Tag Archives: Action

It’s better to react quickly and look stupid than to not react in time

One of my coworkers just got his hip replaced. I am very fond of him. He is a fellow writer, and he always eats my cooking. Brave, brave man. 😉

Today was one of his first days back. From his cube, I heard a THUNK and then him swearing quietly.

My stomach dropped. I left my chair and rushed into his cube.

He was fine! He had been raising his desk to a standing height when the side got hooked on the printer, raised it, and dropped it. That was the big noise.

Two other concerned coworkers peeked in. After the worried questions and dismissive answers, we went back to our desks. One of them remarked, “Wow, you were in there fast! I sit right next to him and you were still in there before me.”

Having had an ill mother, as well as several very accident-prone family members, all the kids in my family learned to jump when something happened.

I am haunted by an experience I had when I was about 19, in college. I was supposed to spend some time visiting an old lady in a home as part of a community service credit.

In the course of our conversation, she had mentioned to me that a resident next door to her had fallen and was calling for help for hours before she heard her and got staff to help.

Later on, I went to visit her again. As we talked, and I kept hearing an odd, high vocalization every minute or so, from the other room. I didn’t think about it too hard, and politely wrote it off. I must have heard it for at least 30 minutes. Eventually the lady I was with heard it, too.

“What is that sound?” she said.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I keep hearing it.”

Being wheelchair bound, she pushed the call button, waited for an aide, and asked them to check on the noise. In her wisdom and experience, she was proactive about the situation the minute she noticed something unusual.

Of course, it was the resident in the next room. She had fallen again and was calling from the floor, in her frail weak voice, “Help!…Help!”

It’s amazing how much you forget. In writing this, I realized I don’t know if I ever saw the neighboring resident’s face. I don’t remember what we were talking about. The whole thing is like a hazy dream.

Only one thing keeps its sharp clear edges:  the sounds in the background of our long conversation, sounds which I had written off in the back of my mind, sounds which I was too shy and uncertain to act upon, and so ignored: a pathetic, persistent, exhausted cry for help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Criminals

 

Here is something I wrote a few years ago. It took a lot of elbow grease to straighten it out! I guess it’s proof that I really have learned some things since then. I still would give it another… six revisions if I weren’t so tired.

This one’s for Tom, author of Slumdog Soldier. If you guys want to read some addictive action and make a nice friend, check out his site.

 


 

Walking alone in the park was foolish at the best of times, but tonight was Mardi Gras. People were especially rowdy and dangerous.

Still, there were things she needed from the store. If she didn’t get something for her lunch tomorrow she would be stuck with convenience store food.

She wasn’t comfortable on the street with all the dancing, jostling, vomiting drunks (any one of them could be a criminal) so she decided to take a shortcut through the park. Tucking her purse safely under her arm, she headed down the path toward the dark trees.

She had made it nearly halfway through the park when she noticed a man following her at a distance.

Maybe the park hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

Clutching her purse even closer, she quickened her pace.

There was a rustle in the woods, and a second man emerged from the trees just ahead of her. He brandished a pocket knife so small, she had to wonder if bringing it to the mugging had been an afterthought.

The first man wrapped a cool metal wire around her neck and pressed himself against her back.

“Are you robbing me?” She said, aghast. She’d never been in a fight before.

“Shh,” the man with the knife said. He buried his face where her neck met her shoulder and inhaled deeply. He still held his knife, but he was distracted and it was loose in his hand at his side. His neck, dark with stubble, stretched in front of her as he took his first taste of her skin. He was so close that she could see the jugular veins throb beside his esophagus.

She had spent her whole life trying to be gentle. But these two were clearly a lower class of human, undeserving, uncivilized. Criminal.

Just this once, she gave herself permission to join their level.

With one hand, she batted the knife from his distracted grip and let it fall onto the leafy path. With the other, she grabbed the back of his neck and brought his throat toward her open teeth. She sank in with a crunch of gristle. Metallic blood welled into her mouth.

The man didn’t scream; he couldn’t. He brought both hands up and tried to push her away, then stopped when he felt the increased tugging of her teeth at his still connected flesh. So she did it for him, with a well-placed kick to the groin.

He staggered backwards, pouring blood black in the moonlight.

Her victory came at a price: the man behind her tightened the garrote around her neck. She couldn’t breathe. Her decision to fight tonight could very well cost her her life. The sharp wire cut through her skin, and deeper.

She was ready. She would take any damage necessary, if it meant she could deal equal damage to her attacker.

With that resolve, she stomped as hard as she could on the top of his foot once, twice. She heard more than felt his metatarsal snap, but it didn’t make him let go. Fine. She drove her elbow into his gut with everything she had, then fell backwards into him. They hit the ground together, which caused him to slacken his grip just long enough for her to work her fingers under the wire.

She could run out of air at any second, but she still hadn’t done this man any significant damage. Her survival was secondary to that.

He would not let go of the garrote, but her fingers prevented him from killing her outright. He lay on the ground and she was almost atop him, on her side. How could she hurt him? His grip was unbreakable, and he had good pain tolerance…  but he had reacted to the belly blow. His gut was his soft spot.

She drove her elbow into his stomach, then again, repeatedly, until she felt a small bone under his ribcage snap. This wasn’t enough. He wouldn’t die from this, and he knew the surest way to win was to hang on to his weapon just a little longer.

Her lungs burned, her eyes saw pink. Was that from the garrote or something else? She pawed the ground for a weapon, but there was nothing. Only solid rock. Solid rock…

She ceased her assault on his diaphragm and grabbed his hair with her free hand. Quickly, before he tensed up, as fast and as hard as she could, she raised his head by the hair and slammed it into the concrete path, then again, then again. Each blow weakened his grip on the garrote. The sounds of his skull hitting the cement got wetter, until he didn’t have any fight left.

She stood up, unwrapping the wire from her neck.

The first man’s Adam’s apple was still in her mouth? She spat it out and wiped her lips with the back of her sleeve.

She’d never committed a crime, so they wouldn’t be able to match her fingerprints or dna. If she just walked away now, there was a solid chance she would never get caught. She would have to rinse off in the dark pond before going back into the street.

Fortunately, it was Mardis Gras. Everyone looked criminal at this hour. She would blend right in.