Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled Kamikaze. Please enjoy. Sorry about the late post. Technically, I’ve posted the story on Saturday but I realize it is pretty late compared to when I typically publish my stories. Additionally, this one might be a little bit rough so please forgive any grammatical mistakes or missing words. Think of this as a rough draft.
“They call it a kamikaze because it’s the drink they’d give the Japanese Zeros before they had to crash land into US aircraft carriers,” the bartender explained as he plopped the equal parts vodka, triple sec and lime juice concoction in front of the three coeds.
“Really?” the blonde asked.
“Nah, don’t think so. Just made it up.”
“It was believable though,” said the brunette with freckles, “Sure had me going.”
“You should always check the facts whenever someone says something that doesn’t sound right.”
The chestnut-haired man at the end of the bar thanked the bartender for the drink and the story, then plopped a twenty-dollar bill on the table. It was enough to adequately pay for the drinks and leave a meager tip by most standards but quite an extravagant one for a man who had what could be generously described as modest means.
He would have seen his breath had it not been pitch black as he walked down the cracked sidewalk next to the pothole-ridden street. Winter had a way of making things seem especially rough in the early morning hours. A gun would have provided comfort as every shadow made him jump. The neighborhood was notorious for its high rate of crime.
His mind wandered. He thought of the sweet young woman with burgundy hair draped over her left shoulder with some of it dangling just above her eyes. She had the sweetest smile in the world that turned his legs into putty.
Despite living next to each other, they didn’t interact much. A few friendly conversations here or there with the typical pleasantries exchanged.
To his chagrin, her favorite topic was her boyfriend. She constantly harped about his cute smile, though the man had to take her word for it because he never once saw him grin, his considerate behavior, which meant he treated her unlike he treated the rest of the world, and romantic gestures, which even she admitted were few and far between but he did once remember her birthday and she appreciated that.
He understood her attraction. Unlike the man’s wiry frame, clean face, and diminutive stature, her boyfriend had muscles practically bulging out of his shirt and he was tall, so tall that he loomed over his girlfriend his a height discrepancy not typically seen outside a parent with their adolescent child, though to be fair, the boyfriend made everyone but professional basketball players look tiny.
Sure, the man found her boyfriend to be quite an ass. He seemed to be the kind who had a chip on his shoulder and perpetually looking for a fight. Not that he saw him often but the few times he saw him at the fast-food joint which he worked or at the gym, he’d be berating someone, whether it was a poor barista for being a little bit late with his order or challenging a man to a fight because he dared to get in his “mirror space” while lifting weights.
But he figured, who was he to judge? Perhaps he treated his girlfriend like a princess behind closed doors. If the two were happy together, who was he to stand in their way? His tough façade may have truly belied a gentle soul like the man’s fair-skinned companion often suggested during their conversation.
Besides, it was not like he was much better for her. He was a failure that much he knew or at least it is what he considered himself. Once he was on top of the world, a millionaire if only just barely, with a company that had the potential of someday reaching the Fortune 500. Now, he served hamburgers to make the rent of a dilapidated apartment building whose landlord refused to fix a lighting fixture so now only half the switches worked.
Embezzlement. That was quite an allegation. It was the only explanation as to why his once fruitful company suddenly hemorrhaged money, which caused investors to quickly lose faith which in turn caused his business to fall into a quick and rapid downward spiral.
Yet he refused to believe.
His brother wouldn’t have done it, he couldn’t have.
His mother’s last words were to ask both of them to forever look after each other in her wake. He clutched both of her hands with his as she breathed her last breathes on that hospital bed and moved them to his heart. The man promised he would do anything to protect his younger brother and made him promise to do the same for him.
Even as his assets fell into a black hole, he refused to press charges or even investigate. Even with the gambling debts his brother accrued he knew he would have found a better way to pay those men off other than stealing from his own flesh and blood. Another explanation was there, even if he couldn’t find it because betrayal was something his brother just would not do.
By the end, the man found himself staring down the double-barreled shotgun of a lawsuit and potential jail-time. Luckily for him, crafty lawyers and a great deal of money were able to buy his freedom. His business died as a result, though, crumbling like sand through his fingers.
Afterward, his brother found a similar menial job in a different part of the state quite a distance away. The man heard from his brother a couple of days after the move. He asked whether he had any money to cover a bet. It was quite a substantial sum that the man had no hope to acquire with his newfound modest means in the short notice his brother demanded with more than a little hint of desperation in his voice.
