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About shortstoryreads

Writer, poet, novelist. Follow this blog for original short stories written by Tyran Saffold Jr. All short stories are protected under applicable copywrite laws. Anyone who copies and/or distributes these works as the author will be subject to penalties under the copywrite laws. All rights reserved.

The Teacher – Part 2

THE TEACHER – PART 2

 

She held my hand as I drove down the main street.  Her mahogany brown eyes shifted to a light brown color as the sunlight shone into her face through the passenger side window.  “Seriously baby,” she flicked her hands through her hair as she stared curiously into the visor’s mirror.  “Do you like it?  I think she cut it waay too short.  I mean, look at it.”

She turned her head to the side.  I glanced at her with my face scrunched up like an old man sucking on a lemon, “well… now that you mention it…”

She pouted, “see, I knew it!  Ugh!”  Her arms folded over her chest like a napkin as she poked her bottom lip out.  Her pulchritude was unmatched, even in her childish display.  “Turn around!  We are going back!”

I stifled my laugh as she sat in her seat.  Her eyes narrowed in my direction.  I couldn’t keep up the charade any longer as I blurted out a sea of laughter like waves crashing into the shore.  “Baby, you know I am only kidding.  Your hair is lovely, sweetheart.  I like the short haircut.  You’ve got like…” I quickly looked in her direction, then refocused on the road, “a Halle Berry type thing going on.  And you know how much I love Halle.”

“Gee, thanks.  I’m glad that my haircut reminds me of my husband’s crush.”

“Baby,” I said, smiling as I reached for her hand, “if Halle were on the side of the road right now, I wouldn’t stop for one second.”  She pushed her lips to the side of her mouth as if to show that she didn’t believe me.  “Alright.  Maybe I would ask what was wrong, but that’s it.”

“Yeah, that better be it.”

I looked in the rearview mirror.  My son sat in his toddler seat as he flew a toy airplane through the air, blowing his lips to mimic the sound of a jet engine.  “Jr, who are we picking?  Mommy or Halle?”

“Mommy!” he shouted forth with a snaggle-toothed smile.  His mother’s feminine features dominated his young, bright face.  With each blink, long eyelashes fluttered like butterfly wings on the edge of his eyelids.  A tiny cluster of beauty marks gathered together on his right cheek, and the natural arch of his brows looked as though they were professionally done.  The only features he received from me was my broad, flat nose and full lips.  He had my attitude wrapped up in the softness of his mother’s countenance; and for that, he would know how to get away with murder.

“See,” I said confidently, “there are two votes for mommy.  None for Halle.”

“Yeah, you two will say anything while I am in the car with you.”

“You know what?”  I wrestled the phone out of my pocket, “that’s it.  I’m going to snap a picture of you right now and–”

She laughed as I pulled my phone out and aimed it in her direction.  “Baby, keep your eyes on the road!  You are going to wreck!”  She lightheartedly pushed my phone away from her.

My son increased the volume of his jet engines, “vroooom, vroom!”

“Babe!  Stop, now.  You need to keep your eyes ahead!”

I glanced out the windshield.  “Baby, there is not a car anywhere near us, and besides, I have eyes all over my head.  Now, let me take this picture so I can post it on Facebook and let everyone else be the judge between you and Halle.”

“No!  Listen, I’ll take your word for it!  I won!  I look better than Halle, ok?  No pictures needed.  Now, would you please keep your eye on the road?  Please?”

I winked at her, then slid my phone in the compartment between the two front seats.  “Alright.  As long as I got my point across.”  We eased to a stop at a red light.  She grabbed my hand and leaned across my seat.  Moments later, I felt her lips brush against my flesh like a soft spring breeze.  “I love you, Mr. Jones.”

“I love you more, Mrs. Jones.”

The light just beyond us flickered from red to green.  I glanced at Junior in the backseat.  His airplane flew high in his right hand while he grabbed another fighter jet with the other.  “Baby,” my wife said as I slid my foot onto the gas.  Her hand moved to her belly at the same time, patiently, as if time was controlled by her motion.  “I think I am pregnant.”

I chuckled as our car inched into the intersection slowly like we were pulling a ton of bricks behind us.  “Well,” I looked in her direction.  Just beyond her window, an SUV headed straight for us like a flaming dart from the pit of hell.  My eyes widened as if I was trying to see the whole world at once.  My words caught in my throat like a piece of meat going down the windpipe.  I reached for her arm, knowing that I had to pull her away from the point of contact.  “My God!”

