Posted by Dell 12-07-16
If you came in through my main site you saw that the site has been redesigned. This should allow access to the site with all sorts of devices, not just web paced PC access.
The Billy Jingo short story collection is finished and so for the foreseeable future, a few weeks, I will be finishing the websites and moving everything to the new servers. It will be worth all of the work as we will not be limited to what we can add content wise, so we can offer free previews of every book we have, and we have about 1500 public domain books that we want to list so they can be downloaded free of charge. It is just one more of those things we can do that we could not do. We can also offer free member access to stuff that we don’t want to make public domain. Whether you are a writer, musician, artist or just someone who likes the blogs and other content, you can get that extra access for free. If you want to post or do an article on your own book, send it to me and I’ll post it, if it is something you are looking to do long term drop me an email and we’ll set it up. And your email address is never seen by or sold to anyone. Everything here is volunteer or runs on donations. So those are changes coming in the next few weeks.
Billy Jingo: Billy Jingo will be released by Geo when he is ready to release it. I don’t think that will be long. He will also jump back into the second Dreamer’s Worlds book next week as I work on websites.
Andrea Scroggs has a project that is fantastic. I would watch that link if I were you. She is a fantastic artist and writer. Check out Invariant sometime in the near future. It will be worth your time, I have heard about it through Geo and it is beyond good.
I will leave you with a free short story of mine. One I happen to like a great deal. I hope you enjoy it…
The Great Go-Cart Race
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the place of purchase and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
The Great Go-Cart Race
This short story is Copyright © 2013 WENDELL SWEET No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print
The Great Go-Cart Race is Copyright © 2013 WENDELL SWEET
All rights reserved
The Great Go-Cart Race
The summer of 1969 in Glennville New York had settled in full tilt. The July morning was cool and peaceful, but the afternoon promised nothing but sticky heat. Bobby Weston and Moon Calloway worked furiously on the go-cart they had been planning to race down Sinton Park hill, in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. Both boys had grown up in Glennville. Bobby on upper Fig, Moon on lower Fig. And even though they had gone to the same schools and grown up just a block apart, they had only recently become friends. The Go-cart was a project they had devoted the last two weeks to, and it looked as though today would finally see it finished.
By eleven thirty that morning they had the wheels on the go cart, and had dragged it up Sinton Park hill. An old piece of clothesline tied to each side of the two by four the wheels were nailed to served as the steering. One nail pounded through the center board and into the two by four allowed it to turn. It was the best go cart either of them had ever built, and it rolled just fine. The plan was for bobby to give Moon a ten minute head start down the hill. That way he should be at the intersection by the time Bobby got there, they figured, and able to make sure that Bobby got through it in one piece. Just exactly what Moon was supposed to do to stop a car, or Bobby-the go cart had no brakes, except Bobby’s Keds-he didn’t know. They hadn’t figured that part of it out.
“So, how am I supposed to stop a car?” Moon asked. He didn’t want to sound stupid. Most probably Bobby had it all figured out, but Moon couldn’t see it.
“Easy,” Bobby told him, “you don’t. You’d get freakin’ killed.”
“Well, I knew that,” Moon lied.
“See, you’ll be on your bike. You’ll be sittin’ up higher. You’ll see if there’s a car coming, I won’t, on account of how low to the ground I’ll be.”
“I knew that too.” Well, and then what? Moon asked himself.
“So easy. You just yell to me before I get to the intersection, and I cut off to the left and go into the sledding hill instead. You see that way I’ll be going up, instead of down, see?”
“Oh yeah!” Moon said, as it dawned on him. The sledding hill was there. Of course it wasn’t a sledding hill in the summer, but it was a hill, and he could see exactly how it would work. “I knew that too. I just wasn’t sure if that was what you were goin’ to do, or not,” Moon finished.
“Of course you did,” Bobby agreed.
