Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Elijah: Part One


What follows is a short story I wrote in College that I'm going to post over the next four days in...conveniently...four part.  For those who like to read into things and see what may or not be there, I feel its important to note that this is a work of fiction.  No characters depicted in the story have any bearing on anyone alive or dead, etc...etc....  That being said, it does have a bad word or two.  If that is something that bothers you, please be aware.  I hope that any language in the story is appropriate for the characters and the situation.
Thank You for reading...
 
Elijah: Part One

THE YOUNG man knew who was on the other line.  He seemed to have developed, over time, a sixth sense; a precautionary instinct that helped prepare him for a call from his mother.  And he could easily have made it to the phone a good five minutes before he did, but instead decided, again on instinct, to let her stir in static silence while he poured himself a drink from a bottle of flat Coke that lay on its side in a rather small beaten refrigerator.  After pouring the drink, he sat down heavily on his bed, looked over a stack of neatly folded clothes, and then placed them carefully into a grey, hard-sided suitcase.  He downed the soda quickly, as if either to settle his nerves or to get it into his stomach without vomiting, and picked up the receiver.
“Hello,” the young man said in a court contemptuous tone.
“Elijah, dear.  This is your mother.”
“I figured as much Mama...it’s begun to rain outside.”
The woman faltered slightly and cleared her throat for a second attempt.  “How are you darling?”
“Mother you and I both know fairly well that you don’t give a good Goddamn how I am.  Now what is it that you want?”
            “Look young man.  We may not be at good ends, but that is no excuse  ____
“Don’t you dare speak to me of excuses Mama.  I lived with you for sixteen years.  I earned any excuses I use in life. And considering the fact that I very rarely consult my list of ways to avoid sticky situations with the fact that your mother crushed your hopes of a happy childhood, I believe I’m entitled.”
“You are a bitter, wordy young man, Elijah Carter.”
“It keeps me awake when I’m alone sulking in the absence of sanity.  Now please cut to the chase.”
“Well, for your information, I am calling on the behalf of your brother.  I’m very concerned about him Elijah,” the young man heard the beginnings of tears.  “I not sure what I should do.”
“Now something must being truly wrong if it has appealed to the selective neurosis in you Mother?”
“Damn it, I am calling you because it is serious.  I would not call otherwise,” the tears were now present in full.  The young man’s foot twitched in aggravation.  He closed his eyes and attempted cordiality.
“What’s wrong Mama?”
            “I don’t know.  I tried talking to him, but he won’t speak to me.  He just lies in his bed all day long staring at the ceiling or reading The Old Man in the Sea.  Must have gotten it from Ashley’s room.  I know he’s had to have read the thing three or four times since he got home.”
“And I suppose you rushed right out to the book store so that you could find out what might be in it.  Maybe to see if it might give you a clue.”
“No I did not.  I fail to believe a book about an old man fishing has a damn thing to do with what’s wrong with Simon.”
“Are you sure?  Maybe he was out on the Chesapeake Bay, after a big catch and lost it.  I know that would certainly depress the hell out of step daddy Fred.”
“He has never been anything but nice to you, Elijah.  I fail to see the reason why you feel you must be so mean  ____
“Doesn’t take much to pull you away from your maternal concerns, does it?”
“All right, fine,” the woman said resolving defeat.  “Simon is hurting and I don’t know why.  He won’t speak to me and your father is out of town.  I couldn’t reach him on the phone.  Talked to his secretary  ____
            “I don’t care who you talked to.  Just make your point.  Would you like me to speak to him?  If so put him on the phone.”
“I asked him if he might wish to talk to you.  He doesn’t respond.”
“Than I don’t see exactly why it is that I find myself on the phone with you.  If there’s nothing I can do than I would have rather saved myself the labor.”
“I’m sorry, Elijah.  I know you hate me and that is fine.  But you don’t hate your brother and he needs you,” the woman had dried her tears earlier, but now was beginning to weep again.  “I called to see if you could stop by the house before you go to your father’s.”
