Happy Ending

My cousin has been in my thoughts lately. For things I’m unable to discuss, or write about, for the time being. Twice last week friends from home called me. Twice they pulled over and let my cousin use their phones to call me. They’d found him walking down random roads.

If all anyone hears is the negative said about them, we as humans, often fall into what those negatives are. Rather than focusing on what’s great about them. I prefer to focus on what’s great about someone. In this story I wrote about the good, the bad, the raw. The truth. This story is not PC. I do not write PC.

Grab a whisky, or wine, or a bottle of cold beer. Or room temperature porter, if you so enjoy a room temperature porter. I know I do. Open said drink(s) and take a little read.

Cheers,

I took the picture for this. I stood on the top of Mount Sugarloaf in Sunderkand, MA. Thanks for reading. I’m finally becoming more comfortable with commenting back and forth with a few of you. Thank you for that. It’s certainly not because of me.

Matt

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Black Cat Syndrome – A Short Story

Black Cat Syndrome
Fiction
Written by Matt Taggart

Black Cat Syndrome

 

It was late afternoon. The bar was busy. They had taken the last two seats. He sat with his elbow touching the wall. Pete was being crowded by an overweight man.

“I’ll tell you about it. I was walking with Erin. Remember her? She was a good person. I wasn’t ready. Anyway, we were walking toward the cornfield.”

Pete leaned closer to Eric. Not to hear him better, but because the overweight man laughed heavily and rolled his head back and crowded Pete even more.

The bar burst with noise as a new group of happy hour sympathizers opened the door and searched for their area of comfort. Eric noticed how everyone’s body language changed the moment the new arrivals entered their space. He pressed closer to the wall. The wall wouldn’t change.

“Go on. I’m lisetening.” Pete said.

“We were walking toward the cornfield. You could just make out the cliff face of Sugarloaf. I remember wanting to see how high the river was.  As I looked toward the river a black cat came out from the corn then crossed the dirt road in front of us, and went back into the corn on the other side. I said, ‘You see that black cat?’ to Erin. She smiled and nodded her head yes.”

Pete lurched in his chair. A portion of beer leaped from his pint glass and landed on his boots. Pete’s lips thinned and his head tilted slightly. “Mother fucker,” Pete murmured.

Eric observed the overweight man’s forearms. The left forearm had taken over Pete’s bar space. The bartender’s small wrist broke through Eric’s vision as she tapped Pete lightly on the shoulder.

“I’m sorry about that. I saw it. I’ll get you another beer.” She said.

“I’m fine. I have half left.”

“I’m still going to get you another beer. Be as fine as you want.” She smiled as she walked toward the taps while looking back at Pete.

“You’re always doing that. I see what you’re doing. You’re studying everyone.” Pete said.

“I don’t mean to. It just happens.” Even now Eric was looking passed Pete. The bar was dark oak. Half the patrons had food. Everyone had beer. Not one person had a whiskey. Someone needed to order a whiskey. It wasn’t right. The smell of onion rings took over the bar area as a waiter placed the hot plate in front of a man drinking beer. He could barely make out the scent of a woman’s perfume. And now the bartender was coming back with Pete’s beer, already smiling. The conversations filling the room were constant. Creating a noise with peaks and valleys, but it wasn’t random. It had purpose.

“What the hell do you see?”

“I don’t know. Nothing really.”

“Here’s your beer, hon.” She smiled. Not the kind of smile that demands a good tip. And she lingered. Pete wasn’t very handsome. He was rugged.

“Can I have a whiskey? Actually, a Manhattan. Not in a foo-foo glass either. I want it in a rocks glass. And I want the dirty rocks in another rocks glass, please.” Eric asked the bartender.

“You can, and will.” She said while looking at Pete. Pete hadn’t noticed.

“About the black cat? Are you lost in the story?” asked Pete.

“Nope. So, we walked through the cornfield, then the cemetery, and then to the bank of the river. The river wasn’t high. I thought it would be, but the storm didn’t bring it up hardly at all. We’re standing on the bank of the river and we’re taking in the view of the cliff face. For some reason I think of that damn black cat. I ask Erin, ‘wasn’t it odd to see that cat walk out of the corn?’ I had thought it was odd because of its age. It was a young cat. Not a kitten, but not much older than one. And the farm was a long way off.”

