A New Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

The author whose life is a bit of a mess starts their normal day, but it quickly gets away from them due to the arrival of a package.

A New Day

 

The package

I woke up as I always do, a cup of black coffee to greet the day.  Mornings I hate, preferring the colors of the night, me alone with its silence. When that first light strikes the window, is it a new day, or the same day stretched tight like a rubber band?  Finally, when you can stand it no longer you sleep, and a new day comes. The ubiquitous cup is different, the coffee black, but the day is the same as yesterday. Or so I thought.


Most of us want to get out of our boring lives, be given a nice adventure to break it up, and be able to tell stories to others over beers.A nice tame one for me please, nothing too roaring hot, just a mild day changer.Like rescuing a child from a burning car, or finding an old book with a note in it, or a tussle with an old girlfriend where the boyfriend shows up.If you hide behind closed doors and stale walls, adventure has a hard time finding its way in.You have to seek it, and you never know what you will get.But to the rest of us, we wrap the rubber band of today tighter and tighter around our finger until it almost breaks. You can poke a pin in your engorged finger or you can scream. In your protected houses, behind glass windows, we desire to keep the gremlins out. How can we change unless we let them in? Well, don't open the door and don't answer the phone is all I can say.


The doorbell rang me out of my revel with a loud ding, a sound so annoying it was meant to wake the dead. My landlord had put that sound in months ago saying I was not getting my packages. I don't even get that many packages. They were all for my ex-girlfriend who had not even bothered to change her new address. Being a small one-room flat, with an eating nook near the window, it was not far at all from my coffee spot to the door. I had to make sure I looked down as I walked, in case I tripped over the piles of clothes cast about.  A few bottles of wine lay on the ground, minefields to the barefoot. The delivery person, a tall black woman, gave me that quick business smile and handed over a small package. She glanced inside the apartment, a quick glance and seeing the mess, gave me that little smile. There people go judging me again by my mess. Why did she have to look anyways? If I was going to invite someone in to have a beer and a romp in the hay, it surely was not going to be with her and that cute little smile.Not that she would have romped in any hay in that apartment. I signed the clipboard, took the package and she walked away never looking back. That is ok, I did not have any beer anyways.


I looked around for a knife or scissors but found none within sight. And if it was not within sight it was gone.You see, neat people need to see order and like to have everything put away, but I cannot find anything unless I can see it. When something is put away, where does one look to find it? Usually, it disappears forever in some dark corner until you are forced to buy another knife or doohickey. Eventually, you have 5 pairs of everything stuffed into dark places. Then I saw the clock and that I again was late, with my ride to be here in 10 minutes. I rushed to put on yesterday’s pants, some other days' shirt and brushed my teeth. I would shower tonight I told myself, but I think I had said that yesterday too. He arrived 5 minutes late as he always did, honking the horn of his old ford car.

“Howdie,” my friend Dave said.  If I had that tired look on my face, his was twice that with a hallow-eyed look that said he had had another bender.  I am not sure how Dave managed to keep a job with managers that could smell the booze a mile away.  Maybe he did not have the morning eye-opener, but it sure was just coming out of his pores.  I waved at him and smiled.

“Anything new.”He was always looking for the new and usually, I had nothing to give him.Well, today was different enough that I had something to talk about.
“Another Amazon package came for my Ex today.  That makes 5 in a few weeks.”

He looked at me, nodding his head that this was interesting enough.
“And she is not picking them up?”.

“She refuses to return my calls,” I shrugged.

“Well then let us have an opening party.”That was Dave, any excuse to party, but he would at least bring the booze since I had only beer and not even sure I had any of that. 

“Maybe she will return ‘my’ calls,” Dave leered at me, smiling.He had had a fancy for her, come to think of it.“Why did she leave you anyways,” he said, looking at me in that concerned guy look.Usually, we are not really that concerned, but we just say we are.  When a girl is with a friend, they are off-limits, so goes the code, but once they leave, they are fair game.  I had not seen a girl with Dave in 10 years, but then I also don’t hang around in the places he goes at night.  Who knows what he brings back to his place?  We arrived at my work of a bakery, where I would make the bread and sometimes the doughnuts.  I would work there until closing and then usually take the bus home.

“None of your business I said.”He accepted that and we each went our own ways.  Now, where he went, and what he did for a living I had not been able to get it out of him.  For whatever it was, he was always on time.  I had once fancied to follow him and find out, but he was ex-military and could hear any type of noise, even over the voices probably in his head.

