International Writers Magazine: Street Fiction
God have shed a tear when Lucifer fell from Heaven? God must have
understood what he was doing when he created free will, even if
those with that would turn him. Certainly He must have; He created
Lucifer. He would not have made something if it has the opportunity
to go against His power.
smoldered with carbon dioxide as traffic staggered to a standstill in
the late October afternoon. Businessmen and women fought for and flagged
taxis as the Red and Brownlines of Chicagos Loop packed passengers
into windowed tins. Life traveled fast in those blocks. Big city commerce
had an ardor for speeding and tourists were usually at risk of verbal
beatings if they trolled in one place for too long of time.
Those who dared drove their BMWs and Audis to and from work, feeling
secure and narcissistic in their luxury automobiles. The trek was time-consuming,
but not having to deal with the riff-raff of the inner city and their
electric seat warming, leather-matted seats provided them with gratifying
self-satisfaction. Brian Cranston didnt need a Pakistanis
cab to smell up his $2200 suit or some junkie to vomit on his wing tips.
Traffic gave him slight headaches, but it was well worth it to listen
to the banter of sports-talk radio and the stop and go commute rather
than to dwell with the less-than-common folk.
As he sat at a red light, the interior of his pocket began to vibrate.
Cranston groaned. He knew what this call was going to be about and struggled
on whether to answer. It was his wife, wondering why he wasnt
home yet. His place was less than an hours walk, much less drive,
away. Her routine was being threatened by his unpunctuality. He had
stayed later than usual at the firm, mostly flirting with one of the
new interns. Her name was Jennifer and her hair smelled of baby powder.
She was single and seemed vivacious but nothing had yet panned out.
There was, still, quite a long time until the company Christmas party.
She reminded Brian of a stripper he once dated while in college except
her legs were going to be harder to open he expected.
"Hello. Hey, hon
what? No Dolores. The account isnt
closed yet. (PAUSE) I had to stay late for Christs sake
(PAUSE) Give me a FUCKING break! I worked one hour later. (PAUSE) The
dinner is not going to spoil."
The passion had long since died out of his marriage and it had only
been a little over two years. Dolores had gone to drinking red wine
and playing bridge with her girlfriends while Brian worked later and
later and sometimes smelled faintly of perfume that intertwined with
As he yelled he watched the swarm of natives scurrying down the crosswalk.
All of them were in a hurry to go somewhere, either to their empty apartments,
to their loved ones in condos, to solicit themselves on a different
street corner tonight, etc. The scene, along with the present conversation,
filled Brian with rage. They all needed to move out of his fucking way
and now. He needed to get home and out of this car, out of this suit.
He would fill a tumbler with scotch and ice, turn on his recently purchased,
state-of-the-art, 72-inch Sony HD with surround sound in the den, watch
the Cubs and then pass out.
His demeanor changed as the opposite streetlight yellowed and he let
off of the brakes. The Escalade inch forward. His light turned green
and he thumped on the gas. The car lurched forward, scuttling the remaining
pedestrians. He laid on his horn for good measure. He did not really
need to get home in a hurry. Warmth and comfort would not be waiting
for him. He just felt a sickening numbness in his stomach as he watched
everyone around him. He wanted to get away from this scum.
He began to surge ahead when one from the mob stopped in front of his
car. As Brian screeched his brake pads, a scowl projected itself at
the figure that interrupted his journey home. The man had short scruffy
black hair, scraggily facial hair covering a burnt face, a yellowed
white T-shirt under a black coat and black torn khakis. He glared back
at Brian and his pretty Escalade. This was one of the scabs on the Earths
crust that Brian hated. The pedestrians eyes peered through the
windshield and grimaced at Brian.
"Move your ass, moron." Brain didnt have time for this.
He began rolling down his drivers side window.
The guy continued to stare. He did not budge; he just continued to glower
at Brian. Reaching into his pocket and fishing out a busted cigarette,
the stranger then produced a beat up, silver lined Zippo from his coat
pocket. He lit the smoke and stood there, like a Gothic cowboy, in a
standoff with the Cadillac. The smoke snaked its way out his nostrils
and ruffled through his hair before it dispersed into the smog of the
Brian stretched his head out of the window and shouted, "I havent
got time for this buddy. Move y
He didnt finish the sentence. He suddenly became too preoccupied
with getting his head back into the car and rolling up the window. The
stranger had flicked his cigarette towards the curb and was now approaching
Brians side of the vehicle.
