the unexpected rain storm sent the intruders inside. but as soon as they got in, they scampered, surprised at the trap they willingly stepped into. some tried to leave through the large opening, others fell into the puddles that had begun to seep at one end of the room. they marched back and forth. the water would kill them, if not the cinnamon powder that had been sprinkled all over the floor.
And really, she hasn't. She still sports the same bobbed hair with a little bow pin on the right side just above her ear. Her skin looks radiant and smooth, and as I had always wanted to do in high school when we were friends, I want to caress her face. Which of course I wouldn't do lest I merit a slap in the face, or worse an assault charge. Like Thomas O'Leary in high school, but that is another story.
So there I am standing in front of Clarissa in the men's underwear section at Sears, staring at Clarissa's beautiful brown eyes, the perfectly shaped nose, and the small mouth that the boys adored back in high school.
Clarissa, however, stares at me with an annoyed yet inquiring look. Finally, she says, "I'm sorry, I don't think I know you, mister." She puts back the pack of Hines boxer briefs on the shelf.
"St. Mary's High School, 1978." I say.
"But you couldn't have gone there," she says. "It's an all-girls school!"
"No! No," I say. "I went to St. Patrick, but we used to hang around at Edna Ramos' house after school. Do you still remember Oscar Sanchez, her cousin? Rollie San Juan? Imelda Ramirez? Tommy O'Leary? I'm Jesse Jurado."
She flicks her eyelashes as I mention the names. She starts to smile.
"Yes," she says, "the names sound quite familiar. And you..."
"I drove the white Volkswagen Beetle of my parents, remember?" I unintentionally cut her off in my desire for her to remember me.
Her face suddenly turns red and the smile disappears. Her eyes dart around the shelves. I realize that I sort of boxed her in and she has nowhere to pass except if she pushes me. I smile at the way she furrows her brows, just like she used to do back in high school.
"I"m sorry," she says abruptly. "I don't remember you. Please let me pass."
I step aside and she scurries away. I stand there holding my business card which I have fished out of my jacket to give her so we could connect later. I guess that is not happening now.
Then as I walk around the store, hoping I'd see her again, a memory clicks in my brain.
1978. The lovely Clarissa demurely sat at the iron lawn chair outside Edna's door, wearing a pink dress with gold buttons and tiny chains in front, her stockinged legs crossed and her beautiful hands resting on top of her knee clasping a little handbag. Tommy, Rollie and I elbowed each other. "Friends," I declared, "I drive, she's mine!" Tommy and Rollie groaned. Imelda didn't look bad, but Edna, well, she's like a sister to us (that means she's fat and ugly and we wouldn't touch her with a ten foot pole. But she is nice and a lot of the pretty girls hang around her house).
Edna's cousin Oscar and his girlfriend Susie came and eight people cramped inside my VW Beetle. Yes, eight! You'd think it's not possible, but it was. In fact, to our surprise, Edna decided to bring an extra body, Jimmy, the pimpled guy up her street with whom she had a crush. Hah! So nine of us cramped into that good old Beetle and off I drove to the theatre. Clarissa sat on Imelda's lap. During a brief lull in our conversation, I thought I heard a growl, much like the sound a stomach made when you ate something bad. The sound definitely came from behind. Suddenly, a little girl holding a basket of puppies darted across the street, right in front of the Beetle. Screeeeechhhhh!
The Beetle came to such an abrupt halt that everyone screamed!
"What the heck happened?"
"Jesse, you idiot, what are you doing!"
As I tried to explain to the other eight what just happened, the smell of something really bad wafted around the cramped car. Someone accidentally let go of a big one. Everyone was screaming for me to open the window, or to pull over so they can all get off, or asking who the asshole was.
"Fuck you, Rollie!" screamed Tommy O'Leary.
Rollie San Juan screamed back: "That wasn't me, you dickhead!"
"Then who was it!!!" Imelda and Susie screamed.
"Oscar, you shit, don't embarrass me with my friends!" Edna yelled.
And a chorus of "That wasn't me, you idiots!" filled the car along with the obnoxious smell of sulphur.
Then we noticed that tears were streaming down the lovely Clarissa's face.
Imelda screamed when she realized what happened: Clarissa didn't just let go of a big one, it was a huge one and something came out with it.
