So instead of doing a post about a job I’ve had (and there are still so many to go!), my family, a poem or our cat, I’ll do two unusual things. Update you on my MUSIC. And post a short story. A really short story. Not even the best of my dabblings so far but for some reason I feel compelled to unleash it on you. So the music update is: I’m performing solo stuff despite myself. I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome friends invite me to play so here are the next two shows: This Saturday, Sept 8, I’ll be playing a double bill with the golden-throated Tracy Shedd at Dry River Pizza. Then September 22nd I’ll be on a great bill of singer/songwriters for the CD Release Party of uber-sassy-yet-soulful-babe, Vanessa Lundon at Borderlands Brewery! Jamie will be playing bass with me which makes it extra special so I hope you can make it.
Now for the story. I wrote this in response to some online writing challenge about basing a story on something that happened to you. The original story is quite different but this is what the Muse turned it into.
She was late. It wouldn’t matter what she told the instructor, Mr Bennett was anal about punctuation and would gleefully expel her from the acting studio altogether if she walked on stage even one minute past the hour. There were plenty of aspiring actors-to-be who weren’t burdened with Southern accents just drooling to take her place. Luckily there weren’t too many other people traveling the sidewalks of the West Village. Wanda had only been in New York for a few months but had already increased her walking speed threefold since riding in from Macon, Georgia. If she just focused really hard, she could probably still make it.
She was just passing Jane Street, bushy brown hair streaming behind, her boots stirring through the red and gold maple leaves at an impressively rapid clip, when she heard a muffled cry. Wanda had also picked up the New York tendency to ignore other human beings in her path. But she couldn’t resist peering out of the corner of her eye. Her pace slowed to a standstill.
Out of all the possible people walking through that neighborhood at that exact time, it was one of her few new friends, Cindy, leaning against a wrought iron gate in front of a brownstone stoop. Just a little thing, the blonde Minnesotan usually passed as a teenager. Now she was breathing heavily and leaning to one side, like the other leg hurt her, looking more like a slightly crumpled doll. “Sorry, Mr. Bennett” Wanda said silently to herself as she rushed to Cindy’s side.
“What happened, you okay?” Cindy’s face flushed with relief when she saw her friend.
“Oh, I’m okay, but that asshole totally slammed into me.”
The color started rising in Wanda’s cheeks. “What asshole?”
Cindy looked behind her, over her left shoulder, “That jerky hip-hop wannabe in the red jacket at the bus stop. I don’t know what the hell his deal was. I just happened to look at him as I passed by and he practically tackled me against the wall! Banged up my leg good. Wait, where you going?”
Wanda didn’t know, she wasn’t even thinking anything in particular. But the thought of some big bully hurting a sweet young girl like Cindy tapped into some ancient beast sleeping deep inside her stomach. It was strangely exhilarating.
“Wanda!” hissed a frightened Cindy, “Come back, it’s not worth it! I’m ok!”
But Wanda didn’t hear her, she just headed straight for the lanky, sneering guy with the buzz cut who stood a good foot taller. Jesus, she thought, he even *looks* like an asshole. As Wanda barreled towards him, the asshole looked at her like she was a crazy bag lady coming to harass him about the Mothership.
Wanda started calmly, “My friend says you pushed her.” Asshole’s sneer widened. “Yeah. And what are you going to do about it, Hee Haw?”
She stepped right up to Asshole’s face and stuck her hand in her shoulder bag. Staring straight into his gray eyes, with iced steel in her voice, she hissed “If you ever so much as look at her again, I’m gonna follow you through all yer sleazy little crawling around town. And when yer having a smoke or taking a leak in some alley or trying to date rape some kid in the bushes, I’m gonna take my little pistol here and shoot you right in the balls.”
Asshole’s sneer lowered and his eyes glazed over a bit. “Aw hell, you wouldn’t have the guts…” though his voice faltered towards the end.
Wanda’s hand made a sudden movement in her bag that made an audible click. She got even closer to Asshole, enough to smell his fetid smoker’s breath, enough for him to notice the rigid tent poking out of the side of her purse, pointing right at his groin. Her eyes never released their grip – like a force field he was drawn into her stare.
“Really? Wanna find out? C’mon, let’s find out.” A slow chilling smile spread across her face as her brown eyes lit up with a red, flickering fire.
This time, Asshole’s sneer disappeared completely as his freckles stood out on his suddenly pale skin. He started backing away, all thoughts of the Express out of his mind. “You crazy, lady,” was his final response as he slunk away and around the corner, looking for easier game.
Wanda’s breath started heaving and she whipped around when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She was met by Cindy’s shocked expression.
“What the hell were you thinking? You don’t know who anybody is here, he could have been a real gangster or something!”
Wanda’s vision started to blur as she did indeed start thinking of what she’d done. Had she really just threatened a total stranger with a gun?
Then Cindy started smiling “But WOW that was so badass! You were totally Dirty Harriett for a second there. I never knew you carried a gun.”
Wanda looked down at her bag and chuckled through her breathing, “I don’t.” She pulled out a Bic lighter, in cheery cherry red. “I’ve had this dead lighter in here for ages. I keep meaning to chuck it but I always forget.”
Cindy stared at Wanda. Then they both started laughing hysterically, leaning against each other while the bored eyes of their fellow New Yorkers slid past .
“Honey, I don’t care what plans you had, I’m taking you out for a drink right now!” Cindy grabbed Wanda’s arm and steered her in the direction of the White Horse Tavern.
Oh well, Mr Bennett, Wanda thought, Screw you, I just gave the performance of my life!