A small slice of winter

Ağustos 1, 2021 0 Yazar: admin

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A small slice of winterA small slice of winter1.Frank walked out of the apartment building and stepped onto the cracked, cement sidewalk. It was cold – the temperature barely breaking even – and he detested having to vacate the confines of his warm apartment to venture out into that bitter air. But it had to be done, and so with a brave defiance he shifted his winter cap to cover his ears, put his hands in his pockets and began the walk, head down and nose out of the wind.In about ten minutes he would arrive at his initial, though not final, destination. He had to catch the 38 bus to the opposite side of town, at which point he would depart and be forced to walk again for another twenty or so minutes. When a person lacks both a vehicle and a license to legally operate one, they tend to become stationary creatures, adapting to one place and developing a certain comfort there; a desire to leave that place only when necessary. They do, however, tend to also develop a certain distinguished ability at withstanding even the most brutal environments, thus allowing them to undertake the kind of journey and walk that Frank was attempting this day.As Frank was heading towards the bus station, he noticed a squirrel prancing about in the snow in a most crazy manner. Typically squirrels will take off running like bats out of hell at the sight of human beings; but he noticed that the squirrel, though seeming to bounce around quite a bit, was in no hurry to flee. As he came closer to the dancing squirrel, Frank saw that it was not out of joy or elation that the squirrel was performing in such a way. The dark red splotches in the snow, only visible now as he came to within a few feet of the thing, indicated that the squirrel had recently suffered an injury which appeared to be the cause of these strange actions. Little did Frank know what had actually happened: a raccoon, in a fit of certifiable rage, had bitten and clawed that poor squirrel’s bushy tail just an hour earlier. Apparently the squirrel had impinged upon the raccoon’s feeding territory. And in a rare move of fierce, unjustified angst he had lashed out violently, gashing the squirrel’s tail and hitting a nerve. This caused the tail to react in an epileptic manner, spasmodically and wildly propelling it, resulting in the bouncing motion of the squirrel that had caught Frank’s eye.Not knowing exactly what to do, but sensing the pain and suffering that the poor creature must be going through, Frank did the only logical and humane thing his mind could muster at that moment. Having only walked a few blocks, he immediately turned around and hurried back home. Rather than waiting for the elevator (which was remarkable slow), he ran up six flights of steps, two steps at a time, and entered his corner apartment. Without so much as a second thought, he instantly found what he was looking for – a large cardboard shoebox that he had been keeping under his bed. Up until now, he had no idea why he had been keeping that box. Frank typically abhorred clutter, and consequently his living quarters were quite sparse of anything beyond basic furniture. Boxes and bags and other types of unnecessary items were almost always immediately disposed of in the garbage dumpsters downstairs. Three months ago, however, he had been given a gift of a new pair of boots housed within that box, and for the strangest reason (one which he could not comprehend at the time) he had felt compelled to keep that specific box.Now he grabbed it, also reaching into a nearby dresser drawer to grab an old towel that he had little use for and could do without. Placing the towel into the box and tightly securing the lid, he put it under his arm and, for the second time that day, exited the apartment.Racing back to the site of the wounded squirrel, Frank saw that the thing had calmed down. The erratic movements that had dominated it during Frank’s first visit had seemingly passed, and now the a****l lay quiet and unmoving. Fearing that it may have died, he crept as close to the creature as his instinct told him was safe, unsure if it might be suddenly aroused and turn on him rabidly. But as Frank knelt closer, these fears of attack were assuaged. The blood that had before been patchy on the snow was now beginning to pool in a deep groove, melting the snow beneath it despite the cold air. After Frank had left the scene earlier, the unnamed inner strength that keeps life afloat in times of duress, the will to survive possessed in all forms of life, had finally given up any hope of saving the squirrel. What consequently occurred was that the wound had become widened to the point where the creature’s cells could no longer fight it, and as the little squirrel’s life force began to ebb from its damaged tail, loss of blood quickly ended that life. Though Frank possessed no medical training whatsoever, he somehow