Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Excerpt: Run

Run is a short story that was recently available on Amazon. It has now been transferred to the other sites. I will put up the links as soon as they're available. For now enjoy:

I walk into Central Park's Northwest section. Horns and squealing brakes dissipate into tree branches and dirt. The street's diesel aroma makes way for staph and organic decay. A pregnant sky above my head, it dawns on me that I'm here without reason. I stop, and feel curvaceous tights and leather shoes slide by me. Drops fall.
Why did I come down here? I should be warm and at home. My phone vibrates. Where are you? It asks. I remember: it was a text from her that sent me here in the first place.
It takes a second for me to formulate a reply with my rusted-by-the-cold fingers.
Central Park. You? I wring my brain for some memory. There's only the fleeting images of her hand on my thigh, her breath on my ear tingle my neurons. I can feel myself changing. How long have I known her? And weren't we supposed to break up?
My phone vibrates the continuous vibrations of a voice trying to reach me.
Hi, what are you doing down there?
Just... I thought I was meeting you here.
You know where I am, she says.
I try to think if I truly do know. She sighs, impatient. The line crackles, dies.
The raindrops fall with more ferocity now, stinging my tight skin. Then the sky opens its mouth, and the rain pounds the earth.
I run to the subway, slide my card: fare insufficient. Why did I come down here when I have no money? I see a man panhandling out of the corner of my eye. He has a crunched back and stares at the ground, the smell of ammonia drifts off his skin. I can't do that. I see another man, dressed in work clothes, asking people leaving for a swipe. My pride lashes at me for even thinking of that as a choice.
Leaning against the wall, I think about how I know her. I haven't known her all my life, though I'd seen pictures. It was only on that trip that I was able to touch her. Or rather, she touched me. Grew on me. And infiltrated me.
I step out into the rain. Rain lands muffled on my hoodie and jeans, then soon splashes. The chilled rain touches my skin. For a second I think of turning back, but I don't.
I take off in a gentle trot. Past stores that shine, perfect concrete and fast walkers. Then past a gas station with a large man eyeing me, telling me to run on. Night falls, and I make it past sparkling wine shops next to faded marts. Pea coats and hoodies all eye me suspiciously from their comfortable under-umbrellas.
The rain pours, and somehow, I'm no longer cold. My mind's tranquil. It's where it can't be reasoned with. There's a small voice telling me that this is a fool's errand, running to her. Not to her, this voice says. Don't you remember what she's all about? She was the one who took your friend. She was the one who lead you down the wrong road. Stop now, and forget about her. Stay down here, away from where ever she is.
Don't listen, my love. Her voice's in my head. Run, and get home. Aren't you cold out here? Aren't you wet? I'll make you warm.
I turn and pass dark streets, litter clogged drains. Shapes in alleys eye me. They look like they know her too. Or do they? Can the people I pass know anything about her true nature? Do they see the screams in covered mothers standing on red sidewalks with blackened cars smoking near them? Have they wrought such things? She has; she knows; she breathes such things. Like she breathes my insides. Whenever I hope she's done with me I find her eyes open, and her voice in my head.
The wind on the bridge whips my wet skin, the cold knocking out my breath. I take off my shirt. My muscles contract as I run faster. Now I pass the coliseum, lights mocking the night. A highline rattles. I run underneath, the metal beams marking my way. More trees, less people, more spray paint. Aroma of unclean streets, garbage piled high. The faded bright of stores' awnings alternates with open mouths of auto shops.
Here too I see eyes focus on me, and I feel these people must know her. So why don't I stop to talk to them? Maybe they can help. Maybe they can take her away from me. I stare deep into their eyes, trying to find her, but they step back, as if they know what I'm trying to do.
Why would you want that? she asks. Aren't I the reason you're here?
My heart collapses. I know she's the reason I'm here. She's the reason that a game in a far away land was won by me.
I turn, the sound of reggae-beats loud. I climb the stairs to my place. I'm inside. The heater blasts, the smells of my dead skin calms.
And she's in my every fiber. And I might not need her in this city, but perhaps it's best to keep her. And yet I can't live with her. Not with the stories she tells me over and over.
Is that what you want? To be free of me? she asks in a soft voice. A chill runs through me.
I see the metal in my hands. Grooves, a brand name for precision. It flings metal faster than one can react, slower than one can think.
This is the only way, she says.
The metal in my hands is a gateway from her. The only way from her.
She's shaking her head at me, disappointed.
The metal is cold, but I hold it tight, trembling.
I lean in for a kiss.

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