What Goes Around, Keeps Going

Posted June 29th, 2007 by Mike Cherim

Here’s a piece of fiction that came to me recently — based loosely on the saying “what comes around, goes around” — and I finally got it down on the digital paper I call my blog. It’s a strange multi-first-person tale dished out one scene at a time. I’ve never written a story like this before so I hope you’ll bear with me if I goof. Be warned, there is a small amount of foul language in it. I don’t think it’s usually necessary to get a point across, but it fits here. It’s a little bit on the long side, but I hope you’ll find it worthy of your time and a good read.

Scene I: The Subway Man

I lurch backwards and step on some guy’s foot. The foot belongs to a man who hits me squarely in the back, hard. I’m thrust forward out of control and land in the abundant lap of a disheveled late-twenties woman with three kids. I pick myself up and apologize, but the humorless woman doesn’t respond favorably and only scowls at me. I back away, embarrassed. Not that any of it is my fault. It’s an awkward moment.

The real culprit is the pusher-man and I turn to confront him, fully expecting an apology or a fistfight. I didn’t mean to step on his foot. What I get is a furious looking man of at least seventy. He has a fresh cut on his cheek and there’s a lot of blood drying on his shirt. His eyes are full of hate and sorrow. He glares at me. I decide to leave well enough alone and divert my attention elsewhere [back to the woman].

The subway jerks a bit as the train slows then stops for the Porter Street Station. The woman I landed on gathers her children, glances sourly my way with her dark, brooding eyes, and moves towards the exit just as the doors pneumatically whoosh open. I start walking towards the next car, away from the blood-covered old man. I glance back his way once, but he’s the same way, still glaring at me. Anywhere but with him.

Scene II: The Mother

I can’t believe that guy landed on me. I wanted to get up and kick his ass. He scared the hell out of me. If it wasn’t for the kids… I would’ve. I wasn’t in a great mood this morning to begin with, so the careless bastard on the train really sends me over the edge.

We push through the turnstiles and walk towards the stairs, to the up and out. Chico is sleeping in my arms, my right arm anyway. With my left arm I’m being dragged along by Eddie who’s trying to catch up with his older brother, ten-year-old Carlos. Slung over my back is a bag for the kids, and another I call my own. This is not fun.

Carlos bounds up the stairs, not paying attention as usual, and runs headlong into some Suit. The Suit turns around fast and grabs Carlos’s arm. He’s angry and looks like he’s going to hurt my son. I shout at him to let Carlos go. The man doesn’t let go and simply glares at me defiantly. I finally catch up and let go of Eddie, now swearing mad. I scream at the man to let Carlos go.

That’s when Eddie, trying to save his big brother, kicks the man squarely in the shin as hard as he can. He hurts the man bad and Suit goes down. Temporarily incapacitated, I grab Carlos who is finally free, and we all make our way out of there fast.

Scene III: The Suit

That little brat! Ah, my freaking shin, it’s throbbing. I sit upright on the stairs and pull up my pant leg to inspect the damage. There’s a significant amount of swelling and bruising already. I curse under my breath, turn to look up the stairs, but the woman and her brats are gone.

Grabbing the center railing I pull myself up to a standing position and test my leg. It hurts. Using the railing I make my way up the stairs towards the busy street. I finally summit the stairs and hobble off towards Merle’s Coffee Shop with a considerable limp.

In Merle’s I take off my now-dirty used-to-be crisp black sport coat and sit at my regular table as I wait for Mabel to come over and confirm that I want “the usual” — a regular large black coffee and a plain bagel with cream cheese. I soon find out that Mabel isn’t in today and that I have a different girl who is all of seventeen. She doesn’t ask me if I want “the usual” but instead hands me a menu. For some reason, maybe it’s my wounded shin, I get rather annoyed with this.

I sort of snap at the young girl with the name tag that says “Trisha” telling her I don’t need the damn menu (I really said that) and, bitterly, what I normally order. She gets flustered by this, maybe because I’m being difficult, but she gets it all and scurries off. She comes back a moment later with the coffee pot and nervously tries to fill the cup on my table. This doesn’t go so well and she spills the coffee, splashing a few drops on me. I erupt with anger. At this Trisha bursts into tears, screams whatever, turns, and runs out the door. I made her quit her job.