Moon was just getting ready to bike back down to the bottom of the hill, when John Belcher showed up. John Belcher lived on West avenue, and his dad raced stock car out in Lafargville.
As a consequence, John Belcher had the coolest go-cart around. His dad had helped build it. Real tires-they even had air in them-with a real metal axle running from side to side to hold them. That was the best way to do it, Moon had said, when he’d first seen John’s go-cart. That way you didn’t have to worry about the tires falling off when the spikes pulled out, and the spikes always pulled out. It also had a real steering wheel, a real one. Moon had exclaimed over that. His dad, John had told him, had gotten it out of an old boat out at the junk yard.
“Hey,” John said, as he walked up, dragging his go-cart behind him. “Goin’ down?”
“Bobby is,” Moon said respectfully. You had to show a lot of respect to someone who owned a go-cart that cool. “I’m watchin’… At the bottom. So he don’t get killed, or nothin’,” Moon finished.
“Watch for me too?” John asked.
“Sure, man, a course I will. Bobby don’t care, do ya?”
“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “You gonna try for the whole thing?”
“Why, are you?”
“Yeah… Right through the intersection, and if I can all the way downtown. Probly won’t roll enough on the flat part to do that though, but at least through the intersection and as far past it as I can get.”
Sinton Park Hill began at the extreme western end of Glennville, and continued-though somewhat reduced-as State Street Hill all the way to the Public Square three miles from its start.
“Cool!” John said. Now it was his turn to sound respectful. “I dunno, man. If I do it and my dad finds out, he’ll kill me.”
“Well, who’s gonna tell him?” Moon asked. “I won’t, and neither will Bobby.”
“Yeah, but if someone see’s me…”
“Yeah… I’m gonna though,” Bobby said. He could see John was aching to do it.
“Okay… I’m gonna,” John said decidedly.
“Cool!” Moon exclaimed. “Really frickin’ cool!”
John grinned, as did Bobby. “Well,” Bobby said, “guess you better head down, Moony. Moon didn’t need to be told twice. He stood on the pedals, and fairly flew down the hill.
“Think he’s down the bottom yet?” Bobby asked John quietly. They were both sitting at the side of Sinton Park hill. Their sneakers wedged firmly against the black top to hold them. John had allowed ten minutes to tick off, keeping faithful track of the time with his Timex.
“Oughta be,” John said in a whisper, licking his lips.
“Uh uh… Well, a little.”
“Me too… Ready?”
“For real,” Bobby said solemnly.
John didn’t answer, he simply pulled his feet from the pavement, turned and grinned at Bobby, and began to roll away. Bobby followed, both of them hugging the side of the road, as close to the curbing as possible.
It was a slow build up for the first few hundred feet. Sinton park hill didn’t begin to get really steep until you were better than half way down, it was gradual up until that point. Even so, within that first few hundred feet, Bobby realized that everything had changed. John was already a good fifty feet ahead of him, and pulling away fast enough that it was noticeable. They were not going to hit the bottom of the hill at even close to the same time. Moon would have to watch for both of them separately.
John made a sharp curve up ahead, and disappeared from view. Everything, Bobby knew, was sharp curves from here on out, and that would not change until they were well past the halfway point. And, this was much faster than he had thought it would be. Much faster.
He fought with the rope through the curve, but he could no longer keep to the side. He was going to need the entire road.
And if a car came? he asked himself.
He had thought of that, but he had thought he would be able to stay to the side. No time to think. Another curve just ahead, and he had only barely glimpsed John as he had flown around the curve. Just the back tires really. He probably wouldn’t see any more of him at all until they were down at the bottom.
The second curve was not as bad as the first had been. He didn’t try to fight this time, he simply let the go-cart drift as far as it wanted too. He came off the curve and dropped both sneakers to the pavement. Instant heat, and the left one flipped backwards nearly under the two by four that held the rear tires, before he was able to drag it back in.
