A Good Plan

A Good Plan.

I have a plan. I think I spent a good portion of my life without a plan. Just sort of walking along, not really expecting much at all, at least nothing good. I had a larger view of the world that said, “What happens, happens. It’s pretty much ordained, and so there is little I can do about it.” Does that sound ridiculous? Well, it does to me too, now anyway. But for most of my life I had that thought in my head and so, true or not, I believed it to be true and it became true.

Then one day I woke up. I woke up and I looked at the world and I thought “What the hell have I been doing? Why am I in situations I do not want to be in? Where the hell is this car going? Who’s driving?”

After that I went through a period of cynicism. It is the worlds fault. I didn’t have a chance, someone should have told me. More in that vein. Then I stepped back,looked at it and I realized I had had good breaks. I had seen things clearly. I had looked at it. And I had decided that I didn’t want to drive. I had decided to be a passenger. Well, you got to go where the driver is going then. You have eliminated all of your other choices.

So I made a plan in four parts. My plan was pretty simple.

One: I will retain all the control over my own life that I can. As long as getting that control doesn’t cause me to hurt someone, doesn’t become all encompassing. Doesn’t make me stop seeing that compromise is a part of life. I have thought out my actions rationally, without simply reacting during the heat of the moment. Man, I thought. There is a lot to do to simply have control over your own life. And how come I have to give up some of that control to have control. Isn’t that the opposite of what I wanted? It is, but it is the way the real world works.

Two: I will set goals and work toward them. In that way the things that are truly important to me are attained. Great. That is great. A clear path to a clear future, to…No. The problem is that we do not live in a vacuum. How do you set your goals and have them remain static? You don’t. At least you don’t if there are people in your life you care about. I remember someone asked me, what are your plans for the future, and I said well I plan to leave here, move to the middle of nowhere and live off the land as best I can. Maybe find someone who wants to do that and that would be great, a perfect life.

As soon as I said the words I knew I was not thinking rationally about it. If I love people that are in my life then they should count when I make plans for the future. Having lived most of my life in the vacuum that is alcoholism I had rarely ever considered others. Tough to admit, but true, so as I was saying the words they became untrue. I realized my family and friends were more important to me than anything else. And I realized I had to permanently alter my thinking. The people you love have to count. Compromise is a part of life. People who are living in the world know all about that. Those that are only in the world don’t really understand that. Which type did I want to be?

Three: Doors. I grew up on the streets. Yes, I grew up with a moral code, but chances are it was not the same moral code that most people that know me grew up with. On the street loyalty was a big deal. Men would say, “Hey, I’d die for you,” and they meant it. You could watch someone do the worst thing in the world and you would keep your mouth shut. Loyalty. It was a code. Somehow the cops became the bad guys and the bad guys became the good guys. Sounds like different subjects, but it isn’t. You are isolated from mainstream society. Disconnected: Mainstream society becomes incomprehensible. It makes no sense at all. Meanwhile the people you deal with come in and out of those doors you have. Those doors you can choose to open or close. Only you are so disconnected that you leave them open all the time and people come in and out. You become a doormat. You understand doormat. Doormat makes perfect sense. Use and be used. Except, when you come off the streets you still have the doors open. Wide open. You let everyone in, some you should, some you shouldn’t. Some who mean you grave harm, some who try to love you, but you don’t understand any of that. You only left the door open and the stuff is happening People are coming and going.

So one of the things I did was shut the doors. Yes, at first, all the way. Then I realized those doors are there for a reason. A door is meant to be opened and closed. On a warm summer night you can crack it a little to let some air in. In the winter you close it to keep the heat in. And life is the same way. Sometimes you can decide to let that person in. Others no. Still others, crack it just a little. Let that breeze in. Maybe leave the screen door shut to keep the insects out. Poor analogies, I know, but I was a street kid. A street kid who was far from stupid, but carried my ignorance like armor. I finally got it though, and I told my self that from now on I would choose how far I would open that door.