knew what had happened, and was forced to abandon his previous plan at saving the squirrel (how he had intended to do so was still unclear to him, but the point was now moot). Wrapping the towel around his left hand and placing the shoebox in his right, he very gingerly guided the now deceased a****l into the box. Once inside, he unwrapped the towel from his hand and used it to cover the body. He then placed the lid on the box and looked around vaguely. As a tear slowly exited his left eye and slid down his cheek before turning quickly to ice, he wondered what to do next. Frank had supposed he should bury the squirrel, but how exactly he was going to go about that in the dead of winter without a shovel was a problem he was not ready to face. Therefore, realizing how late he already was in completing the original mission that he set out upon this morning, he decided he would take the box down to the lake, walk out a few hundred feet on the pier, and give the a****l a final resting place in the water. Thoughts of mistreatment flooded his mind in a way that the box would soon be flooded, but he seemed to have no other choice, and more pressing matters were at hand. And so, despite a nagging doubt inside of his gut, he walked the few blocks to the beach and began the trek out upon the fatih escort pier. At this time of winter, no one came down there, and so he had no fear of being seen tossing what appeared to be just an old shoebox into the frigid water. After he passed the point of where the water was no longer frozen, he whispered a brief homage to this fallen creature and gently placed it into the water. Although it floated at first, Frank was quite certain that the water seeping into the holes in the side of the box would cause it to drench and ultimately sink into the icy liquid, allowing the squirrel to find peace amidst the dark depths.2.After the ordeal with the squirrel, Frank found his resolve had weakened and began to doubt his ability to complete the task he had initially set out to perform that morning. But, as with the squirrel, something inside him – not exactly a voice, rather a kind of spiritual epiphany unlike anything he had felt before – told him that he needed to push onward, despite his rising reservations. And so, after a moment’s hesitation, he headed back in the direction of the bus station, though this time he decided to take a different route. The second trip there was relatively uneventful compared to the first, though he did pass by a crazy old man who babbled something incoherent as he passed by, something that almost sounded like, “it’s purring and you scold it.” As he came to within sight of the small bus transfer station, he noticed the 38 bus rising up into the air as the hydraulic lift system was set into motion, signaling time of departure. As the bus began to slowly pull away, the distance that Frank would have to make up to flag it down was too great, and he knew that even a mad dash was futile. It was going to be another thirty minute wait.He sat down on the bus stop bench, and for a moment he absentmindedly reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a cigarette, forgetting that he had quit five months earlier. Looking around, he passed the time watching cars go by and various people, mostly quite ugly, meander down the sidewalk near him. Frank was used to waiting for things in life; waiting for moments and people and satisfaction – and so he was sitting there complacently as the 38 bus appeared once again.Sitting alone in the back of the bus, he was the only passenger and he stared out the windows not noticing the scenery. His mind was elsewhere, an elusive feeling seeming to creep on up on him from somewhere. He departed at his requested stop, and exited through the back door. Out on the concrete again, Frank really noticed for the first time the bitterness of the air that day. His nose was immediately plunged into a frost-ridden minutia of piercing knives. Putting his head down, he started off in the direction in which he needed to go, the wind biting his downcast cheeks with a rude regularity. His stomach was beginning to churn a bit, though he had not eaten in more than thirty-six hours.Though it lasted only about fifteen minutes, the walk seemed to Frank to be an eternity. Thoughts raced through his mind like horses around the quarter mile track; thoughts he had hoped to banish before he heard the news last night. But, finally, he rounded the last street corner and saw the large eight-story building. It was old-fashioned, built from brick and stone, with many large, almost green-tinted windows that were shuttered with pure white d****s. On top of the building, a large cross soared into the sky like a medieval golden spire. In the distance, he could hear a few sirens wailing their tortured screams. The parking lot was full of cars, and as he approached he could read the block lettering on a large sign outside one of the few modern adjustments to the building, an