Sometimes we make choices that we immediately regret. Cranston was cursing
himself. He never talked to the streetwalkers. He held his nose above
them. But for one moment he had let down his guard and had confronted
one of them and because of it, something bad was going to happen.
Glass shattered into Brians left temple as his foot tried for
but missed the gas pedal. His mind was in a state of disbelief as he
felt his throat tighten. He heard a lady scream as his new friend plucked
him off of his seat by his necktie. His right cheek was torn by shards
of dangling glass as he unpredictably exited out of his window
He experienced a brief flashback as he was being dragged from his car,
He recalled a similar feeling years ago when his dad was scooping him
up to safety. He had been running into the neighborhood lane after a
soccer ball that had gotten away from him. If it was not for his father,
he would have been flattened by the mail truck that bustled its
way down the street. He had lost the soccer ball that day to the pressure
of the trucks tires but he had felt the security of his father.
Today he felt no such security but rather the intense presence of fear.
He was going to be beaten to death on this street by a junkie gorilla
that he had caught on a bad binge.
Brian flopped on the ground and curled up, hoping that there might be
a Good Samaritan dialing 9-1-1, or a local beat cop ready to save the
day. His body tensed up, ready for the blows. He held his breath until
he had to exhale violently. Nothing happened. He squinted one eye open
and noticed that his Escalade was not where he had unexpectedly left
it, or rather, where it had left him.
Slowly he got up, straightened himself, and looked around. There were
still plenty of bystanders in the vicinity, but none of them were helping
him. They were all peering on down the road. His eyes traced theirs.
There he found his car, speeding away from him. Exhaust was kicking
up a broken trail for him to follow. He had just been hijacked. The
first thought that entered his mind was how many payments he still had
left on the car.
Brian looked into his pockets. Had he left it in the car? Ha, he still
had it in his suit coat. He flipped the phone open and began dialing.
"Hello? My name is Brian Cranston. My car has just been hijacked
and I have been assaulted
I am on Randolph St. near the Metro stop
man is Caucasian and seemed to be disgruntled
He is heading towards
Michigan Ave near
The words ceased. Brian was silent. The cell phone lowered and slowly
left his hand, falling to the street. He was in a dead sprint when it
occurred. His head was suddenly filled with questions. What just happened?
Am I going to be billed for this? Was anybody hurt? Did that man just
in my car? Should I call the fire department or are they already
notified? Am I going to be on the news?
The next few moments of Brians life would remain a baffling haze,
always swimming in his brain. He knew a man had just hijacked his automobile.
He remembered seeing his car flying down the street. But the next part
seemed like a hallucination, caused by the impact of what happened to
He watched his 2005 Cadillac Escalade motoring through traffic. He thought
that he saw it jump the curb and begin fleeing onlookers off of the
sidewalk. He then feels that he dreams seeing the car speeding through
before smashing into a Guns N Ammo shop
on the corner of Randolph and Adams.
The tires did not seem to screech or burst. The car did not seem to
lose control. It was as if that stranger behind the steering wheel had
knowingly, by design, careened into the small store. But this was Grand
Theft Auto. Why would it only last for three blocks? It didnt
make any sense. A man steals a car, endangers the lives of dozens of
innocent bystanders, just to purposely crash said car into the side
of a building, and in the process injuring or killing himself. Drugs
make people do crazy things, but this was just too much.
Brian quit sprinting and walked the rest of the way to the store. When
he was a hundred yards or so from the accident, his prized automobiles
hood caught fire and in an instant, the whole car was ablaze. The remaining
windows exploded from the body, spraying debris, warning all of possible
explosions to come.
just great," Brian muttered under his breath. "I
got a roasted addict in my drivers seat." This shows you
Brians feeling about the lower class of the human race. His idea
of charity is giving 100 dollars to a rotary club for the chance at
winning a million.