Eric watched the bartender make his drink. He was watching to see if she would spin the long spoon in the alcohol, or shake it in the shaker. If she shook it, the drink would be spoiled. If it was spoiled he’d need to order a second Manhattan or else he wouldn’t let himself be comfortable. And the dark oak bar wouldn’t be right.

“So that’s it. You saw a black cat while on a walk? What the hell.”

“No. It wasn’t that. It was Erin’s answer. She said, “What black cat. There wasn’t any black cat.”

“Why the hell would she say that? She just saw the cat with you. You said she nodded her head.”

“I don’t know. That’s why it’s the black cat syndrome to me. I’ve seen it everywhere since that moment. People have their eyes open and see about a third of what’s happening around them. Maybe less. I said to Erin, ‘you’re joking. You just saw the cat minutes ago. It crossed the road in front of us.’ But my flaw was that I was now talking with passion. Erin says, ‘why are you yelling at me. There was no cat. Who cares anyways? Why do you always have to be like this?’ and now Erin’s upset and we’re on a brink of an argument and I can’t let it go because there WAS a black cat. If there weren’t a black cat I wouldn’t be passionate and it’s not even about the damn cat. It’s about her having seen it without locking it away as fact. And now I’m passionately digging through her mind to uncover this for her and it never works. It just never works.”

The bartender placed his Manhattan on the oak bar. It looked exacting. The drink made the bar complete. He was afraid to taste it. “Why are you so fired up? You’re yelling.” she asked.

Eric realized he’d been talking passionately again. He wasn’t yelling, but that hardly mattered. “You’re right. I was remembering a time when someone wasn’t able to handle truth. And that pisses me off.”

Pete finally saw the bartender. “He’s not normal. He’ll talk to you but he’s here and somewhere else too. Don’t mind him.”

Eric nodded in agreement. He slowly lifted the rocks glass filled with Manhattan. He brought the drink to his nose, smelled the sweat aroma of the whiskey mixed with the vermouth, and tilted the glass. He wouldn’t need to order another. Unless he wanted to.

“You make a good drink. Pete, take out your cell phone. You’re going to have her number.”

The bartender dropped her smile.

Pete placed his cell on the bar. He’d known Eric his entire life. He’d even brought up the new contact screen.

She took Pete’s phone, entered her name, then number. She said nothing. She attempted a smile while placing the phone down on the bar. She looked at Eric with something resembling anger. Beneath that was truth and that was all that mattered.

 

****
The End.
Written on 5/29/17

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed it, feel free to share it.

Matt

 

Can I Be – Flash Fiction

Can I Be
Flash Fiction
Written by -M. Taggart

Can I Be

As seen in the nine years old boy’s diary before his death-

‘I didn’t know I was bad. I felt it once but I made it go away. Jan 14.

I found out I am not bad. I saw bad today. That is not me.  Jan 21.

I had a good day. My uncle took me to a movie. When I came home he told me he was sorry. Feb 6.

I think I’d like not to be here anymore.  Feb 22.

I did what I was told. I don’t know who else to tell. Feb 28.

Today was good. I was told I could go to school again. I want to go to school again. I want to learn and read books. March 3.

My covers aren’t enough.  March 4.’

The boy was found dead March 5. The boys diary contained notes and drawings.

(edited timeline error.)

Don’t Watch Her Cry

A Short Story
Written by -M. Taggart
Copyright 2017

Don’t Watch Her Cry

 

It hurt to watch her cry. She convulsed. Her head shook up and down. I wanted to put my arms around her. She was hating me. Maybe, though she needed it. It was my fault. I didn’t know my words damaged her this badly. Now though, I could see what each of them had done. Her hair was down and I couldn’t see her face. I only saw tears dropping near her feet.

Another me had raised my arms and put them around her shoulders. I fought the mind game I placed on myself. If she hates me, let her rot. Let her rot in Hell. My arms pulled her head to my chest. I could feel my heart beat. I hate my heart beating.

‘Don’t. It’s O.K. I Love you.’

She convulsed and my heart now hated me.

‘I don’t know. I don’t want this. Listen, I love you. You don’t believe me, but, I do. I don’t want what I said. I’m sorry.’

Her neck smelled so nice. Her tears too. My thoughts struggled.

She didn’t push away. I pulled her closer. Maybe it wasn’t over. ‘I just want to have you back.’ her throat full, ‘You use to be so amazing. You were, incredible.’ she had huffed the words through.