automatic sliding door. The sign read: “St. Christopher Community Hospital.”3.As Frank entered the sliding doors, that stale hospital smell immediately penetrated his now-red nose and permeated every pore in his icy-cold skin. That smell of sickness and attempts at curing it, that smell of gauze and pills and medication, that smell of overpriced balloons and flowers and cafeteria food, that smell of dirty doctors and clean smocks, that smell of death, decay and rejuvenation. It was all he could do to keep himself from keeling over right there.Mustering up all his strength, he head for the elevators. He pushed the down button and waited a few moments. No bells rang, nothing seemed to move. With a shrug he caught a glimpse of the stairway and turned towards that instead. Pushing open the brown door, he walked through the arch and took a step down, then another step, then another. Then he stopped. For a moment he was forced to brace himself against the rail to keep from falling. Regaining his composure, he berated his legs silently and urged them to carry him onwards. Though each new step was a miracle, he finally made it to the lower level and stopped.Looking up, he saw a sign on the wall straight ahead of him – “< Restroom Morgue >” Turning on his heel, he shuffled to the left and pushed open the door to the unisex restroom. Once inside, he clicked the lock and took off his jacket, hanging it on the provided hook. He did not remove his cap. With a deep breath, he knelt down in front of the toilet and, his head hovering over the clean white bowl, vomited. Where the bile came from was a mystery. There seemed to be nothing in his stomach, and yet each time he thought he was done, another spasm overtook him. When finally, after many minutes, the last of it had exited his mouth, he stood up and headed to the sink. After washing his hands, he cupped some water to his mouth to wash out the abhorrent taste, carefully and intentionally avoiding his gaze in the clear, spotless mirror perched before him. Then he dried his hands on his shirt, put his jacket back on and opened the door.Once more out in the hallway, he started back the way he had come, and for a moment he stopped at the stairwell. But it was only a moment. He continued forward, past the sign. About fifty feet down the cold, sterile, yellow hallway he came to a sliding glass window next to a set arnavutköy escort of double steel doors. The window was closed shut, but he saw what appeared to be doorbell-like button on the wall to his side. Peering in with squinting eyes, he could see nothing, so he firmly pushed the button. A loud buzzer sounded once, like a beehive exploding. Within moments, a tall man in a white lab coat appeared, sliding open the glass window.“May I help you, sir?” he asked.“I’m Gladstone. Frank Gladstone. I’m here to see Morganson.”“Yes, Mr. Gladstone, thank you. I’m Dr. Morganson. One moment please.”The double steel doors opened and Morganson appeared, beckoning to Frank to follow him. “This way please.”They entered a large, barren room filled only with a few metal tables covered in clean white sheets of some kind. The walls were lined with a matrix-like series of square, steel doors that Frank could only assume were housed with the bodies of deceased individuals.Morganson led Frank through this room and they came to a yellow, swing-open door reminiscent of the kind you would find at the entrance to a restaurant kitchen. “Mr. Gladstone,” the doctor began with a voice that was obviously attempting to sound gentle but had said similar words thousands of times before and had become somewhat estranged and empty, “I know this will be hard for you, and I apologize that I was forced to ask you to do this. But we were unable to locate her only next of kin, and a note was found in her pocket that had your name and information on it. If you would like the note, we can relinquish it to you once the police have finished with it.”“No, I don’t want it. Let’s just get through with this Morganson.”He pushed open the door and motioned Frank inside. Frank hesitated for just a moment, gathering up all the courage he could find within his soul. Then, though slowly, he entered the room.4.It was a small room and it smelled of death. The only item in the room was a metal table, similar to those in the larger room outside. On this table, however, a body lay. The body had been placed inside of a large vinyl bag, and the bag had been zipped shut. Moving forward towards the body, Morganson said, “we’ve already discussed all the details so I will spare you any more explanations. Please just let us know if you recognize her.” And with that, he unzipped the bag.A small, pale face appeared, eyes shut with pink lips pressed together in what could almost be construed as a smile. Falling down from that face was a tangle of light-red hair, pinned back behind the head and shoulders. Without so much as a thought or show of emotion, Frank whispered, almost inaudibly, “That’s her. That’s Sally. Anything else?” “No, thank you, sir,” Morganson replied somberly.And with that Frank turned and stalked out of the room.5.Eight months earlier, Frank had been in a diner. There were no tables available and all the booths were filled, so he took an open seat at the counter next to a young, red-haired girl. He wasn’t too hungry, but he was hoping a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup might perk up his spirits a bit. The waitress came by and said, “what’ll ya have?” “A cup of coffee, and…,” he looked up to see the chalkboard that listed that day’s soups, “a cup of broccoli potato soup.” “Cream with that, honey?” “No, black.”