Since this part of the day was just a normal boring day we can fast forward over it, though I did get a box of stale doughnuts to take home and a loaf of bread that I had made with the friendly baker and his wife.At least I had something to bring to the party.

 

The Party

When I got home, I tried to clean up the apartment a bit, stuffing clothes into closets and cleaning with a T shirt the one table I had, putting the bread and doughnuts on it when I was done.The boxes I put on the table too, one of which was a bit heavy.Dave arrived around 7 pm, a grin on his face, a bottle of Jameson in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other, and a bag of chips held in his teeth.

“Is that the loot?” he said, putting the bottles on the table and letting the chip bag fall.“Your place looks cleaned up.”I could only shake my head.

We found a few cups that were clean enough and poured a few drinks into them, whiskey for him and wine for me.

“So where do you work,” I asked him after the second drink was in us and we had munched on half a loaf of bread each.I could eat bread all day, morning noon, and night.  Just like peanut butter.

“Around. Stuff.  None of your business.”  He grinned that grin again, the booze sinking in.

“Let us open a package,” he said changing the subject and grabbing the nearest one. 
“Wait, I have put them in order from oldest to newest,” I said getting up and giving him the package in the corner of the table.

He shrugged and took that one instead.He took out this long big knife from somewhere in his jacket and quickly rips the top off the box.He pulls out a book from the decapitated box and reads the title.  “Women.  How to understand them.”He slams the book hard on the table.  “Hah!” he yells, and flips the book behind him, reaching for the next box. 
“The thing is, you can’t.  And if you do, you don’t want to,” he said.I thought I understood them, I said to myself as I saw him hack this next box to pieces.  Out comes a vacuum cleaner, one of those super-duper ones with a lot of suction.  What the hell was Tina buying?Dave plugs it in, turns it on and the loud sound just roars in the night, and he starts to vacuum my apartment.  I went over to the plug, yanked it out.

“You’re no fun he says,” smiling and sitting down pouring drink #4.  I cannot keep up with him even drinking only wine.And if I have that much I will not be able to see straight or make it to work tomorrow.After a bit of pause, he dives into number 3, a smaller package.Out comes a lot of lipstick, 12 or more sticks, all the same, red color.
“This is no fun,” he groans throwing that box behind him.  If the apartment was clean, it was turning back to its normal self quickly.  “How about some dirt, or maybe some panties or something,” he says as he shakes the next 2 boxes together.He looks at the names on the boxes, squinting a bit, trying to determine if they are worth opening. 
“Hey, these 2 don’t have your address on it or your name,” he says looking at me.  “Do you even look at the packages?”  I get up and look at the first 2 which were ripped open, and these are definitely Tina and this address, but the lipstick one is the same as the last two, some neighbor next door.With a flourish of his sharp dagger, he opens one more of them, letting the contents fall out on the table.

“Hey!  It is not ours.”We both saw plastic straps, many of them, fall all over the table.I was confused and picked one up, looking at it, one end had a hoop, the other long and tapered.I stuck one end through the other and found I could not pull it back out.

“Plastic handcuffs,” he said nodding, looking at all the strips, and then back at me.  I took the other box out of his hand before he could open it too.Then I put the plastic strips back in the box, along with lipstick back into its own box. 
“Give me a minute,” I said to him and walked out the door with the 3 small boxes in my arms, careful to make sure the contents did not fall out.
“What do they need with handcuffs?”, he yelled after me.“Maybe their party is more fun then yours.”

After some bit of searching, I finally found the address in question, a stand-alone place in the back of our complex, with the address obscured by trees.  So the delivery people just pick the first visible place they can when they cannot find the one they want.  I knocked on the door 3 times and it sounds through the night.  After a moment a guy answers the door, stern-looking Caucasian who looks first around the neighborhood and then back at me.  The room is dark behind him like he had been sitting in the dark.
“What do you want?”, he says though he tries to smile.He talks in some sort of accent I cannot place.  Russian?Speaks like some of the men in Russian spy movies a bit.

“These packages are yours, left by the delivery people by mistake.”, I said holding up the three packages.  He takes them, looking them over, nodding twice, but then looks at me harshly.

“What did you open them for?  They are not yours, your name is not on it.  Why did you open it?”