“Stop by the house!  Jesus mother, I’m in Massachusetts.  Dad lives in Colorado.  The house is on the  Bay.  Now do I need to explain the geographies of why someone in Cambridge can’t stop by Virginia on his way to a rocky western state," the young man said, standing out of impatience. 
“I talked to his secretary and she said he isn’t going to even be back until Monday or Tuesday.  That gives you almost a week.  I made you reservations on a flight that leaves this evening late.  It arrives early tomorrow morning in Norfolk.  Fred said he would pick you up at the airport.”
            “Mother, I don’t know.  Are you sure this is serious?  You know how he is.”
“Yes, I do.  But this is not  ____ this is something serious.”
“I am fairly assured that you and I’s opinions on the severity of an emotion problem are not...
“Please Elijah..." the woman completely broke down and found herself unable to speak.  Elijah waited for a long time before he finally spoke.
“I’ll be on the plane Mama.”  He hung up without saying good-bye.
The small room from which Elijah had conducted his phone conversation was bare.  Only two stock twin beds, lying sheetless on a hardwood floor, a few scattered boxes, a worn and rather beaten small refrigerator and a suitcase remained.  The young man sat down heavily on the bed and then almost immediately stood up again.  He walked over to the window and stared into space.  The ground was three floors below and from his vantage point, had he been paying any attention, he could have seen the flock of exuberant young men and women running through the courtyard in a post graduation bliss.  As it was, however, the only thing that filled Elijah’s vision was the blur of color filled daylight and the depths of his own thoughts.  When a tall, lanky man of 22 years, burst through the door, Elijah took his time in turning to greet him.
            “Thought I’d find you here,” the newly entering figure announced.
“Well  ____  we’ve lived here for an entire school year.  I would imagine that anyone attempting to find me would find this an opportune location.”
“Jesus, Elijah.  If I’d of known that giving the valedictorian address was going to put you in such a poor humor I’d of stolen your thesis.”  This was said with a jovial tone present to those who seem apt at cheering people up.  One who had probably seen it as his sovereign duty all of his life and now found himself too set in his ways to change.  The tall man opened the refrigerator, pulled out a small bottled water and sat down on the bed.  “Was a hell of a speech.  I’ll be the first to tell ya.”
“Your not”
“Regardless.  It was a hell of a speech.  Really put those optimistic Harvard boys in check, I’ll tell you that old boy.  Guess you had to finish it off with that glimmer of hope, shining light crap though.  You’d a had people jumping off bridges if you didn’t.  All in all I think you had people's attention.  You had mine and I’ve been listening to you for years.”
Elijah did not respond but instead left his place at the window and finished packing his suitcase.  The tall man continued. 
“I can’t believe you’re going to jet so quickly though.  You know how many parties there are going to be, tonight alone.”
“I’m sure if I really try that I could conjure up a number for you.”
“Talk to me buddy.  What’s wrong?  I’ve seen you in a mood before, but this is suppose to be one of the happiest days of your life.”
“She called up today.  I just got off the phone with her.”
“Come on man.  It is your graduation.  She at least has the right to call and congratulate you.”
“No, I think I would have been fine with that.  I really do.  But do you know that she did not even mention it.  Not once.”  The tall man face bore a defeated frown.  “She called me to ask if I would fly down on my way to my father’s house so that I could speak to my brother.  Apparently, he is having some kind of emotional thing, which of course “Mom of the year” has no idea how to handle.  I can just see me flying all the way down there and finding out that he got a poor grade and after she berated him about it, he got a little perturbed.  Which in her eyes is some kind of emotional cry for help.”
“Did you say you’d come down?”
“Yes, I’m a pushover at heart.  I can just see the one time I don’t check into something it’s going to be the real thing.  Then were does that leave me.” 
“When’s your flight?”
“Late tonight.  I’ll have to check the reservations for the times.  I sure as hell don’t feel like calling her for them.”
“Do you need a ride?  I’m not leaving until Wednesday so the car is free.”
“No, you have your parties and all.”
“I was just going because it was expected.  Besides, they will be going on forever.”
“You sure you don’t mind?”
“Not at all, not at all.”

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Scarlet Hopewell