I yelled out, but before she could react, the SUV plowed into her side of the vehicle.  Instantly, I blacked out.

———-

I woke up in sweltering, pitch-black darkness.  Sweat mingled blood dripped from my brow as my chin brushed against the top of my chest.  My hands were tied behind my back, and I could feel the wires slicing through my wrists.  My body weight shifted the position of the uneven chair I sat in.  “Rise and shine.”  His voice was deep and fragile as the heart of man.  His wooden cane knocked against the concrete floor as he stepped closer to me.  “Take that off his head.”

Moments later, one of his soldiers removed the dark hood from over my skull.  I squinted my eyes as the high voltage light bulbs lit the room a fluorescent white as if I was on the outskirts of heaven.  But I knew this was nothing like heaven and every bit like hell.  On the ground to the right, blood splatter decorated the concrete like exploded paintballs.  Various soldiers lined the walls, dressed in fatigues with their fingers sitting on triggers of automatic rifles aimed directly at me.  Black masks covered their faces as if they were scared to show me who they were.

Suddenly, a cold, hard fist smashed into my cheek with the weight of a bag of bricks.  Two more shots connected to my jaw in rapid succession.  The contact shot my face to the left and sent a spring of blood bubbling in my mouth like a fountain.  I spat out a thick glob of blood-soaked saliva.  It dripped slowly from my mouth like a molasses chain watch before it burst onto the cement.  I used my tongue to taste the residue.  It let me know that I was still alive.

“So, here we are.  This is what happens to degenerate leaders, Mr. Isaiah Jones?”  The man with the wooden cane planted himself in a silver folding chair that was positioned right in front of me.  With my head down, I slowly lifted my eyes towards him.

I spoke with every bit of resilience that I possessed.  I had been in situations like this before, and there wasn’t a time that I hadn’t made it out.  “Where is Seven?”

“Seven?”  He laughed.  “He wants to know where Seven is at.  His precious protégé.  The one that would rather die with you than fight with us.”  He clapped his hands once.  “Look up,” he said, smacking my thigh with his cane.  I gradually shifted my attention to the right.  The bright light beamed down onto me like I was center stage.  I waited a few moments until my eyes adjusted.

A thick glass window showed the inside of the adjacent room.  I squinted my eyes to get a better look.  I saw the faint image of a body swaying back and forth like strange fruit from a pole.  My cheekbones gyrated inside of my mouth.  My fist tightened like knots.  “Seven?” he laughed.  “Yeah, we had to teach that boy a lesson.  Turns out, he wasn’t as much of a killer as you expected.”  He leaned closer towards me.  The scent of Cuban cigars nicked at my muzzle.  “Guess you didn’t train him as good as you thought.”

The Teacher – Part 1

The Teacher – Part 1

 

His face was hard and cold like brick walls in the winter time.  I could tell he wanted to cry, but his soul had his tears frozen in their ducts.  A thick, luminous ray of moonlight shot through the window and highlighted the faint scar that ran from the bottom of his eye to the corner of his lips.  It protruded just above his skin like a caterpillar crawling along a tree branch.  My mind drifted away as it transfigured my younger face onto his body.  He had too much of his life ahead of him.

We sat on the couch; our knees brushed against each other like a paintbrush on a canvas.  His passionate gaze burned like a fiery meteor leaving a dragon tail across the night sky on its way to annihilate the earth.  His jawbones gyrated inside of his mouth like factory gears, displaying traits of the machine I trained him to be.  His fingers interlocked patiently, forming a semi-circle on his lap.  “You know you can leave,” I said, piercing through the silence between us.

My suggestion seemed to inflame him even more.  “I’m not going anywhere.”  I made a trap door beneath the couch in the living room.  It led through a burrowed tunnel, three miles east of my home amid tall, forest trees.  It would spit him out on the edge of Lake Tiache’ where he could hop into a speedboat and get away undetected as if he was never with me.  But he was stubborn.  He was my best soldier, and he said that he would go to the grave with me if it were necessary.  It was the type of loyalty that Jesus didn’t see in the hours before his arrest.

