“Jack” – short story pt. 2

author, bullying, character, characters, fiction, life, new, Short story, Uncategorized, Writing

Dad moved us into a cramped studio apartment on the fifth floor of the Cedar Dove apartment complex when he accepted his newest job opportunity. We’d made the drive, only two states over, packing our measly belongings into three suitcases before hitting the road. But that’s how we lived, out of suitcases, never putting down roots. Dad’s a rep for a pharmaceutical company. He trains hospital staff about new drugs and once he’s done, he’s stationed at a new hospital. He loves it, he calls our life an adventure. People must be jealous of all the places we’ve been, all the things we’ve seen, he’d tell me.
He comes home to find me sprawled on the couch that came with the apartment, flipping through channels on the small t.v. I watch his hands, he holds a small array of post cards. He’s always done this, collecting a post card from each place we visit and tucking it neatly in a small scrapbook. It’s always seemed like some sort of bread crumb trail to me. If we ever go missing, people will know the last place we were. I turn my attention glumly back to the t.v.
I hear the sound papers make when they brush together and know he’s flipping through the cards, picking the right one worthy enough for the scrapbook.
“How’d school go today?” Dad asks.
I shrug, though the movement is hidden by my loose fitting hoodie. “Fine.”
“Your tone says otherwise.” He sets the cards on the table near the door and crosses the room, taking a seat next to me. “Are you having trouble again?”
I chuckle at his phrasing, trouble. “Nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”
Dad clasps his hands together in his lap. “I could make a call…”
I sit up quickly. “Don’t do that, please. I’m fine.” His expression is unappeased, so I continue. “We’ll be gone in a few weeks anyway.”
The concern flickering in his eyes fades before he nods his head. “Alright, then.”
“I’m gunna hit the hay, early day tomorrow,” I say, retreating hastily from the room.
He watches me go, closing my bedroom door and even then I still feel him staring. I pull a bottle off my dresser and shake a couple of pills into my palm before swallowing them down dry. The only good thing about my dad’s job is I get great drugs.
I’m out like a light in two minutes flat.
-Collins

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“Jack” – short story pt. 1

Blog, bullying, characters, fiction, life, Short story, writing

It had taken the footballers of Cedar High School just half a week to discover the new kid and about fifteen minutes to make him feel welcome. Unfortunately by welcome I mean upend in the nearest dumpster. Did I mention the new kid is me?
Dumpsters smell like sour milk and mothballs and battery acid. The smell mingles in your mouth and stays there, especially when it’s constantly reintroduced. The only way I’ve found to get rid of it is cigarettes. The taste of dirt does wonders.
To say that bullies’ tactics are cliché would be an understatement. At this point, I would find it refreshing for some dumb jock to steal my gym clothes or give me a swirly. But no. Dumpsters are all I get.
It’s usually the footballers who like to upend me, but depending on the school, it could be the lacrosse team, or the basketball team, even the theater kids. I’ll admit, that one was a surprise, but at a school for performing arts, someone’s got to be on top.
I find myself leaning against the cool stone façade of my current high school, popping a cigarette between my lips and lighting it. I blow the smoke out through my nostrils and shrug my satchel into a more comfortable position across my shoulder.
A group of footballers sashay across the front lawn, several of them looking familiar. Sniveling idiots with leather on their shoulders and rocks in their heads. They cast me wry glances before turning toe in my direction. Luckily, the first bell rings and they decide against whatever they were going to do, chuckling as they head inside.
I can’t help the eye roll that happens as I take one last puff and crush the butt beneath my shoe.
Week two has given me enough time to memorize my schedule, my teachers’ names, and my locker combination. I haven’t bothered to make any friends, there’s no point. I spend lunch roaming the hallways, turkey sandwich in hand. A display case catches my eye and I notice it celebrates the Cedar Baron’s winning streak. The football team’s trophies and awards dazzle under the small fluorescent lights above, but those aren’t what concern me. Mounted in the middle of the showcase is a team photo. The name plate beneath gives away my tormenters’ names. Tad Drake, quarterback, Dillion Powell, receiver, Franklin Weal, Line man. I narrow my eyes at Tad Drake’s glowing face in the photo.
A girl trips over my foot and curses at me as she hurries down the hall. I don’t even have time to apologize as she’s fifteen feet away by the time I register what happened. The bell rings and I throw the remaining half of my sandwich into the nearest trashcan before heading to science class.  
The remainder of the day goes by without incident. Kids swarm the hallways, slamming lockers and buzzing about homework. I shove textbooks into my satchel and retreat from the building, using the chaos as my own cloak of invisibility from Tad and company. Feeling safe only when I’ve slid into a seat on the bus, I let out a sigh and turn my head to the window.
-Collins

My first and last dance with mr. sam jib

Blog, characters


 