People flocked to the scene, hoping to help the driver, but were soon
sent scurrying at the presence of stray ammunition exploding from the
gun shop and the sounds of sirens in the distance.
Thats when the stranger exited the vehicle.
Brian stopped. No man could, or would, wait in a fiery car, cooking
for a minute, just to exit now. He would be burnt to a crisp. He would
have to be dead; but the walking carcass making his way into the street
was proving this clearly supported fact false.
The mans coat was on fire, if you could still call it a coat since
it had now scorched itself to the mans body. His face, which was
once recognizable, looked like one big charred lip. But there he was,
strolling out of the car as if it were his own. He began to pat the
remaining flames out on his body. The dead was walking, the apocalypse
surely was at hand. Brian, half-dazed, shuffled up to the outsider,
mouth hanging open like an airplane hangar. "What
Are you okay? What did you do to my car? (Pause) What the FUCK is going
The well-cooked stranger reached into the blazing car and came out with
something in his hand. He walked over to where Brian was standing, his
mouth agape. Burnt flecks of skin flaked off of his face as Michael
grinned at Brian.
"Nice car," he smirked as he outstretched his hand. Brian
drew back in horror and shut his eyes. For an instant, he was sure that
his singed assailant was going to do him some sort of bodily harm, but
once again Michael did not strike him. Rather, he reached for Brians
hand. As he grasped it, he unfolded Cantons fist and held his
Brian flinched as he felt something warped and smoldering fall into
his hand. He closed his hand around the object.
"Open your eyes." Brian opened his eyes. "You are starting
a new life. I have killed your old ways. You shall not worship any material
possessions nor shall you stray from the path of righteousness. You
have been given a new breath of fresh air. This breath can be stolen
from your lungs at any point in time, so make sure you inhale deeply."
Brian, speechless, dared not move from the grip of the man. He wished
he could leave this scenario. He wished to be in a church right now,
confessing his sins, for he was sure that he was face to face with the
Antichrist, or the second coming of Jesus, or something really God Damn
As the stranger talked, his face healed itself; he could see the new
flesh come together and restructure. His clothes remained burnt, but
his body was magically repairing itself. It was a horrible science fiction
movie moment that was being played out in front of him.
Around the pair, a group slowly gathered. Some were asking if Brian
needed help, some were calling for an ambulance or 911; some were just
staring. Michael felt this to be as good of a time as any to touch a
few more peoples lives.
"Listen up. What you have just witnessed was an awakening for this
man. No more will he be destined to live a life of unwanted fabrication.
I have just shown him the errors of his ways. He has seen the light
and will, from now on, live a good and fruitful life that will benefit
As Michael was preaching, Jason Colo, a local beat cop noticed the smoke
from the gun shop and as he drew closer, observed the scene that was
transpiring. He saw a man holding onto another. He saw a finicky crowd
and knew that the situation was not going to get better before getting
worse. He drew his firearm and slowly made his way into the street.
"Sirs," the Jason pronounced stridently, "Are both of
you all right?"
Michael stared at the officer. "We are fine officer."
At that, Brian was stirred back to reality. "This freak just wrecked
my car. Hes insane. Arrest him man."
Michael turned abruptly to Brian. "You shouldnt have done
"Down on the ground," Jason yelled.
Officer Colo had had to shoot a man before in the line of duty, but
he had never needed more than one bullet to subdue any of them. He knew
the right spots, the proper procedures. He was by means no high man
of society, but he did his job, he did it well, and he liked it. But
he hated this part of the job. Lives were in the balance and these situations
never ended wrapped in a pretty pink bow.
"We have a simple miscommunication officer. Please do not make
this more complicated than it has to be. I advise you to walk away.
walk away." Michael was growing impatient.
"Officer needs back up. I repeat
I need back up." Jason
kept his eyes on the man in the tattered clothing. He forgot to ask
for the fire department. He hoped on of these bystanders had phoned
it in. "This is the last time I am telling you sir. For your safety
and the safety of those around you, get down on the ground and place
your hands behind your head."
Michael turned to Brian, his eyes glowing. "Now you will see."