Scene IV: The Park Rats

I didn’t know what he orders so he flips out. I don’t need this shit, man. Mom’s not going to be happy, but I’m done working this summer. I head on over the City Park and find my friends. Mom doesn’t like them. She thinks they’re trouble. The fact of the matter is they are trouble, but today I really don’t care. Like, whatever.

It takes me a while to make it to the park. It’s like fourteen blocks. I’m hot and sweating and still mad when I finally make it to the gates. I enter the park. It doesn’t take long before I run into some kids I know and we hook up.

We chill for hours. Drink beer and wine coolers in paper bags and smoke some pot. Other friends hook up and unhook throughout the day. It’s great being free again. Until, that is, we see the cops. We hurry to hide our drinks and stash but one of the cops taps the other, points our way, and they both start heading right towards us. We couldn’t hide the evidence very well and knew we’d be busted. Then my mom would be really mad. We are left with one choice: Saying see ya to Starsky and Hutch, we bail.

We’ve done this before and immediately split up to better our chances. There are two cops and six of us at the moment. That means at least four of us are going to get away. I run towards the trees on the other side of the clearing where people exercise their dogs. One of the cops is following me. Shit. He’s overweight and old like my dad, but he’s running hard and actually starts to close the distance between us.

I make it to the wooded section and fly through the trees and bushes. I have a couple of close calls with low hanging branches but I make it through unscathed. Officer Fat Man ain’t so lucky. I turn to catch his progress just in time to see his head connect with a good size branch. This takes him down fast as his legs keep moving forward while his head stops dead. His hat gets knocked off and his face turns red with anger and embarrassment. He shouts for me to stop, now, spit flying from his lips. I laugh knowing I’m free and I run like the wind leaving behind only a trailing middle finger.

Scene V: The Officer

My partner helps me up telling me the hooligan he was chasing got away, too. He asks if I want to go to the hospital for the nasty abrasion on my head but I tell him no. It’s almost five so I snap that I want him to take the cruiser back to the station and to drop me off at my house on the way. I’m pissed. My head’s killing me.

I get dropped off in front of my house. My partner drives off and I walk into my house. My wife expresses shock over my injury but I shove her aside with disdain. She slinks away towards the kitchen and I march into my den. I pour myself a stiff drink, grab the bottle while I’m standing there next to the bar, cross the room, and plop down in my favorite chair with a plan to kill the pain with booze. I splash a little Jim Beam on my forehead to kill the germs. It’s something I regret instantly. Now I’m in a rage of pain and humiliation for being so stupid in front of myself. I take a long drink draining my triple, pour another, and start in on it. I’m getting drunk.

I shout to my wife that she better damn well be in the kitchen fixing my dinner. She doesn’t respond so I shout again demanding a response. Still nothing, so, completely outraged, I get up to confirm that she’s lying on the kitchen floor, dead, else I was going to kill her myself, figuratively I suppose. I’ve always wanted an obedient ‘50s wife and I’ve been disappointed in what I got.

My large uniform clad body staggers into the kitchen but she’s not there and it doesn’t seem like she’s started cooking. I’m completely pissed, and getting to be that way in more ways than one. I take a deep pull from the Jim Beam bottle which I so conveniently brought with me [to hit her with maybe]. After my belt I notice the note on the kitchen table. I wonder what the hell this is all about but I already know. I’m gonna kill the bitch when she comes crawling back home with her tail between her legs.

Scene VI: The Driver

I hate him. I wanted to help him take care of his head but he’s such a jerk towards me. That’s the last straw. He’s probably in the kitchen reading my note right now, swearing he’ll kill me when I change my mind and come back. He won’t kill me, though, not really. He’ll beat me, but he won’t kill me — I don’t think. But I’m not coming home this time so it doesn’t matter what he may or may not do. I’ve had it. I’m going to be strong this time and stay away. I can’t believe I’m crying like this. I should be happy to be free.