“Black coffee and broccoli potato soup, huh?” the red-haired girl said from her stool next to him.“Yea.”“You ordered the same thing I did,” she smiled. And as she turned towards him, a tiny gasp escaped Frank’s lips, though the noise in the crowded diner effectively silenced it.He was awestruck, as if a bolt of lightning had struck him full force in the chest, and zapped him right through his skin and into his now rapidly beating heart. The face that turned towards him was like something out of a dream. By brown eyes that seemed like deep pools of sorrow. A button nose above pink lips, pouty but not too full. Soft amber cheeks that he longed to reach out and gently caress. And all of it framed by the most beautiful, flowing light-red hair, like a river of newly lit flame.As he turned away to keep from suffocating himself, he noticed a book laying next to her empty cup of soup. “Hunger” by Knut Hamsun. Amazed, he neglected all of his instincts, all of his doubts, all of the prior apprehension and fear and self-consciousness that had kept him alone for so many years, and he began to speak to her. He couldn’t quite remember exactly what they spoke about (even later that night as he sat in bed), but their conversation continued on after they left the diner together and walked down the street on that warm June day. “I’m Sally, by the way.” “Frank.” “So nice to meet you Frank.”As the weeks and months carried on, the two of them found each other’s company to be exactly what they had both needed and had been searching for what seemed like ages. Whatever drew them together is not explicitly important; the important thing was that, for once, they were both happy, content with each other’s company. And though their relationship never became physical in any manner (much to the chagrin of Frank, though he stoically accepted it because all he really wanted was to be able to see her), they formed a connection that neither of them could deny.But all of that was bound to change, as do all things. And change it did. Six months after they met, Frank began to wonder why Sally would never allow him to see her house, and why she had to devote certain times of certain days for their time together; she never seemed to be able to just “up and go” as it were. He began to press her about it, and one evening, after they had shared a few shots of whiskey together (a drink they both adored), Sally finally came clean.The words that were said are not important, and need not be related here. Suffice to say, the truth of Sally’s life was finally brought to light. She was married. Married to a man whom she had once deeply loved, but after three years that love had either died, or had gone missing like a g**** that rolls under the refrigerator and try as you might, even on hands and knees with a flashlight, bağcılar escort you simply cannot find it again, despite the fact that you saw exactly where it went and you know it couldn’t have gone far.The news hit Frank hard, like a brick in the stomach, but a firm resolve inside of him, and the fact that their relationship had not been sexually intimate anyways, allowed him to take that news with an air of reluctant acceptance. Sally, however, was not so optimistic. She informed Frank that her husband had come to realize what had been going on between them, though his idea had mutated into something far from the truth. The husband had assumed that they were having an affair, and had threatened to leave her. Though she had vehemently denied that accusation (honestly), he did not care to listen to reason.Frank immediately offered to leave, not only the room (although it was his apartment), but her life completely. And he probably would have too, had Sally not pleaded with him. “It will be OK, Frank. We’ll work this out. We’re just friends, and he has no right to say who I can or can’t be friends with.”After a long discussion, they decided they would spend less time together, but not completely sever their ties. And for a while, it worked. The husband seemed satisfied, and Frank and Sally were still able to enjoy a few moments a week together. Arrangements like that, though, just don’t seem to last.6.Nine days before her death, Sally called Frank and told him the news. Her husband had gotten drunk on a bottle of vodka, found her cell phone and