“Jesus,” he moaned. It was lost in the fast rush of wind that surrounded him. Torn from his throat and flung backwards. He hadn’t even heard it. Another curve, and the Indian trail flashed by on his right.
The Indian trail was just that. An old Indian trail that cut down through the thick trees that surrounded Sinton park. He and Moon had carefully negotiated it several times. The Indian trail was just before the halfway point, he knew. There was a really sharp curve coming up, just before Lookout Point. You could see nearly all of Glennville from there.
He fought the curve. Harder this time. It felt as if he were going at least a million miles an hour. Two million maybe, he corrected himself. And the go-cart was beginning to do a lot more than drift. It was beginning to shake. And, his mind told him, you ain’t even at the fast part yet! Lookout Point flashed by, and he fought his way around the sharp curve, going nearly completely to the other side in order to do it…. Yes I am, he told himself.
The road opened up. A full quarter mile of steep hill lay before him, before the next curve. It would be a sharp one too, but not as bad as the one he’d just come around. John was nowhere to be seen ahead of him. Presumably at and around the next curve already. No cars yet, and hopefully there wouldn’t be any at all. It was Monday, Sinton Park saw most of its business on the weekends, if they’d tried this then…
The quarter mile was gone that quick. This curve, and one more, and the rest was all straight-away. He gritted his teeth, and flashed into the curve.
Halfway through, nearly at the extreme edge of the opposite side of the road, the first raindrop hit him. A small splat, or it would have been. The speed with which he was moving had made it sting. Splat, splat. The tires were nearly rubbing the curbing when he finally came out the other side of the curve and hit a small straight-away. And now fat drops were hitting the pavement.
He sped into the last curve, and this time the wheels didn’t skim the curbing, they seemed glued to it. Screaming in protest as he tore through the wide curve and made the other side. The rain came in a rush. Turning the hot pavement glossy black as it pelted down. He used the rope carefully to guide himself back towards the side of the road. Slipping as he went, but making it. His hands were clinched tightly, absolutely white from the force with which he held the rope.
Straight-away, slightly less than a mile, and far ahead, where the stone pillars marked the entrance to Sinton Park, he watched John fly through the intersection. Nothing… No car. Nothing. He made it. He could make out Moon sitting on his bike at the side of the road. Leaned up against one of the pillars. Moon turned towards him, and then quickly looked away. The hill was flashing by fast. Too fast. He’d never be able to cut into the sledding hill. Not in a million years, and especially not with the road wet like it was.
Halfway. Moon was turning back, waving his arms frantically. Bobby slammed his Keds into the slick surface of the road. Useless, and he dragged them back inside after only a split second. Nothing for it, nothing at all. The intersection was still empty, however, so maybe…
Moon scrambled away from his bike letting it fall, and sprinted for the middle of the road, but he was far too late. And even if he hadn’t been, Bobby told himself as he flashed by him, the go-cart probably would’ve run him over.
“Truck!” Moon screamed as Bobby flew past him. He stumbled, fell, picked himself up, and ran back towards the stone entrance post, watching the intersection as he went.
The truck, one of the lumber trucks from Jackson’s Lumber on Fig street, made the intersection in a gear grinding, agonizingly, slow shuffle, before Bobby did. Bobby laid flat, and skimmed under the front tires.
Moon stopped dead, the handlebars in one rain slicked hand, and his mouth flew open as he watched. The undercarriage was just above his head, and if he hadn’t laid down…
Moon watched, frozen, as Bobby shot out the other side as neatly as if he had planned it, the back tires missing him by mere inches, and suddenly Bobby was well on his way towards State street hill, and…
Moon grabbed the handle bars tighter, flipped the bike sideways and around, and pedaled off after him as fast as he could.
Bobby raised his head quickly. He had truly believed it was over. He’d been praying, in fact. He hadn’t expected to make it all. He fought his way to the side of the road, and watched as far ahead, John slipped over the top of State Street Hill, and headed towards Public Square.
