Exercise #5

We were asked to write a scene with specific details that would apply later on. Chekov’s gun: If you have a gun on the stage, it has to go off at some point. And the character must want something and have a weakness preventing them from acquiring it.


“Rich Sameuls, what’s a multi-millionaire doing in a warehouse with wanted felons?”

My eyes opened. Grimy floors and a ratty armchair made me want to get up. My hands tied with abrasive hemp rope kept me where I was. The smell of gasoline hit my nose and gave me a headache. My clothes were soaked through.

“Hey, Richie boy.”

I looked up, feeling weak. They must’ve heard about my recent influx of cash.

A man stood there in front of a limousine, the cigar in his mouth smelling sour and a suit too big for him — a little man trying to play it big. I needed a laugh, but a cigarette more.

“We put some bacteria under your skin. Hey, get the Doc.”

A reedy man in a lab coat was brought over at gunpoint. What a pitiful man. “You have 24 hours to live without treatment, maybe less. I beg you, give them what they want.”

“Account number, Rich.”

The money wasn’t mine to begin with. It was a dead friend’s, money owed to the Russian mafioso. Getting on their bad side meant death. “I’d settle for a cigarette. Don’t need your pesky antidote.”

“Fine, a cigarette and we leave you to the virus. Or your account number and treatment for your little problem. I have an ambulance waiting outside.”

“Can’t I have both?” I couldn’t give them the account number if I wanted to live. Nor go on living without that antidote. So many problems to deal with.  

“Get your mind onto something, Rich.” They walked into an office behind the limousine, leaving me tied to the chair — amateurs.

I pulled at the sandpapery ropes tying my hands. There was wiggle room, just enough to squeeze my hands through. A guy needed to relax before a cigarette could do any good. Anger killed the mood. If I was going to go, I’d be happy. I broke the wooden handle off the chair and broke a window on the limo with it. Working quick, I opened the trunk.

Mr. Cigar and Mr. Gun came running out.

I pulled the guns from the trunk and peppered the air with lead. Bullets flew back and forth, making a hell of a racket.

Mr. Cigar swung open a door leading outside and pulled Mr. Gun through behind him — cowards.

I ran out there with the biggest guns I could find.

My kidnappers were holed up in the ambulance. There was nothing else around for miles in the blown sand.

My leg was on fire from the bacteria eating into me.

“Last chance Rich, the antidote to your ills or death.”

“Know what I want?”

“Yeah?”

“I want a cigarette!”

I put the grenade launcher to my shoulder and fired.

An explosion filled the darkening sky.

Brushing the gasoline from my hands and face with sand, I pulled a cigarette from my pocket and lit up. With my leg killing me, I got in their limousine with the Doc riding shotgun. The driving wasn’t hard until I was crying out in pain. Turns out, I didn’t have a day.

GK

Finding Love a Block from Home

A short piece of fiction.

I walked familiar potholed streets to the corner store. It’d passed through different owners like dollar bills, but the worn asphalt and shabby cinder block were mine. The familiarity of life turned into a warm security blanket that covered and smothered. Predictability suited me fine though.

I walked by off-brand cans of beans and went to the fresh, stacked in little plastic bins, covered with slick cellophane; the finest beans you could get for a dollar. I wandered the aisles, adding to my tiny cart.

My little shopping cart full of essentials, I looked through glossy magazines, imagining how my life could’ve been if I wasn’t a waitress blocks from the only address I’d ever called home. My cart coasted through line and out past the clerk. I walked into the cool night lit up with street lamps. My ringing phone stole away my gaze to check who it was as I crossed the parking lot.

The blare of a horn and a glare of light came from a pickup swerving through. My phone fell from my hand.

A stranger pulled me from the frenzied driver’s path, and we fell to the rough ground.

The truck sped by, knocking my cart around.

“What the hell, man!” It was the man next to me. He got to his feet, pulling me up. “Alright ma’am?”

I stood up, breathing in the cool night, trying to calm my frazzled nerves. “Thank you.”

The man that saved my life walked away with a smile. Such a nice dude.

I couldn’t get him out of my head. He’d saved my life, and we’d been on the pavement together. Wistful searching of the aisles got me nowhere. Would I see him again? Did he live around? What were the chances?

A few weeks later, he walked into my diner. We went out the night after.

Life was a string of pearls, moment after moment. What you did with them meant the world.

GK

A Lost Love

A 300 word short story

I held her hand as she slept. Wires monitored her life dwindling away. Any moment could’ve been her last; I didn’t want her to be alone. We were happy before this started, but happiness wasn’t our fate. We got chemo and radiation. Cancer was a revolt against the body, ending with excruciating pain. Stripping away her soul with “treatment” couldn’t fend off the beast.

She called my name. Then she saw me there. There was clarity but not pain. “Promise me something.”

“Anything, Ansell.”

“Find love again.”

I couldn’t speak the lie she wanted. Tears sprang to my eyes. I wanted things to be different, but nothing could change our fate. Life isn’t fair — the moment you find a sliver of happiness, the bony hand of fate snatches it away.

I opened my eyes. She was looking at me with sad eyes and a smile. Everything started to change. Her face softened; her grip slackened. I saw the life slip out of her, shed off its corporeal skin.

My wife Ansell was gone.


I didn’t feel anything for days after. Oblivious people made things harder. The funeral was a farce of celebration, not changing a damn thing. There’s no preparation for your life imploding in on itself.


I was jogging in the rain and ended up at her grave. My sweet wife Ansell was gone now, buried under my feet. My heart broke in half and brought me to my knees. Falling against her gravestone, I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to reassemble everything and live a sham. I wanted to wither away to nothing. Ansell was gone, and I was no more.