The idea that Harold could kill someone was completely ridiculous. I knew this. I did. Yet, the longer I thought about it, the less sure I was becoming.
I thought back to the cocktail party at Mr. Jib’s house. We’d arrived around six to his lavish estate, Harold looking dapper in a slick tuxedo and I in a floor skimming down that dazzled as I exited the car. The party was in full swing as we entered through the enormous front doors. Several servers offered us champagne flutes from trays they carried. We smiled and accepted.
Mr. Jib lit up as we approached through the crowd and greeted us warmly.
“Harold, such a pleasure you could make it,” he said, shaking Harold’s hand firmly. “And, this must be your wife.” He regarded me with sparkling chestnut eyes.
I offered him my hand. “Millie. I’m very pleased to meet you finally. Harold’s told me so much about you.” Mr. Jib was Harold’s boss down at the steel mill.
“All good things I assume.”
I grinned a little. “Of course.”
Harold stares at our entwined hands before I clear my throat and Mr. Jib lets go. I shuffled back a step and leaned into Harold’s side. Harold forced a smile onto his face. “Thanks for inviting us.”
“You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy that party,” Mr. Jib said as we melted into the crowd.
“Let’s dance,” Harold suggested, grabbing my glass and setting it down in a nearby table along with his. He led us to the middle of the floor and proceeded to guide us through the waltz. The music was enchanting and we spun around the floor between other couples for what seemed like hours.
A tap on his shoulder had Harold turning around.
“Mind if I cut in?” Mr. Jib grinned.
Harold’s face took on a light red shade but seeing at Mr. Jib was his boss, he decided letting him have one dance with his wife was alright. “Fine,” he grunted before dropping my hands and walking off the floor.
“Mr. Jib,” I smiled.
“Please, call me Sam,” he laughed, taking up Harold’s position and leading us around the floor in a flurry of spins and foot work. It felt like I was flying. “So, what do you do for work?”
“Well, I’m a secretary. I type memos, fetch coffee, records notes…” I flush lightly as I notice Sam’s eyes remain focused on my face as I speak. I avert my eyes, staring down at his chest, at the pocket square protruding from his breast pocket. “Enough about me. Harold tells me you’re considering a merger with the rival steel mill?”
“Yes. It’s all good business sense. Tell me, how did a fine looking gal like you end up with ol’ stick in the mud Harold?” His tone is joking, a flash of gleaming teeth visible between his parted lips.
“We were high school sweethearts, married for seven years this March.”
“How very romantic,” Sam said without much enthusiasm. He dipped me suddenly and in a rush I was nearly upside down. He pulled me back up and wrapped his arms around my waist. “I could show you real romance.”
“I beg your—“
He leaned in close to my ear and we rocked back and forth. “You’ve been stuck with the same guy. Boring, serious Harold for years. Don’t you wonder what you’re missing? What I could show you?”
“Mr. Jib, I don’t know what you think—“
He tilted down suddenly and kissed my cheek. I bolted from his grasp and bumped into a couple behind me. Harold barrelled through the crowd and grabbed hold of Mr. Jib’s lapels.
“Do not touch my wife again!” he shouted, the music drowning out the gasps around us.
“We were just dancing, weren’t we?” Mr. Jib asked innocently, his eyes darting to me.
“Don’t talk to her. I saw what you did. If you touch her again I swear I’ll… I’ll…”
Mr. Jib chuckled, pulling Harold’s hands from his jacket. “You’ll what?”
Harold looks down at his hands, then slowly back up to Mr. Jib. “I’ll kill you.”
I stepped forward, clutching Harold’s shoulders. “Harold! Don’t say such things.”
Mr. Jib appeared amused at Harold’s sudden bravery. “You keep that spark of bravado and you might just be able to hold onto your wife. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have guests.” He departed, though not before offering me a wink.
Harold was practically vibrating with anger.
“Come, Harold, let’s go. He didn’t mean any harm, he was just drunk.”
“I meant what I said,” he whispered as we exited the party.
“Sure you did. Let’s just go home and forget the whole thing,” I said. “I’ll make us some tea and we’ll watch the Ed Sullivan show. You like that show.”
I’d thought everything was forgotten, but a few weeks later, Harold came home happier than usual. He threw his lunchbox down on the kitchen table and kissed me.
“You’re home early, dear.”
“Yeah, they let us out early. There was an accident at the mill.”
I turn to him, sliding on a pair of oven mitts to retrieve the casserole from the oven. “That’s terrible, what happened?”
Harold opens today’s newspaper as he sits down at the table, flipping to the sports section. “It was Mr. Jib. He was up on the catwalk surveying the progress of a new shipment when he slipped and fell at least thirty feet.”
I freeze with me hands half way inside the oven. “Is he going to be alright?”
Harold flips the page. “He’d dead. Enough about that, when’s dinner going to be ready?”
It takes me a moment to respond. “Half an hour.”
“Call me when it’s ready,” he says, jumping up from the table and tossing the newspaper down. “I’m going to take nap.” He heads up the stairs, whistling a tune.
I stare after him. He…. Couldn’t have, could he? I shake my head and grin a little. No, not of course not. Mr. Jib was right when he said Harold was a stick in the mud, boring, and serious. Harold wouldn’t have the gall to do something that rash.
I chuckle to myself, crossing the kitchen to empty Harold’s lunchbox. When I open it I find something peculiar. Beneath the apple and half eaten sandwich is a pocket square. A red pocket square. I hold it up to my face and examine it. Mr. Jib wore a pocket square exactly like this one the night of the cocktail party.
I drop the pocket square and brace a hand against the table for balance. He did it. He really did it. Do I turn him in to the police?
He did it for me, because I mean so much to him. He couldn’t bare for another man to put his hands on me. It was for love. A crime of passion. A smile starts to spread across my face. He loves me.
With that, I return to preparing dinner. Harold’s getting his favourite dessert tonight.
 
-Collins