The suspect sits quietly on the chair, swings his feet, fidgets with his fingers, looks around the room. He makes faces at the mirror, unknowing that he is being observed. Detective Mike could not believe his eyes. Not only does this suspect look innocent: he has to be innocent.
When Det. Mike opens the door and enters the interview room, the suspect jumps from his chair, stands and bows at the detective, smiling.
"Good morning," the suspect says.
"How are you feeling today?" asks Det. Mike.
"Uhm, I'm okay, how about you?"
"I'm fine. Do you know why you are here?"
"Yes, I do. Kind of... Yes."
Det. Mike motions for him to sit down and he obeys.
"So, what happened?"
He didn't answer.
"Did you have any bad dreams?"
"No," he says, rubbing his thumbs together. "No, I don't have dreams."
"You don't dream when you sleep?"
"No, I don't dream anymore. I don't have anymore dreams."
Silence. Det. Mike scribbles on his note.
"They're dead," the suspect says. "My dreams, they're dead."
"Yes, they killed my dreams." His eyes start to redden and Det. Mike knows the suspect is trying to suppress his tears.
"Who killed your dreams?" he asks him.
"My mom..." his voice trails. Tears roll down his cheeks. "And my dad."
"They told me lies," he sobs, softly at first. "They said the separation was just for two months. Then we'd all be together again." He starts to catch his breath. "But it was all lies."
"I was going to kill myself, but she tried to stop me. My mom." He wipes the tears off his cheek with the back of his hand, but the tears kept falling. "It was an accident. I was going to kill myself, not her!"
"Why do you want to kill yourself?"
"I don't know....I don't want to live anymore. I'm tired of my life!"
"You're tired of your life? How old are you?" Det. Mike asks.
"I'm eight and a-half," the boy answers, still sobbing.
Here we stand before God as we are about to take our vows, that you and I shall be one from now until forever. As we embark on this long journey together, as we fulfill our dreams, our promises, here, I give myself to you, and you to me.
No more running after emotions lost, no more chasing unfulfilled dreams, for I have found you; you are here, and i am.
Karina walks briskly towards the bus stop. She has seen the blue lights of the oncoming bus from five blocks away and she knows if she walks fast enough she would get to the stop exactly when the bus arrives. Her shift starts in half an hour and catching this bus gives her ample time to re-do her makeup. That is the plan.
She tries to ignore the large neon green poster on the window: SALE! ALL ITEMS UP TO 70% OFF!
Right in the middle of the display window, on a lucite shelf, the gold, four-inch heeled gladiator shoes, adorned with one single glimmering rhinestone at each ankle, seem to beckon her. She has seen that pair many times on Aldo's website, but the $250 price tag seems a bit much.
Ah, the bus. It seems it is stuck in there. She sees the flashing lights of a police car, no, make that two. Shit! There must be an accident then the bus is really stuck.
The sunlight makes the rhinestone on the gold gladiator shoes sparkle, a sparkle that seems to beckon her to go inside the store.
I will just ask for the price. I'm sure it's still expensive. The thought runs through her head. Another look at the bus from five blocks away. There are more flashing lights.
She pushes the door and enters the store. She goes straight to the shelf where the glads are on display. My shoes.
Karina takes the left shoe, examines it in her hand, touches the rhinestone, then looks at the bottom for the price. Nothing. Slowly she puts the left shoe back and takes the right pair. Her heart races: Nothing!
"May I help you?"
An old gentleman wearing a heavy woolen suit, inspite of the heat inside the store, stands behind her. He smiles at her. "Would you like to try them on, Miss?" he asks.
She looks at the size and her heart beats faster: Size seven, her size.
"No," she says. "Just want to ask, how much they are. There's no price tag." She replaces the shoe on the shelf.
"One hundred forty-five," the gentleman says. "If you pay cash, I'll waive the taxes." He hesitates, looks towards the back, at nothing, really. "It's our last pair."
Karina sees that there are more people now waiting for the bus. She makes some mental calculations in her mind then opens her purse. She takes out her wallet and then her debit card. The rent is due tomorrow, but the children's government allowance will go through today. She can afford the hundred forty-five.
"I'll take it," she says as she hands him her debit card.
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entries labeled "fiction" or "short stories" are just that: short story fiction; products of this writer's wild and warped imagination. any similarities to actual events, places, or people, dead or living, are purely coincidental.