Four: The plan. I will sit down and look at what I really want out of life and begin to work toward it. I will realize that, long before I attain it, something might happen that will cause me to want to change my plans. I can not be so rigid that I can not look at it and realize that it needs to be changed. That my needs have changed. That someone in my life has needs that will affect my own needs and that I may have to sit down and do it all over again. Set a new goal. Come up with a new plan; that it’s okay to do that. That if what you are doing no longer makes sense you need to do something else.

That was how I came up with my plan. My plan was a multi year plan. Save my money. Then go in one direction or the other. Land or sea.

Sea: Buy a boat. A big boat. Cast off and spend a few years, as long as I can, sailing. After all, the price of a house, it is about the same.

Land: Buy some land in the mountains. Build another house, I have done that before, and that’s it, retire. Walks in the mountains. Maybe do the Appalachian trails. Live as close to my characters lives in my books as I can.

Then I mentioned it to people in my life. By the time I got their reactions I realized that I may just have to scrap both plans and start over. Not because any of them said anything to dissuade me, but because I realized how much I loved them and would miss them if I did either of those things. How life really is about compromise. After all, I can rent a boat, can’t I? I can rent a cabin in the sticks, can’t I? I can walk the Appalachian trail, I don’t have to live there to do that. So I made a new plan. My new plan is not to make any other plans until I sit down and think about the people I love and how it will impact them and me.

Hope you had a good week…

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Home work and a free short story, The Dam

Posted by Geo 10-16-2015

Home work and a free short story, The Dam…

This past week I let all the work there still is to do on this house go and kicked back and wrote. This winter I will catch up on my other projects and that should be fine.

What went on this week:

Monday night my cat kept me up all night long yowling. There was a female outside and when I let him out Tuesday morning, that was it. He never came back.

Tuesday I spilled a very small amount of coffee onto the keys of my laptop and messed it all up. How you might ask could I be so stupid as to spill coffee on my keyboard? I don’t know. Plain old stupidity… Half awake… A cup of coffee in my hands… All the above. After determining that, yes it was fried, I bit the bullet and headed to eBay where I found a replacement.

Wednesday I wrote all day and into the next day (3:00 AM). Sparrow Spirit came back from editing and I set it up and released it on Amazon. I also added the first book to Amazon and then made the series Amazon exclusive. More about that in a minute.

Thursday I did the same, and then tried to put together some computer parts I purchased. Failed. Realized I had bought a BTX form factor Motherboard (Advertised as an ATX), and even though it would not have fit the case I bought, I had not purchased the ATX case I thought I had, but a MATX case. Confused? So was I. After a gazillion hours trying to make it all fit I went online and looked for solutions. Ha Ha, I say that with the deepest sarcasm.

To fix the situation I needed to purchase a BTX form factor case, but I quickly found out a BTX case is hard to come by and more expensive than the whole combination I had bought. So I looked for an MATX board  to put the processor I had purchased on, but an MATX board, at least the ones I found, would not hold as much memory. They were generally more expensive with less to offer.

Which begs the question, why? I have noticed that a lot over the last several years. Want to buy a dog? Well a German Shepherd or a Malamute, both about the same size, will cost about the same price. But  a small dog, I won’t mention the breed costs more than either of those dogs. Huh. On that subject: As a dog, if a cat can kick your ass you’re probably too small.

Anyway, I finally decided to buy an ATX board and case. That worked except I was out more green. BTW if you followed all of that you are probably as geeky as I am.

Friday I did some editing on Smashwords books. Writing, and eating Candy Corn. I have to admit it was great to get back to writing, but the Candy Corn was pretty good too. And listing all of those computer parts I bought that I  no longer need. Let’s see. I spent about $250.00 in parts that I didn’t use, and another $200.00 in parts to actually build the thing; plus the cost of another laptop (Used on eBay), a really good deal for $125.00, I would say this week the computers won. And the thing is, in this society you cannot do without them. I guess I’ll be happier on Monday when the laptop shows up and in a week or so when I put my fast computer together and convince myself that I am not really an idiot at all, technology is just faster than it used to be… Did that make sense? No.

What did I learn this week?

