The Wingman

6

Stuart drags on to find a place to rest or a ride back home. He’s distraught at the condition of his friend who needs immediate medical attention. Richard just won’t stop bleeding. Stuart thinks of all the negativity drowning out of Richard. But he is the good guy, Stuart thought. It should be me instead, he keeps on repeating like a madman. He blames himself for his friend’s predicament. Richard is in deep shit because of Stuart and Stuart knows this as a child knows its toys.

A man stops his truck when he sees a desperate and possibly injured person asking for a ride. He asks Stuart where he is off to.

‘We are hurt. We need medical attention. We need a ride till we get to a hospital. Please help…’ Stuart said.

The truck driver asks him to hop in. They move forward leaving the trail of the accident behind.

‘I’m glad we found a ride. I thought I was going to lose you and, in the process, myself. We can’t thank you enough, Sir. Thank you for helping us,’ Stuart said.

‘You seem to have hurt bad…Why do you keep referring to yourself as we? By the way, I’m Jerry. And you are?’ the truck driver said.

‘I’m Stuart, and this is my friend Richard…’

Jerry gives him a puzzled look. He raises his eyebrows which makes his glasses unsettle on his big nose. ‘I’m sorry but I see no one else. I got my eyesight checked two weeks ago. You must have hit your head or…’

‘Or what? I’m loony. Just say it…Richard, please tell this man that you are here.’ There is no sound out of Richard’s mouth.

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The Wingman

5

Stuart used to believe he was cursed. His father left him and his mother when he was born saying he’s not his child. He was factually correct. His mother did commit incest. But my father didn’t know about this. He heard his mother speaking with her brother. He overheard a lot of things from his mother when he was supposed to be asleep. His mother always referred to him as a naughty brat who needs to act his age. She even caught him checking her out when she was applying oil to her body. She was naked and he was thirteen. She cried, ‘What are you doing with your pants down?’ She felt that she was to be blamed. She was the one with a corrupt heart. Now, how could she expect better from her blood?

His mother was called multiple times to school. Every time for different reasons.

Your son has broken every rule…He doesn’t belong here…He is often found hanging around areas restricted to girls, once he was even caught hiding inside the girl’s toilet…He needs a father…Other kids are uncomfortable around him…

His mother didn’t know what to do with him. She sent him to see a therapist once a week. It didn’t help. I deserve it, she thought.

Things changed for him when he met Richard in college. They were like lost brothers clinging to one another like no one else. People called them queers which wasn’t true but they didn’t mind them. The absence of girlfriends didn’t go in their favor as well. They were always together.

Now, Stuart fears he may lose his only friend in this world. He has many others in his fantasies but no one comes close to Richard. He needs his wingman alive and breathing.

The Wingman

4

Stuart and Richard hop onto the bike and move forward with empty bellies and troubled minds. The encounter at the bar left them wondering what it was all about. Stuart is pissed off at his best friend for making a scene out there. If only he could have acted oblivious to their presence and had food, he thought. But none of it matters now. He is thinking of the meal he could have had and if he will get another one soon. He starts speeding in anticipation of getting somewhere quickly.

‘Slow down. What are you up to? Don’t overtake this truck…’ Richard shouted.

Stuart keeps at it and overtakes the truck in front of them. He chances upon a road divider after that and up they go. They rise up to a certain foot in the air. Stuart lands in the bushes and Richard finds himself on the road. Both of them are hurt, Richard more than Stuart. Stuart gets up and walks clumsily towards Richard.

‘Hey, buddy. You all right? I’m so sorry. I didn’t see it coming. Say something…’ Stuart slaps Richard on the face. Richard chokes and lets out some blood. ‘That’s it. Take it all out. We will find a ride and go to the hospital. Stay with me…’ He drags Richard up and towards the side of the road. ‘Breathe. Just breathe. I don’t know what happened there. This sudden lack of control. It was a sharp turn. I’m so sorry. It’s never happening again. Leave the bike. It’s dead anyway. We’ll get patched up real soon. Just waiting for the…Hey, we need to move. Let’s get to a place where we’ll find something. Just stay with me. Think about your hot teacher. Yeah, she’s all over you. How does that feel? It sounds too good to be true. Just stay a while…’

The Witch with the Itch

10

Richard reaches the scene of the murder. ‘So, do we have her? Where is she?’ he asked.