I exhaled.  The wind left my lungs with a thick sense of anticipation just as tiny flickers of light blinked outside like a swarm of fireflies.  Their black foot helicopter was silent, but I still knew it was just miles away.  Leaves crunched as men scurried around the sides of my house.  I had trained myself for times like this.  I could hear the slightest shift in the movement outside if I sat in complete silence, and right now, I was clothed in it.  They were trained better than that, I thought to myself.  It had to be their nervousness.  There wasn’t a man coming for me that I hadn’t taught how to kill.  Flawlessly.

I fixed my eyes on the young man beside me; his nostrils flared like tiny umbrellas.  His eyes widened like dinner plates as he tilted his brow forward as if it was weighted down.  His interlocked hands slowly released and formed boulder-like fists at the end of his arms.  His veins puffed up in his forearms as if he had just taken a shot of heroin.  Adrenaline worked the same.  “Everything is going to be fine,” I said as we waited in silence.  “Just don’t breathe the air.”

He didn’t respond.  Out of all my soldiers, he was the one who stayed glued to me like a disciple.  It wasn’t long that I realized he had slid me into the place that his father had never touched.  There was a bond between us, and although we never spoke the words, love flowed through us like rivers of forgiveness.  “I will kill them all,” he said in a voice that would have shaken the smile from a stone-faced statue.  His passion soaked words marched around the house like Goliaths in full armor.

I could’ve run.  All of this could’ve been avoided, but I was tired of running just to escape, only to have to run again.  I was tired of fighting, using my self-control to strike the men I trained, but not kill them.  If I wanted to, I could have ended their lives.  Every one of them that came for me.  Specs of dust fluttered along the moon’s glow, leading to a picture of my wife.  Her buoyant smile is what kept me afloat during the times I was too tired to pick myself up off the ground.  I couldn’t wait to hold her again, but I knew there was too much work left undone for me to meet her.

My five-year-old son sat beside her.  His snaggle-toothed smile was the most beautiful blemish I’d ever seen.  Fifteen years had passed since the accident, and the surgical scar on my chest was the painful reminder of the day I found out they were both gone.  The lone picture in the front room was all I had left of them.  The memories locked inside of my mind kept me from needing tangible reminders of how much they meant to me.

The footsteps outside moved in closer.  Shadows scurried past the windows like demons as the propellers sliced through the wind like a hot knife through butter.  I heard it all.  Every last thing.  The sounds on the roof proved that these troops lacked discipline.  Their anxiety got the best of them.  The meekness of my heart allowed me to remove all the traps and triggers that would have ripped the first string of men into pieces.

“They don’t have to die,” I suggested.

“They do.  They will die.  Each and every last one of them will die for this treachery.  I will make sure of it.”

His dark skin shone from his body like an oil-polluted African river full of blood diamonds.  I wanted to temper his aggression, but there was no need.  He knew that he could attack, but he could not kill.  Not them.  Not his brothers.  “Are you ready?” I asked while the men outside took their positions.  “They are coming in.”

“I’m ready.”

“Remember what I said.  Just don’t breathe the air and everything will be ok.”

Non-Verbal

I sat near the back of the library with my headphones on, writing verses to a spoken word piece.  I gripped my ink pen as the words bubbled inside of my mind and exploded onto the paper like tiny bursts of magnetic energy.  I flowed until I hit a writer’s block.  It forced me to relax my pen and lean my chair backward, balancing my weight on the two hind legs.

Just outside, there was a cluster of birds perched on the branch of a tree.  I removed my headphones and squinted at them as they fluttered their wings.  I imagined that they were in a deep conversation with each other, talking about the next place they were all going to arrive.  I thought it was amazing how animals could communicate non-verbally and at times, without saying anything at all but yet still be in sync with each other.   The silence of the library was loud enough to interrupt thoughts, but I liked it that way.  It was how I escaped the frustrations that plagued my life.  Solitude was the only medicine for me at times like this.

Just then, I heard someone clear their throat behind me.  I leaned forward in my chair; the front legs came crashing down onto the carpeted floor.  The noise I heard was soft like Q-Tip edges dancing into my ears.  I smiled.  I didn’t expect to see her there, but a part of me was happy that she showed up.  She was a figment of my imagination for the past year and the only times she felt real to me were the times that I saw her with my eyes closed.  She stood in front of me, cradling two books in her hand.