#1. Cats are not very useful when it comes to making you feel good about yourself. I mean they take off chasing the lady cats and don’t even bother to come back. That is a direct hit to the old self esteem. Of course maybe he was kidnapped or eaten by a dog, or a Sasquatch: After all there have been a great many Sasquatch sightings lately on the National Geographic channel of all places. I hope he didn’t suffer. That is of course if he was eaten. If he did run off with a lady cat I hope she takes him for everything he has.

#2. Laptop computers really suck. I have spilled whole sixteen ounce Cokes on my desktop keyboard, no problem except the keys began to stick bad. Also the laptop keyboard stayed screwed up, I had to plug in a USB keyboard to type with, until I bought the replacement laptop. Second, I looked up form factors with Google. Holy Crap. The odds of me getting the wrong parts are very high, especially since some people that sell them don’t have a fricken clue what they are selling. There are dozens of form factors. Let me geek this out for you. Form factor refers to a common build for a particular board, across different manufacturers. Same pin connections, width, length. Etc. The last time I built a machine I only knew of two form factors, ATX and MATX which is a smaller board, and then there were proprietary boards built by some manufacturers. Yeah. No longer. So now I think spend the extra and have someone else build it to your specs. And after I get through this fiasco I will do that the next time.

#3. Writing is easier on the body than building a house is.

#4. I am no longer sure I should drink and keyboard. Coffee, Coke, it always ends up on the board before I am finished.

Other stuff:


Earth’s Survivors News: The first four Earth’s Survivors books have been put in a collection or SE series. Buy two books at a time and save money, plus get more for your buck too:

SE 1 | SE 2 | SE 3 | SE 4 | SE 5


 

The Zombie Plagues: The five books that make up the series and an few bonus books.

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Box Set | Dead Road


 

Everything else is in line and going well. Well, except computers, Cats and coffee cups.

I will leave you with a true short story…




THE DAM by Wendell Sweet

Copyright 2010 – 2015, Wendell Sweet and his assignee’s.

All rights reserved, electronic or traditional print.


Blog Edition: Used with permission

This work is copyright protected. You may read it in its present form. You may not alter or transmit it by any means. If you would like to share this material with someone, please direct them to this URL. This is not a work of fiction. The people and circumstances really existed and I have faithfully reproduced the circumstances without excessive artistic license. I have changed names to protect innocent people.


THE DAM


It was summer, the trees full and green, the temperatures in the upper seventies. And you could smell the river from where it ran behind the paper mills and factories crowded around it, just beyond the public square; A dead smell, waste from the paper plants.

I think it was John who said something first. “Fuck it,” or something like that,” I’ll be okay.”

“Yeah,” Pete asked?

“Yeah… I think so,” John agreed. His eyes locked on Pete’s, but they didn’t stay. They slipped away and began to wander along the riverbed, the sharp rocks that littered the tops of the cliffs and the distance to the water. I didn’t like it.

Gary just nodded. Gary was the oldest so we pretty much went along with the way he saw things.

“But it’s your Dad,” I said at last. I felt stupid. Defensive. But it really felt to me like he really wasn’t seeing things clearly. I didn’t trust how calm he was, or how he kept looking at the river banks and then down to the water maybe eighty feet are so below.

“I should know,” John said. But his eyes didn’t meet mine at all.

“He should know,” Gary agreed and that was that.

“That’s cool. Let’s go down to the river,” Pete suggested, changing the subject.

“I’m not climbing down there,” I said. I looked down the sheer rock drop off to the water. John was still looking too, and his eyes were glistening, wet, his lips moved slightly as if he was talking to himself. If he was I couldn’t hear. But then he spoke aloud.

“We could make it, I bet,” he said as though it was an afterthought to some other idea. I couldn’t quite see that idea, at least I told myself that later. But I felt some sort of way about it. As if it had feelings of its own attached to it.

“No, man,” Gary said. “Pete didn’t mean beginning here… Did you,” he asked?

“No… No, you know, out to Huntingtonville,” Pete said. He leaned forward on his bike, looked at john, followed his eyes down to the river and then back up. John looked at him.

“What!” John asked.

