Sunday, May 02, 2010

Writing Resolution 7

Okay, come up with something, something short, something easy. You can do it.

ALL NIGHT GAS

I was almost out of gas, and wasn't going to make it to Vegas. I had gambled on a gas station in Jean, Nevada being open twenty-four hours, or at least to have pumps that were. The gamble paid off (I was in the right state for it), as I pulled into a closed Chevron, with a lit-up sign reading "All Night Gas" flickering above the overinflated prices. I stopped and got out, beginning the fill-up process. I stretched and felt my back pop.

I heard a scuffling sound and turned. Unfortunately for me, I was not alone. There were also several young Hip-Hop-loving teenagers at the station, just waiting for someone to come along. Someone weak and/or alone. Someone like me.

"Give me your money, dork," one of them said, flashing a knife. It wasn't a big knife, but the way he held it reminded me of whittling Southerners. Knives are scary. "And give I-Sore your car keys."

Another teen stepped forward, dressed like an Eighties breakdancer, but with no neon colors. There were five or six young men converging now. The group had surrounded my car, all of them looking angry, some of them looking hungry.

Their spokesman smiled big, revealing teeth of silver and gold. "The rest of you goes to T-Bagg."

I glanced over to the one he was referring to, a frighteningly-ugly man/boy with a fishnet shirt on, and was surprised to see someone standing atop the big Chevron sign behind him. It was more of a big black shape than a discernible person, and before I could discern more, a bony fist introduced itself sharply to my face. I staggered back, and an elbow or knee pounded into my stomach, doubling me over. I was kicked again, and everything went spotty and snow-filled, even though I was in the middle of the desert.

I heard a whooshing sound, and the kid who had kicked me dropped what he'd been holding. It hit the cement with a metallic clank. A tire iron. Two of the young punks squealed then, and one shouted "Mira!" (which my high school Spanish told me meant "Look"). The man standing on the Chevron sign was now standing among us, grabbing the gang and throwing them here and there. He was dressed all in black, wore a cape, and I was dumb-founded to realize that it was Batman.

After all, Jean, Nevada is a long way from Gotham City.

Even more importantly, Batman is a fictional comic book character created by Bill Finger in 1939.

Nevertheless, here he was, punching, slamming, and drop-kicking eight or nine wiry teenagers. I heard footsteps beside me and turned my head, expecting to see Robin. Instead, it was the big, fishnets-wearing punk their leader had called T-Bagg. He had decided to use my face as a soccer ball. I tried to grab the fallen tire iron, but grabbed something small and sharp instead. Immediately, a steel-toed boot met my forehead and all the pain went away. Everything went away for a little while.

***

"...ere me, sir?" a woman's voice said from far above me. I opened my eyes, and found a woman policeman kneeling in front of me, looking concerned and smelling of Juicy Fruit. The pain returned, and I was almost overwhelmed by it.

"I said, can you hear me?" she repeated.

"Yeah," I muttered. Holy shit, there was something solid and small in my mouth. I knew it was a tooth without looking at it. I tried to sit up, and something in my stomach stung and told me to lay still.

"You're going to be alright, sir," the policewoman said. Beyond her, another cop was shining a flashlight. He was an older guy, a black guy, and seemed to be looking for evidence or clues.

"Ambulance is on its way," that cop said, either to me or his partner.

I turned my head. I was still on the ground at the gas station, and I was alone. Amazingly, my car was a few feet away, the gas nozzle still in my tank. There was broken glass at my feet, and a few dark stains that could have been blood here and there. Of course, they might have been oil drippings too.

"Do you remember what happened?" the black cop asked, casting a bit of light my way. It hurt my eyes and he pointed it elsewhere.

"We believe you were attacked," the woman added.

"I . . ." I did remember, actually. I remembered everything, despite how much my head ached. And that made me wonder if I remembered it right. "Did you see him? Did you see Batman?"

"Batman?" both cops repeated at the same time. It was kind of cute, actually, in retrospect.

"Movie? The middle one was better," the male cop said.

"No, Batman was here. Tonight. He saved me." As I said it, I was aware of two things. The first was that the broken tooth in my mouth had a sharp edge that was digging into my tongue. The other was that I sounded absolutely crazy, and a lot like a little kid describing a dream.

I spit the broken tooth out into my hand. It took two tries and I apologized to the policewoman.

For a moment, I wondered if a doctor could sew the tooth back on, then I realized how insane that thought was, and wondered if I might have some kind of brain damage.

"Near as we can tell, sir," the policewoman said quietly, "You got mugged or attacked within the last two hours. It's possible someone hit you with their car."