I could only see the one on top; “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison.  I had just begun reading the same novel just a few days ago.  During the time we dated, she was always reading different books and honestly, if it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would have ever picked up a book outside of the Bible.  We were a couple for half of the time we were enrolled at the same College, but now, she was a distant lover who had never been closer to my heart.

I fixed my mouth to utter my thoughts, but she slid her finger into the middle of her lips, urging me to keep them to myself.  She took a seat next to me and glanced at my phone to see what music I was playing.  She winked and grabbed one of my earbuds and slid it into her ears as she flipped open one of her books to the page she had marked.  Silently, she began reading, bobbing her head to Nas as he asked us, “whose world is this?”

She glanced at me, then shifted her vision towards my paper, prompting me to pick up my pen and get to writing and with that, I followed suit.  The ink pen effortlessly stroked the lines of paper like a paintbrush, seamlessly picking up where I left off.  She slid her hand on top of mine as her eyes moved peacefully back and forth across the page of her book.  She told me everything I needed to hear and never once moved her lips to say it.

Breeze Rawlons((The Beginning)) Pt 1.

Bumpy and Hush had been close friends since High School.  They were sort of outcasts to the rest of the school because of their appearance, so they gradually transitioned into loners.  Bumpy got his name because of the inexorable amount of acne that was plastered on both of his cheeks and his forehead.  It was a bizarre sight to look at, and you were bound to lose your appetite if he sat near you at the lunch table.

Hush was a step up from him appearance wise, though.  He had Alopecia Areata, and because of that, he wasn’t able to grow any facial hair.  The spot where his eyebrows were meant to be were completely bald, and he didn’t have an ounce of hair above his lip like most of the other boys in our grade.  But that wasn’t it; the reason everybody called him, “Hush,” was because he wasn’t able to bring his voice above a whisper.  Nobody why he spoke with such a low volume and as far as we could tell, it wasn’t due to another medical condition.  It was just that he hated talking too loud.

I watched them from a distance, and they always kept to themselves and accepted the fact that they were outcasts.  In my opinion, between the two of them, Bumpy had the hardest time with it.  He was much more of an extrovert than his counterpart, but Hush?  He had no complaints about it at all.  It fit his demeanor entirely.  Quiet.  Sneaky.  Always thinking.  I would’ve given a week’s worth of lunch food to know what was going through his mind, but by the way he looked at everyone, it didn’t seem like it was anything that could’ve been spoken out loud.  His glare, the way his cheekbones gyrated whenever somebody disrespected him.  He just had an eerie vibe about him; a reclusive personality mixed with a short temper and that was never a good combination.   It was blatantly clear that he was headed for a life of crime.  Sometimes, that life has a way of choosing you, no matter what your will is.

I glanced down at the murder scene; one man was beaten senseless to the point that he was hardly recognizable.  His face was smashed in and bloodied; cheekbones were broken as well as every other bone that would have kept his countenance in place.  His fingers were chopped off, making it much more challenging to identify the victim.  This was all at the hands of Hush, and I knew it, even though there was no evidence pointing to him, I knew his calling card.  Once he wanted to get rid of you, his aim was to get rid of you and make it seem as if you never existed.  That way, whenever we were fortunate enough to find a body, there was nearly no way to identify who he was for sure.  He even went as far as knocking each and every last one of his victim’s teeth out to keep us from checking it against dental records.

I glanced down at the bloody, pulp of flesh smeared into the ground as another detective bent down next to me.  “They really did a number on this guy, aye?”

I took a puff of my cigarette and blew the smoke into the night air.  It fluttered around us like a cloud before it disappeared, “Yeah.  No doubt about it.”

“Any clues?”

“None.  None that I can think of.”

“Sheesh.  This is the third body we have found like this in the past two weeks.  I’ll tell you what, we better find something here, or else, heads in the department will start rolling.  After that, it will be better if one of us are one of these dead men that are popping up around the city.”

He tapped me on my shoulder and then stood up to walk back towards the other police officers.  I blew another cloud of smoke into the air as I looked up to the sky.  Damnit, Hush – I said to myself – what are you up to now?

The Irony

“No, man!  I am telling you right now that these youth are runnin’ roun’ here don’t know how to act!  They walk around with… with their pants hangin halfway down their behinds, showing off their underwear and all that, then wonder why the police are always harrassin’ them and whatnot.  They don’t have no respect!”