“Nothing, man,” Pete said. “We’ll ride out to Huntingtonville. To the dam. That’d be cool… Wouldn’t it?” You could see the flatness in John’s eye’s. It made Pete nervous. He looked at Gary.

“Yeah,” Gary said. He looked at me.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “That’d be cool.” I spun one pedal on my stingray, scuffed the dirt with the toe of one Ked and then I looked at John again. His eyes were still too shiny, but he shifted on his banana seat, scuffed the ground with one of his own Keds and then said, “Yeah,” kind of under his breath. Again like it was an afterthought to something else. He lifted his head from his close inspection of the ground, or the river, or the rocky banks, or something in some other world for all I knew, and it seemed more like the last to me, but he met all of our eyes with one sliding loop of his own eyes, and even managed to smile.

~

The bike ride out to Huntingtonville was about four miles. It was a beautiful day and we lazed our way along, avoiding the streets, riding beside the railroad tracks that just happened to run out there. The railroad tracks bisected Watertown. They were like our own private road to anywhere we wanted to go. Summer, fall or winter. It didn’t matter. You could hear the trains coming from a long way off. More than enough time to get out of the way.

We had stripped our shirts off earlier in the morning when we had been crossing the only area of the tracks that we felt were dangerous, a long section of track that was suspended over the Black river on a rail trestle. My heart had beat fast as we had walked tie to tie trying not to look down at the rapids far below. Now we were four skinny, jeans clad boys with our shirts tied around our waists riding our bikes along the sides of those same railroad tracks where they ran through our neighborhood, occasionally bumping over the ties as we went. Gary managed to ride on one of the rails for about 100 feet. No one managed anything better.

Huntingtonville was a small river community just outside of Watertown. It was like the section of town that was so poor it could not simply be across the tracks or on the other side of the river, it had to be removed to the outskirts of the city itself. It was where the poorest of the poor lived, the least desirable races. The blacks. The Indians. Whatever else good, upstanding white Americans felt threatened or insulted by. It was where my father had come from, being both black and Indian.

I didn’t look like my father. I looked like my mother. My mother was Irish and English. About as white, as white could be. I guess I was passing. But I was too poor, too much of a dumb kid to even know that back then in 1969.

John’s father was the reason we were all so worried. A few days before we had been playing baseball in the gravel lot of the lumber company across the street from where we lived. The railroad tracks ran behind that lumber company. John was just catching his breath after having hit a home run when his mother called him in side. We all heard later from our own mothers that John’s father had been hurt somehow. Something to do with his head. A stroke. I really didn’t know what a stroke was at that time or understand everything that it meant. I only knew it was bad. It was later in life that I understood how bad. All of us probably. But we did understand that John’s father had nearly died, and would never be his old self again, if he even managed to pull through.

It was a few days after that now. The first time the four of us had gotten back together. We all felt at loose ends. It simply had made no sense for the three of us to try to do much of anything without John. We had tried but all we could think about or talk about was John’s father. Would he be okay? Would they move? That worried me the most. His sister was about the most beautiful girl in the entire world to me. So not only would John move, so would she.

He came back to us today not saying a word about it. And we were worried.

When we reached the dam the water was high. That could mean that either the dam had been running off the excess water, or was about to be. You just had to look at the river and decide.

“We could go to the other side and back,” John suggested.

The dam was about 20 or 30 feet high. Looming over a rock strewn riverbed that had very little water. It was deeper out towards the middle, probably, it looked like it was, but it was all dry river rock along the grassy banks. The top of the Dam stretched about 700 feet across the river.

“I don’t know,” Pete said. “the dam might be about to run. We could get stuck on the other side for a while.”

No one was concerned about a little wet feet if the dam did suddenly start running as we were crossing it. It didn’t run that fast. And it had caught us before. It was no big deal. Pete’s concern was getting stuck on the little island where the damn ended for an hour or so. Once, john, and myself had been on that island and some kids, older kids, had decided to shoot at us with 22 caliber rifles. Scared us half to death. But that’s not the story I’m trying to tell you today. Maybe I’ll tell you that one some other time. Today I’m trying to tell you about John’s father. And how calm John seemed to be taking it.

