Monday, March 31, 2008

Short Story: Bus Stop 203

Hey all. In the middle of a long two weeks here, but tonight this just kind of came out and so I wrote it down quick in about 45 minutes. Don't have a lot of time to proof read and adjust, so I'm just throwing it up here and going to bed. Enjoy if you can, comments always welcome.

Bus Stop 203 by Eaglewing

His thumb ran over the indentations on the thin slice of metal as his mind read back the words without looking. It was all he had left, and these days his hand just went to the metal instinctively, over and over again.

Even now, sitting on the green bench with the chipped paint at bus stop number 203 of the late loop, he touched the metal without thinking. His eyes went to the dark sky above, but with no stars to be seen, he just looked back down to the cracked concrete at his feet. It was the nightly ritual after all.

He knew he’d been lucky to get the night shift warehouse job as it was, but he still hated it. There was killing time until something else, but then there was just plain killing time and he knew which one he was doing. Didn’t matter though; he’d do it. He had a reason to see it through, and he was no quitter. It was the least he could do now anyway.

It’d been two years since that man dressed in blue with the medals over his heart had coming knocking on the door. The words the Sergeant had uttered changed everything in a heartbeat, and it had almost been too much. In that moment, he heard the Sergeant tell him how his brother had done what a soldier does, but it didn’t make it any easier to live with the result.

It was a tailspin from there. His brother came home in the worst way possible and was laid to rest along with every hope and dream he’d ever had. He stood there and listened to the bugle play and watched his mother take the folded flag. Then he left as fast as he could, heading straight for the comfort of a local bar and a shot glass salute to a fallen brother.

Except it didn’t stop at the salute. Months fell off the calendar as he went back for the comfort he needed, time and again. He lost it all, and didn’t care. Job, dignity, and faith went too. He was an angry drunk, finding fights for the sake of it, and losing most of them. Why did it have to be that way? Why did his brother have to give it all for some stuffed suit’s war? It was all too much, and he’d have given anything to be able to trade places with his brother, but it was too late.

Heading for the final destruction, he’d received an envelope in the mail one day, and not a moment too soon. He didn’t recognize the return name, but he recognized the country it came from. Inside held a letter, a picture, and the piece of metal on a chain. The letter was from a woman, with a name he could barely pronounce, in broken English. Still, she got her point across and he felt it cut right through the alcohol haze he’d been drowning in. In the middle of the horrors of war, his brother had found true love across the ocean, and now she had written to him to let him know something very important.

She didn’t ask for money, or plane tickets, or even a return note. She simply stated the truth. She loved his brother, and was just as heart broken about what had happened. But she was stronger and was going to soldier on, just as his brother had shown her how. Besides, there was a bigger reason for two souls separated by cultural divides and a war of hate to focus on what really mattered.

His brother had a son.

A little baby boy. Looking at that picture of the smiling baby, his heart almost stopped. It was more effective than any twelve step program could ever have been. He’d have done anything for his brother, and now he knew what to do.

So he started back up that road, getting cleaned up and taking a job he didn’t like. It wasn’t easy, but every time he looked at that picture, he saw his brother and it wouldn’t be so hard after all. Though she never asked for it, he started to send money back for her and the kid, explaining that he would take care of them if it was the last thing he did.

Through every hot night shift, he’d think about his brother and what he died for. It wasn’t for some politician’s agenda, to save the world, or even misplaced patriotism. No, it was for the woman and the little baby that still had to fight on in this messed up world. It had taken many before, and the beast of war would continue to take many more, but without those like his brother who stood on the line, the world wouldn’t be fit for a baby to grow up in. It still wasn’t, but his brother had tried to do what he felt was right. Looking at it that way, the anger went away just a little bit.

Now every night he sat there on that green bench running his thumb along his brother’s dogtag that he kept around his neck. They always came in pairs, but he had only the one. As he’d been told in the letter, he imagined his brother’s baby boy clutching the other one. Someday soon he’d make the trip and meet his nephew. It would take more than a few more night shifts, but he would do it.

It was funny what the eyes of a baby boy could inspire in a grown man. The world would always be a mess, but every night there was a sliver of hope at bus stop 203.

The End.

Comments on "Short Story: Bus Stop 203"


Blogger The Texican said ... (March 31, 2008 8:36 AM) : 

Wow, I don't know where to start, but you came back with a bang. Great story with a lot of insight. It held me right to the end. I'd say two thumbs up. Find a publisher.


Blogger KEANAN BRAND said ... (March 31, 2008 10:23 AM) : 

Yeah, what Tex said.

Awesome. Don't edit this puppy. Just get it out there.

I've often wondered--and talked to him about--what I would do if my brother died. We're pretty close. He's in the air force, and married with two daughters. Your story really hit me.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (March 31, 2008 2:17 PM) : 

@Texican: Thanks! would love to have something of those maybe someday things.

@Keanan Brand: Thank you! I'm fortunate in that none of my relatives are in the armed forces. Don't know how I'd live with that worry. Glad you're close to your brother though - treasure every moment.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 31, 2008 3:23 PM) : 

"Bus Stop 203" - What an incredible story - from the title to the last word!

Anyone who can write a meaningful story of that magnitude, in 45 minutes, is brimming full of talent!

Get it out on paper, man, and share it with the world!

You have a lot to offer, and you can make a difference!
Powerful story - looking forward to the next one!
- Bookworm (a dedicated fan)


Blogger The Texican said ... (March 31, 2008 4:40 PM) : 

Hey Pardner, I just gave you a "sticky" plug for your recent story. So you'll likely get some visitors you haven't seen before. Hope you don't mind.


Blogger Julie at Virtual Voyage said ... (March 31, 2008 4:49 PM) : 

Great story - hits home. Came over from the texican.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (April 01, 2008 4:04 AM) : 

@Bookworm: Thanks! glad you enjoyed it. Don't know how to get it out on paper - good thing there's this thing called internet :)

@Texican: Thanks! I appreciate you're spreading the word.

@Julie: Thanks for dropping by and giving it a read!


Blogger Mel said ... (August 23, 2008 2:52 PM) : 

Wow! I'm so glad I was told about this. You are a great writer. A little birdie told me about your short stories. I've never really read short stories before (as I've been mostly into poetry) but this was amazing. You definately have a way with words. This was very good!! I agree... you should get it published.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (August 25, 2008 1:06 AM) : 

hi Mel, thanks for stopping by and reading the story, glad you enjoyed it. Good luck with your poetry too - maybe start up a blog :)


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