saw Frank’s name in the recent call list. Livid, he had berated her and stalked off, getting into his car and driving away. The next day, he called her from a motel fifty miles away, and told her, sternly, that she either stop seeing Frank and move away with him, or their marriage was over. It was a hard decision, and Sally struggled with it for a couple days.Then, four days after her husband had left, she made up her mind. Dialing a number on her phone, she haltingly spoke four brief words – “I’m sorry, it’s over.”When Frank heard the news, he was all at once confused, shocked, and elated. That she had chosen him was a surprise, not so much to his heart, but to his brain. That first night together was like something out of a movie, and as they lay there in each other’s arms for the first time, they were both lost inside one of those eternal moments.But the next day everything changed for Frank. Something inside of him told him that what was happening was wrong. A feeling of guilt like nothing he had ever experienced before cascaded down upon him in a tumult of emotion. He had ruined a life, maybe more than one; for what did he have to offer to such a divine and wonderful and majestic woman as Sally? He knew, that morning, waking up beside her and seeing her peaceful, sleeping face, her lips pursed into an angel’s smile, that he could not go through with it.After Sally was awake and dressed, they sat together at the breakfast table in her house and had a cup of coffee. With his hands shaking uncontrollably, Frank told her. He told her that it didn’t matter how he felt, that it didn’t matter what they had developed together, that nothing mattered except for the fact that he had taken her away from a man who had loved her first, a man she had promised herself to in marriage. He told her that he didn’t see any way in which he could live with that knowledge. And before she could respond, he gently kissed her forehead, caressed her cheek one last time, and walked out the door. It was the last time he ever saw her alive.Over the next two days, they spoke on the phone, but Frank steadfastly refused to see her. Though she begged at first, he noticed that his cold logic seemed to finally seep into her, and eight days after he had left, she informed Frank that she was going back to her husband. It was the last night that Sally would see upon this earth with waking eyes. She ate a bottle of some unnamed pills the next afternoon, and two nights later was found dead in her home when a neighbor noticed that the lights had been left on for an inordinately long amount of time.7.As Frank exited the sliding doors of the hospital, he was overcome with a grief so strong that he could not hold back the tears. They streamed down his face, forming tiny icicles on his cheeks. Walking blindly, he reached the sidewalk and had no clear idea of where he was going or what he was doing. He couldn’t recall anything about himself or about life, he couldn’t recall anything at all except that first magical moment, that first encounter in the diner when his lonely eyes saw Sally for the first time.As he stumbled along, he came to an intersection, and looked up. He saw a small cat sitting there in the middle of the street. It seemed satisfied in its position, and showed no desire whatsoever to move. Then Frank heard a loud blaring coming closer, the blare of subwoofers and loud bass music. As he turned his head left, he saw a car heading towards him, and towards the cat sitting there in the street. Even at this distance, Frank could see that the driver was nothing more than a k**, barely able to see over the dash, speeding along without seeming to take any notice of his surroundings. Instinctively and without logical thought, Frank dashed out into the street and quickly knelt down, which reduced his height considerably and made him invisible to a driver whose eyes are almost level with the dashboard. He grabbed the cat and threw it as hard and as far as he could, hoping as he did so that the old adage that cats always landed on their feet was true.Well, it was true, as Frank saw. But it wasn’t what he saw that suddenly struck him. It was what he heard. In his effort to save the cat, he had completely forgotten what he was saving it from. And as the sound of bass blaring and pumping, as if a concert speaker were right next to his ear, hit him, something else hit him as well. The speeding car struck Frank squarely in the abdomen, and being crouched down as he was, his center of gravity was positioned in such a way that it was impossible for him to ricochet off the bumper – the car simply ran right over him. Frank died there immediately, in the middle of that street, less than one hundred yards from where lay the dead body of the only woman he had ever loved.The universe, it seems, strives to deliver the constant message that karmic retribution is an undeniable truth, regardless of circumstance.

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