“Yeah, that sho’ is right,” his friend chimed in as their car approached a yellow light.  “They are so brainwashed by that old music and everything else that they don’t even know it.  They do whatever the music says.  They do whatever those old, no-good videos tell them.  Sellin’ drugs and um, disrespectin’ women and everything.  It is a cryin’ shame the way they can’t think for themselves.”

“You sho’ is right, Hank,” the driver said as he slid his foot onto the break, “It’s like.  They can’t think for themselves.  They are mindless robots, and it is a crying shame that this is what we have come to as a people.”

It was nearly two o’clock in the morning, without another car in sight as their vehicle slowed to a stop when the light turned red.  The three men inside the car were all in their mid-fifties.  Grey hairs coated their beards like silver wires as they reflected on how dumb and brainwashed this generation was, while they waited for a green light to tell them when to go.

#BlackStar

Again

“Mama!  Mama!  Aye, Mama!  I’m right here!”

His mother took a seat in the front room, oblivious to the fact that her son was yelling for her attention.  She wiped a tear from her eye and glanced at his picture as he laughed and walked into the room.  “Mama, why are you ignoring me?  Are you mad that I broke curfew again last night?  Alright, I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”  He sat down next to her but still, she didn’t say a word.  She rocked back and forth on the edge of the couch, holding her arms as if she was freezing but the temperature was calm.

A faint breeze blew through the front room window that was halfway open, causing the curtains to flutter as if they were waving goodbye.  The front door opened suddenly as her husband walked through somberly.  “Pop,” his son said as he stood up, “Can you talk to Mom?  She is really mad at me right now, and she hasn’t said a word since I came in here.”

His father ignored him on his way towards his wife as he placed his phone on the table and put his arm around her while she cried on his shoulder.  “It’s going to be alright, sweetheart.  We will make it through.”  Their son’s eyebrows wrinkled together like an accordion as he watched their interaction.

“Aye yall, what’s wrong?  Why yall so sad?”

His mother spoke, “Honey, I just… I just can’t believe this happened.  He wasn’t the type to resist anything, and we didn’t raise him that way!  Why are they saying these things about our boy!”

“I know, baby, I know.  We can’t listen to that right now.  It won’t do anything but make us angrier, ok?  Don’t watch the news, don’t read the paper, don’t go on the internet.  We have to keep our minds clear right now.”

Their son didn’t understand why he was being ignored until he looked at his father’s cell phone screen.  He could hardly breathe when he saw his picture and read what was on its face, “RIP, my only son.  Wesley Armon Jones.”  Suddenly, everything went dark as his mind slowly pieced together what happened on his way home from a party with his friends last night.  The last thing he saw was an officer with his gun aimed directly at him as he yelled, “My hands are up, officer!  They are up!”

Words are Flowers

“I don’t know, man, I mean, I know things aren’t right between me and her Mama right now.  This married life is hard, but I love that little girl like she was my own.”

“I know you do.  They way your face lights up when you talk about her says it all.”

“Yeah man, I don’t know what it is.  Sometimes, I sit and think she looks just like my sister.  I mean, she does a little bit, but what I’m sayin’ is she looks like she was-”

“I get what you’re saying, bro.  I totally understand.”

The two of them spoke quietly among each other as they sat in the front room watching football one Sunday evening.  They were brothers and even more than that; they were best friends, and there wasn’t much that they don’t know about each other.

“Has she called you Dad yet?”

“Nah, she hasn’t.  I mean, it’s only been a few years, and I don’t expect her to anytime soon.  As a matter of fact, I don’t expect her to at all.  She knows I love her, and I know she loves me, so that is all that matters.  For real.”

He dipped his chip into the bowl of melted cheese, sprinkled with beef and jalapeños.  The brothers usually got together to watch the games on Sunday afternoons after church except for this time; his Step-Daughter wanted to come to his apartment.  He and his wife split up not too long ago, and they wanted to work things out, but as of right now, there was too much to work out under the same roof.  Suddenly, she walked into the front room as the two men looked up.  He finished chewing his chip and spoke to her.

“Hey sweetheart, is everything alright back there?  Is something wrong with your DVD player?”

“No, Dad.  I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

She smiled and turned around, her long ponytail swinging back and forth with each step her 9-year-old body took away from them.  Her step-father continued to look in her direction even after she disappeared down the hall and closed the door to her room.  “Are you alright?” his brother asked curiously, but there was no response.  There were only silent tears rolling down his blank, stony face.