Fears and Jeers (Part III)…A short story…unedited…

I remove the letter from the door to the storage shed, and unlock said door. The brisk fall air has made the dark shed chilly. I walk in and sit at the pre-fab desk in the far corner. A tall floor lamp stands a lonely vigil over the desk. My job is a lonely one. 

It’s a good thing today is the last day of my life. 

My mind wanders to my gruesome fate as I sit in the dark. I finally click on the lamp and pull out a soft taco. “If I’m gonna die tonight, I’m gonna have a full stomach. There might be a line to get into heaven,” I think to myself. 

After downing a couple of tacos, I walk into the high school and begin to sweep the hallways. At times when I sweep, I remember the feeling of walking through these same halls. The sounds of laughter and chatter between classes cause me to smile. Tonight is no different. 

In the muddle of my mind, I remember the most beautiful girl in my senior class. Her name was Amy Appleton. She was something to behold. Amy had golden locks that hung below her waist, her hairstyle was the big poof that was popular in the 1980s. In typical 80s fashion, she wore leg warmers. Amy knew she was the most beautiful girl in school and she let us all know it.

My smile at the memory of Amy Appleton changes into a grimace. “Yeah, she was beautiful. I somehow thought I was good enough to ask her to prom. That was a tragic mistake.”

I continue to sweep the dirt to the end of the hallway. The joy of reminiscing is gone. “She set the entire tone of my love life. With one condescending look and sarcastic dribble, my entire future was unmade.”

The day I went to ask Amy to the prom, she was sitting at a small table by the large bay window in the library. Per usual, her entourage was sitting at the table with her. “Summon your courage and go ask her to the prom, “ I chide myself. As I walk to where she is sitting, my palms begin to sweat. I wipe them on my Bugle Boy jeans. 

“Hi, Amy.”

Her entourage begins to giggle, and my face goes red. I make eye contact with her. She forces a smile. 

“Hi.” I take a deep breath and go for it. 

“I would like to ask you to prom, Amy. It would be my honor if you would go with me. Heck, I would even learn to dance, so not to embarrass you.”

Her entourage nearly fall out of their seats from laughter. The look on Amy’s face could have been the reason the Roman Empire fell into disarray. 

“If you were the last man on earth, I wouldn’t go with you. On no planet would you be lucky enough to bask in my presence. I will not lower myself into the sewer to be with you. Get out of my sight, peasant.”

From that fateful day to present, I haven’t been able to summon the courage to approach another woman. Every time I try, I see Amy’s face and hear the condescending tone of her words. 

It’s a good thing I have an appointment with the Grim Reaper today.

I finish sweeping the hallways. I pull out a mop bucket and pour cleaner into the bottom of the bucket, and fill it with hot water. I glide the mop from left to right as I walk backwards. I mop back and forth and build up some rhythm. “I didn’t go to prom. Instead, I went to see a military recruiter. My lone desire was to leave this town and never come back. Yet, here I am. In the town that nearly broke me, a few short hours from my last call on this planet.”

I smile and finish the mopping. 

The best part of knowing today is the last day of my life is the knowledge that Amy Appleton and her entourage will not be where I am going. My heart begins to pound at the thought of the unknown. It’s exciting. I work well into the night. I go from classroom to classroom sweeping, mopping and emptying out trash cans. I am a machine. One task pops up, and I knock it down with machine like efficiency.

As daybreak splits the Eastern horizon, I walk into the locker rooms. From the shadowy corner of the male locker room, I hear a squeak.

I flip the light switch on, and the shadows disappear. A fat, gray rat is caught in a rat trap. “Serves you right, idiot.” My dream is nowhere to be found in my foggy mind. I just want to be done so I can go home. I sweep and mop the red tile floor. The buffing is the last part of it, so I plug the buffer in and begin to buff the floor. 

My mind drifts back to Amy and my final days in high school. I had put my name on a contract to serve in the Army. With my ASVAB scores in hand, I chose to serve as a scout in a reconnaissance platoon. I also chose to go to Airborne and Air Assault school, in addition to Ranger school. 

I had few friends at school, but when folks found out I had chosen to go into the military, everyone sought my friendship. Except Amy. Her response to my decision was simply: Peasants die for their lords and ladies.

As I finish buffing the floors, the icy fingers of death grips my heart and squeezes. I fall into the darkness. 

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