marlene

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a short story I wrote very recently.

Submitted: April 03, 2017

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Submitted: April 03, 2017

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 Mike watched the blood flowing from his face into the grass. Mike wasn’t used to violence. He sat in the grass trying to calculate the seriousness of the situation and his injuries. He always thought he’d feel more agitated and fearful; more excited at least. Maybe a more visual examination would help.

 He started to walk towards one of the campus buildings. They always had a generous number of bathrooms, hence mirrors. Despite this plan, he still tried to use his reflection in the glass door. Not only was the impression of semi-reflected light indistinct enough to be diagnostically useless, it also presented a ghoulish visage – one that would have felt ominous if he was prone to self-reflection.

 The ascertainment about bathrooms was almost instantly proven correct.

 The assessment was as follows: While there was some swelling, tenderness, and bruising, including a black eye, he was rough but not serious. Blood almost stopped coming from the nose and it didn’t seem broken.

 Everything was fundamentally fine and a wave of relief came over him, along with the pain being turned up. Especially the pain from his ribs (which somehow was both sharp and blunt) that throbbed along with his pulse.

 Afraid it might be broken, Mike probed his ribs with finger tips palpating. Despite the fact that even gentle touch was excruciating, he persisted in applying pressure. Satisfied that everything seemed in the right place, he tried to clean off the blood. On his face it came off; his clothes, not so much.

 “Ouch,” he said in reference to his injuries. “Jesus Christ fucking ouch.”

 He walked with a stilted waddle that would have been funny if not for the look on his face, as well as the obvious injuries. He was waddling toward pain medication. He considered himself functionally straight-edge, despite the drinking of a frequent and excessive nature or the pot smoking if offered by a girl he thought he had a chance with. So the pain medication he was after involved fermentation and distillation.

 Some dives pretend a level of class and culture they haven’t earned. In this area were many establishments that fit this description and one of them was where Mike ended up.

 “You sure you’re o.k.?” the bartender asked after putting down the shot glass on the counter and holding the liquor bottle midway to a pour.

 “I just got banged up a little bit, I’m fine,” was Mike’s argument.

 The bartender shrugged and finished the pour slightly heavy. “Hey, I gotta make sure.”

 A few shots later and a lull in patron demand, the bartender asked Mike, “What happened?”

 “My girlfriend’s brother heard I was getting some sly with some girl I never heard of,” Mike said. “But you know what, that guy probably doesn’t believe it – he’s always been explicit that he hates me.”

 Well, after a while the day drunks slowly filtered out – the old and bored as well as the young and useless, the walking wounded. The after-work crowd started pouring in.

 Some of Mike’s friends saw him. He was cordially invited to join them at the table. Some people might say they’re not really friends, but what would you call someone enjoyable to have a drunk with?  For some reason, it took a while before anyone asked him about why his face was more gruesome than it typically was. Maybe some people drink because they have strange inhibitions.

 Tim is a giant of a man, and is also a punked-out version of a gentle giant with a violent streak. “So what’s the story with your face?”

 Mike shrugged and took a long pull off of his pint before saying, “Marlene’s asshole brother got it in his head that he’d not feel like a loser if he kicked my ass.”

 William wore a red button-up shirt, untucked, that contrasted well with his unkempt hair and five o’ clock shadow. He looked at Mike as if he was trying to read his face.

 “We should go have a talk with him, right guys?” Tim stated.

 “Maybe,” William said.

 “What do you mean ‘maybe’ – someone just kicked our friend’s ass and that’s maybe to you?”

 “Maybe he deserved it, maybe not. Remember that party at 1209 when you almost kicked his ass?” William pointed out.

 “So then we can ask what’s his side of the story,” said Tim.

 “Sure, why not, it would be interesting at the least,” conceded William.

 Mike finished his pint, “Hey, we need another round, I’ll get it.”

 “Nah, we can get something from the bottle shop for the walk over,” argued William.

 “Drop it, he kicked my ass, so he got it out of his system,” Mike pleaded.

 “That’s not Just,” pointed out Tim.

 “Look, could you drop it for me? I was the one that got my ass kicked. And I would like to just forget it, o.k.?” said Mike, mustering as much stern authority as he could.

 William looked at him with a serious look and made the following point, “It’s easier for you to forget about it, but we got to see your face.”

 “Then it’s decided – to the bottle shop, then, to have deliberations with that ass-hat,” declared Tim.

 Mike sighed and said, “Whatever.”

 The sunset turned the sky a strange hue that was somewhere between pink and purple. And as the night faded the pink/purple enveloped a larger percent of the sky.

 “This sky – why does it look like that?” asked Mike as they walked through the residential neighborhood with their pocket beers. Pocket beers are when your coat pockets can hold 4-8 beer bottles in such a way that it doesn’t make noise as long as you don’t jog or jump. You also need a spot you can hold the open bottle upright so you can have clandestine swigs from it. William had an inside pocket in the left breast of his coat the he joked was designed for that. Tim’s coat pocket held two beers on their side and then room for an upright beer. Mike wasn’t going to have any until they got to the several blocks in that went through the woods.

 “Well you see, it’s got something to do with the street lamps and their light getting dispersed – and you asking has something to do with trying to disperse the subject of conversation,” William made this somewhat astute point.

 “No, it’s just odd is all.” Mike deterred, paused, looked around, and added, “O.k., of course I wanted to change the subject – can you blame me?”

 “No I can’t blame you, but I also can’t go along down the path of surrender. I can’t just shrug my shoulders and say ‘What can you do, let’s have some peace at all costs,’” William posed and articulated like he was at a podium during some political rally.

