If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Michelle D'costa: The Escalator

When escalators were first introduced in India, women nagged at its inconvenience. They had to be careful of their saris, heels and children. Ah! Children! Now if only children ranked first on their priority list.

Sheela stood facing the escalator that headed downwards, towards her. Now, was that convenient? Not for the people who were heading her way. They felt conscious. Why was she standing there? Who was she looking for? Who was she looking at? They murmured to their partners. She’s nuts.

Sheela could see her son Gopu taking faltering steps on the top of the escalator. She smiled a smile of a mother seeing her child taking his first steps. And then her eyes glazed over, ‘Nooooo!!!!’

Her blood curdling scream stopped the escalator in its track. But Gopu repeated what he had done that day. Only difference was Sheela watched him do it now, again and again.

She watched as he stumbled for balance. He was in the right direction. He was supposed to come down. Unlike other kids who are blessed with intelligence yet find themselves at the wrong end of the escalator, at the dangerous end.

Despite being in the right direction, he slipped. Her Gopu. Yes he did. If only she had noticed in time.

And tumbled. And then. Only then had Sheela turned around and noticed that her son was missing.

How ironical life is? The whole process began so gruellingly slow. From conception to gestation to childbirth. But death came without that wait. So sudden. At least for Gopu it did. Not that a death which is asked for is less painful. Death is like whisper only meant for the dying but arouses curiosity of the survivors.

As if Gopu was conjured from thin air. No he wasn’t. He was her flesh. He had her eyes. Too big for his face. She could see only innocence in them. His admiration for her sparkling in the drool which escaped his lopsided mouth. No one knew his smile like she did.

She had prayed so much for a child, for Gopu. Why then did God give her a child if he had to take him away anyway? That is if God exists.

People say, ‘Don’t be sad for it is over. Be happy for it happened.’

Move on. Two simple words, Sheela told herself every day since Gopu…

But how could she have been so careless? Sheela asked herself again.

When she knew he wasn’t like other kids. That he was special. That he couldn’t handle himself. But could any kid of that age? Even a normal one?

And now he was tumbling and coming towards her.

She stretched out her arms.

‘Come to mama, boy! Come!’

Yes he had heard her. He came forward hugging her. Pushing her. Handcuffing her.

‘Ma’am we cannot allow you to scare our customers away. Please go where you belong.’

The guard saying ‘please’ a little too reluctantly when he actually felt like screaming back at her ‘Go to an asylum you bitch! You will get me fired’.

She stood fixed to the spot. In her past or present? No one could say.

The people descending the escalator stared at her terrified.

‘Ma’am no one will come to our mall if you continue your drama. Please go home.’, he managed in a low tone again.

Home…It rang a bell..

‘Yes, I must go home. I must. Gopu must be waiting for me. I had put him to sleep. I told him I’ll be going to the mall. He must be awake now.’, Sheela stuttered.

But her legs didn’t move. Her mind did. To what? Home?

Of course not! Home was home sweet home before Gopu…

Her mind slowly crawling, creeping up the escalator against the tide until it reached the top and there was Gopu.

Taking his faltering steps all over again. His eyes pleading her to end it all once and for all. To take him home.

Author Bio: Michelle loves to write. You can follow her work here pikoomish.wordpress.com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shane L. Coffey: No Small Parts...

Derek had been acting strange for weeks.  Nick had been sure his friend was getting in over his head with something, and secretly he'd been glad.  The balance-sheets and quarterly statements all ran together, blurring through his weary brain ten and twelve hours a day.  The rest he spent dreaming, praying for a single moment of significance in a life of trivia.

When he'd seen Derek heading for such a dangerous part of town, he'd been sure the younger man needed help and told himself, by way of justification, that going to the police might get Derek into serious trouble.  What he'd just seen, however, made it clear that it wasn't Derek who was in over his head.

“What are you doing down here?  Are you trying to get yourself killed!?” Derek asked.  The night air was chilly and damp with drizzle and the wind coming off the docks.  A dozen hired thugs lay around him, some groaning, others unconscious.

“H...How did you do that?” Nick stammered.

Derek hesitated.

“How did you do that!?” Nick repeated, more forcefully.

“I just reacted,” Derek finally replied.  “We gotta get outta here before more goons show up.”

“He shot you!” Nick shouted, pointing at one of the unconscious men.

“Quiet!” Derek hissed.  “And don't talk crazy; I'm fine.”

Unconvinced, Nick reached out and stuck his finger through the hole in Derek's coat, poking the spot on his ribs where the bullet-hole ought to have been.

Derek moved away quickly, covering the spot with his hand and turning toward the city lights.  “Come on!” he repeated, not looking back.  Nick still stood amid the defeated gang, stunned.

Suddenly the sound of a revving engine growled out as rain pelted down harder, breaking up the image of headlights swinging into view.  Derek continued moving away, but Nick froze, just in time for a black SUV to screech to a stop in front of him.  Derek watched, hidden and unmoving, as men in hoods roughly seized his friend and dragged him into the back seat, restraining and gagging him with duct tape before pulling a bag down over his head.

Nick cursed himself vehemently as he fought to get his breathing under control.  He'd been so sure he'd found his moment, but now he was the helpless prisoner and his friend, it seemed, was some kind of super hero.

Finally the long ride ended, and Nick was dumped unceremoniously onto a concrete floor.

“Is this the guy?” a heavy voice asked.

“Took out a dozen of the Caprese's best fighters without so much as a mark on him.  It's gotta be.”

“Take the hood off,” the first voice said again.

The bag was pulled away, revealing only more darkness and five or six even darker silhouettes.

“I'm Sean O'Sullivan,” the voice continued, “and you're havin' of a skillset that seems right useful.  So, the proposition's a simple...”

Suddenly a skylight shattered overhead, and a heavy form fell on O'Sullivan, slamming him to the ground.  Shots rang out, but if they hit anything, they did no harm.  A moment later the form became Derek as he deftly dispatched the thugs, then helped Nick to his feet and cut the duct tape binding him.

“Thanks,” Derek said, breathing hard.  “Couldn't have done it without you.”

“How's that?” Nick responded, stunned.  “I wasn't even much of a sidekick.”

“Lousy sidekick,” Derek confirmed.  “Awesome bait.”

Shane L. Coffey is a writer in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


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