I hate him. Instead of feeling relief, I’m driving, seeing through bleary crying eyes, and too fast I suspect, but I’m not paying attention to the speed, or anything else for that matter. I drive around aimlessly for maybe two hours. Crying the whole time. I turn on the radio and some country song about a farmer with a dying mule comes on. I cry harder, blinded by salty tears. I drive.

I never do see the woman awash in my headlights until she obliterates my windshield. My God, what did I do?! I hit the breaks hard with both feet. I come to a stop on the grass in someone’s yard at the terminus of two rough gouges. The woman rolls off my hood. A man of at least seventy dives towards her. He hits my grill in the process and rips a deep gouge in his cheek. I see this but I don’t think he realizes it. He’s howling with grief. He screams that she’s dead. I’ve killed his woman. I’ve killed his wife of nearly fifty years I will later learn.

He falls on his knees in the grass holding his wife against him. He’s quickly soaked in her blood but she bleeds no more. Her heart won’t pump it out of her any longer. The collision severed two major arteries in her body and she died almost instantly. The man howls into the darkness like a wild animal. He gets up and walks towards me, enraged, but turns at the last minute and staggers down the street. He must be in some emotional shock. I can finally move and I do move towards the woman but stop short when I hear the sirens.

A police car pulls up first. Two young officers get out and look towards me. One asks if I’m the driver and if I’m okay [I am], but before I can reply he tells me to stay put while he scrambles towards the prone woman. I nod to his back. He gets blood on his knees when he kneels down. He takes her pulse at her carotid artery, speaks into his handheld radio, and the approaching ambulance sirens I was hearing stop their distant wailing. I didn’t hear what he said but I know. My husband gave me pain and in my escape I give pain to another.

The officer questions me and I tell him about the man who I think is her husband. He shouts to his partner to find him. He was heading down the street and I point in the direction he went. His partner trots off in that direction, quickly swallowed up by the darkness.

Ten minutes pass and the ambulance is now there and they are dealing with the broken, expired woman. His partner comes into view. Still trotting. He announces that he couldn’t locate the old man. He’s instructed to call it in. The old man was hurt, and possibly a risk to himself or others.

Scene VII: The Old Man

My Mabel took today off from her job at the coffee shop in the city. We’re actually retired and don’t really need the money, but she loves the occupation. I tie flies all day and sell them on the interweb thing with the help of my son. It works for us. Today was our anniversary: Forty-nine years.

I wander around aimlessly until almost dawn hearing sirens the whole time. Some are real, the rest I suspect is my mind playing tricks. I end up at a train station and enter the first train I see. I don’t know why and I know I probably shouldn’t — I need to get back. But I couldn’t stay there with that woman — the woman who killed my wife. I don’t know where this train goes, but I don’t care.

The doors whoosh shut and the train lurches forward. It makes a few of stops and begins to fill up. It must be going into the downtown area by all the Suits piling in. One wears a crisp black sport coat I notice. The train car fills up. A twenty-something woman with a small herd steps aboard. I hope those kids don’t start crying. She’s a mess. Poor woman. One guy gets in and parks himself right in front of me. Now I’m getting mad. I miss my Mabel. I want her to be in front of me, close. We’re now in the subway part. Down in the ground. Like my heart.

The train lurches a bit and the guy in front of me steps on my toes. I hit him hard, in anger. I’m no match for him and it was crazy. I need to go home. He lands on that woman with the kids and now she’s angry. I’m not sorry, though. I’m glad for some reason. I want my Mabel. The man backs away from her, then looks at me. He’s mad. I can tell he either wants me to say sorry or he wants to smack me. I look at him in a way that says don’t mess with me — a glare — and it works. He looks away.

The train comes to a stop. The sign outside the window says Porter Street Station and the crisp black Suit exits. Following a few people behind is the woman and her brood. The toe-stepper-man stays on the train and is heading to the next car. He looks my way one more time and I glare back. Again he looks away.

After he disappears through the accordion passage into the next car I finally drop my eyes. And that’s when I see the blood. I did not know. I then remember the cut from the grill of the car and I raise my hand to the fleshy wound on my face. I also feel a tear running down my cheek.

~The End~

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