I was. I were. I am not. I am nothing. I hate myself. My heart can now stop completely.

My other self rubbed her back and told her I loved her and that it would be O.K.

She stood. Not ripping from me, but leaving me. ‘I don’t know how it can be again.’ tears streamed down her beautiful face, dripping from her chin. ‘But I think it will be.’

 

 

 

 

An Alive Blizzard – Short Story

An Alive Blizzard, A short story

Written by -M. Taggart
Fiction. Copyright 2017

 

It was snowing. The snow had started earlier than they said it would. I had asked my father about the storm and why it was different from other storms. Dad had said to mom that it might be a Blizzard. I didn’t know what Blizzard meant but I felt it. I felt it deep in my chest when Dad said it.

I saw from our window sill that already the snow covered the roads and sidewalks. Tree branches were beginning to become white. The birds were chirping loudly. I watched as they seemingly bounced from branch to branch. I wondered if they knew about the Blizzard.

Dad had told me it was going to be a Nor’ Easter. He said it was a true one. Not like the clippers that rush off the coastline quickly. He said a true Nor’ Easter doesn’t rush. It sits. It spins. He said it was even alive.

I looked out the window at the darkening woods. The sun wasn’t yet down, but the woods didn’t care. They were preparing to become pitch black. I didn’t want to be in the woods. Normally I’d be the first out the door and rushing to find an evergreen to climb under. Their branches were always soft and the bottom row would be connected to the ground. Snow would pin each branch and you could carve a hole through the snow and hide inside the bottom of the tree. If you did this without anyone seeing you, you could hide there all night and you wouldn’t be found. But not tonight. Not with the Blizzard being alive and the woods being alive and me right in the middle of both.

‘What are you doing, Nick?’ his father asked.

‘Watching snow.’

‘And what are you thinking?’

‘I’m thinking about snow forts under the evergreens.’

He wanted to ask his father about the Blizzard being alive. How he would know when it was alive, and what might happen.

‘What do you mean the storm will stop and spin?’ he asked his father.

‘A real Nor’Easter will crawl up the coast. It’ll aim at all of us in New England. Pressure from the north, Canada, will blow toward the system crawling up the coast. The real ones will stop and spin when the pressure from the north hits it. Instead of rushing out to sea, the storm system will press slightly north west. The pressure from the North sits it down, right over us, and it’ll spin like a Hurricane. The longer it sits and spins, the more snow we’ll get. And sometimes the two hit so hard it’s as if their fighting and the wind will drive and the snow will drift and before you know it you can’t see more than a few feet and it’s not safe to be outside. Because you’re in a real Nor’ Easter. A Blizzard.’

I set my eyes on the tallest of pine trees that I could see from the window. The top of the tree was moving, but only barely. The winds were not yet fighting. Maybe there would be no Blizzard tonight. But if it was alive, when does it decide to turn itself into a Blizzard?

‘Is this storm a Blizzard?’

‘It’s too early to tell. We can watch it on the radar and if we see it turn inland a bit, we can watch out the window, or go outside and listen to the wind. We’ll be able to hear it churning and getting stronger.’

My heart dropped. I did not want to go outside and listen for anything to churn. Many inches were already on the ground. And yes, now I see some wind pushing the top of the pine tree.

‘How can a storm be anything but a storm? It can’t be alive.’

My father rested his hands behind his head. He smirked, took a pull from his beer and said, ‘But it can. Did you know tornadoes suck dirt and grime and bacteria into its funnel cloud? And you know bacteria is alive. Bacteria clings to mud and dirt and particles so small we can’t see them. Think about it. Snow is developed high in the sky. First as droplets of moisture. But, it’s not yet snow. It’s to light to fall. It needs something heavier to help it drop. Something like dust. Dust just floating around hoping to hitch a ride back down to earth. The moisture clings to the dust and they both start to fall, together. Eventually turning into a snow flake. You tell me that dust doesn’t have bacteria and you tell me that a storm isn’t alive.’ His father took another small pull and smiled wide. ‘Don’t break yourself over this. It is just a storm. But every storm has a personality. You just watch.’