There were cars here, and more than a few blew their horns as he slipped slowly by on the side of them. He dragged his feet. Pushing as hard as he could, but managing to slow down very little. The top of the hill came and went, and reluctantly he pulled his feet back once more, and hugged the curbing. The only problem would be from cars cutting off the side streets.
The rain began to slack off, as he started down the hill-a brief summer down pour, they had them all the time, but the road was still wet-at least he could see better. The rear of the go-cart suddenly began to shimmy. He risked a quick backwards glance. Very quick, but it was enough to show him that the rubber was shredding from the tire on the outside, and it was also beginning to wobble. The spikes were coming out, and if that happened…
He pushed it away, and began to concentrate on the side streets that seemed to be flashing by every couple of seconds. Oak, Elm, Sutter, Hamilton. Nothing and nothing, and thank God. The rubber went a few seconds later. He could hear the metal rim ringing as it bit the wet pavement. The hill began to flatten. State Street Hill was nowhere near as long as Sinton Park Hill, and thank God for that too. Finally, he slipped past Mechanic street, and the hill flattened out. He could see John ahead, coasting slowly to a stop nearly in front of the First Baptist Church that held a commanding presence of the Public Square. He watched as John finally stopped, got out, and looked back. Moon whizzed past, standing on the pedals, screaming as he went.
“We did it! We freakin’ did it!”
Bobby smiled, a small smile, but it spread to a wide grin. So wide that it felt as though his whole lower jaw was going to fall off. His stuck out his much abused Keds for the last time, and coasted to a stop behind John’s go-cart.
“Man, did’ya see it? When ya went under th’ truck, Holy cow, for real, did ya see it? I thought you were, like, dead, man, for real!” Moon said as he ran up, John along with him.
John looked pale, really pale, Bobby saw. He supposed he looked the same.
“Under a truck?” John asked. “A freaking truck? A real one?”
“For real. Scout’s honor,” Moon told him. “It almost ripped his head off. I saw it! For real! Next time I do it,” Moon declared as he finished.
“Next time?” John asked. He looked at Bobby.
“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “There ain’t ever gonna be a next time, Moony, right, John?”
“For real. Uh uh. No way. Not ever.”
Moon smiled. “Well, too bad, cause I woulda… For real.”
Bobby looked at John. “Did you know it would go so fast? How fast were we going, Moony?”
“No way,” John said softly.
“Probly… Forty, at least forty.” Moon said confidently.
“You think so?”
“Could be,” John agreed, “cause like the speed limit is thirty five, and we were passing cars, and that was on State Street Hill, not Sinton,” he opened his eyes wide as he finished.
“Hey, maybe fifty,” Moon assured them.
“Did it look scary to you?” Bobby asked.
“Scary? Uh… Yeah, it did. I thought you guys were dead, for real. I was pedalin’ as fast as I could, but it took a long time to catch you. Was it?”
Bobby looked at John. “Yeah,” they said, nearly at the same time.
“Really scary,” John added.
They all fell silent. John, Bobby noticed, seemed to be getting some color back in his face.
“Wanna go buy some Cokes?” Moon asked at last.
“Can’t,” John said, “no money.
“We’ll buy,” Moon said, smiling once more. He helped drag both go-carts up over the curbing, and turn them around. Moon rode his bike, as Bobby and John pulled the go-carts behind them.
They rehashed the entire ride as they walked towards Jacob’s Superette. Laughing, the terror already behind them.
Later that day when Bobby and Moon finally made it back to Fig street. They stuck the go-cart in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. They talked about it from time to time, even went in the garage and looked at it occasionally, but they never rode down Sinton Park Hill, or any other hill, with it again. It sat there until the fall of 1982 when Bobby himself dragged it out to the curb and left it with the weekly garbage.
More about these characters here.
PREVIEW The Zombie Plagues Book One:
The Zombie Plagues Series is Copyright Wendell Sweet. Used with permission.
