Tuesday, May 15, 2012
...since the first of the year, I've been drumming on a project, something a bit different from the usual sports-themed, Mitch Albom type of stories that I most enjoy penning.
Some time ago, a critique partner suggested I consider writing a little something in the romance genre. I scoffed at the notion, considering my masculinity at stake.
"Okay, whatever," was her response. "But like it or not, you're a sensitive writer. I think you'd do well."
"Well, maybe," I grumbled, setting aside the idea for later consideration. "It'll leave me something to think about on a rainy day."
...that rainy day arrived, and from it, "The Fall" was born.
A month ago, give or take, I introduced Jessica. I do believe it's now Johnny's turn to say hello...
It's still in infancy, but regardless, feel free to offer your thoughts... ;)
A groan rises from his throat. It leaves his mouth only to be quashed by the sounds of impending road rage festering from either side.
How could this be happening? He absolutely had to be there by six. He'd promised.
The drone of a nearby horn, this one from a semi, returned his attention to the bedlam stretched out before him. Cars and trucks of various sizes, lined up and boxed in, clogging both lanes of the road, engines humming, others grumbling, a few elderly models spewing clouds of smog into the air.
And rising in the distance, ribbons of soot, like oily snakes, etching black creases through an otherwise cloudless afternoon.
Leaning out the window, Johnny figures the wreckage to be strewn about along the mouth of the Cooper River Bridge. Most likely sightseers, too busy admiring the massive structure to pay any attention to their neighboring driver. A common occurrence.
Johnny follows the trail of steel cables rising to a peak, eyes squinting against the sun's late day grin. Upon completion, the bridge had quickly become one of Charleston's most impressive attractions. An engineering masterpiece connecting the outside world with Battery Street, Fort Sumter, and the historic cobbled streets of the Old South.
For Johnny, the Cooper River Bridge stands for something else entirely. He chooses to avoid the route whenever possible. And when forced into crossing Cooper's irritable current, he never looks down.
The urge to offer another scowl at the clock proves too difficult to avoid.
A trio of digital numbers smile in return. 5:44.
His patience waning, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, Johnny spots an approaching patrolmen, weaving through the logjam on foot.
Noticeably overweight, the police officer shimmies and slides between plastic bumpers and vibrating tailpipes, at times rising on tip toe to avoid making contact with countless vehicles sweltering in the heat. He comes to a stop several car lengths from Johnny's late model four-door, arms spread, palms rising and falling in an attempt at quieting what had become a cursing ruckus.
"It's blocked both lanes, I'm afraid," the policeman explains, chest heaving as if recently taking part in the yearly 5K run. "Glass and wreckage scattered half way to Summerville. It's a mess, but if ya'll can remain patient, we'll get things squared away real soon."
A chorus of grumbling travelers prevents Johnny from hearing the one piece of information he'd been hoping for. Sensing the minutes slipping through his fingers, he lunges forward, narrowly missing the swing of a nearby fist, a man sending a roundhouse right through the air in frustration.
The aging cop ducks his shoulders as if fearing an assault. He turns, sees Johnny coming fast, and clutches the belt stretched across his waistband, fingers resting on the butt of his Taser.
Johnny skids to a stop, sensing the man's reluctance, and lifts both hands into the air. "Please sir, I just really need to know how long the clean-up's gonna take. I'm supposed to be somewhere."
Trails of perspiration drain from the officer's neck as if he were standing under a shower head. His cotton shirt, most likely white when he clocked in that morning, was now stained to a dingy gray. He exhales a sigh, realizing Johnny's intent, and runs a thick forearm over his scalp. Amid the chaos of screaming toddlers and flailing suits cursing into cell phones, the weary policeman studies the young man before him, considering his dilemma. Perhaps noticing the sincerity etched into his brow. Then he leans forward, a set of round shoulders slumping beneath the weight of moistened cotton and fatigue.
"I'm sorry, son. But unless you can run for it, you won't be gettin there anytime soon."
Johnny's gaze lowers to the pavement. He's about to turn back in the direction of his car, when he stops, repeating the cop's words under his breath. "Run for..."
The policeman again places his hands upon his hips. "You all right, son?"
Johnny opens his right hand, studying the car keys clutched inside. Then he turns to the officer, whose expression had grown to one of irritable curiosity.
"It's the beige Honda sitting behind that red pickup truck," he says.
Before the policeman can answer, Johnny swings his hand through the air as if waving farewell to a departing ship, his fingers releasing their hold on the keys. A flash of silver sails in an arc, over the roof of an idling Toyota. They bounce off the cop's belly, and offer a jingle as they fall to the pavement...
Thanks for reading ;)