Story Update: ‘Hunter/Woodcutter’

Helloooo! I edited and expanded a bit on my short story, ‘Hunter/Woodcutter’, hope you enjoy!

Cheers.

-L.

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Waiting

We’ve been sitting here for hours and hours. A man dressed in white pushed another man in a wheelchair, all bandaged and had blood everywhere, he looked scared. I don’t like hospitals. It’s all cold, boring, smells funny, nose itches. Gran’m looks down at me, smiling. “They’ll probably call us any minute now. Do you want a piece of candy, dear?” She smells nice.

“Yes!” She always carries grape gumdrops, m’favorite. She’s making an upset face, uh-oh, I almost forgot. “Please?”

She smiles again and pulls up her big purple purse. She puts her hand in, and comes out with two gumdrops! “Thank you, Gran’m!”

A lady dressed in white goes to where we are, she seems to be tired. “Mrs. Henderson?” She looks down at me and smiles, I smile back. She seems nice.

“Yes? Is my daughter still in surgery?” Mom fell from the stairs this morning. I was playing out on the garden when mom screamed. Gran’m said it had been an accident.

The lady doctor shakes her head. “No, she’s out, recovering in the ICU, but there were complications. I’d like to speak with you, in private.”

Gran’m squeezes my hand a bit too tight. “Oh God…”

“Is mom alright?”

The lady doctor smiles again. “Your mom is resting right now, but you’ll be able to see her soon enough. Right now I have to speak a bit with your grandma, is that alright, James?” She smiles like mom, but her hair is blond. Mom’s is black.

“Uh-huh.”

She turns to look at Gran’m, but she’s not smiling anymore. She should sleep. “If you could follow me, Mrs. Henderson, it’ll be just a minute.”

“Wait…wait for me here, dearie. I’ll be back in a minute, ok?”

“M’kay, Gran’m!”

***

Dolores Henderson was not a bad person, at least she hoped she wasn’t, according to how she had lived her life up to this day. There were certainly mistakes that she had made along the way, nobody was perfect. Maybe, maybe even one or two that would be judged harshly if people knew, but then it wasn’t nobody else’s business. It was an accident, plain and simple, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. She would never hurt her daughter. Not once did she ever spank her whenever she got in trouble, though more than once she sent her without supper to her room. She only meant to grab ahold of her daughter’s arm, she was walking away angrily, but the staircase… It was an accident.

St. Reuben’s Hospital has that strong ethanol smell that she can barely tolerate, and they’ve been waiting for close to two hours, with poor little James confused, probably scared, especially after seeing the man in the wheelchair -covered from head to toe in blood, no less! Some candy will probably make him feel a bit better, something to distract him. “They’ll probably call us any minute now. Do you want a piece of candy, dear?” The last time she was here was when Herman died of cancer, five years ago, she wasn’t keen on hospitals in general.

The little boy’s eyes light up and looks up at her. “Yes!” Please and thank you were sacred staples in her house, of course she raised her daughter with them. Dolores frowned down on James, she was in no mood for discourtesy. “Please?”

After giving him the gumdrops (“Thank you, Gran’m!”) Dolores saw a young woman, a doctor in her white robe, exit the ER, when she saw them the doctor started to walk towards them. Finally, some answers.

“Mrs. Henderson?” Dolores catches her weary expression, those long hospital shifts, but the doctor still manages to smile at James. Maybe things went well in the operating table.

“Yes? Is there any word on my daughter? Is she still in surgery?” Dolores’s looks at the doctor’s face trying to look for an answer in her expression.

The doctor shakes her head. “No, she’s out and is recovering in the ICU, but, there were…complications. I’d like to speak with you, in private, if possible.”