~ March 1st~
The traffic leaving the parking lot had slowed to a trickle. The lot nearly empty. The live shows were over. The bands packed up and gone. The dancers gone before or at the same time. The club was empty except Jimmy, the club boss, Don the main door security and me.
“Why are you still here, Candy,” Jimmy asked as he came up to the bar. He was on his way back from the parking lot. It was a short trip across the parking lot to the bank night deposit on the lot next door.
“I had an idea that Harry would be by tonight… He wanted to talk to me,” I shrugged. Harry was a Bookie, at least on the surface. Off the surface, or maybe it would be truer to say under the surface, Harry controlled most of the organized crime north of Syracuse. Jimmy… Jimmy managed the club, among other things, but the best description for Jimmy was to say Jimmy solved problems for Harry.
“Wants to talk you into staying here… That’s about all,” Jimmy said.
I turned away and pretended to check my face in the mirrored wall behind the bar. I wanted to Dance. I had suggested to Harry, through Jimmy, that maybe it was time for me to move on if there wasn’t any hope of me dancing. “Anyway. I ended up tending bar. So…”
“So it’s not dancing,” he dug one hand into his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bills. He peeled two hundreds from the roll and pushed them into my hand, folding his hand over my own and closing it when I started to protest.
But,” I started.
“But nothing. We did a lot in bar sales. You and I both know it was because of you…” he smiled, let go of my hand and stepped back. “It was me not Harry,” he said.
I fixed my eyes on him. I knew what he might be about to say but I wanted to be sure.
He sighed. “It was me that put the stop to your dancing… You’re too goddamn good for dancing, Candy. And once you start?” He barked a short, derisive laugh. “The law thing? … Right out the window… what’s a cop make anyway… In this town… maybe thirty or forty a year?” He settled onto one of the stools that lined the bar, tossed his hat onto the bar top and patted the stool next to him. He continued talking.
“So, thirty, maybe forty, and what’s a dancer make? I can tell you there are dancers here who make better than one fifty a year… And that’s what I pay them, that’s not the side stuff or tips.” He moved one large hand, fished around behind the bar and came up with a bottle of chilled Vodka from the rack that held it just below eye level. He squinted at the label. “Cherry Surprise,” he questioned in a voice low enough to maybe be just for himself. “This shit any good, Candy?”
“It’s not bad,” I told him. I leaned over the bar and snagged two clean glasses when he asked me, setting them on the bar top.. He poured us both about three shots worth. “Jesus, Jimmy.”
He laughed. “Which is why I don’t make drinks.. It’d break me.” He sipped at his glass, made a face, but sipped again. I took a small sip of my own drink and settled back onto the bar stool.
“So I said to myself… Smart… Beautiful… Talented… And you have that something about you that makes men look the second time. You know?” He took another small sip. “Man sees a woman walking down the street, or across a crowded dance floor, beautiful or not he looks. That look might be short or it might be long. Depends on the woman. Then he looks away… Does he look back? Not usually. But with you he does. There are women men look at that second time… For whatever reason., and you’re one of them. I looked a second time, and then I really looked, for a third time. And I’ve seen a lot. That tattoo makes men and women look again.” His eyes fell on the tattoo that started on the back of my left hand, ran up my arm, across my breasts and then snaked back down over my belly and beyond. I knew it was provocative, that was the rebellious part of me. I had no better explanation for why I had sat, lain, through five months of weekly ink work to get it done.
Jimmy rubbed one huge open palm across the stubble of his cheeks. “Jesus do I need a shave…” He took a large drink from his glass. “It wasn’t the tattoo. It caught my eye, but that wasn’t what made me look that third time. Candy, I took a third look because I saw a young woman that doesn’t need to have anything to do with this world. You’re too goddamn smart, talented for this. So I said no. I let you dance a few times but I didn’t want you to fall into it. I made the decision that you should tend bar instead of dance.” He tossed off the glass.
