It’s a relief, actually, to finally meet a group of like-minded people.
Stan looked around as the left side of his mouth lifted to an insecure grin. The twain point of his lip was accented by line-dimples echoing into the cheek-crow’s feet transaction.
Its so hard to find trustworthy folks. It’s like I can’t be myself around anyone anymore, you know what I mean?
Stan’s grin remained intact longer than the glimmer of trust draining from his lifeless eye.
How does someone just decide to take on a life of not being pissed off at people? How is that even possible?
A crackled voice across the room spoke up.
“It’s called practice, dummy.”
I get that, but how does it start? Why does it start? And how…
“Well I damn sure know how it DIDN’T start,” Hank said, anticipating his reply.”
Oh, yeah, Hank. And how’s that?
“It didn’t start by that person sitting around asking a bunch of questions. I’m guessin’ they had to go ahead and start doin’ it.”
Merle sat back in the chair. His shoulders rolled back from their hunched table lean. His brows, initially raised in cynicism,
Merle was looking at Hank, whom he adopted indirectly as a mentor. He respected Hank’s perspective molded through decades of what Hank called “wisdom building” experiences shared. Merle’s raised brows of cynicism folded into lines of introspection.
(Flashback – Matt)
“What is it about a woman?”
Matt scanned the room. No one was looking up. They were all looking towards their cups, fingernails, the ground, or up towards the clock. Knowing they were all still listening, Matt continued.
“What is it?”
This time, his inflection was felt. Cindy looked up, both startled and bewildered.
“Something about a woman makes my skin crawl. Good and bad.”
Phil stood up and walked out of the room. Bathroom break. As the remaining crowd of 7 began to squirm, Matt proceeded.
“Magnetic fuckin’ forces, man. Those Sirens were no joke. It was true way back when and it’s true right fuckin’ now.”
He paused. Sip. Scan. Sigh.
“Forked dry tongue of some of them has been hidden behind a pretty shell. And I fell for the shit over and over and over again. And it isn’t just pussy, man.”
Cindy stood up and calmly left the room.
“It’s like the prize at the bottom of a goddamn box of cereal. You buy the box because it looks delicious. You dig around in it for a bit because the shit actually does taste pretty good – all full of sugar and tasty chemicals – fucking delicious!”
Matt’s eyebrows rose synchronously with the coffee cup to his lips.
“By the way, Cindy, if you walked as fast as your lips normally moved, then you’d be as skinny as a toothpick!”
Cindy slammed the door shut as she walked outside.
(Flashback – Phil)
Phil’s slide projector was outdated and “loud as hell in an empty room” but still easier to use than a “goddang computer”.
Phil projected the image of a bull on the wall. His twenty-four “newly legal citizens from all parts of the globe” were seated at tables of “only three – no more”.
“Bull,” Phil enunciated to the class. “Repeat.”
The class responded in varying pitches and pronunciations.
Phil repeated the word. This time, he emphasized the L-sound.
The class responded.
An elderly man’s voice added, “SHIT!”
Phil laughed. A few of the students laughed, although many were just following the lead of their colleagues.
“What is your name,” Phil asked the elderly man.
“Xiong,” the man replied. “But at home, my wife call me ‘baby’.”
Phil laughed again.
“We are going to miss you, Xiong. Class, let’s all give Xiong a round of applause. This is his last day.”
Phil pulled out the “applause device” he carried around for the past 10 years of teaching.
The class clapped.
(Fade to black)
Phil shook Sara. He was gentle but persistent.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
The alarm clock filled the walls of what Sara called their “fit like a glove, not a mitten”-style bedroom. Although he hated the shag carpet – splotches of maroon and brown – but it was nicer on the feet during the cold months.
“Baby,” Phil spoke into her left ear.
He knew how hard it was for her to fall asleep lately.
“Uhhhhhh…” Sara howled.
Pete came to his senses sitting back in a soft folding chair. His eyes flickered open then closed, blocking the overwhelming brightness of the sun.
Birds were chirping. Pete saw an open field boundaried by a distant treeline
As he slouched and lunched upright, Pete looked to his right and saw a rock fire pit with a large tree branch – leaves and all – spread across the pit. None of the smaller branches were broken into decent kindling.
Whoever “built” this fire seemed to have given up.
It was probably me, Pete thought to himself.
There were no signs of embers or any other campfire-related clues.
An orange bucket lay on its side facing Pete. Its location in proximity to the fire pit prompted Pete to assume whomever “built” the half-assed campfire had intended to use the bucket for water if the fire got out of control.
Pete’s dry, mucousy cough of “morning after” visited his bronchial passages. The grit and slime of bug carcass lined his teeth and tongue.
Must have been snoring, Pete thought.
As Pete smacked his lips, he worked to unglue his dehydrated tongue from his mouth.
A woodpecker pecked heartily off to his right. The pecking, normally innocuous, sounded like a jack-hammer in the halls of Peter’s pounding head.