Her words hurt, like a dagger twisting in my chest. Find love again.

Her words were what I needed to hear, but I couldn’t understand.

GK

A Friend in Need of Comfort

This is short about friendship.


 

We were supposed to be friends like before — before she’d gotten serious about dating. It was apparent we wouldn’t be best friends anymore. It was hard being best friends with a girl, especially if you’re a guy. Everyone thought we were together. It didn’t matter that Claire already had a boyfriend —seeing us together was enough. It was annoying.

Claire rang the doorbell. We were going to talk face-to-face after months of texting back and forth. It had to be something big like the bf.

Claire was in a trench and jeans. Pulling her inside, I got us a bottle of wine like she’d wanted. I’d always thought her bf, Adam wasn’t good enough for her.

“Adam is remote. I have no idea what he’s thinking. The sex is great, but that’s not everything. Something is missing.”

That was a touchy spot for Claire, not getting what she wanted — wondering if it meant something.

“I don’t know what it means. He shut me out.” Her eyes were wet.

It made me angry. Why are you hurting Claire like this, Adam?

Claire kneaded her eyes and tried to smile for me. That hurt, like she stabbed me. I didn’t want her acting for me like every other man. I went and sat next to her.

“Claire. You don’t have to bottle everything up to protect me. I’m your friend. Nothing you do could hurt me.”

She looked at me with a sad smile. I put my arm around her. Claire sobbed. I kissed her hair, whispering the words she needed. Her tears quit, and she looked at me. Sadness was there, but the dread was gone. In moments like that, I wanted to kiss Claire like the world depended on it, but I wanted her friendship more than her body.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo taken by Shanon on Pixabay.

Remembering Things Lost Forever to Fate

This is a short story about an ending.


 

We walked through the garden interspersed with topiaries and dramatic lighting. It was dark. Everything was as it should be — the pyramid of latticed glass and baroque buildings ahead of us.

The grass ended with stone. A scream went through the square. My heart jumped into my throat. We froze, looking to that sound and things happening — masked men around the grounds — far away yet dangerous. I held Jack’s hand tighter. Something sailed into the hands of the masked men. Jack pulled me along. Looking over my shoulder, I saw what was thrown over — guns.

I spun my head and felt a splash of cold on my face. We sprawled on the ground as people streamed by. “Jack honey, we have to move.”

He squeezed my hand a little.

I looked at him on the ground next to me. My face drew tight, and my eyes widened. I felt the wetness splashed across my face and drew my fingers back red. Jack sucked in great breaths of air as blood trickled out from his chest. We were in the open before the pyramid.

Holding Jack head, everything around exploded with gunfire. The glass shattered and stone erupted, evading the rush of bullets. My world was the tiny bubble that contained Jack for the moments his life slipped through my fingers. “Hang on, Jack. A little longer for me? Please, Jack.”

It was too late. His hand went limp in mine, and he was gone. I went through that day again and again, pulling my hair out at what we could’ve changed. Someone grabbed me round the middle, and took me into the pyramid.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

 

Memories of Love: A Missed Opportunity

This is a short story of lost love.


 

It was a dinner party at Ben’s, a bunch of guys from Amherst together again and our girls. We were all that age — between maturity and adulting. I was the dude without a woman in tow. Everything was good being single. There wasn’t someone giving me judgmental gazes like my mother. There was hooking up and enjoying life. Everything was right with the world being alone most nights. Every so often, I had a hot girl in my bed.

Stagnation wasn’t in my vocabulary. That’s when I looked at Ben’s girl. Sonia looked familiar. Familiar like a girl you’ve been in bed with — dark hair to the middle of her back, green eyes making me wonder, and lips I remember. I could see it. How she darted looks at me and licks of a smile. She was a girl that lay in my bed — no question about it.

She was with Ben now.

I wanted her. Sometimes limits feed your hunger. I wanted a bite if not a kiss. I looked into her eyes and remembered.

It was rainy. Delicious food filled our bellies with warmth. The cab stopped outside my brownstone. The rain pelted us wet by the time we were inside. I didn’t want our usual bottle of wine. I held her wet neck, and we kissed. I carried her up the stairs to my bed with her playful squeals filling my ears. The light rain struck a beat on the windowpane and the gorgeous Sonia smelling of rain. And now we were sitting a table’s width apart, sneaking looks. I wanted her more.

It wasn’t to be. We could never be together with Ben dating her.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

Finding the Things You Want: Middle School

This is a short story about making friends.


 

I was daydreaming, sitting there at my desk, watching the other students, and imagining what their words meant beyond the words themselves. That was my typical day in middle school. I was the odd one out, because I wasn’t the same as everybody else — a social in-adept — a stranger in the ways of my age.

That’s when I saw her. It wasn’t like she was the most beautiful or the most popular. It felt like I knew her from across the room though. We had gone to the same schools for years. There wasn’t any back and forth — we’d never talked.  I wanted to be right there, in the thick of that conversation. It should’ve been easy, but they were talking about baseball.

I was out of place. I never fit in anywhere, because I was scared to be myself. That ruined me from the start. And it would take years of course correcting to change things.

That was the first of many encounters. In hallways, across the cafeteria, at football games, and the one class we had together — memories that haunted me and missed opportunities I’d never have back. If I wasn’t anti-social to the extreme, I had an in. I was smart — not study group smart. I was still a weirdo that couldn’t meet muster. The sidelines was where I would remain years on down the line.

Then things started to change. See, I had a few friends. I joined their study group. The hand of fate smiled on me, and I was in the study group with that girl the week after next.

Leaving things to fate was how I survived being my own man in a sea of conformity.

THE TRUTH:

I hid from the world, never allowing even those I knew best backstage passes.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash