Archive for the ‘Love Stories’ Tag

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN – Bender’s Garage, Chapter III, Part 2

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN (Historical Fiction)

Chapter 3, Part 2

Bender’s Garage, Seattle, WA. 1966

____________________

“OK, then. I’ll meet you inside, when you’re ready.” Jennifer said to Scott.

“I’ll hurry.” He said.

“I’m sure. Am I the motivation you need to work a little faster?” She smiled.

“Something like that. Do I need another reason?” He said, grinning.

It grew quieter as they talked. The banging under the noisy heap stopped when she saw the pair of legs from under it slide out revealing a face dirtier than Scott’s grinning up at her. He quickly got up from the mechanic’s creeper as if hopeful to get an introduction.

Other mechanics stood watching as she turned to walk across the work bay to the door of the customer service center. Their staring made her feel uncomfortable, but she knew they were just harmless big boys in dirty overalls.

“Hi, fellas.” She said, giving them her winning smile.

When she approached the door she noticed a wadded greasy shop towel thrown across the bay area smacking the mechanic with the dirty face. It phased him little. His eyes barely blinked, still on Jennifer as he stood like a fixture in stone, on the concrete under him.

She knew Scot could still pitch. He’d pitched all through high school, fast ball, slow curves, all while on the school softball team. He seldom ever failed to strike out players on opposing teams, anticipating their moves, judging his next pitch. But, this time he was unable to move the guy, or wipe the lascivious smile from his dirty face.

She punched in a quarter for the soda machine, and waited as a lever inside lifted and released her choice. The Coke rolled down into the slot.

Arnie Bender, Scot’s uncle came through the door and greeted her, picked up his mail from Shirley, the receptionist and entered his office.

She settled down in a chair to read the book she’d brought. But, the newspapers on a side table caught her eye. She read the titles, and subtitles of enclosed articles, “Stepping up troop movement for escalating war in Southeast Asia,” “Fighting results in increased college enrollment,” “Mothers weep at departure gates; their sons promising to write,” “Debate over U.S. involvement causes division in Congress,” “Parades and demonstrations take to the streets.” Pictures showed hippies holding signs, “Make Love, Not War!Some had those with their two middle fingers raised in a ‘peace sign.’ Others stood defiant, in their face using just their middle finger raised in a lewd gesture. The scenes and news reports were coming with more regularity for the times they lived in.

She stopped reading when she heard Scot’s name mentioned in the adjoining office. She knew it wasn’t right, but couldn’t resist listening to the conversation between Mr. Bender and the receptionist.

    “Mr. Bender, there was a call for you earlier from an Army officer by the name of…”

    “Riggs?”

    “Yes. He asked if you had filled out the necessary papers regarding your nephew, Scot’s employment here. He wanted to remind you that those papers they sent you requesting confirmation of his employment needed to be filled out and sent back ASAP to their office here in Seattle, by the deadline date.”

    “OK. Is there anything else, other calls, or messages?” he asked.

    “No sir. That’s all. The rest are on your appointment calendar, or spindle. This one I highlighted because of its importance. I thought you would want to know. He said it was vital they get those papers back by that date. He left his number for you, to call.”

    “Thank you, Shirley. That is all.”

    Shirley walked out to resume her work behind the ‘Information’ desk.

    Jennifer sat, the newspapers still in her lap, with little interest in them, or her book. She quickly tossed them back onto the table in a heap, as if she’d just been bitten or stung by an angry bee. She decided she would not tell Scott what she overheard or knew, about the ‘confirmation’ papers with his employment status requiring his uncle’s ‘immediate attention.’

    When Scott was finished, he walked inside, took his time card, clocked out, and peeked into his uncle’s office telling him, “Goodnight, uncle Arnie. See you tomorrow.”

    “Sure thing, Scott. I’ll get someone on her car first thing tomorrow.”

    “Thanks. I’ll get her home tonight and pick her up tomorrow when it’s done.”

    He turned back to Jennifer, smiling. “All ready?”

    “Yes. Thanks for the ride home, and promise of dinner.” she said.

    “My pleasure.” He said, grinning.

_________________________________

Joyce E. Johnson

        

NOW, AND FOR ALL-TIME


NOW,  AND FOR ALL-TIME

“Here we go again. Julie! Get over it. You’re overreacting.” He whispered, so the others wouldn’t hear.

Julie pulled back. “Overreacting? Is that what you call it?” She countered back, angry over his indifference.

“Yes! You keep insinuating that I have done something to encourage her. I haven’t.”

“Rob! Haven’t you noticed the way she comes around asking questions about your registration, and sessions you signed up for? When we checked in, she even came up and asked what room you’re assigned. She pretends to not even notice I’m there.”

“I don’t think she is deliberately trying to avoid you, Julie. She’s just busy seeing to details, I guess. It’s her job as the company conference coordinator. What else would you expect from someone in her position?”