 Tim nodded solemnly, “Don’t be a pussy just because you got your ass kicked and your face broke.”

 William made a silly face that went perfectly with his shrug, “Yeah, that too.”

 Mike frowned, looked at his shoes, and said, “Alright, I guess there isn’t any going back at this point. What is is what is.”

 Tim slapped Mike’s shoulder and happily proclaimed, “Good boy-o.”

 “Oh, like a dog?” asked a pissy sounding Mike.

 “No, dumbass, it’s a term of endearment. Great allowing your ignorance to ruin a beautiful moment,” William declared.

 “Jesus Christ, I didn’t know that,” Mike defended.

 “Well Jesus Christ, I was busting your balls – you know, trying to make a funny,” William said.

 “Me too,” Mike said.

 “O.k. then,” said William.

 They got to the woods.

 Mike started drinking one of his coat beers. It was still fairly chilled; certainly cold enough. “Guys, isn’t it strange that there is a little patch of woods here?”

 Tim sounded more thoughtful than usual, “Well, if you go that way it’s not a little patch of woods – the whole state is like that.”

 “That would explain the time I saw a bear out here,” William stated.

 “Well I just saw a beer here,” Mike said. Holding up his empty bottle, he threw it off the path.

 Tim, who was far more civically-minded than he would externally appear, said, “Don’t do that again. How would you feel if I threw my trash into your home?”

 After they started walking, William tapped Mike on the shoulder, showed him an empty bottle, kneeled down, and gently placed it just off the path. Then he made the universal sign of ‘don’t say anything.’

 Mike and William started laughing.

 Tim asked, “What’s so funny?”

 Mike denied, “Nothing.”

 William being a little more quick-witted said, “Well, this pirate walks into a bar with this steering wheel.”

 “I’ve heard that one, it’s not funny,” interrupted Tim.

 The other two laughed again.

 They got to the edge of the woods. Mike said, “Hey, I just opened another. I should finish it – it is a sin to waste beer.”

 “Good point. And it’s not like out quarry is going anywhere. They’ll still be watching shitty reality t.v. or whatever imbecile mooks do with their free time,” William pointed out.

 It was decided that they end up finishing their few beers. If they were not seasoned drinkers this would have been the end of the night.

 They got to the neighborhood they were looking for and asked Mike to show them where the house was. After a while of feigning being lost and everyone accepting this, they found the house. It was a small thing at the end of the street.

 As they walked towards the door, Mike was in the back. He stopped, “Hey guys, come on, we don’t have to do this.”

 “Actually, you might not need to do this, but we already came this far,” Tim stated.

 William nodded in agreement.

 “Alright,” resigned Mike.

 Tim knocked on the door hard, just like you’d probably imagined. Almost immediately the door flew open. Marlene’s brother stood in the threshold. He snarled, “What the fuck do you assholes want?”

 Tim got in his face, “We heard about what you did to Mike, fuck-face.”

 “Oh, did he tell you all why?” asked her brother.

 “Yeah, cause you heard some bullshit about him cheating on Marlene,” answered William.

 “Oh, that’s what he said – that’s bullshit. Like it’s even possible he could cheat,” her brother insisted.

 “Oh that’s low after you kicked his ass like that,” William said sternly.

 Tim interrogated, “Wait, what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

 “He’s not dating Marlene anymore. She dumped him, so he can fuck whatever slut is dumb enough to let him,” her brother declared.

 William looked confused and sought clarification, “So you kicked his ass for getting dumped?”

 “Fuck that, I’m thrilled she dumped the fuck-head. And I’m going to bet he didn’t tell you why,” retorted the brother.

 Tim looked at Mike and asked him, “Is that true?”

 Mike said, “Yeah, it’s true. She dumped me.”

 Tim said, “Yeah, but why did she?”

 Mike shook his head no, “I don’t know, she didn’t say.”

 “Go to hell – you fucking know,” the brother said, on the verge of yelling.

 Standing up straighter than he had all day, Mike said, “Like I said, she didn’t tell me.”

 “I see, you’re some kind of idiot,” the brother stated. “You really can’t figure it out.”

 Mike, still standing tall, said, “No, I must be a moron, cause I don’t know.”

 “Really, you don’t think stealing our grandmother’s ring and selling it might have something to do with it?” her brother said, staring straight through Mike.

 Mike’s posture practically withered, “It’s not like it sounds.”

 Tim threw his hands in the air and declared, “Oh, fuck this, I’m going home,” and then he walked off.

 “What the fuck, Mike? Remember when I said it might be your fault? Sounds like it was,” William said, just yelling.

 “Hey, we needed the cash, and she wouldn’t budge,” protested Mike.

 “Jesus Christ, Mike. Let’s go,” said William.

 “Hey, I said we shouldn’t,” protested Mike.

 “Whoop-de-doo, you could have copped the truth in the first place,” said a seething William.

 Her brother said, “Are we done? Can I go back and comfort my sister?”

 Mike being somewhat of an optimist asked, “Can I see her, just tell her I’m sorry?”

 William stunned everyone, especially Mike, by spinning around very quickly and punching Mike in the gut while growling, “No.”

 Mike fell to his knees. William walked off in a huff, and the brother slammed the door.

 About a month later Mike ran into William, who he had not seen since that night, and asked, “Hey, are we cool – can we hang out again?”

 William replied, “Yeah, of course. Shit happens and I don’t just hang out with saints.”

 “Cool, do you think Tim is cool with me?” asked Mike.

 “Honestly, I don’t know – you’ll have to ask him,” answered William.


© Copyright 2017 Robert Owen. All rights reserved.

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