“I see that,” I told him. Although I didn’t completely see it. He was reading a lot about what he thought, what he saw, into who I really was.
“Yeah? I don’t think so, Candy. And that’s a reason right there. Candy… Like a treat… When did it become okay for anyone to call you that? Because I remember a few months back when you started hanging around… It was Candace and pity the dumb bastard who didn’t understand that. Now it’s Candy to any Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along.” He saw the hurt look in my eyes. Reached below the bar, snagged the bottle, topped off his glass, I shook my head, covered the top of my glass with my hand and smiled. He continued.
“I’m not trying to hurt you only keep you on track. I’m giving you the keys. You drive. All I’m saying is set your ground rules. Make them rigid. Don’t let anyone… Me… Harry… These boys that work here… Customers… Don’t let anyone cross those lines… You see, Candy?”
“Yeah? Then why not call me on calling you Candy? I’ve done it since we sat down… Why not start there?”
“Well… I mean, you’re the boss, Jimmy.”
“Which is why you start there. I don’t allow anyone to talk anyway to anyone that doesn’t want that… Let me explain that… You got girls that work the streets. You don’t see it so much here, it’s a small city, but it happens. I spent a few years on the streets in Rochester, bigger place, as a kid. Happens all the time there.” He sipped at his drink. I took a sip of my own drink and raised my brows at what he had said.
“Yeah? Don’t believe it? It’s true. I fought my way up. I have respect because I earned it…” He waved one hand. “Don’t let me get off track…” He smiled and took another sip from his glass. “So, I’ve seen girls on the streets… Whores… It is what it is. Would you hear me say that to them? Maybe you would… Maybe you wouldn’t… If a woman sees herself as a whore… If that’s all it is… What it is… Then who am I to say different… Do you see? It’s a living, or it’s a life… There is a difference. Now back to you. You want to dance. Some of these girls,” he waved one meaty hand at the empty stage area, “work the other side… Some of them do that for me, some do it on their own… Some don’t,” he sighed. “Either way you would not see me treat them any other way than what they want to be treated. I mean that if you believe you are a whore and that is what you see then that is what you show the world, and that is how the world sees you… Treats you,” he settled his eyes on me.
I nodded. I didn’t trust my voice. I had been down this road on my own. What did it say about me? That it only mattered that I made it? That money mattered more than anything else? Would I be swayed by the money? Was I even being honest with myself about my motivations? I really didn’t know. I knew what I told myself on a daily basis… That I wanted to follow my Father into law enforcement but was it whimsical like so many other things in my life that I never followed through on?
“You are not just a dancer… There is a part of you that is… A part of you that likes the way a man looks at you… Likes the money… But, there is another part that is the private you… The real you. You need to keep those distinctions.” He rubbed at his eyes, tossed off the rest of his drink and rose from the bar stool. “Let me drop you home, Candy,” he asked?
I stood, leaving my mostly full drink sitting on the bar top. “I have my car,” I told him.
“It’s late… Creeps around maybe.”
“Jimmy. Every creep in my neighborhood knows I work here… For you. Guys stopped talking to me, let alone the creeps.” I laughed but it wasn’t really all that funny. It had scared me when I realized who Jimmy was. Who Jimmy worked for. In effect, who I worked for… Another questionable thing? Probably.
Jimmy nodded. “Smart creeps. The southern Tier’s a big place. Easy to lose yourself with or without a little help.” He looked at his watch and then fixed his eyes on me once more. “So you keep your perspective. Set your limits. Draw your lines,” he spoke as he shrugged into his coat, retrieved his hat from the bar top and planted it on his head, “Don’t let nobody cross those lines… You start next week… Let’s say the eleventh?”
“Take the balance of the time off… By the time the eleventh comes around you should be ready for a whole new world. A whole new life.” He stood looking down at me for a second. “The big talk I guess. For what it’s worth I don’t say those things often, Candy.”
