Victim, Survivor, Saint
A Short story
By Gerry Merritt
The Lunch Break
Literature & Art
“We have found
…a way out
…We see it work
…more will be
NA Basic Text
Walking In The Parking Lot
The Suburban - Model
Paul entered the field of battle completely equipped for a task he was totally unprepared for. In the course of his training he encountered various kinds of people whose attitudes ranged from peaceful co-existence to a manic desire to rage against the machine. It was as Paul came to believe, his objective to retain his sanity and his life.
“Wonderful day for a tragedy, Paul,” his co-conspirator Allen quipped as they meandered through the smoking ruins of a place no-one had ever heard of. Paul and Allen quickly agreed that they should get out of there as fast as feet could carry them.
Walking and then trotting and then running up the hills and down the lanes of this foreign land, Paul thought about Susan and his family back home in the heartland. They’d be cooking breakfast this morning: hot cereal, scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon, just the way they all liked it. It was a shame that he couldn’t talk to them about all of this, but he would soon enough.
Allen pulled smokes out from his jacket pocket; offered one to Paul, who took it from a black, dirt caked hand.
“Thanks, Al.” Paul nodded, inserting the smoke into his blood stained lips, igniting it with the silver butane lighter he’s taken from a dearly departed soul a few days past.
“It too bad we can’t go back.” Allen said. “Ya know; I really miss those guys.”
“True,” Paul said. “We’ll never see them again.” They marched on, side by side, step by step.
Susan stood on the platform of the MBTA ferry, awaiting the arrival of her friend, Joyce. Susan and Joyce had know each other for many years and always found the time to share a few laughs and catch up on old times. Today’s meeting would be more than difficult.
The ferry arrived and as Susan watched, Joyce walked down the gangplank, striding up to her. They embraced as old friends would do and exchanged a few pleasantries. They made their way to Susan’s parked car and drove on to the restaurant that they had chosen.
“Such a long time it’s been, Sue.” Joyce said as she removed her coat and hat. She sat down at the table that was graced with a wide and open view of the harbor and the massive concrete city beyond. They both seemed relaxed and calm, even though it was a moment that belied those feelings.
“Yes, Joy, a long time, indeed,” Susan said. “I hope you where not inconvenienced by the short notice, but I thought that it would be best for us to meet right away.” Susan stood behind her chair and looked down on her friend, knowing that there was a time and a place for all things.
Joyce took in the view and sighed. Taking a sip of water she replaced the glass. “I received Paul’s letter,” Joyce began. She stopped for moment to regain her balance, “We had so many plans; so many dreams.”
Sunlight broke through the clouds covering the bay, striking the water with a clarity that mirrored the feelings shared by these two women trapped in the embrace of events that were out of their control.
Paul woke up to the smell of cordite, his face covered in dirt, his breathing compressed by weight on his chest, his eyes felt burnt, his whole body suffered with unnatural heat. He was wet and could just move his hands and arms. He began to wipe the mud from his face when he heard shouts and gun fire above his head.
“What happen, Al?” Paul whispered as quietly as he was able, “Where are we, damn it.”
Paul grunted as he tried to move his body around and free himself from this trap. The noise of approaching men, the orders being given, and the responses being made became oppressive.
“Where are you, Al?” Paul yelled out, “Where are you? Answer me. Answer me, god damn it.”
Paul gave up struggling for a moment, trying to gather his wits about him. What had just happened, he asked himself, where is Al, why doesn’t he say something. His thoughts focused: I must get free and find Al. I must, I must get out.
Paul was able to move his head and then his chest and he looked down on his legs. He remembered, he remembered; it came back to him in a rush. He remembered what he and Al were doing, they were running, running away from the explosions behind them, and then Al leapt at Paul. Paul remembered seeing Al in mid flight, his ragged body being flung at him as if by some terrible force.
Allen had yelled at him, “Get down, Paul, get down.” Paul then knew who had saved him..