“Oh, she does her job real well. Hospitality, and all. I know she’s your friend’s wife, but doesn’t her flirting around bother him? Well, maybe not. He’s not exactly lacking in social skills, either, I’ve noticed, so doesn’t seem too lonely. They don’t exactly qualify for the couple of the year award.”

“Neither do we, unfortunately.” He said. “She’s just a friend, a good listener. That’s all.”

“Yes. I bet she is”.

“Look, I know you don’t like these things, but can’t you just pretend to enjoy yourself this week? These people are my business associates. The conferences are important to my career advancement. If you have a  problem accepting that, then we have a real issue in our marriage, with little else holding us together. Expecting me to avoid all the Serenas out there isn’t going to change it.”

“Maybe not, but… never mind. I’m going for a walk, to work out my tired muscles. The trip up here took forever.”

“Don’t go far. There is a weather alert posted for tonight. A storm front is moving in. All of the Rocky Mountain region is included.”

“I’ll be fine. You go on to the fireside charades thing, or whatever they’re calling it over there. I really don’t feel like socializing right now. If they ask where I’ve gone, just tell them I had a headache, and went up to our room. I’ll see you later.”

“Julie, wait.” he pleaded. “Let’s talk.”

“Not now.” she said, waving him off, and turning away. She was unable to shake the images of Rob and Serena together.

Exiting the conference center through a side door, she headed for a trail. She paid little attention to the  signs at the trail head warning of, “Steep terrain. Watch for falling rock.” Another one, with pictures of deer, bears, and smaller game,  described the “Wildlife Presence,”  seen in the region.

She hiked a mile when a cold drizzle intensified, turning the ground messy as she navigated the narrow trail. Moisture seeped into her shoes and socks, and down the neck of her jacket, chilling her. The air turned colder. The wind grew stronger snapping limbs and pine-cones off trees.

When the moon emerged it slid behind billowing dark clouds. With no flashlight she could barely see a visible path anymore. Sleet formed ice crystals on much of the foliage where leaves and brush remained.

Rob is right. I have allowed things like jealousy and mistrust to come between us. 

She could remember every detail of that day, seven years earlier when she and Rob stood pledging to love and cherish one another before God, friends and family. They vowed nothing, or no one would ever come between them. “Now and for all-time.” they each promised. Metaphorically, maybe they had separated long ago. It was like a gradual pulling away,  losing trust and respect for the other when they could not address the issues concerning their marital differences.

I am insane to think I could hike up here alone, without my husband who I know loves me. I acted more like a spoiled child than a mature adult.

When she turned around to start back wind gusts slammed into her with such force it threw her off-balance.  She screamed when a tree cracked, breaking on impact, sending large limbs crashing to the ground, missing her by inches.

Oh, God! How am I going to get out of this mess? I have really made things worse in my life, and Rob’s.

Snowflakes fell, swirling around in all directions as if caught in a whirlwind on their descent to earth.  The blizzard made visibility difficult for her to see the trail markers she’d passed earlier. She was not certain she was still on a path anymore.

Why didn’t I have the sense to bring a pair of hiking boots, and parka instead of these Nikes, and fleece windbreaker? The cold and snow has chapped my skin.  My bones and joints ache from the frigid temperatures.

Everything is so dense up here.  I may be walking in circles instead of on the marked path where I started. If I could just find a shortcut down from here, but, I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Unless the storm lets up…Well, I just won’t think those things.

She stepped carefully around the broken tree limbs. Sharp rocks protruded through an already thick layer of snow, and ice. All of it made her attempt to descend the ridge safely nearly impossible. Braced against a tree studying the clearing from where she’d come, she considered her options trying to determine which way to go.

She pulled out her cell phone and speed dialed Rob. It was useless. There was no signal. She was too far from any towers, if there were any around. Seven forty-eight her cell phone read. She had been gone over three hours.

The wind died down. She no longer heard the howling sounds from before. The storm was letting up, moving on, south into the Rockies.

The ground cover with the precipitation in the atmosphere lit up the mountain ridge making everything turn misty and bright. She stood under a tree, shivering, looking out over the mountainside at the beautiful sight. It looked like a picture postcard. The peaceful scene enveloped her in spite of her situation.  The brightly lit landscape before her would give her the needed light to find her way back.

She climbed carefully over the fallen tree, then began to work her self  down, stepping over slippery spots to place her feet firmly down into the ground cover.

She stopped. A noise not made by her own steps became louder when it came closer. It was then she noticed a small beam of light moving sideways, back and forth, then up and down probing the ridge she’d climbed hours ago. After a few moments it stopped, focusing its light towards her direction.

“Julie! Julie!” a voice called out.

Her heart raced. “Rob! Over here. I’m over here.” She said aloud, barely getting the sound out over her squeaking, hoarse voice.