“I don’t know.  Sorry.”, I stammer a bit.  “If I get any more I will give them to you.”

A door opens loudly behind the Russian-sounding man, another man stepping into that doorway, a big fat man with a beard.  Behind him, the room was dimly lit.

“Is there a problem Yuri,” the fat man says?  Yuri looks at me and shakes his head.

“No, only a neighbor who is too curious.”In the dim room behind him, a young girl sits down on the couch, looking out the door.The fat man looks back and sees the girl sitting, steps back, and closes the door with a thud.

“Why are you still here?”, Yuri says to me.  I looked at him and walked back to my apartment.  Yuri stood there looking at me until I went around the corner.  Even then I did not hear the door close.

Lipstick

I get back to the apartment, pour myself drink #4 now that I needed it, and told Dave the story who just stared and sipped his #6 or who knows what.  Dave just nodded in that annoying way like he knew everything.

“You think they use handcuffs on the girl?” I said concerned, scared.

“Girls” is all he said.
“I saw one in the back.  One.  How can you say Girls?” I retorted back.

“Well first they are Russian sounding, could be eastern European.Second, there are 2 men.  Maybe more.And what about the lipstick?”, he said sounding a bit drunk, but certainly more cogent than I.

“So there was a box of lipstick”, I said still not getting it.
“Who needs 12 of the same color for one girl?”, he said getting into it and sounding like a lawyer.  “That is a lot of lipstick.  Girls”, he said stressing the s.

“They could be prostitutes?”, I said, trying to find an answer that fit what I wanted to think.

“Sure.”, he said nodding his head.  “Have you ever been with a prostitute?”.  It was rhetorical since he knew that I had not, and he did not wait for me to answer.

“Since when do they need to be provided with lipstick.  And maybe your thing is handcuffs, but usually, the girls and their pimps want none of that shit.  Just wam bam and take your money”, he said nodding in that way that says he knew about prostitutes.

“So lipsticks and handcuffs”, he said holding his hands behind his head.  “Sure wish we had opened the last package.”  He was smiling at me.  At least he was having fun.  I could only think of the girl in there probably trapped, could be kidnapped.

“We should call the cops, I said.”, nodding my head at myself, and looking for my cell phone.

“You do that, and you a dead man.”, dave said, kind of serious.“They will know who called it, wait for you to go to work, and kill you when you get back.”  I just looked at him, like he was crazy.

“This is not some Hollywood movie.”, I said.  “This could be a kidnapped girl.  Girls”, I said quickly when he raised his eyebrow.  “What should we do?”.

“Drink.  Talk.  Eat.”, he said picking up a piece of bread and stuffing it in his mouth.He pours the last of the Jameson bottle into his glass and slowly sips this one since it is his last.  We sit like that for at least an hour, slowly sipping our drink and staring into it, like it was going to tell us what we should do.  Or really what ‘I’ should do since Dave clearly wanted to let it not be our business.  Whatever happened to him in Afghanistan 10 years ago, he never talks about it, but he came back changed, distant.

“Well, I am going to go have a look.”, I said putting on my jacket.I searched around through the closet, stuffed with clothes and things, finding my small baseball bat, and putting it into my belt under my jacket.  Dave merely looked at me, appraising me, finally nodding his head, but he did not move from his chair or his drink.I half hesitated, staring at him, and then I went out the door.

Heroes

I went all the way around the building to avoid coming through the same way since Yuri or his friend might be looking out the front window.It was quite dark in the back of his building as I crept up to the dimly lit window.  The window had a shade over it that came all the way down which I could not see under, but on the left side was the barest of cracks, and through it I could see part of the room.In the dim light I could see 5 girls sitting, and a man with a machine gun on his back near the door.  The girls looked scared and were barely looking at each other.  I quickly stepped back from the window hoping to god that the man in there did not see me.

“What are you doing?”It was Yuri, and he had a pistol out and pointed at me.  I kept my hands out where he could see them, with no thought of going for the baseball bat in my coat.  You know that feeling you get when your hand is arm-deep in the cookie jar, and your mother catches you.No lie was going to get you out of this one.Besides, my brain was too foggy from the wine to cook anything up except the truth.