I held my questions. I needed to catch my thoughts and sit them down. I still didn’t understand what a Blizzard was, but now I knew what a Nor’ Easter is and thoughts of bashing winds, like that of a Hurricane, flicked through my mind. I had heard that a tornado sounded much like a train when approaching. Was that the voice of the tornado? If it was, what would the voice of a Nor’ Easter turned Blizzard sound like? Would it scream? Could it speak? What if I did go out into the woods tonight and let the Blizzard overtake me. Should I? I felt the wrinkles in my forehead pressing together. My face was a twisted and confused face. I didn’t even know if it would be a Blizzard, though somehow I felt it couldn’t be anything else.

An hour later everything changed. The wind was howling. Snow flew sideways and whipped by the window so quickly it was dizzying. My father had to go check on the roof of our garage and hadn’t come back yet. The woods were pitch black and no longer needed to prepare; rather I’m sure now the woods were completely alive and begging me to visit. Over a foot of snow had fallen and the storm was still new. I did everything to not listen for a voice in the howls, but it was too late. I told myself to not put my boots on. As I looked at my feet I saw my boots were laced. I asked myself to not put my coat, hat, or gloves on. I turned the door-nob with a gloved hand.

It was cold. Very cold and the wind was so thick and crisp it rushed into my lungs without permission. Wind pressed me so hard I was doubled over while walking. I didn’t need to see where I was going. I knew the wood line even in the darkest of nights. Instead of asking why, I simply kept going. It was too late to ask and to early to reflect. I knew only one thing. The storm was alive and I wanted to know it well.

 

**

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more of my writing, please consider my short story found via the link below.

https://mtaggartwriter.wordpress.com/my-book/

 

 

 

 

 

A Brutal Thought – Fiction, Short Story.

Fiction- A Brutal Thought
Written by -M. Taggart
copyright 2017

A Brutal Thought

‘Did you see that? He’s on the back deck. He leaned over the railing and puked blood. It was all over his t-shirt too.’ Mona said. ‘I’m serious.’

They drove further and she no longer could see the man standing on the deck. ‘Should we go back? Or call someone?’

‘Call who? He did it to himself. All that booze he drinks.’ Eric said.

‘Even if he is a drunk he might be a good person.’ Mona said.

‘All he does is sit inside. Each day. He does nothing. I don’t know what kind of man does that. Rachel says he stands in front of his windows early in the morning, naked with the lights on, hoping someone sees him. Fuck that guy. I hope he pukes blood. I hope he kills himself.’ Eric said.

**

Pete leaned away from the window. He could hear a car coming. He lived on a dead end street. He was working with his shirt off. He was writing a marketing campaign and he’d just finished the first draft. He liked to work near the window. When his eyes became irritated from the screen he’d look from the screen to the woods and back again. Making his pupils adjust. Then he’d blink rapidly.

A neighbor once drove by and looked into the window of his office just as he stood from his desk. It was 5 am and dark outside. His office light had been on. Just as he stood, his neighbor, Rachel, drove by his office window. He wore only briefs. On that morning he couldn’t sleep. He’d been up late testing a new product and wanted to finish the process.

The car passing by was Joe. Joe wouldn’t care if his shirt was on or off. Joe knew he worked his ass off. Joe had once asked what he did for employment. He liked when someone asked. He felt to assume was a human condition making the race less intelligent on a daily schedule. When Joe had asked, he’d taken his phone out of his pocket and showed him exactly what he did. ‘You think of that shit?’ asked Joe. ‘Yup. I do.’ Joe drove through and gave a quick honk. He could see Joe’s hand waving over the roof of his car.

It was late afternoon. There was a breeze that moved the leaves around nicely and there were huge puffy clouds to look at. He wanted to be outside. He wanted to celebrate his new client and to cheers the afternoon sun. Every day he promised himself to find something to celebrate. A new idea, a good conversation, a line from Hemingway that shredded his being to the core; or for being alive and watching a cloud formation float overhead knowing it’d never been seen before and will never be seen again. He tossed a white t-shirt on and walked to the kitchen to begin his transition from work, to life on the deck with a beer and a book.

The beer was very dark. It was nearly thick. It was a strong porter. He poured the porter quickly into a frosted mug that had been in the freezer. The head was an inch thick. Watching the foam shrink and lower he poured the remaining beer from the bottle to his mug. The deck and the sun begged him to join them. Though of course wood and sunshine can’t speak, not normally. But they do, in fact, they do. Especially if you’re able to listen, he thought.

