Friday, 31 May 2013

The gift of rage

A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture. Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
Picture Source:
There was something about the set of his shoulders in the shot; he looks upset to me. As per usual, I have no idea where this one came from. Watching too much Hannibal?

The gift of rage
He held the towel in his hands and stared down at it. His face looked blank, as if he was in shock; it certainly did not match the turmoil inside his head. He felt almost ill.
There were no stains on the towel but he felt as if there ought to be. He shivered.
His nausea overcame him and he rushed for the toilet. He vomited until his stomach was empty and the dry retching brought tears to his eyes. He splashed cold water on his face and used the same towel to dry it.
He took a deep breath before thrusting the towel away from him as if it was at fault. His sins were his own, even if they no longer stained his hands.
He’d had a great night at a bar with friends; drunk too much too quickly and begged off when they planned to move on to another late opening venue. The girls wanted to dance. He didn’t dance and he was not holding his beer as well as he usually did. They let him go alone, he was big enough and ugly enough to look after himself. Or that was what his best friend always told him. Dark alleys and deserted streets did not scare him. He definitely could look after himself after years doing martial arts classes at the gym. He needed to do something to stop the beer settling into a gut. He worked hard at it and the girls usually approved.
It crossed his mind to convince one of them to go home with him, but he felt odd. Sleeping it off alone sounded like a good idea.
Thinking about it, he’d felt odd since he had run into that creepy old man on the way to the bar toilet. He had apologised and the old guy had grunted something at him aggressively and had given him the evil eye. “Watch it, old man,” he had threatened. He would never have actually done anything. Empty threats. Like his martial arts. He’d learnt that karate meant empty hand in Japanese. He patted the old bloke on the shoulder and told him to have a good night.
The old guy had looked him straight in the face and said something in a foreign language. It seemed to have weight, if you could say that words had weight.
He had forgotten about it until later.
It had been raining while they were in the bar and the streets glistened. As he was walking home, he heard a muffled cry coming from a narrow alley. He had been intent on getting home; deliberately keeping his eyes downcast. The cry came again.
He decided to investigate.
He ducked up the alley, stepping quietly and keeping close to the wall.
“No,” a woman’s voice said. “Please?”
She did not sound happy. She sounded frightened and almost despairing.
He crept closer until he could see them. It was a them, as well.
The man had his hand around her throat. Her back was against the wall. Her bag dropped and at her feet; its contents scattered and ignored. It wasn’t a robbery, her wallet and phone were among the items.
He didn’t recognise either of them, but he did recognise the power balance. She knew the guy. Somehow he knew that. And she was terrified of him.
“Hey!” he called out.
The guy didn’t let her go but he turned to face the interruption.
He ignored him. “Are you okay?” he asked the woman.
“Mind your own business,” the attacker growled at him.
 “I am staying until she answers me.”
“Tell him you’re okay,” the guy ordered her.
Her lip wobbled. “You can’t help me,” she said.
“I can try.”
“Look mate, why don’t you just fuck off?”
“She goes with me.”
“No. She doesn’t.” He shook her.
“Let her go.”
“Or what?’
He shrugged. “I’ll make you.”
“Yeah right.”
“Let. Her. Go.”
He slammed her back into the wall. She let out a yelp of pain and clutched at the back of head, but he had let her go. He needed both hands to drive off the interruption. He took a threatening step towards the young man. The woman took the opportunity to crouch down and scrabble for her belongings.
The first punch rocked the attacker back on his heels.
He looked a little doubtful, now, but he was too stupid to back away. He swung a wide roundhouse punch that he ducked under easily before jabbing him under the arm. A few steps back to allow the guy to reconsider.
The woman was sliding down the wall, moving away from the fight.
“Go! Run!”
She took him at his word; not even a thank you. She just ran. He was glad she was out of the situation, but he had hoped for more.
The jerk had learnt nothing and that annoyed him. More than annoyed him, it enraged him. A red rage descended; he had no other way to explain it. He wanted the guy to hurt. To feel some of the pain he clearly dealt out to everyone he considered weaker than him.
When the red rage lifted, the guy was a bleeding pile of pulp on the ground. He was breathing heavily, the way he did after a full workout and the guy wasn’t breathing at all.
He didn’t want to leave fingerprints anywhere, but he needed to wash his hands. He crouched down and dipped his hands in a puddle in the middle of the alley, where the path was worn but some trash had formed a dam and the water had pooled behind it. He stood, and then pushed the trash away with his toe and the water drained away. He watched it.
He did not look at the body.
He backed away, turned and ran, just like the woman before him. No one saw him, he hoped. He didn’t know the guy or the woman. There was nothing to link them and this was an older area of town and didn’t have closed-circuit cameras.
As he was striding quickly home, he saw the old man. He didn’t say anything but the geriatric nodded at him. It seemed to be a nod of recognition.
He scrubbed himself clean and went to watch TV. Sleep was beyond him. He was waiting for a knock at the door, but it never came.
The next time it happened, he warned the guy... but he didn’t listen.
© AM Gray 2013

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