John didn’t wait for anyone else to comment. He dumped his bike and started to climb up the side of the concrete abutment to reach the top of the dam and walk across to the island. There was nothing for us to do except fall in behind him. One by one we did.

It all went smoothly. The water began to top the dam, soaking our Keds with its yellow paper mill stink and scummy white foam, just about halfway across. But we all made it to the other side and the island with no trouble. Pete and I climbed down and walked away. To this day I have no idea what words passed between Gary and john, but the next thing I knew they were both climbing back up onto the top of the dam, where the water was flowing faster now. Faster than it had ever flowed when we had attempted to cross the dam. Pete nearly at the top of the concrete wall, Gary several feet behind him.

John didn’t hesitate. He hit the top, stepped into the yellow brown torrent of river water pouring over the falls and began to walk back out to the middle of the river. Gary yelled to him as Pete and I climbed back up to the top of the dam.

I don’t think I was trying to be a hero, but the other thought, the thought he had pulled back from earlier, had just clicked in my head. John was thinking about dying. About killing himself. I could see it on the picture of his face that I held in my head from earlier. I didn’t yell to him, I just stepped into the yellow foam and water, found the top of the dam and began walking.

Behind me and Pete and Gary went ballistic. “Joe, what the fuck are you doing!”

I heard it, but I didn’t hear it. I kept moving. I was scared. Petrified. Water tugged at my feet. There was maybe 6 inches now pouring over the dam and more coming, it seemed a long way down to the river. Sharp, up-tilted slabs of rock seemed to be reaching out for me. Secretly hoping that I would fall and shatter my life upon them.

John stopped in the middle of the dam and turned, looking off toward the rock and the river below. I could see the water swirling fast around his ankles. Rising higher as it went. John looked over at me, but he said nothing.

“John,” I said when I got close enough. He finally spoke.

“No,” was all he said. But tears began to spill from his eyes. Leaking from his cheeks and falling into the foam scummed yellow-brown water that flowed ever faster over his feet.

“Don’t,” I screamed. I knew he meant to do it, and I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Don’t move,” Gary said from behind me. I nearly went over the falls. I hadn’t known he was that close. I looked up and he was right next to me, working his way around me on the slippery surface of the dam. I looked back and Pete was still on the opposite side of the dam. He had climbed up and now he stood on the flat top. Transfixed. Watching us through his thick glasses. Gary had followed John and me across.

I stood still and Gary stepped around me. I have no idea how he did. I’ve thought about it, believe me. There shouldn’t have been enough room, but that was what he did. He stepped right around me and then walked the remaining 20 feet or so to John and grabbed his arm.

“If you jump you kill me too,” Gary said. I heard him perfectly clear above the roar of the dam. He said it like it was nothing. Like it is everything. But mostly he said it like he meant it.

It seemed like they argued and struggled forever, but it was probably less than a minute, maybe two. The waters were rising fast and the whole thing would soon be decided for us. If we didn’t get off the dam quickly we would be swept over by the force of the water.

They almost did go over. So did I. But the three of us got moving and headed back across to the land side where we had dropped our bikes. We climbed down from a dam and watched the water fill the river up. No one spoke.

Eventually john stopped crying. And the afterthought look, as though there some words or thoughts he couldn’t say passed. The dying time had passed.

We waited almost two hours for the river to stop running and then Pete came across…

We only talked about it one other time that summer, and then we never talked about it again. That day was also a beautiful summer day. Sun high in the sky. We were sitting on our bikes watching the dam run.

“I can’t believe you were gonna do it,” Pete said.

“I wasn’t,” John told him. “I only got scared when the water started flowing and froze on the dam… That’s all it was.”

Nobody spoke for a moment and then Gary said, “That’s how it was.”

“Yeah. That’s how it was,” I agreed…



I hope you enjoyed the short story. Check out Crime short stories here. Check out a collection of my short stories here.


New releases this week: Amazon:

Dreamer’s Worlds: The Legend of Sparrow Spirit:  Made Amazon Exclusive: Get a FREE Preview here.