"No," I said. "It was a bunch of kids. Muscular, mean ones. I mean, like teenagers, not, like, little kids."

"Your wallet's still here," the man said, holding it up for me to see it. "Still got twenty-seven dollars in it."

I reached out to take it, but felt that sharp pain in my stomach again. The sound I made was embarrassingly girlish.

"Lie still, sir," the policewoman said. "You may have broken ribs."

"You're good at your job," I said, for no reason. Then, because I wanted them to understand I hadn't lost my mind: "It might not have been Batman, you know."

"Oh. You think?" the black cop said. It hurt my feelings, but it would have been funny to anybody else.

"No. I mean, it was a guy dressed as Batman. I mean."

"And he saved you. Killed the bad guys?"

Actually, I didn't think Batman killed people. But I couldn't say that to this guy. If I did, he'd ask me where the bodies went. And ask me which Batman it was, the Adam West one or the Christian Bale version. "I don't know. I don't remember."

"Well, there wasn't anybody else here when we got here. No bodies. Although I did find a filling over here." The black cop smiled good-naturedly. "You got a gold tooth?"

Somewhere to the north, I could hear a siren. I couldn't remember if ambulances have different sirens than police cars at the time. I was confused and my head was filled with a combination of cotton and applesauce. Homestyle applesauce. With the chunks.

"About Batman . . ." I started to say.

The policewoman put her hand on my shoulder, and I shut my mouth. "Just relax. Lie still and don't strain yourself. It'll be alright."

"But--"

"Sometimes head trauma can cause funny tricks with the mind. One time this guy hit me with a beer bottle and I forgot my middle name for more than an hour."

"It's Consuelo," the black cop added. "In case you forget again."

"Thanks, Albert," she said. The siren was getting closer. I heard a crackling from the woman's walkie-talkie and a voice said something I couldn't understand, though I think I made out "three minutes" in there. She looked down on me again. She wasn't particularly attractive, but I was feeling all affectionate anyway. Grateful. Childlike. "You've had a bad experience and an injury, but I think you're gonna be alright. We'll get you to a hospital, patch you up, and you'll forget all about Batman."

"Especially the George Clooney one," the black cop said. "Whoo!"

"You think I imagined him?" I said, afraid to keep talking in case I called the policewoman 'Mom.'

"Probably," she said. "Doesn't matter. What's important is that you're going to be okay, sir." So, we were back to the sir again. Alright.

She was right. I had been out of my mind, seeing things that my stressed brain wanted to see. Silly, childish things that I had once believed in. There's no such thing as superheroes, and I'd learned that decades ago. There was no such thing as a lot of things. Sad, really. No Batmen, no straight politicians, no business that couldn't go under, no love that lasts forever. Really sad.

I lay there as still as I could, feeling little bunches of pain in my mouth, my stomach, my knee, and my head. The siren was very close now, and I suddenly had to go to the bathroom. Bad. I was lucky I hadn't already gone in my pants.

And maybe I had. Even more embarrassment. I moved my right hand to check my crotch, and felt something hard and metal beneath it. I grasped the object and brought it up to my face to get a look at it. It was a Batarang.

"Heh," I said.

The End

3 comments:

unascertianed said...

Hello Mr Outfiled,

I hope you don't mind me commenting. I'm always uncertain of the etiquette when conversing with a complete stranger over the Internet. It's all too easy to appear overly familiar.

I just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed your work here and I hope you can be encouraged to share more stories soon.

Rish Outfield said...

As long as you're not a soul-sucking lawyer from Sony, you're welcome to read my blog. I often don't publish my own work because a) I'm not confident in it or myself, and b) I never feel like it's ready to put out there. But it was fun to write stories every day and post them immediately, without a chance to revise them or reconsider.

Thanks for the kind words.

unascertianed said...

Well they didn't teach us to suck souls in library school so you should be safe on that account. I do have the power to silence people by raising my eyebrows but I try to only use it for good :)

I suspect that points a) and b) are closely linked and I sympathise with you over the issue of self-assurance. I often find that very talented people are harshly critical of their own work. Perhaps writing off-the-cuff like this every now and again might help? A sort of exposure therapy if you will.

Rest assured I wasn’t simply being kind, your stories helped to cheer me up last week. I think sometimes it’s good to be reminded that things we do or say have an effect on the world outside our heads.

Um, and now I’m slightly worried that I sound like a religious nut-case or a stalker so perhaps I ought to end on that note... not stalking... the liking your stories note... I'll get my coat...