Short Stories

Old Hand, White Lies

The old man clutched his briefcase, it seemed like it was only yesterday when he could relax on the beach. But now, here he was, surrounded by the dregs of society – again. Why did he have to leave the beautiful beach house?

My fucking ex-wife. He thought to himself, clutching it tighter, as if he could use it as a weapon to keep space between him… and them. His whole life he worked to keeping them at bay, and most of the time, he could avoid them all together.

You see, they were his enemies. The ones who wanted to take away his whiteness, his wealth that his family risked their lives crossing for. It was his family’s lives, their strength that built this country. He often thought those people, of all the colors, those women, those confused individuals who were broken and could not feel the love of a man and a woman – they were the ones tearing it down.

He felt a clammy hand on his arm and immediately he batted it away with his briefcase. But there in the grey blue weather, was a thin man. Old, white, his eyes almost gone. He wore a tattered vets uniform, it was falling off of him. This is who they want me to be. He thought and he felt for the man, a little. It was the street man’s family though that left him on the street, not him.

“I demand you let go.” He said in a low growl. He couldn’t even trust his own.

“Through trees you find darkness, through light you find pain, and through crying you will find solace.” The man said in light voice, almost as if the air had blown it into his ears.

The old many shivered, he never felt anything like it. It felt like what he was saying was some sort of truth.

“Get the fuck off of me!” he screamed at him frightened. Maybe if he screamed it would make the heavy weight of knowing his life would change go away.

The street man looked down and let go. He then looked at him pointedly with those grey eyes, those haunting eyes. He walked backward into the street and before the old man could say anything a bus flew into the side of the street man. He saw and heard the clumps of human flesh, dirt, and clothes be rolled over.

The old man had seen violence, but this was unexpected. This was not his own. He felt the disgust roll up into his throat. And he felt it, as if… as if it was him underneath that car. He found he was on the floor, he felt as if he could look into it, as if he could feel the crush of his bones, the feeling of so much pain, unbearable that you wish death.

His briefcase now was to his side, and he felt hands on him, so many hands.

“Is he having a heart attack?”

“Oh my G-d, I think that is John Baker!”

The sounds of voices a flurry in the background. He felt as if he was an earthquake, and he felt the aftermath, shaking in his bones.

“No, get the fuck away.” He growled and stood up ignoring the pounding of his heart, and the vibrations of his skin.

The people around him went from concern to awe. He was used to this, everyone moving around for him. He had enough money to buy the universe. But this, he could not explain.

It must be an anomaly, he thought and straightened out his suit, handmade from a nameless wanted man in Italy. He was so old, though, that he had hunched in it, and the man he had hired to tailor it had to fix it several times. Now he could feel that other man though, he still could feel him… before he went under the car.

You are losing it old man, like your old man did, he thought to himself. What did it matter the money he had? He would live to the fullest, have the best life – he thought of his twenty five year old honey. How Laura hated her.

Shit. Now she will say its my fault. He started to walk, his bones moving as if they were older. Shit shit shit shit. He walked faster, his feet even felt older. he got to the front of the hotel. It was beautiful, with arches and his family name in gold on it. He touched it for a second to sustain himself. He was about to go see the snake.

That is what he called the person who took Laura from him. Her sense of loyalty gone since that stupid female movement. Putting ideas into her head that she could be like a man. He then looked at his hand against the gold lining. He was taken aback.

It looked older than his hand this morning. You are going crazy. You just saw a f** walk in front of a car.

He then proceeded in and the doorman cocked his head at him with concern.

“Want me to send you back to your country?” the old man asked and the man changed his expression of curiosity to one that was neutral.

“Sorry sir,” he said with seeming ease though his chest was on fire as he said it to the old man.

The old man felt this, as if it was his chest on fire. He clutched it and the doorman made no move to help, he just watched.

The old man pushed past him, holding his brief case tighter, as if it was the only thing connecting him to reality.

What the hell is going on? I have to go to those bastard doctors after this. He thought to himself as he went into the grand room.

There she was, in all her glory. Laura. She still looked good which peeved him even more. She did not look like she was 53, she looked as if she was still in her thirties, how she was with the kids. She was in a long white dress that hugged her in all the right places, it was shining in the light, a scoop down the back of the neck.

He was almost speachless at her beauty, her light blue eyes had not fallen on him yet, she was talking to the waiters and the wedding planner. And…

Any want to kiss or hold her went away as jealousy shook his body. There was that snake, right behind her. She was smiling, her dark hair curly in its natural way, her dark skin in contrast to her own white tux.

No the f** can’t wear a dress like a normal fucking girl, she has to be a f**. The fire in his stomach, his own fire came back coming into his throat with disgust.

He could not help but let out a cough, gagging on his own disappointment and revulsion.

Laura snapped to look at him, and her mouth moved open and closed, working in and out as if she wanted to shout, but was afraid at the same time.