The two of them hadn’t spoken since.
His mind turned once again to the young woman. Kickboxing, she said, when the man went over to talk to her deeply worried over her condition. That was the reason she had those deep purple bruises around the face and all over her arms and legs and she winced with every move. Her sparring partner just went a little overboard.
She forced a weak and anemic laugh. Her fake joviality was belied by her eyes that were red and puffy with tear stains down both cheeks.
The man had remained silent when she suddenly became defensive. Her boyfriend was the most caring man in the world and she loved him deeply and he loved her just as much. She heard the rumors and insisted quite unequivocally that they were all untrue.
He had no idea what she was talking about. The man typically worked nights, he just happened to have a day off that day, so by the time he got home it was the early morning so he missed the fights, the arguments, and accusations, the hitting noises followed a long succession of tears, which in turn was followed up with a long series of apologies and some intimate “making up”.
The man had no idea that any of this happened and wanted to talk to her further about the issue but ultimately let it go. Her explanation sounded off but he did not bother to investigate further.
When he arrived back home, he paused for a moment next to his apartment door and peered over next door. It was slightly ajar. He thought for a moment of ignoring it and going inside but something compelled him to take a little peek.
He opened the door a little further and peered inside, first calling out the woman’s name and apologizing for his rudeness.
No answer. He slowly opened it further until the door was completely open.
He was aghast at the sight as he entered the room.
Furniture was flung everywhere. Broken glass and dishes decorated the floor. Electric sparks flew from the bifurcated television that lied on the floor. Droplets of blood covered the walls.
“Let go of me!”
Feminine screams echoed down the hall. He raced outside and turned his head toward the source which was an open door that led to the complex’s roof.
The man hesitated for a moment. Perhaps it would be best to let the police handle the matter.
He couldn’t, though. He had to act.
If he didn’t, she would be dead. They would not get here on time.
Besides, this was all his fault.
He raced to the rooftop where the door leading outside was already flung open and barely hanging on its hinges. Its already feeble lock had rotted off, a clear violation of protocol but an issue the landlord was concerned with.
The man took two steps outside before he paused and pressed against the doorway to hide, not that the persons he obscured himself from would have noticed he was there. He craned his head and looked over. His mind once again had difficulty processing the scene.
“Let go of me!” The woman kicked her feet and vibrated her arms as she struggled in vain from her boyfriend’s grip as he dragged her with one hand clutching her shoulder and other full of her hair toward the edge of the roof.
“The hell I will! This is what you get trying to leave me!”
“I wasn’t going to leave you! I wanted to get us some counseling, some help, that’s all!”
Tears streamed down both cheeks as she screamed and begged. Her wailing became more incoherent until she was just babbling as the boyfriend’s shouts grew more and more incomprehensible and profane. The couple were reduced to little more than grunts when they arrived at the edge.
“There’s one last thing I need you to do for me.”
The sobbing woman barely managed to stammer out, “What?”
He forced her to her knees underneath him and began to unzip his pants. “Oh, God, no…” she cried.
Before his wicked act could be taken to its depraved conclusion, the boyfriend felt a sudden blow to his side. He glanced down and noticed a wiry man driving his shoulder into his side with the ferocity of a charging antelope. A second or two later, he found himself hovering in the air.
The force of the blow left him breathless. He could not even let out a scream as the plunged toward the ground with the mysteries stranger who accompanied him with both arms around his waist.
For a moment, the world slowed down. After the woman realized what happened she reached out to her rescuer, trying desperately to clasp his hand.
In one motion, he let go of his adversary and extended his arm toward her. He reached out as far as he could. His hand swiped in desperation.
Their fingers touched briefly. They were the most delicate ones the man ever felt. The man smiled one last smile as a warm sensation flowed inside.
Time returned to normal. Both bodies resumed their rapid ten-story descent.
The woman hastily turned her head before the pair of men hit the cold pavement below. Her hands covered her ears after she heard the disgusting cracks and thuds as the bodies collided with the ground. The woman let out an exasperated shriek toward the heavens before she started bawling uncontrollably.
Both men were pronounced dead when paramedics arrived twenty minutes later after one of the members of the gathered crowd decided to stop gawking at the disgusting scene for a moment and call the authorities. The woman would tell the police she did not know her rescuer’s name.
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