She would never find a word to describe the sweet relief that sent her soul soaring and heart pumping when she heard his voice. Rushing to get to him she tripped, twisting an ankle, and tumbled several feet, A large boulder stopped her roll. Whimpering like a bruised pup, she leaned over to inspect her injured ankle, then carefully stood up, waiting for Rob as he drew near.

His arms grabbed her up, squeezing her near frozen body till she let out a painful grunt from his vise like grip. There was only a brief silence between them for the first few moments.

“Thank God, I found you! When the storm moved in I went looking. But, I didn’t know which way you’d gone, so started checking the trails. I thought you would just take a walk around the perimeter, not really hike up one of these trails, alone. You had me so worried. I was sure you’d gotten lost or hurt.”

“I strayed off the trail at some point losing my direction. Then, there was that huge tree that fell. I stumbled, tripping, and sprained my ankle, but I’m OK. Rob, I’m sorry for acting like that, and for the things I said. I had no right to accuse you of… and Serena too. Well, you’re here. That’s what matters.”

“Julie, listen. Trust me. No one, nothing will ever come between us. Believe me. I’m sorry too if I gave you reason to doubt that. You never lost me, Julie. You have always had my heart. I love you. Now, and for all-time. Remember?”

“I do. The words we pledged to each other the night we were married. ‘Now, and for all time.’ And I, Julie, pledge my love to you, Rob, now and for all-time.”

“You know, that hearth fire in the lobby would sure feel good to me about now.” She added, shaking.

His mouth came down on hers stopping her quivering lips and chattering teeth. His arms and firm chest felt as comforting as a thick wool blanket on her, she wanted only to snuggle in.

“We’ll do that, later. But, first we’re going to get back to our room, get these wet clothes off you, warm you up, and get your circulation going. Then I have plans for us, that include a bottle of Chardonnay, and a fire of our own, you and me, alone.”

“Really? I love it.” she said.

“Let’s get started then.”

************

Story by: Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Empty

The below story is fiction. It is my weekly 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers from this week’s photo prompt with the Madison Woods web site. Feedback and comments are welcome.

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Empty. The kitchen felt cold, dark. Devoid of life. Like her.

Soon, she would be out of here. Time to move on. She picked up empty boxes and began packing.

They’d fought, both saying harsh things. She lost their child to miscarriage, the baby she’d longed to have.

She swiped at her tears. God, I tried to save our marriage, to keep him happy. But, he still left, with her! What else could I have done?

Floor boards squeaked. She swung around.

“Who’s there?” she asked in a quivering, small voice, shaking.

Gasp! “You!”

“I’m sorry. Can we try again?”

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Posted October 5, 2012 by Joyce in Fiction, Friday Fictioneers, Short Fiction, Writing

Tagged with ,

Friday Fictioneers – Sept., 28, “Pagoda”

“Pagoda”

It was our ‘pagoda,’ just an old stone shrine in San Francisco’s China Town. We stood here declaring our love, thirty years ago.

Today, I stand alone with a tattered copy of our vows to each other, reading mine, shaking, and weeping with every spoken word or phrase.

Only the silence answers me back.

The birds sing their woeful song to my grief-stricken soul.

Our wedding day. We laughed, running to catch the trolley car when he fell, got caught underneath, and was crushed to death.

I never remarried.

“Clang! Clang!”

The death knell of that hated trolley.

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Posted September 27, 2012 by Joyce in Fiction, Friday Fictioneers, Short Fiction, Writing

Tagged with

Poem – THE DUEL

THE DUEL

Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson © 2009

 

A blushing face under a bonnet one day

Stopped my heart and roving eyes that May.

With swishing skirt she coyly walked,

  Her voice, a soft whisper when she talked.

Could she have known? Did she see?

Could she tell from my look how she affected me?

She was like sweet nectar on a flower to be

  Planted beneath the old withered tree.

 Some will say that love is blind,

  That eyes cannot see what the heart doth find;

 A moment of pleasure, a moment in time,

 No word spoken and no thought of mind.

 Like a love that is destined from the start

 Like a bud in bloom from out of the heart.

 Pledging her love that day to me

We embraced beneath the old withered tree.

But there came another. Bold was he

intent on stealing my sweetheart from me.

“Too experienced in love,” they say,

he charmed his way to her heart that May.

His reputation followed. Stories told

 of “a man who broke hearts, was callous and cold.”

I hoped she’d come back and want only me

to be married beneath the old withered tree.

Her hair in the wind, her face from the sun

  trying to protect me, she started to run.

Wanting to shield me, she came to cover

my body from the bullet, the one from her lover.

She fell silent to the ground alongside me

 her skirt turning red against my knee.

I carried her back to the spot where we

  once sat beneath the old withered tree.

Yes, I was in love, and I was the fool

to challenge her lover to a duel:

the man who stole from me is now gone.

My remorse and regret adds more upon

 my guilt and the sound of the wind like a song

singing a sad refrain of what I did wrong:

it plays a eulogy for my sweetheart where she

   lies buried beneath the old withered tree.

***************

 

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