Today I have a special treat for you. A story from a future novelist.
I love it when I stumble upon someone still in HS that loves to write. When I was in HS, my writing consisted of angsty emo journal entries. So when I look at someone like Zac, I see a person who is willing to take chances in life. Put themselves out there. Make their voice heard. And lucky me…I have a platform that allows him to do that. So today (as I said above) I have a treat for you. A story from someone I am almost CERTAIN will make literary waves one day. So let’s show him some love. Happy Reading. — Misty
Shattered Pieces of a Scorched Soul
By Zac Sanchez
“Come on ya old piece of shit.” I mutter to my old ’85 Toyota as she struggles to climb up a hill that’s become a tradition for me for the past 15 years. It’s done religiously, but for the sake of my guilt instead of for any deity. Whenever I make this yearly trek, I’m constantly pulled back to that muggy summer night.
=======================AUGUST 5, 1996============================
“Setou-san, why does your bar have copper-lined struts?” I ask while my old drinking buddy rummages around in the back for a couple of Cubans, vacuum sealed for today, when I finally got my dream-job. He comes out of the back room with a Ziplock bag and a serious look.
“Dude, the government. I don’t want the damn Government spying on my customers. I payed an extra 300 grand so my customers could drink knowing that they were safe.” Says Setou, my old friend since high school. A bit of oddball, a dash of near-sightedness, and a cup of crazy paranoid, and you get my favorite drinking buddy.
He pours the whiskey, lights the cigars, and is about to make his grand speech about me infiltrating the government, when my radio crackles to life.
“All units, all units, we have a 335 at the AuraMart on eighth and fourteenth. Any available units please respond immediately.”
Setou gives me a serious nod, saving his words of encouragement. They get across loud and clear though. ‘Good Luck,’ ‘Be Safe,’ ‘Go Get ‘Em,’ all with a simple nod.
By the time I get to the scene, the night is ablaze with red and blue, all surrounding a tiny convenience store, where some poor mook is being held hostage.
I point at a few officers milling about. “You three, get me a profile on both the hostage and the perp. Also, get me some coffee. I have a feeling this is going to be a long night.”
Within ten minutes, I’m handed a cup of bad coffee and and couple of files. The perp is some random junkie looking to get money for his next score. Tried to rob the store, but somehow ended up sour, trapping just one hostage on the wrong end of a gun.
The hostage on the other hand… holy shit.
Her name was Misako Ikezawa. She had recently lost both her husband and her house to an electrical fire, but luckily was able to grab their daughter… from the burnt corpse of her husband shielding her daughter from the flames. This is stuff that makes for a good sob story.
According to the file, the daugher’s name was Hanako, who was currently in the burn ward for second degree burns, acquired only a month ago.
Poor girl was still in an isolation tank, to prevent infection. She must feel so lonely…
“Sir! Snipers are in position.” Says one street cop that hands me a headset.
“No!” The words are out of my mouth faster than I could think of them. “The hostage needs to come away from this clean. I don’t want any shots taken without a direct order! Understand!?”
The others seem surprised by my outburst, but follow my orders anyway. Misako needed to come away from this being as strong a woman as she was when she walked into that connivence store.
The perp was standing somewhere in the back, but we had that exit covered. The telephone was our best shot of establishing comms.
I order someone to call the telephone in there, and soon enough I’m on speaker phone with the perp.
“Who is it!?” yells the perp. Shit, he sounds like he hasn’t scored in a few days. Him and his sanity were on a downward spiral, along with that girl’s mother that he had at gunpoint.
“This is Officer Endo, of the Matsudo Police department. We are not here to hurt you. We are simply here to help both you and the woman with you.” I make my voice nice, calm, and smooth. To prevent him from being agitated anymore. “Now, mind telling us your name?”
The line is quiet, until a calmer voice responds. “Yu. Yu Sakai.” Good. Just gotta keep him talking. Talking is th–
“I can be remembered now…” BANG!! BANG!!
I fall to my knees, horrified. The rest of the night is mainly a blur, but small scraps stand out.
Captain placing me on desk duty, Setou-san trying and failing to keep me from the bottle.