She smiled and turned back to the planner and said something out of politeness and walked towards him, the snake not too far from behind her. The snake’s smiling big red lips now in a thin line looking at him.

“What are you doing here,” she hissed at him in anger, though she tried to keep her voice lowered.

“You shouldn’t be here.” The snake said in a dangerously low voice.

“You shouldn’t either,” he managed to cough out, now feeling a new disgust… but this was for… himself?

Laura’s anger quickly turned into concern as the old man started to breathe harder. “What is going on John? Should I call an ambulance? You don’t look well.” He could feel she was actually concerned and this only fueled his anger.

He shook off her hand from his arm, it felt like fire as he felt all of her sadness, and worry about… him.

“No I don’t need a fucking ambulance Laura, there is no way that snake is getting half of your money, money I gave to you.” He was sincere for a second, he didn’t want Laura to be scared of him, he just wanted her to be her, how she was before everything.

He could feel Laura’s concern turn into anger, it felt as if it was burning him, but then she let go and as the snake came between them.

“Leave,” the snake said, her dark brown eyes dangerously close to his, “or I will have you escorted out.”

“Laura I…” he said, but he could feel the snake’s rage, her want to pummel him into a million pieces. He was like all the rest of them, they were always under attack from people… like him.

He staggered backwards and watched as the snake put her arm around Laura. She looked back to her new life with her wife to be and walked away from the old.

He could see the children had arrived and none even wanted to talk to him, one, his little girl she seemed concerned looking at him with her mother’s eyes. He needed to get out of here, he felt he could feel… their thoughts, and their feelings.

He ran to the bathroom and threw up in the sink, he put his brief case down to the side. When he looked up he tried to stroke his thinning white hair into place and as he was about to wash his hands he saw a clump of white hair on them with white skin flakes.

What… He thought as he ran his hands through his hair, all of it falling out – the grimace and fright of the old man in the mirror, that couldn’t be him. He was only 75, he looked good for his age. He now looked as if he was… aging. The bags under his eyes getting deeper, the skin tightening and flaking with blue veins popping through.

He did not look like John Baker. He looked like… like the street man.

No, this… it’s impossible.

He needed a doctor. He tried to run through the hotel, but he felt his left knee buckle and he dragged it to the door. He felt the doorman see him, and he felt all of the sadness people like him. He clutched his chest – it was too much. His people, him – they caused this pain. He thought the others were the problem, but now feeling their thoughts, their pain, who they were… he realized how small minded he was.

He got out onto the street holding the brief case. It was now heavy, and weighing. He stopped next to a building holding himself up. He saw spots in his vision. There was nothing stopping it, he was aging. He saw a person in their twenties on the ground next to an alleyway, playing music. He did not see who this person was, but he felt their pain. How they were kicked out of their home for loving who they did, how they were not white like he was, they were not male. He felt it a thousand times over in his mind, a headache like a thunderstorm.

He dropped the briefcase in the person’s area, or for what he could see. His vision now was turning white, he could not see. He ran his fingers along the buildings, he could feel the city now. He never felt the city, how sticky and dirty it was – he always could avoid it, but now he felt the crud underneath his fingernails. He could feel all the pain of those forgotten, those with no privilege. He did not even realize he had privilege until he felt them.

Their fear was intoxicating, it felt as if it was in his bones, his bones becoming bruised and fragile. He squared down next to the building.

He looked at his reflection in the dark window of a shop. From what he could make out he no longer looked like John Baker. He was bald – boils, and dark spots on his head. His lips with blisters, he did not need to see them, he could feel them. No one would believe him.

“Help,” he gasped, as he was sitting on the sidewalk. He felt people walk by. No one cared. He never felt like this before in his life. Everyone always cared.

“Please,” he begged. He felt the pain, the pain of those lost and killed for who they were, the pain from having no one to rely on, the pain of living in a society of greed.

He never thought he would have to feel this way. This was not the way it was supposed to be. Life is that way. He felt rather than saw it.

He realized then that life had caught up to him, that life he had escaped and bought and paid for. It was there to take the toll of the pain he caused to others. And he had no way to escape it, all he could do is sit in the rain, and beg, “please.”

He felt something near the building. It felt light, like bark. It was one of the last trees – it brought him so much joy. But then he felt the trees pain, all of them that he cut down.

He felt a wet kiss on his fingers – in the past he would have moved away. But it was a dog, he felt the fluff on its face and he felt the owner pull the dog away. He felt the sadness of the most innocent creatures, the animals on this earth. How many had he killed before their time? How many had he eaten?

Here they were trying to give him comfort, these beautiful creatures of the world, the nature he destroyed, the people he despised. All he could do was to sit on the hard ground feeling the darkness from the trees destroyed, the light of the sun that would be gone one day, and the salt of tears that brought him no solace.

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