I nodded. “I believe that… And, Jimmy?”
He looked down at me. He knew what was coming. He expected it and that was the only reason I was going to say it. I knew better than to correct Jimmy V. There were a lot of woods up here. They did go on forever and they probably did hold a lot of lost people. I may be slow but I’m far from stupid.
“Please don’t call me Candy,” I told him.
He smiled. “Don’t be so goddamn nice about it… Don’t call me Candy,” he rasped, a dangerous edge to his voice. “Look ’em right in the eye… Don’t call me Candy… Put a little attitude in your look.. A little I can fuckin’ snap at any minuet, attitude… Let me see that.”
I Put my best street face on. The one I had used growing up on the streets in Syracuse. I knew that I can snap at any minuet look. I’d used it many times. “Don’t call me Candy,” I told him in a voice that was not my own. My street voice, “Just don’t do it.”
“Goddamn right, Doll,” Jimmy told me. “Goddamn right… Scared me a little there… That’s that street wise part of you.” He took my head in both massive hands, bent and kissed the top of my head, “I will see you on the eleventh,” he told me.
I nodded. I let the Doll remark go.
I followed Jimmy out the back door past Don who nodded at me and winked. Don was an asshole. Always hitting on us when Jimmy wasn’t around. But Jimmy was his uncle. I was employing my best selective perception when I smiled at him. I wondered if I would ever get used to him. Probably not, I decided, but maybe that would be a good thing. Of course it didn’t matter. I never saw Don again. Or jimmy. Or anyone else from that life.
I said goodbye to Jimmy V. Crossed the parking lot for the last time and drove myself home. I parked my rusted out Toyota behind my Grandparents house and twenty four hours later my world, every bodies world, was completely changed…
Candace ~ March 2nd
This is not a diary. I have never kept a diary. They say never say never, but I doubt I will. I have never been this scared. The whole world is messed up. Is it ending? I don’t know but it seems like it’s ending here. Earthquakes, explosions. I’ve seen no Police, Fire or emergency people all day. It’s nearly night. I think that’s a bad sign. I have the Nine Millimeter that used to be my Fathers. I’ve got extra ammo too. I’m staying inside.
Candace ~ March 3rd
I lost this yesterday, my little notebook. I left it by the window so I could see to write, but I swear it wasn’t there when I went to get it, then I found it later on by the window. There are no Police, no Firemen, phones, electric, the real world is falling apart. Two days and nothing that I thought I knew is still here. Do you see? The whole world has changed.
I got my guitar out and played it today. I played for almost three hours. I played my stuff. I played some blues. Usually blues will bring me out of blues, but it didn’t work. It sounded so loud. So out of place. So… I don’t know. I just stopped and put it away.
Candace ~ March 4th
I’m going out. I have to see. If I don’t come back. Well… What good is writing this?
Candace ~ March 5th
The whole city has fallen apart. I spent most of yesterday trying to see how bad this is. I finally realized it’s bad beyond my being able to fix it. It’s bad as in there is no authority. It’s bad as in there is no Jimmy V. I hear gunshots at night. Screams. There are still tremors. If I had to guess I would say it’s the end of the civilized world. Unless things are better somewhere else I have to believe that. Power, structure, it’s all gone. I mean it’s really all gone. This city is torn up too. There are huge areas that are ruined. Gulleys, ravines, missing streets, damaged bridges. The damage costs have to be in the billions… And that’s just here. There’s me and my little notebook I’m writing in and my nine millimeter. I’ve got nothing else for company right now.
I’ve got water, some peanuts and crackers. How long can this go on? What then?
Candace ~ March 6th
I’ve decided to leave. I can’t stay here. There was a tremor last night, and not one of the really bad ones, but even so I was sure the house would come down on me. It didn’t. Maybe that’s a sign. I told myself though, scared or not, I have to go. I have to. I can’t stay here. Maybe tomorrow.
