands still holding the book on his lap, his body sat like a statue’s.
Emil Jacobson looked down upon his body. He smiled, seeing the completeness of his earthly life for one last moment. He turned his spirit towards the rising dawn and smiled, as he was lifted up above the trees and above the houses. He continued to fly upwards above the earth. With a quickening pace, he flew upwards through clouds and through space. As he flew upwards, the years that were apart of his earthly life started to melt away.
Within what seemed like moments, he stood on a rocky cliff, looking out over a vast ocean. He looked down at himself and saw himself not as the old man that he was, but as a strong built young man.
“Welcome!” he heard someone call from behind. He turned around and looked at another man.
“Is this Paradise?”
The welcoming man looked at him and smiled.
“Emil, welcome to Paradise. Your arrival is the talk of the folk here. Let’s go meet them, eh?”
Emil smiled at Paul, and joined along with him as he walked from the rocky cliff over to other heavenly folk.