“Oh God…”

Simulacrum in G Minor

Oshora knows the feel of ivory. Her slender fingers barely brush the keys of the black piano, only enough for her sense of touch to be set alight. This. This feels like a dream. The room is large and bare. There are no flat walls, only a long, uninterrupted, curved wall that wraps the place in its cocon of plaster and white paint. Cracks on the surface spider at random intervals, creating rivers of decay between large swaths of pristine nothingness. The room’s domed ceiling is made of glass. Light pours in, washing the room’s centre with its radiance. The piano is the black hole at its center, swallowing the light so the edges of the room are bound by shadows.

It suits Oshora. Her mind is at the tip of her fingers, dropping thoughts over the piano’s keys. A melody stirs awake from some corner of memory, untangling itself from the bondage of her own forgetfulness. Air is slowly sucked in, the dust motes stir in the air as the light shows their ceaseless dance.

The piece begins to unfold itself from the piano and out into the room. Oshora’s heart beats with each note as falling light shimmers over her slender figure and, for a brief moment at least, nothing else matters.

“Oshora?”

She abruptly pulls back from the piano. Gasping, her chest rises and lowers as she stares at it. The keys still move, continuing to fill the space with melody for a moment and then, as it began, it stops. Timidly, Oshora half turns.

“I was just playing a bit…no one else was using it.”

An older woman dressed in white metallic robes looks at Osha with narrow eyes. “You know the rules: you need a healer to be with you at all times in case you need assistance.”

“Sorry…”

The older woman’s eyes become less narrow and some wrinkles form on the corners of her mouth.

“It’s such a lovely day outside, and you need your fresh air. Come.”

She turns around and glides smoothly across the floor. Oshora follows her, glancing back briefly to the now-mute piano.  As she steps out of the room, her arms flicker then disappear.

Derelicts

The wound was clean, already the blood had dried. Maria looked at the palm of her hand where Carlos’s blade had cut her. She didn’t feel anything, not exactly. At the time she was high as a kite, and by the time she came down from her trip they had already bandaged her. She didn’t even need any stitches. Carlos was passed out, face down, on the ratty couch by the corner of their place. Sonuvabitch.

Maria stumbled over there, still woozy from her rush. Carlos was her fuck buddy. They weren’t dating or anything. Neither one had the emotional attachment, or the energy, for that. But it got cold in the empty derelict building they nested in, like the city rats that they were. Besides, he smelled good.

“Asshole!”

Her hand smacked the back of his shaved head hard, making it move sideways, then lay still. Carlos did not stir. Maria saw an empty syringe and a rubber band on the rotten floor boards next to the couch. She wanted to laugh at how stupid this whole mess was, but tears blinded her and she had to wipe them several times.

Regret & Roulette

Stains on the bedsheets and a crumpled photo of an older woman. Damon’s aunt still gave him such a huge rise, but the moral crash afterwards was always murder. Sitting on the edge of his bed completely naked he felt disgusted at himself. Nothing new here.

Fuck, I hate this. The thought would often come unbidden after he had worn himself out in the evening. It was his daily routine, so to speak: the loneliness, the lust, the shame, then the loneliness mixed with the self-loathing. Without uttering a single word, he reached out and opened a drawer on the nightstand next to his bed from where he pulled out a .38 cal revolver. Damon placed the gun under his chin and without hesitating pulled the trigger.

Click.

Empty. He pushed out the revolver’s drum and saw the chamber adjacent to the gun’s cannon holding the only loaded bullet. Not today again, it seems. Figures. Damon grabbed the drum with his hand and gave it a spin before slamming it back in place. Russian Roulette rules: he wouldn’t see his death coming. He had at least that much excitement going on for him.

Piano

The ivory keys of the piano stared in silence at Francesco. He could not play for the life of him. Murmurs began to rise like a tide among the crowd. A lone spotlight shone down, bathing him under its harsh light; the stage was set for his confession. Lupanaro had been right all along: he could only perform after he got his fix. His chemical muse had been taken away, and left him a frightened ruin of a man. If only the sweat cascading from under his chin could drown him.