He pulled the sliding glass door open and stepped onto the deck. The beer sloshed and foamed up. He had tripped slightly and now wore a bit of beer on his t-shirt. ‘Adds to the moment’, he thought. He took a pull of beer, which was mostly foam, and leaned over the deck railing to spit it out. He noticed Eric and Mona’s vehicle passing by. Mona’s eyes flashed in his direction. He wanted to wave, but they were gone too quickly. He hoped they’d had a nice day.

**

Interested in reading another?

A Mother Does Shine

via Daily Prompt: Shine

Winter blew in. You could feel it with your tongue if you wanted. Old October trees looked desolate.

The wood stove cracked. Have you heard the small mouth speak?

Snow began to fall. A pregnant thought came to me. Was I the one to speak it? My mother was ragged. Her mouth was grim. She was an angry women. Her fingers were cracked and crooked.

It was our fault. All of ours. We pushed her. Her dry knuckles bleed. We didn’t ask if she needed help. We watched her push and bleed. Her tongue flicked as she watched us leave the house and we’d run as soon as we hit the last step.

-M. Taggart

 

 

Daily Prompt: Fishing Up North

via Daily Prompt: Fishing

There was a constant wind blowing from the south. The wind drove itself into the mountain range on the opposite side of the lake. He had taken the canoe to the farthest southern corner of the lake. There, the canopy of evergreens block the wind. The water was smooth.

The lake was nice and cool. The native trout were active. He watched them rise, leaving small rings. There was only the sound of the wind reaching, and swiveling away from the soft branches of the evergreens.

Raising his arm, the fly line became active and arched beautifully through the air. He’d seen a riser just ten yards in front of the canoe. He landed the fly just inside the outer portion of the ring.

Immediately his line became taught, his rod bent in half. He could feel every movement the large trout made. It fought severely. The fly snapped back into the air, and flew toward the canoe. The fish was gone.

He could still feel the vibrant activity in his hands, arms, and mostly his mind. He lay the rod down, letting the fly line drift on the water. He wanted to remember the feeling of the strike. And he wanted to remember the feeling of his failure. He reached into the inner pocket of his wool coat and found the half-smoked cigar.

He liked that a cigar lit hard after having been smoked and let to die out. He needed to cover the cigar from the wind and point it down to warm it sufficiently before trying to smoke it. If the smoke from the cigar didn’t travel fully through, he’d need to start over. After the third try his thumb would be slightly burned. If the wind was too heavy the cigar couldn’t be lit. He’d be left with a smoldering cigar and burned thumb. But, if the cigar was lit, he would enjoy the feeling of the smoke. He’d watch the swirls leave his mouth and range wildly around his face. No one arrangement of smoke was the same. Thinking about this made him ache with warmth.

-M. Taggart

(photo taken by me while fishing.)

 

An Ocean View

An Ocean View

Fiction: -M. Taggart

Oh- the day was nice. Nicer than most. And we kept driving and looking at the ocean as it appeared and disappears as it does. We were driving on Route One in Rhode Island. When the ocean was in view it was hard to breathe. The sun sparkled so violently it took your attention.

Things would have been alright if the man hadn’t shouldered dad. Dad was fine until he wasn’t. And when he wasn’t, things were fine for no one.

Dad had been in line, holding Mom’s hand. I saw it all happen. The man looked at mom. The way men look at women. Dad pretended to not see. But he did. Dad was looking up and away from the man. The man set his eyes level with Mom’s and smirked, thinking something. Then he shouldered dad. Clear as day.

Dad turned nicely to mom. His eyes knew so much. Mom gave the nod.

I tried watching, but mom held my head tucked in her arms. She even took hold of my nose. I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t breathe through my nose.

It didn’t take long. We were back in the car and the ocean was again winking at us and it seemed nothing had happened at all.

**

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more of my writing, please consider my self published short story found via the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Be-Sally-Based-Events-ebook/dp/B00DYAJ2ZW?ie=UTF8&keywords=don%27t%20be%20a%20sally&qid=1433349895&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

-M. Taggart

A Two-Hearted Christmas

A Two-Hearted Christmas
Fiction written by -M. Taggart
copyright 2016

Snow was falling lightly. It was just after sunset and already dark. Nick watched as his shoes left snowy footprints on the brick walk-way. He looked skyward at the Christmas tree they had fastened into place two days prior. They placed the tree roughly fifteen feet before the large glass door entrance of the building. The tree was dressed nicely. Numerous Christmas colors were wrapped around, and around, the near thirty-foot evergreen. There, on the top of the tree, stood a Christmas star large enough to be seen from any angle. The star was lit white. The snow fell toward the star, disappeared in its light, and again you could see the snow falling a few feet below the star.

