The Homecoming – 2/2

The train that had dropped him at his hometown was long gone, but Lou was still standing in the station. His emotions were a medley of guilt, regret, longing, and enthusiasm. His fantasy of his return tricked him into believing that it would be a treat. Never once did his restiveness allow him to question the sanctity of it. Had he been more apprehensive, he would’ve been more prepared.

But he mustered the courage to go on. He stepped out of the station and decided to walk home. He wanted to look for familiar faces on the way and surprise them. As he walked more into the city, he noticed that many changes had taken place since he had left, but the town still seemed to carry a dreary, rustic spirit.

He was now keenly looking for anyone familiar, when his watchful gaze fell upon a damp alley towards his right. He only looked for a second, but that was enough to notice 3 hipsters lunging a knife at a terrified, puny man who probably refused to “co-operate”. He was petrified, but he quickly walked along, hoping that they didn’t notice him. Lou was now rambling. Nothing had changed. Mentally, he was taken back 20 years, to that horrible night in the market.

He was desperately trying to shake it off but it had caught him like a leech. He had assumed that he was inured to such atrocities, but how foolish of him to think that fleeing from them was the solution. Although, he was at least handling it better than the last time, given that now he was still in town. He continued on his aimless stroll, and a while later saw the vast corn fields. They only reminded him of how naive he had been. The carelessness, the insouciance, the countless hours spent being chased by the poor old farmer left him feeling ashamed.

He hoped his naivety could be forgiven and moved on. Heavy-hearted, he continued. Pensive and sad. A few lazy strides later, he was standing before Aunt Maira’s store. He entered hesitantly, like he did years ago when he knew he was going to be reprimanded. He walked inside, and greeted the wizened woman behind the counter. Aunt Maira recognized him instantly and was elated to see him return, but sadly, Lou couldn’t reciprocate. The apparent indifference confounded him but he could quickly discern why.

After seeing her, he was pricked by a sense of guilt. The woman had always tried to correct him, but all he ever did was wait for the candy. It gave him a niggling feeling now and he was desperate for some respite. He consoled his teary aunt and promised he would come to visit her again. He stepped outside and took a deep breath. He tried to collect his thoughts and calm his nerves. There was one final stop before he would go home to his mother and that spot was his “Happy Place”. He turned to the alley which was between her aunt’s store and the local grocery store. And once again he was inundated with memories of his past.

He playing with the toys, alone; Role-Playing games in which he was always the brave warrior whom everyone loved; Hiding from all the other boys; Making it his safe haven. He pitied himself. He hated himself for being a coward. For having a “happy” time by living in pretense. For never standing up to anyone. For running away.

It was all too much for him. It was not the welcome he had hoped for. Every dear memory of his had started to turn bitter, and by now he was starting to wonder if trying to relive them was a bad idea. Maybe sealing them away in the depths of his mind, unexplored and pristine, would’ve at least kept him happy. But unfortunately, he didn’t realize that he would then only be using a new pretense to shroud the old one.

He headed back to his home, shaking his head and cursing along the way. He was frustrated that the city hadn’t at all changed. And he was right. Everything was the same, only, he wasn’t.

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The Journal of Catharsis

17th October, 2015

Today’s entry is going to be intriguing.

It was an unusually pleasant morning. Mornings should never be that perfect, cause something bad always ensues. That is nature’s karma I guess.

I was on my way to the comic book store to collect the latest issue of “Flash”. I reach a junction few blocks away from the store and wait for the pedestrian sign to turn green.

I catch a whiff of strong cologne and turn my head to notice a dapper young man standing right next to me. He notices me too. Then gives me a cordial smile and a gentle pat on the head.

I return the smile but was too short for the pat. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try, even so, if I said he didn’t laugh. But he was chivalrous enough to bend for me and then came the pleasantries.

His name was ‘Carl’. From our short encounter, I felt he was both benign and endearing.

Just when I was about to tell him that I was on my way to the comic book store, a jet-black Cadillac with tinted windows pulled up in front of us.

Continue reading

One Last Time – Part 1/3

The bartender’s eyes widen. He shakes the shock off and retakes her order. “Please excuse me. I was stunned by what I saw”, he explains. She quietly blushes. He quickly prepares her drink. He offers it with a straw, and winks. A smirk that he makes no effort to hide.

 

Stella feels glad about being at the place and finds a quite table in the almost empty bar. Her husband is off to work and she’s here to relish a piece of solitude from her “me-time”. She’s been having a lot of “me-time” these days and that keeps her worried.

 

For what happened the last few times, still haunts her with guilt. Feelings of regret and remorse have etched into her heart. And she’s here to finish it off once and for all. One last time she’ll be indulging in the sin. She can’t do this to her marriage. She can’t do it to Harry. That’s why she has made up her mind to put an end to it, but her lust craves for one last time. “One last time” she repeats to herself. And takes a deep breath.

 

Feelings of guilt are quickly pushed aside when a loud group of hillbilly motorists, sitting at a table in a corner far away, can’t take their eyes off of her. They occasionally steal glances and laugh. One of them makes an obvious joke and they all burst into laughter. One of them whistles too. She hears the words: “fine”, “looks as sweet as sugar” and “what a shame!”. She feels quite flattered, quite glad she’s here. “I brought my ‘A game’ tonight”, she smugly smiles.

 

She visits a different bar each time and now she was worried if she gave her partner-in-crime the address right. What’s taking him so long? . Meanwhile she orders a hamburger and basket of fries. The waiter doesn’t make eye contact while he takes the order. He barely takes his eyes off the notepad. As if he’s afraid of revealing something. As if he’s quietly blushing. It adds to her complacence. “What a great start to a great end!”.

 

She starts to feel bored and frankly, a little dizzy. Something didn’t feel right and she didn’t know what. She was about to find out.

 

She gets up from her table and heads to the washroom, hoping that a face wash can set it right. She stops before a room while on her way, for she hears giggles and laughter coming from inside. Out of curiosity, she reaches for the door knob. The anxious bartender screams from behind, but it was too late.