“Looking through the window.  What are you doing with the girls?”  The last came out and I wish I had taken it back, said I saw nothing.
“I see”, he said.  “Come with me”.A shot rang out.  Well two shots really.One from behind Yuri creating a baseball sized hole in his chest, blood spurting out.  The other was from Yuri’s gun and the bullet hit my leg.  Yuri crashed to the ground.  I fell to my knees, feeling the most pain in my life coursing through me in waves.  Dave was there behind what had been Yuri, a shotgun in one hand.  He steps forward and hands me a pistol, and an extra magazine of bullets.Not that I knew how to reload a pistol.  I had shot a revolver once, but those are easy.  No levers and pulling and such.  As I came out of the surprise and the pain, I could hear screams inside the building, some men mostly women.  A few car alarms had gone off to creating total pandemonium.

“Idiot”, he whispered, though he smiled at me.“Let us get out of here.”  Then he saw that my leg was hit, blood pouring down it onto the ground.He just nodded his head and put his back against the wall.

A chair crashed through the window I had been looking through, glass flying everywhere.  I had to duck my head to not get hit by the chair, no thought of doing anything else.Some rapid shots fly out of the window, clearly not aimed, and then the big burly man leans out the window aiming his machinegun at me.  Dave was waiting for that and put shot number 2 of his shotgun into the man, the big man’s head flying off, the body falling out of the window right next to me, gobs of blood soaking the ground, my knees, my hands.I threw up and could not stop retching.  Dave looked into the window quickly, left and right, loads his shotgun, one, two, and then turns and tries to pull me up, the pain shooting through my legs again.
“We gotta get out of here or you are going to die,”  he screams.I cannot even stop retching and the pain is more than I can handle.  He lets me sink back to the ground.  Around the corner where Dave had come, 2 men with pistols around the corner and see the carnage.  Dave whirls around the shotgun, rapid shots fire, and then one boom from Dave’s shotgun which takes off the side of one guy and injures the hand of the other.Dave lets off shot number two and blows a hole in the other guy.Dave nods his head once as if talking to himself or God and falls facedown to the ground, not moving again in this lifetime.  There were at least 4 holes in his back.

One of the girls looks out the window, and lets out a long high scream into the night, not stopping until another of the girls pulls her back.Dave is unconscious or dead, it all is up to me, so I lift my pistol, trying to drown out the pain, looking the way the others had come.  Almost immediately, another guy comes around the corner, a tall-looking guy with a machine gun.  I just pointed and kept on shooting, emptying the magazine, with one of the bullets finding his body.  But he did not die quickly.  Instead, he leaned against the building hard, then settled down to a sitting position looking at me.I am staring at my gun, pull out the new magazine and try to figure out how to load the damn thing, trying to put one into the other frantically.  He smiles at me, actually laughs out loud, and unloads the clip into me, most of which miss, but an even dozen which don’t.  And that is all I remember.

Flowers

I awoke in a hospital bed, and the first thing I can see are 2 bouquets of flowers, one nice and big, with lots of sunflowers, the other some cheap thing from Walmart already wilting.  Somehow I knew the first was from my baker friends, the old man, and his wife, and the second was from my landlord, probably concerned about my rent check.  When you find yourself in a hospital bed alone, the first thing you can think of is that you are alive, and thank god for that, the joy coursing through your body.  Later I had time to wonder whether the other guy lived, did the girls get away.  Did Dave actually die?  None of that mattered at the moment, because somehow I had been saved.

Then the reality sets in when the somber doctor and fake smiling nurses try to tell you as best they can that you are paralyzed from the waist down.  Everyone's first question to these people is always the same, and usually so hopeless. 
“Will I ever walk again?”, I asked them, my world crashing down around me.The doctor says that it is possible it might be later on with lots of therapy I might walk again in some limited fashion.  Why do they give us hope in the midst of this tragedy?  I thought I saw one of the nurses shaking her head as she walked out the door.  The first thing I did was cry for about 2 days, one big drown of self-pity.  It is about as normal as normal can be.Then I spent the next 2 months feeling sorry for myself and being a true pain in the neck for everyone around me as I went from total depression to anger.They say you don’t start to recover until you accept the truth.I don’t think I would have ever have come out of it, except somewhere in the third month I awoke to see 12 sets of flowers stacked around the room, with the nurses all looking in, smiling the best they could.  I figured it was from them and tried to smile back.  No, they shook their heads, not from them.Each little card on them said “Thanks”, with a name next to it.  Katrina, Paulina, …

That was the moment I accepted what had happened, and could face the new day.


Submitted: September 29, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Kvothe. All rights reserved.

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