As he let go of Brians arm and began walking towards the officer,
Michael understood what he had to do to make all of these people receive
his message. He wanted everyone in the world to know it, but if he could
reach handfuls at a time, he would be satisfied. He also knew that within
the next couple of minutes, he was going to have to withstand a large
amount of physical anguish to prove his point.
He took a step and heard the hammer of the officer pistol cock back.
He took another. "I will fire mister. You will stop or I will have
no other choice."
Michael stared into the pupils of the officer and took another step.
The searing metal entered his right shoulder, right below the collarbone.
It knocked Michael back and he stumbled to one knee. "We have a
man down. Shot fired. Medical attention needed."
The pain dulled and Michael regained his composure and struggled to
his feet. He was about a dozen feet from the officer and knew what was
This was new to Colo. This guy had to be really doped up or wearing
a bulletproof vest or something. His next bullet would have to enter
the right leg, approximately striking the kneecap.
Michael felt it again. It spun his lower half around and he momentarily
lost all sense of balance. He crumpled to the concrete, his blood washing
away the dust that had accumulated from the afternoon traffic. He hated
dealing with these nuisances but he knew that this was the price that
had to be paid for the message. He waited for the metal to be expelled
from the wound and then he made his way to his feet again.
An anxious pang rose in Jasons chest cavity. Where was his backup?
He did not want to do what he felt he was going to have to do. When
he went into this profession, he knew that there would be a high possibility
that death would be part of the job, but that did not mean that he ever
wanted to take part in it. But as the bloodied man took another step
toward, Jason fired, losing all faith in his innocence.
Michael would later think to himself that he could smell the gunpowder
as the bullet shred the layers of skin on his neck. He felt the tepid
flood cascading into his coat, soaking into the blackened cotton. He
made sure to revise his plan in his head before it smacked onto the
Officer Colo closed in onto the fallen body. He could clearly see the
blood flowing and the eyes glazing over as the attackers lifeless
body was brought to a focal point as the anxious crowd now pondered
over what was to happen next. Colo reached for his pager and began calling
off the backup.
"We need an EMT. We have a gunshot victim, probably D.O.A. to same
location. Please respond immed
A sentence cannot be finished when the person speaking has no more air
exhaling from his lungs. The reason that there is no air presently exiting
the lungs of Jason Colo is because is the hand that was clasped around
his neck stopped his breath. The hand that found its grip around Colos
neck belonged to a man who had just been announced dead to the world.
But death was already a lie for Michael. Death was a formality for mortals.
He had no use for it.
With his left hand he held the officer steady. With his right hand he
slowly reached for the firearm. He wrapped his paw around the officers
hand and brought the firearm up against his own temple.
"What you are witnessing is not an illusion, ladies and gentlemen.
I send a message. You are not superior
He paused. He hated God for what he had to do. He hated this soapbox.
The only reason that he kept going was the hopeful knowledge that he
might actually reach a few of these pathetic maggots. He placed his
finger on the trigger, over the officers index finger.
"You will die
soon. Live your life knowing that your ego will
die as well. Live a good life. It can be taken from you at any time.
For if you dont
The gun went off. Michael felt overdramatic as he lost consciousness
again. His skull rattled due to the bullet traveling from one temple,
scrambling his brain, and then exiting out of the other. Screams and
yells arose from the crowded streets.
There was a pause in the air. The swarm didnt know whether to
help the man or to wait and see what miracle would happen next. They
didnt have to wait long. Seconds after the gun went off a final
time, Michael rose to his feet, his knees wobbly from the shock of the
past injuries. As the multitude took a step back, he took a book from
his coat pocket and placed it on the ground. It was the Bible, burnt
from the crash but pretty much still intact. "Your soul will not
With this Michael left the crowd, parting through them as he walked
home for the night. After one of these episodes, no one would touch
him. Most would say it was a stunt, probably for some new shock reality
show. Some would not believe the scene and erase it from their memory.
But a few would believe. A few would turn their life around for the
good. And that was what Michael wanted. All you needed was a few to
start believing then get a few more, then a few more. He had enough
time to convert them all. He had all the time in the world.
© Ben Gerhardt May 2006
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