Wed | Aug 23, 2017

The Man in the White Shirt

Published:Sunday | July 31, 2016 | 7:00 AMRegina Faulknor

I waited patiently at the train stop where my father said he would be. I hadn't seen him since I was seven - that was 12 years ago. I looked up from a novel assigned to me by my literature teacher (the book was better than I had anticipated). As I scanned the waiting area around me, I realised I was alone. A little way down the hall I heard what seemed to be the patter of soft footsteps, with them came a ghastly form which was headed my way.

I proceeded to exit, but was stopped almost immediately by a familiar voice next to me. Turning my face towards him, I saw that he had changed, gentle dents where Age had lain her fragile fingers. I felt safer with him there, I thought, as we made our way to the rail tracks, rekindling the bond once lost. I heard our train coming nearby, my feet gripping loosely on the edge of the tile. Then ... he pushed me. Falling forward, a sharp object impaled my left eye. Then rolling over and looking upwards in pain I stared at him, fearful...

The man in the white shirt ... my father.

It had been 12 years since I had seen the wretched creature. The child who had destroyed the relationship with the woman I loved-and all because she was schizophrenic. I never believed it. She needed too much attention-her mother could not afford to care for us both. At seven, she separated us, told her mother I had touched her. We divorced and I couldn't bear the sight of the little mutt anymore, but I was going to meet her today and I was not too thrilled about it. I needed it back - the amulet I had given her years ago. It was quite dear to me and I felt it had a sort of magic about it.

I walked slowly down the hall as time lagged on ahead, it seemed like forever when she and I began to talk. She felt safe, I could tell by the way she rubbed her palms on the legs of her jeans. She walked over to the rail tracks-she was awfully close. I followed near behind and grabbed hold of the amulet and yanked...

Time seemed to move so slowly then ... She was falling and I reached out to catch her

I didn't make it in time. I saw a pool of blood settle in her eye as she turned over to look at me. In the distance, I heard the whirring of the trains wheels. I staggered back and closed my eyes as my daughter's body was crushed beneath its mechanical feet. Turning my head away, I looked down at my shirt freckled with drops of crimson ... and I ran.

No Stars Crossed

David Shaw

Thum! The domino hit the table with a less-than-impressive thud than he had expected. He moved it into position and straightened the others he unsettled. This wonder lad moved back smoothly into his tough act. It was the turn of the man in the red hat.

Curse my luck, I was losing anyway. Three pieces and I was dead sure Rodrick had two, but he was stalling since he assumed wonder boy who now had the last piece was the one who would win off his next play.

No one wanted wonder boy to win.

"Here."

The bartender Shanique came and placed the glass of beer next to Rodrick, she moved through the packed tables and rooms effortlessly with poise, she was back at the bar in no time. My eyes moved up and down that frame with much relish, but I knew it was one thing to look at it but another thing to get it. She was the only thing that kept me willing to stay in here and take a losing at the hand of the boy wonder.

"Yo move brother."

Oh, it was my turn, he had placed a four-six, I had a triple four I knew four of the pieces that had four on them have already been played, I just lost motivation and passed. Might as well see how this goes.

When Rodrick passed, I felt it coming, the wonder boy got up like a waking giant with the force of a thousand fools he dropped his four on the table and preceded to continue beating it like a gorilla. I was aghast, no celebration chants, at least cry out like one you buffoon, you already half way as dumb as one.

"Hey stop that you dirty boy, yu mad!!"

When I looked, Shanique came forward from behind the bar and was furious her face, deepened in a stern mask.

Wonder boy stopped and receded in fear.

"Easy B, manners and respect, you nah affi shout"

"Shut up and do not call me no B, you paying my light bill?"

Rodrick tried to hold back a laugh on that barb, but his and other snickers were heard quite clearly.

"I could pay it if you want."

Everyone immediately had their eyes on me. She stared at me incredulously.

"Just make sure when I pay it, I get the receipt." Laughter and rowdy cheers came with that one.

Her face softened, her eyelids fluttered like wings. Rodrick started tapping on my arm, I ignored him. She looked me from head to toe before she hissed her teeth retreating with such erotic flair.

Thoughts had me wondering if she was a model at some point in her life. Rodrick was elated like he was the one who did it. Him and a chorus of men, wonder boy included, goaded me to go over there and talk to her.

Throwing dirty looks at us was Shanique, as the crew loudly tried to boost me up. Make a fool of myself, nope I learnt from past experience. I let them make their jests at my new passiveness.

Leaving them and her behind, passing up nice things as usual. I went home, I had to go to work the next morning sweat life to earn minimal pay. No joy in my life other than liquor and broken dreams I keep.

The bar was my destination, Wonder boy was at it again. Outplaying his opponents at the table outside, inside I was focused on the lady of the moment Shanique wearing a yellow dress adorned with a tribal necklace. At the bar asking for a shot of vodka. Trying to avoid my eyes she was, mine never left her hands, with precision, they dealt with my order.

"Shanique."

Gawking at me with a frown.

"You look....good today."

There was a pause as she repeated analysing me, with a wry smile she turned her head.

Well at least I was funny, again.

"Thanks." A steady relief as she fixed the glasses on the back counter.

"What's your name anyway?"

"Martin, though people....call me Lucky."