Candace ~ March 7th
The streets are a mess. I’ve spent too much of the last week hiding inside my apartment. Most of my friends, and that’s a joke, I didn’t have anyone I could call a friend, most of my acquaintances believed my grandparents were alive and that I lived here with them. They weren’t. I didn’t. I kind of let that belief grow, fostered it, I guess. I planted the seed by saying it was my Nana Pans’ apartment. You can see the Asian in me, so it made sense to them that she was my Nana. But I look more like I’m a Native American than African American and Japanese. It’s just the way the blood mixed as my father used to say. But Native American or Asian they could see in my face. This neighborhood is predominantly Asian. Mostly older people too. There were two older Asian women that lived in the building. They probably believed one of those women was my Nana and I didn’t correct them.
I can’t tell you why I did that. I guess I wanted that separation. I didn’t want them, anyone to get to know me well. My plan had been to dance, earn enough money for school, Criminal Justice, go back to Syracuse. Pretend none of this part of my life had ever happened. Some plan. It seemed workable. I wondered over what Jimmy V. had said to me. Did he see something in me that I didn’t, or was he just generalizing?.. It doesn’t matter now I suppose.
My Grandmother passed away two years ago. The apartment she had lived in was just a part of the building she owned. Nana Pan, my mothers mother, had rented the rest of the building out. The man who had lived with her was not my Grandfather, he had died before I was born, but her brother who had come ten years before from Japan. They spoke little English. People outside of the neighborhood often thought they were man and wife. She didn’t bother correcting them my mother had told me. Nana Pan thought that most Americans were superficial and really didn’t care, so what was the use in explaining anything to them? Maybe that’s where I got my deceptiveness from.
I had left the house as it was. Collected rents through an agency. For all anyone knew I was just another tenant. Jimmy V. had known. He had mentioned it to me. But Jimmy knew everything there was to know about everyone. That was part of his business. It probably kept him alive.
So I stayed and waited. I believed someone would show up and tell me what to do. No one did. I saw a few people wander by yesterday… Probably looking for other people, but I stayed inside. I don’t know why. What all my reasons were. A lot of fear I think.
There have been earthquakes. The house is damaged. I went outside today and really looked at it. I should have gotten out of it the other night when I knew it was bad, it’s just dumb luck it hasn’t fallen in on me and killed me.
It doesn’t matter now. I met a few others today and I’m leaving with them. I don’t know if I’ll stay with them. I really don’t know what to expect from life anymore.
I’m taking this and my gun with me. Writing this made me feel alive. I don’t know how better to say it.
I’ll write more here I think, I just don’t know when or where I’ll be.
He came awake in the darkness, but awake wasn’t precisely the term. Alive was precisely the term. He knew alive was precisely the term because he could remember dieing. He remembered that his heart had stopped in his chest. He had remembered wishing that it would start again. That bright moment or two of panic, and then he remembered beginning not to care. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. And he had drifted away.
Now he had drifted back. But, drifted was not exactly right. He had slammed back into himself where he lay on the cold subbasement floor where he had been murdered by a roving gang of thieves. And he knew those things were true because he remembered them. And he knew they were true because he was dead. He was still dead. His heart was not beating in his chest. His blood was cold and jelled in his veins.
He lay and watched the shadows deepen in the corners of the basement ceiling for a short time longer and then tried to move.
His body did not want to move at first. It felt as though it weighed a ton. Two tons, but with a little more effort it came away. He sat and then crawled to his knees.
In the corner a huge rat stopped on his way to somewhere to sniff at him. Decided he was probably food and came to eat him. He had actually sat for a second while the rat first sniffed and then began to gnaw at one fingernail. Then he had quickly snatched the rat up with his other hand, snapped it’s back in his fist and then shoved him warm and squirming into his mouth. A few minuets later he stood on shaky legs and walked off into the gloom of the basement. Looking for the stairs and the way up to the streets.
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