Author Topic: Untitled short story  (Read 2467 times)

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Untitled short story
« on: September 02, 2009, 09:08:06 pm »
We parked on the street that bridges a small woodsy annex to Forest Park, and prepared ourselves as quietly as we could, putting on our water shoes and trying to minimize the clinking of the spraycans in our backpacks. “Do either of you have cigarettes?” Katie said, a golden-blonde haloed silhouette against the dim light shining from one window of the house we were in front of. Jay made a little noise of excitement and riffled through his pockets. “Yes!” he said, “I remembered them!” and proffered her his pack. “That’s OK”, she said,  “I just wanted them for later on”.  He smiled with satisfied anticipation, and pocketed them.

I adjusted a strap on my pack, tossed my street shoes in the car, and closed the door. “Everyone ready?” I said, bouncing a bit on the balls of my feet.

My friends and I walked without lighting down the stairs beside the bridge, occasionally making soft wisecracks that I don’t remember at all. The comraderie was thick in the air between us, binding us like the atoms in a molecule. We could hardly see each other in the new-moon night darkness, our descending feet making the metal staircase ring softly. Jay was in front, his lankiness and shorn head just a shadow against the deeper shadow of the park. Katie was behind me, warm and faintly flower-scented, intermittently chuckling softly or saying a quiet “Ooh!” in her enthusiasm for the evening.

We reached ground and made for the grate. It’s a huge wooden structure built of 4x10” lumber, straddling the creek that runs through the park to keep large forest debris out of the culvert. “Hold up, guys, I have to pee” I said, and made for the deeper shadow under the big maple that overhangs one of the park picnic tables. I couldn’t see it, but I know its location intimately from many daytime visits. My friends made sounds of acquiescence and found their way to other spots near the edge of the park’s grassy open, and as I squatted in the dark I could pick out their locations by the rattle of piss on the dead leaves and undergrowth.

I finished, pulled up my underwear and flipped down my skirt. “Done!” I said, and we coalesced out of the darkness and stood at the end of the grate. Even in a night with a bare sliver of moon and the park’s lonely electric lightpole, the starkness of beams against the black below made an easy walkway for us to pick our way across to where the gap lay. Going first, I handed my pack to Jay, sat down at the edge of the gap, slung one leg down feeling for the cross-beam below, then braced my hands on the edge and dropped into it. Two steps, one onto the concrete pier and one onto the ground, and I called up for my pack. Jay dropped it down and I riffled for my headlamp as first Katie, then Jay dropped through the gap.

A little reluctant to interrupt the dark with our lights,  we made our way toward the opening with them in hand, turned off. Katie, going barefoot, kicked off her shoes on the little dirt island on which we had landed, and then entered the shallow water, mud squelching between her toes. “Ooooh, I always forget how deep the mud is!” she said softly, her whisper an octave higher than usual. I stretched the elastic harness of my headlamp over my ponytail and switched the light on, inadvertently catching it in her widened eyes before I moved aside.

“I’m going in! Are we all ready? Can we go?” Jay said, ankle-deep in the muddy middle between the island and the entrance to the culvert, an open maw behind him, gorgeous curved masonry six feet high and twelve feet wide inviting the creek to come into it down the two miles it runs under the city before pouring it into the river. “OK, let’s do it!” I said, and we sloshed through the muddy bottom and stepped up into the concrete hole. The creek here, in August, is a trickle in the bottom, running over some cables we’ve guessed at being sensors of speed and temperature. There are bolts emerging from the ceiling here, and the taller ones, Katie and Jay, have to be wary of gouging their heads. I, much shorter, am safe.

We walked a bit deeper in and my friends switched on their headlamps. The pipe transitions from an oval to a round about six and a half feet in diameter, far more comfortable for my taller companions. We were silent at first, but as we make our way down, walking in the cold, shallow water, we started talking; bantering and planning what we wanted to paint. We have made an art project of it, a hidden gallery, and even over our lifetimes there is so much blank concrete canvas that we can’t hope to cover it all, so we try to space them so that there is something to see every little while to keep the monotony of pipe and darkness from seeming so strong.