People were rushing into the store. It was cold and not many stood to observe decorations on the tree. It was as though they had seen enough just to have been near it. They didn’t know the work it took to stand upright. Or how ropes were tightened so well that the tree couldn’t possibly fall. Even if wind rushed in during a New England blizzard and one of the many tie downs did break, the tree would still stand.

That was alright though, to have them not notice. It was a Christmas tree among hundreds in town. Created to lure the shopper into the lights of the store and welcome them to spend what they could.

Once inside the entrance one was thrust into a large, bright, room. So large that you could hardly see the end of it. Silver trays and cutlery shined vibrantly. Brilliant glass cases held exquisite items from all around the world. Attractive sales women wearing slim dresses greeted him, along with all others, with a smile. ‘There’s a shipment out back. We tried to have them put the boxes inside for you, but they wouldn’t do it. It’s on the loading dock.’

He slid his time card into place and listened to the faint, yet punishing, blow the time keeper slammed into place. He was now working. His wool jacket was hung. He’d put his dinner in the fridge. First he needed to get the boxes out of the snow, down the stairs into the stockroom, and checked in. After all boxes were accounted for properly, he’d open each with his box cutter, and unwrap every item within the box onto his work tables. He’d check for cracks and breaks of any kind. He’d also check to be sure each box contained the amount of items the packing slip claimed they held. He was getting ahead of himself again. He first needed to walk through the showroom. Then he needed to enter the code on the stockroom door and move the boxes from the dock, downstairs, to the stockroom.

In the showroom shoppers were talking with sales people while snow was still on the shoulders of their jackets. Some shoppers brushed the snow off and others left it because they did not notice the snow was there. As he walked quickly through the showroom many of the salespeople nodded hello to him without the customer realizing. He would either nod back, or do nothing. A face kept clean of emotion was the best face for him to wear.

He noticed an older man viewing him as he walked. He looked away. The man now moved toward him thinking he was a salesperson. ‘Can you give me the price of this globe? There’s no sticker.’

It was a Josh Simpson globe. They came in many sizes. The old man held the largest size in his hand. The globe was very expensive and generally were locked in a glass showcase. He knew this globe was expensive because he put the price stickers on each item in the basement stockroom, where he had been headed.

‘I’m sorry. I don’t know the price. If you asked Jamie, over there,’ he pointed to a dark haired girl with blue eyes, ‘She’d be able to help you.’

‘I didn’t ask, Jamie. I asked you.’ the old man replied.

Now both stood looking at one another. The old man wanted to know why this able young man couldn’t answer a simple question. The younger man wanted to know why he was ordered not to.

‘I’m sorry. I can’t help you.’

The old man viewed the many details inside the globe and shook his head while letting go a whistle. The world within contained mountains with cliffs and rivers that emptied into an ocean. The tree tops were green with needles. The waves were white with wind. ‘This globe holds an entire world within. I hold this globe wondering if our world is anything like the giant holding it now. And I wish badly it is not. I cannot understand how this happens.’

‘I’m sorry?’ He didn’t understand the old man.

‘Nothing. I’ll walk to Jamie and giver her the globe. I’ll not buy it.’ And with a step the old man was headed toward Jamie. Jamie wore a wide smile and her eyes curved upward.

***

The door to the loading dock was open and he could see the many boxes left for him. The boxes that were left outside on the dock were covered with snow. The temperature was much cooler on the dock and he liked it. The snow storm had increased its snowfall and the wind was picking up.

He brushed snow off the tops of the boxes only to watch more snow quickly accumulate. Looking at the dark underbelly of the snow producing cloud simplified his mood. It didn’t matter if he didn’t understand the old man’s meaning. The glass globe with the artist’s creation inside wasn’t him and it wasn’t life so it did not matter.

He lifted and carried each box to the conveyor belt, next to the stairwell, and watched them travel down toward his stockroom. His tie was wet with snow and beaten by the cardboard. He wanted to take it off, but he was told to never take his tie off. He need to look appropriate when walking through the show room.

