MacPhoenix: Creative: Serials

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Bastille Day

Part 1 of 3(?)

Saturday, July 14, 11:30 AM

Silence made Gary snap awake. The last thing Gary remembered was noise and smoke in the darkness. Now it was light, streaming through Venetian blinds and deafening silence. Trying to gather any fragments of consciousness that wouldn’t meld into a simple thought, Gary tried to remember how he got back into his house. It wasn’t just the aching throb in his head that told him he had too much to drink the night before.

He lifted his head up to look at the clock on the opposite wall, and just before a strong pain shot through his neck and lodged into the back of his head, forcing him to fall back, he noticed two things that made him groan. It was already close to noon, and he hadn’t taken off his clothes, or even his work boots, before collapsing on his bed sometime in the night.

It took him several minutes of staring up at his ceiling before he felt confident enough to get out of bed without injury. He shimmied a bit off to side to get his right foot onto the floor, where it thunked with the force of a boot just a bit to heavy for a weak leg. He did the same with his left leg, then tried to sit up. His head protested with pain and bright, shooting lights. Gary closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. This was not going to be a good day, he thought.

Eventually, convincing himself that he would feel better after a hot shower, he managed to stand, and he began to shakily remove his clothes. With his pants down around his ankles, he realized that he would still have to remove his boots. Sitting down on his bed, cursing himself, he began to untie them. As he did, a piece of paper fell out of his pants’ pocket and fluttered to the floor.

Picking it up, fighting the nausea and pain that his head kept insisting on subjecting Gary with every time he changed planes, Gary turned the slip of paper over to read the drunken scrawl. “Bliss 412-4062,” said the scrawl.

“Bliss,” Gary repeated to himself. “What the hell does that mean?”

1:50 AM

I’m not usually this charming,” Gary slurred, smiling at the very pretty face that he’d been staring at for most of the night.

“I can believe that,” smiled the woman.

“No, really,” Gary insisted. “Lis’en,” he paused, trying to think of the right words, but all he could do was sort-of-bop-in-time to the music playing over the juke box. “Once I ran to you,” he whispered to himself, “now I run from you.” He shook himself back to the conversation. “No, lissen, you’re the most intimidatingly beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. The only reason I can even talk to you right now is that I’m eshtreemly drunk.”

“Thank you. Hmm, you hold yourself up well,” she said, still smiling. Gary took this as a good sign.

“May I buy you a drink, then? To toast your beauty?” Gary ruffled his pockets for the stray singles that had been accumulating after each twenty broken.

“How can I say no to that?” she laughed. Gary stopped what he was doing at looked at her face, and how it lit up with her laughter. She was someone, he could tell, who smiled a lot, someone sunny and free. Gary desperately needed some of that sunshine right now.

“I’m Gary,” he said, holding out his hand.

The woman with the bright eyes, perfect lips, long legs—this woman that Gary couldn’t bring himself to talk to ever in a thousand years, except he did tonight—this woman took Gary’s hand in hers, and with more of a squeeze than a shake, she said, “I’m Bliss.”

“Yes, you are,” Gary said.

12:05 PM

As he rubbed his hair dry, Gary vaguely remembered a beautiful girl at the bar that he could not keep his eyes off of. Could that be Bliss? he wondered. It certainly would fit. But he never got a phone number from anyone at a bar, and since his luck wasn’t running too high, he figured that one of his friends had played a joke on him, last night.

He walked into his bedroom and looked at the clock again. Damn, he thought, I gotta go to the bank. It closed at one, today.

Sometimes, things work out in odd little ways. He had lost his job the day before, and his friends had taken him out to lose his troubles in a cold bath of alcohol. It wasn’t the wisest decision that he or his friends ever made, but, what was important, they drove. This meant that he had his car available to him today. If he had driven the night before, his friends would have had to drive him home, leaving his car stranded at some bar, miles away. A small thing, to be sure, but Gary was relieved that he had immediate access to his car, and as he made his way to the bank, he felt that if he just concentrate on the little victories in life, maybe he would still come out ahead, despite the one-two punch of losing his girlfriend and job in the same week.

I’m not a bad guy, he thought to himself, as he pulled up to the drive-thru teller, with fifteen minutes to spare. Something’s have got to work out, he felt. Maybe he would call that number. He could almost picture talking to that woman last night, but his memories were still spotty.

He filled out his deposit slip and signed the back of his check. Then he sighed, “My last check.” He grabbed the pneumatic canister from the drive-thru terminal, not noticing the man that was crouched in between it and Gary’s car. Gary put the two slips into the canister, and reached out to put it back in the loading tray, but, as he did, a black-gloved hand grabbed his wrist tightly. Gary jumped and looked out his window where he met the cold gaze of a revolver pointed at his head. The gun was being held by a old man dressed all in black. He had wispy gray hair and a thick gray mustache. He was grinning, but the gun and the grip on Gary’s wrist didn’t make him think that this was a friendly sort of grin.

Gary looked up at the window where the bank teller stood. She looking away from window, and the old man was positioned where she wouldn’t see him anyway. “If you yell out,” the old man hoarsely whispered, “it will be the last thing you ever do. Unlock you back door.” He still held onto to Gary’s left hand, so Gary had to squeeze his right arm beneath him and twist to open unlock the door. “Is she looking?” the old man asked. Gary looked up again, as saw that the teller was still occupied with something else. He shook his head. “Good,” the old man said, and let go of Gary’s hand. Gary jerked his arm back into the car, and in the same instance, heard his back door close. The old man was in the back seat, crouching beneath the window. His gun was still pointing at Gary, and he held out the canister containing Gary’s check. “Drop something?” he asked.

“What do you want?” Gary asked, not moving, still facing the teller window, looking at the man out of the corner of his eye.

“I want you to simply continue your transaction, with one small addition,” the old man said. He talked in a deeper, soothing voice now, harsh whisper gone now that he could not be overheard. He pushed the canister against Gary’s shoulder until Gary reached for it. He could see that there was now a small, rectangular, black plastic-wrapped package inside. There was a white piece of paper taped to it. The canister weighed significantly more than it had before. “Just put it slowly into the machine, please,” the old man said.

Gary put the canister back in its receptacle and watched as the mechanics of the machine drew his check and whatever that other thing was into it’s bowels. He heard the air-hissing sound of the pneumatics. Then he watched the teller reach for the tube. “Does she have it?” the old man asked. Gary dumbly shook his head. “Good,” the old man said. Although Gary wasn’t looking at him, Gary could tell that he was smiling by his tone of voice. “I suggest you drive off before they evacuate the building,” the old man finished.

The last thing Gary noticed before screeching away from the scene was the teller’s look of sheer terror, and her accusing, frantic pointing towards Gary. “What the hell was that?” Gary asked the old man who was chucking to himself.

“Do you not know, my young friend? That was a bomb courtesy of the Bastille Day bomber.”

2000 © Jonathan Russell

MacPhoenix: Creative: Serials

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Projects: Lingua Shapta