The echo of the water down the pipe, and our own voices, is eerie and seems sometimes to echo back another adventuring party, deeper down the pipe. We’ve learned mostly to ignore it and not be creeped out, but sometimes, nonetheless, we stop and darken our lights, standing for a minute in silence to try and hear voices from below or above us. Once, doing this, we smelled paint fumes and heard unmistakable voices from above, and we screeched and moaned to make the echoes carry awful sounds back up; when we emerged an hour later, we found half-finished graffiti near the mouth of the pipe. We had frightened away some other adventuring hoodlums, even more scared of the dark and the prospect of meeting strangers underground than we were.

The pipe goes down a steep decline, and the water pools at the bottom almost knee-deep in the dry season. Just past this was where we planned to paint our next gallery; a tribute to sandwiches. There is a curve in the pipe just where the water starts running briskly again, and after we round the curve a straightaway, long, shallow, with blank gray walls. Few vandals, hoodlums, or artists make it this far down, and it begs to be painted. We were primed, eager by this point, rattling the cans in our backpacks with our nervous jostling. “Smoke break?” I said, and we all held close for a moment while Jay pulled out his cigarettes. I slipped my pack off one shoulder and slung it from my arm to zip it open and pull out the pint of bourbon I had stowed. “Oh sweet!” said Katie, “This is perfection!” Jay, quiet, looked pleased and lit us each a cigarette before accepting a swig.

We braced our backs against the curvature of the walls and rested, holding our packs out of the water as we passed the bottle and sucked our cigarettes, listening to the echoing gurgle of the water and the occasional ominous moan from down the pipe, caused by the heavy traffic over the large chamber at the end. That wasn’t our destination tonight; Jay is both tall and claustrophobic, and the pipe narrows by nearly a foot halfway there.

Finishing, we stood, stretched, and continued into the dark. Jay, in the lead, stopped suddenly, and I bumped into him. “What the FUCK” he said, and I looked past him into the circular depth. All the hairs on my body stood up. “No fucking way…” my heart was pounding, my brain trying to comprehend what I saw. Katie crowded up behind us, and, startled, said “No shit? What the hell?” right in my ear. Jay pulled out his big flashlight and shined it on the incomprehensible object obstructing the pipe.

It was a guy. In a lawn chair. Just a dude, relaxing in a lawn chair in the dark, more than a half-mile down a water diversion pipe.

Not sure whether it was at all a good idea, we continued toward him, waiting for some acknowledgement or motion or anything to make this less creepy. “Jesus, what if he’s dead?” Jay whispered to us, and Katie and I both said “Oh fuck” in unison. As we drew closer I could see that he was wearing a baseball cap, a Hawaiian shirt, and sunglasses. He wasn’t dead. There was a magazine in his lap with pictures of very healthy-looking tan girls doing various pornographic things to guys making overly enthusiastic faces. He was a lean man, a bit grizzled, with a moustache and soul patch, and when we came right up on him and stopped, he, not looking at us, raised his hand in a sort of mellow greeting. We all reflexively raised our hands and I said an awkward “Hey”. I could see a tattoo on the back of his arm. In upper case, it spelled out the word “PIE”.

We just sort of stood there dumbfounded for a minute. Finally, Katie turned slowly around and just started walking away. The man raised his hand again in a quasi-wave, and I stammered a barely-vocalized “Bye” before turning to follow her, Jay right on my heels. We didn’t say a word until we were back at the car. “I don’t know what to do with that experience,” Katie said, “I really, really don’t.”

That about sums it up.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Pope Pixie Pickle

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 10:04:16 pm »
thankyou, Nigel, that was cool. :mittens:
"YOU SAY CULTURAL MARXISM LIKE IT'S A BAD THING"

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 11:49:55 pm »
Thanks!
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Richter

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2009, 02:13:49 pm »
I like how it's paced and put together.  The little touches give it a very true feel.  (You SURE this didn't actually happen?   :wink: )
Anyone ever think about how Richter inhabits the same reality as you and just scream and scream and scream, but in a good way?   :lulz:

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Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2009, 06:07:41 pm »
Thank you! Well, I guess you could say it's based on a true story... ;)
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Pariah

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2009, 03:24:27 am »
:mittens:

So what's the actual true story?
Play safe! Ski only in a clockwise direction! Let's all have fun together!

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2009, 03:30:25 am »
Let's just say it's a composite.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Jenne

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2009, 11:48:14 pm »
I liked it.  :D

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2009, 05:42:18 pm »
Thank you!  :mrgreen:
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Untitled short story
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2009, 02:10:13 am »
BTW, this is available to use in projects but please let me know first so I can give you the updated/edited version.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”