Geo Dell The Nation Chronicles: Zero Book 1 in this Fan Fiction series, where the books are in the order fans chose and parts of the stories are fan suggested. Get a FREE Preview Here.

Geo Dell The Nation Chronicles: Death The second books in the story introduces you to the gang from Alabama Island. Get a FREE Preview Here.


Smashwords recent releases:

(Smashwords books distributes to iTunes, Nook, Kobo and many other book sellers.)

Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Beth The Life Stories series follows individual groups in the apocalypse. They can both be read alone or as a series. Get a Free Preview right here.

Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Bear Bear is the leader of the Outrunners, the team that track down and kill the dead, removing the threat so the Nation can be safe. This is his story. Click here for a FREE Preview.

Okay, that is it from me. I hope all is well in your world, enjoy your weekend, Dell.

Friday again

Happy  Friday evening. I thought I would share a short story with you from one of the True Collections. The Short Story Is in the story collect Mister Bob along with sixteen other stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

This is a true story. It happened the way I wrote it one night back in the early nineteen eighties when I was driving cab. Both true editions are like that, and there are dozens of other true stories I will publish possibly this coming winter. I hope this story speaks to you as it did to me later in life when I wrote it out and was able to look at it with a different set of eyes. I could not see my own arrogance and blindness back then. But none of us do very often when we are in the circumstance.

The Last ride

Copyright Wendell Sweet 2013 all rights reserved

PUBLISHED BY:  independAntwriters

This free preview is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you wish to share this work, please point those you wish to share with to this blog address. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This short story is Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print

The Last Ride is Copyright © 2013 Wendell G. Sweet. All rights reserved


THE LAST RIDE

It was early in my shift. I owned my own taxi so I could pretty much pick which 12 hour shift I wanted to drive. I drove nights so that I could be home with my son during the day while my wife worked. I’d told myself for most of the last year that I should stop driving taxi, settle down to a real job and be more responsible. And then a Conrail contract came along and then the opportunity to work with another driver who handled the Airport contract, and suddenly I was making more money than I could have reasonably expected from what I would have considered a straight job.

The hours were long, but there was something that attracted me to the night work: Always had been. Like my internal clock was Set to PM. It just seemed to work, and after a few failed attempts to work day shift work, I gave it up and went to work full time nights.

I was never bored. The nights kept me awake and interested. They supplied their own entertainment. Conrail crews, regulars that called only for me, the assorted funny drunks late at night when the bars were closing. Soldiers on their way back to the nearby base, and a dancer at a small club just off downtown that had been calling for me personally for the last few weeks. Using my cab as a dressing room on the way back to her hotel. It was always something different.

Days, the few times I’d driven days, couldn’t compare. Sure, there was violence at night too but it rarely came my way and never turned into a big deal when it did.

It was Friday night, one of my big money nights, about 7:00 P.M. and my favorite dispatcher; Smitty had just come on. He sent me on a call out State Street that would terminate downtown. Once I was downtown I could easily pick up a GI heading back to the base for a nice fat fare and usually a pretty good tip. My mind was on that. My mind was also on that dancer who would be calling sometime after two AM and who had made it clear that I was more than welcome to come up to her room. It was tempting, I’ll admit it, and each time she called she tempted me more. I figured it was just a matter of time before I went with her.

I really didn’t see the lady when she got into my car, but when it took her three times to get out the name of the bar downtown that she wanted to go to I paid attention. Drunk. It was early too. Sometimes drunks were OK, but most times they weren’t. This one kept slumping over, slurring her words, nearly dropping her cigarette. I owed the bank a pile of money on the car and didn’t need burn holes in my back seat.

I dropped the flag on the meter, pulled away from the curbing and eased into traffic. Traffic was heavy at that time and I pissed off more than a few other drivers as I forced my way into the traffic flow. I had just settled into the traffic flow when a glance into the rear view mirror told me my passenger had fallen over. I couldn’t see the cigarette but I could still smell it. I made the same drivers even angrier as I swept out of the traffic flow and angled up onto the sidewalk at the edge of the street. I got as far out of the traffic flow as I could so that I could get out to see what was up with the woman in the backseat.