The next week, I had to go tell that little girl that she had nothing left. No home, no family, no nothing. And that it’s my fault.
It smells horrible in here. Burnt flesh, antiseptic, and the general atmosphere of the burn ward makes for a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. Some of these poor souls don’t even look like people anymore. If I hadn’t worked Highway for three years, I would have been sick.
I find her doctor, to find out more about her condition. How to approach her. How to tell her the news. After a little searching around, I find Hanako’s isolation bubble. Beside her is a teenage volunteer, with lavender hair and an ear-splitting grin. He sees me, closes the storybook, and bid farewell to the young girl. He leaves us alone.
“Hanako Iwezaka?” I ask her gently. The girl is about six, with dark, almost purple hair that hides the bandaged half of her face. It seems her right side is bandaged up completely, while the rest of her seems to be fine. One anthemyst eye stares at me with curiosity, and sadness. The next words out of my mouth almost hurt. “I’m Officer Endo. I’m here to talk about your mother. You see–”
“Mama’s dead, isn’t she?” Her words stab through me like a knife. I look to her, and give a wordless nod. Strange how emotions work. How you can kill some strung out junkie, charging at you, and sleep easy; but when you had to tell a child she would never see her mother again, you felt like falling on the ground and dying.
“I had a feeling. She always sleeps in this chair.” She points to the recliner on her left, looking on the verge of tears. “Mama doesn’t want be to cry anymore… So…I..I..Whaaaaah!” She bursts out crying. Thats when I lose it too.
We are just two broken beings, showing each other how broken we are. We bare the pieces of our souls to each other.
After we both calm down, I imagine we both feel better. Not unbroken, but there are fewer pieces to pick up now.
“Officer?” Hanako seems to have one final question. “Does God hate me?” Christ, a kid shouldn’t be thinking like that…
“Nah, God’s just…complex. He loves us all, but he sometimes got a funny way of showing it.” I smile, not because I need to, but because I need her to. She gives me a pretty smile, and I say good-bye, taking my fragmented soul with me.
=========================AUGUST 5, 2011============================
Whiskey, the mortar of stress relief. I probably shouldn’t get drunk, unless I want word to get out that the precinct’s ‘beloved old fart’ got pulled over for a DUI. I take a shot for the Izewaka’s, and head up the stone steps, incense in hand and prayer in mind.
It sounds weird to say, but the graveyard is strange kind of pretty in this late hour. Several tombstones sit in neat rows, both lit by the late summer sun, and shaded by the big oak tree in the center. It gives the place… a feeling of rest.
I make my way to the Izewaka’s plot, a route that I could walk in my sleep. When I get there, my old ass nearly drops dead from surprise. There is a woman, early-twenties, with purple hair… and scarring. Angry, red, waxy skin that lightens up near her hair, which is pulled into a pony tail.
Her eyes are closed, as she kneels and prays at her parents grave. Behind her is a man, same age, sitting on a bench, with messy brown hair and… a sweater vest? He spots me, and waves me over silently, gesturing for me to be quiet. I comply, and sit next to him, offering my silent prayers to the Izewaka’s. When I get done, I hear a startled gasp, and feel thin, strong arms wrapping around my neck while a brave little girl cries into my shoulder.
“Just like the hospital, eh Hanako?” I say, patting her back. The man looks stupefied, until he puts two and two together. He stays silent, letting damaged souls comfort one another.
We spend the next hour talking. After she moved into an orphanage, she was bullied about her scars on a regular basis. She became scared of people, becoming an introvert and only finding comfort in books. She finally managed to make two friends when she attended a high school with disabled students, one blind girl, and her current fiancée, Sweatervest. I honestly wasn’t paying attention to his name. I was caught up in the moment, and cried when they invited me to their wedding. I accepted of course.
After the sun sinks below the graves, we part ways, them leaving on… what appears to be Hanako’s motorcycle. As I make my way back to my car, I think about the what she said.
“Yeah, God’s a pretty stand-up guy I guess.” I mutter to myself. I finally manage to turn the engine over, and set a course home. I had a date tonight after all, reservation under Mr. J. Daniels.