At the bottom of the stairs was a cement hallway leading to one door. The door was the entrance to the stockroom. The conveyor belt flattened at the bottom of the stairs and there was a ten foot section where boxes came to a stop and lined themselves. He walked to the stockroom door, unlocked it with his key, and came back out with a hand-truck. The boxes were not heavy. He loaded the hand-truck above his head and quickly had them all stacked near his work tables in his stockroom.

The stockroom had a cement floor and cement walls. There were no windows. In the middle of the room were metal shelving units. There was a section for overstock, broken items, cancelled products and general tools that might be needed around the showroom. Generally each shelf was kept orderly. Unless he wasn’t there and a salesperson needed to find an item that was no longer on the showroom floor. If this were the case he’d find products left on the floor and items placed on shelves that didn’t belong.

His work tables were in front of the shelving units and a alley-way of sorts was created. He would work quickly and open each box, empty them and be done with his work as soon as possible. He clicked the switch of the small radio to on. Elvis was singing, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas.’ He turned the radio off and held his breath. Images of her sleeping on his shoulder tore through his mind. His head shook as flashes of his fingers stroking her hair came to him. He always wondered if she knew that he stroked her hair when she slept. He wanted to ask her. He couldn’t now. It was done and too late. He paced the stockroom floor thinking of her face and how it looked when she was sad. That was the face he made her wear. He didn’t want to remember this. Maybe it wasn’t too late, he wondered. Maybe he could undue everything. Maybe the old man with the globe could explain what he’d meant. He didn’t want to think of the old man either, but he was. The old man said something about wishing badly it was not. Did he mean that the world would be nothing like him and what he’d done to it? Is that how he felt now about her?

The stockroom door opened in a rush. ‘Nick, we need you out at the Christmas tree right away,’ said Bill. Bill was wearing a suit and a long wool jacket. The jacket was black. Bill was one of the two owners of the silver smith company. The store with the large showroom upstairs was their creation to sell to the locals.

‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

‘There’s oil all over the walkway outside. It goes from the base of the tree to the entrance. Eric is standing near the oil asking people to not walk in it. Find something to clean it up and get up there.’ Bill looked upset and talked as though he were pushing his words. Bill turned and rushed back out the door.

Nick walked to the back of the stockroom and grabbed a bundle of cloth rags. They weren’t perfect to soak oil, but they’d do for now. He wondered how the tree had anything to do with oil.

Holding his bundle of cloth rags he ran up the stairs and opened the door to the showroom. He made his way through the happy shoppers and then outside. The tree stood so beautifully that the men standing over the oil spill looked badly out of place. Both brother’s straddled the oil spill just feet from one another. They held their hands up and pleaded with customers to stay back and to not slip on the oil. They told anyone who’d listen that the oil would be cleaned up shortly. The long wool jacket’s looked like crow’s wings while they opened and closed their arms to ward people away from the danger.

Nick still didn’t understand how oil would come to be anywhere near the tree. But, certainly he did see a trail leading from the base of the tree all the way to the entrance of the showroom door. Both Bill and Eric seemed relieved to see him with his rags.

Nick knelt down and touched the oil. He lifted his finger and smelled the oil. A few customers had stopped to watch. Nick walked to Bill and softly said, ‘This is not oil. This is water. Someone must have watered the Christmas tree.’

Bill wore a face of pure happiness. ‘That’s great!’ Eric had listened and decided he’d been straddling the mess long enough. He left them without a word and mingled with himself while walking through the showroom, no doubt to find his office.

As Nick wiped away the spilled water he couldn’t help but chuckle. Both men were rich. Both men were educated. But neither were aware enough to bend down and touch or smell the oil. How does this happen, he thought. How can two men who seemingly have everything have so little sense.

Immediately the old man’s face leapt into his mind. He knew what to do. It wasn’t too late. He would fix this. He looked at the star on top of the Christmas tree and let the snow land and melt on his face. He’d never felt snow like this before and he’d never know Christmas until now.

The End.

If you enjoyed this please also read my self published short story found via the amazon link below. Thank you, Matt.

If you would like to contact me concerning this story, or any of my writing, please email me at matt@everythingcu.com

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Be-Sally-Based-Events-ebook/dp/B00DYAJ2ZW?ie=UTF8&keywords=don%27t%20be%20a%20sally&qid=1433349895&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1