I was thinking drunk at the time, but the thought that it could be something more serious crept into my head as I made the curb, bumped over it, set my four way flashers and climbed out and went around to the back door.

She was slumped over into the wheel well, the cigarette smoldering next to her pooled, black hair: In her hair, I realized as the smell of burning hair came to me. I snatched the cigarette and threw it out then shook her shoulder to try and bring her around. But it was obvious to me, just that fast, that the whole situation had changed. She wasn’t breathing.

I reached in, caught her under the arms, and then suddenly someone else was there with me.

He was a short, thin man wearing a worried look up on his face. Dark eyes sat deeply in their sockets. His hair hung limply across his forehead. He squeezed past me and looked down at the woman. He pushed her eyelids up quickly, one by one, and then held his fingers to her lips. He frowned deeply and flipped the hair away from his forehead.

“Paramedic,” he told me as he took her other arm and helped me pull her from the back seat.

We laid her out on the sloping front lawn of the insurance company I had stopped in front of and he put his head to her chest.

He lifted his head, shaking it as he did. “Call an ambulance,” he said tersely.

I could feel the shift in his demeanor. He wasn’t letting me know he could handle the situation, like when he told me he was a paramedic, he was handling it. I got on the radio and made the call.

The ambulance got there pretty fast. I stood back out of the way and let them work on her, raising my eyes to the backed up traffic on occasion. The paramedic had torn open her shirt. Her nudity seemed so out of place on the city sidewalk. Watching the traffic took the unreal quality of it way from me. I watched the ambulance pull away, eased my car down off the curb and back into the sluggish traffic and went back to work.

I got the story on her about midnight once things slowed down and I stopped into the cabstand to talk to the dispatcher for a short while. His daughter knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone at the hospital. The woman had taken an overdose. Some kind of pills. It was going to be touch and go. He also had a friend in the police department too. She did it because of a boyfriend who had cheated on her. It seemed so out of proportion to me. I went back to work but I asked him to let me know when he heard more.

2:30 AM:

The night had passed me by. The business of the evening hours catching me up for a time and taking me away from the earlier events. I was sitting downtown in my cab watching the traffic roll by me. It was a beautifully warm early morning for Northern New York. I had my window down letting the smell of the city soak into me, when I got the call to pick up my dancer with the club gig.

“And, Joe,” Smitty told me over the stat-icky radio, ” your lady friend didn’t make it.”

It was just a few blocks to the club. I left the window down enjoying the feeling of the air flowing past my face. The radio played Steely Dan’s Do It Again and I kind of half heard it as I checked out the back seat to see if the ghost from the woman earlier might suddenly pop up there.

The dancer got in and smiled at me. I smiled back but I was thinking about the other woman, the woman who was now dead, sitting in that same place a few hours before. The dancer began to change clothes as I drove to her hotel.

“You know,” she said, catching my eyes in the mirror. “I should charge you a cover. You’re seeing more than those GI’S in the club.” She shifted slightly, her breasts rising and falling in the rear view mirror. We both laughed. It was a game that was not a game. She said it to me every time. But, my laugh was hollow. Despite her beauty I was still hung up on someone being alive in my back seat just a few hours before and dead now. Probably being wheeled down to the morgue were my friend Pete worked. I made myself look away and concentrate on the driving. She finished dressing as I stopped at her hotel’s front entrance.

“You could come up… If you wanted to,” she said. She said it lightly, but her eyes held serious promise.

“I’d like to… But I better not,” I said.

She smiled but I could tell I had hurt her feelings. It was a real offer, but I couldn’t really explain how I felt. Why I couldn’t. Not just because I was married, that was already troubled, but because of something that happened earlier.

I drove slowly away after she got out of the cab and wound up back downtown for the next few hours sitting in an abandoned buildings parking lot thinking… “I was only concerned about her cigarette burning the seats.”

I smoked while I sat, dropping my own cigarettes out the window and onto the pavement. A short while later Smitty called me with a Conrail trip. I started the cab and drove out to Massey yard to pick up my crew. The dancer never called me again…


I hope you enjoyed  the free story. You can get Mister Bob at this link

 Have a good week…