‘She went home, probably. I believe we have enough evidence to arrest her,’ Kenneth said.

An hour later, they reach Sarah’s place with an arrest warrant. They accuse her of killing Mr. Swanson. ‘But I didn’t do anything. I left after a few minutes. Nothing happened.’

‘It’s better you save your words for the jury. Have a wonderful evening, mam,’ Kenneth said. He pushes her into the back seat of a police vehicle. She is taken to the police station.

‘Do you need to call someone? You can do that. Just one call…No one…How about your lawyer?’ Kenneth said.

‘I’m my own lawyer. I will see to it that justice is done,’ Sarah said. Kenneth and Richard laugh at her dismissing whatever she said. They decide to celebrate tomorrow. Tonight, they will sleep peacefully.

Sarah knows she’s guilty of several crimes, but not this one. She is being convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. This is not happening, she thought. She repeated the words several times: I am to be blamed. She is frantic at losing sleep for days. I don’t remember the last time I slept properly since I started this mess, she thought.

Richard comes early the next day to check on Sarah. ‘How are you doing? And what’s that smell?’ he asked. She didn’t respond. She is lying on her stomach. Richard opens the gate and turns her body. There is blood all over. Her wrists are slit. ‘This is not fair…She must be hiding this pocket knife somewhere. We must have checked her properly. Now, what would Kenny say? He will be disappointed for sure.’

The Witch with the Itch

9

Later at night, Sarah meets Mr. Swanson in a bar. Kenneth and Richard see them leave in 10 minutes. ‘What’s the hurry? Look at them jump like little pygmies,’ Richard said.

‘Pygmies? What?’ Kenneth said.

‘Never mind. Now, we follow.’ They follow her to a hotel. ‘Now what? We can’t just wait the whole time. I want to go home and sleep.’

‘Off you go then. I can’t allow her to slip away.’

Richard leaves for home. Kenneth waits outside.

Meanwhile, Sarah finds out she has a tail on her. She catches Kenneth through the hotel window. How can he be so careless, she thought. She knows she can’t go on with whatever she has in mind. She decides to let Mr. Swanson live. Isn’t this one lucky son of a bitch, she thought.

Mr. Swanson hits the shower saying he needs a bit of sparkle to sparkle at night. He calls her for company. She denies saying she will lay down for a while after a hectic day. On one hand, he is thinking about all the things he wants to do to her. And on the other hand, she is thinking about getting out of there without Kenneth noticing her. She feels her heart palpitating and getting goose bumps thinking about a life in prison. Never, she thought.

She knows there’s no point in staying there. She can’t sleep with him. She hurries up and swings her satchel backpack. She gets out the door without Mr. Swanson noticing her.

Kenneth catches her leaving the hotel. As soon as she is out of the purview, he runs to the hotel and flashes his badge to get to the room where Sarah checked in with Mr. Swanson. He knocks on the door of room 703. No one answers. He calls the hotel staff and gets the room opened. He finds Mr. Swanson lying in a pool of his own blood in the bath.

The Wingman

3

The deadly duo stop at a roadside bar. Stuart orders a burger with fries and a pint of lager. Richard orders a sandwich, apple pie and a bottle of whiskey.

‘You nuts…What makes you order a whole bottle? What would you do? Choke on it. Please get him a couple of shots, not more than that. We’ll be leaving soon,’ Stuart said.

‘Relax, I’m here to party. Let’s get wasted.’

‘Well, good luck sitting steady behind my back for two more hours. And making my ride miserable.’

They hear a rumbling sound roaring outside. The engines of several bikes roar and the tires come screeching to a halt. The bartender looks nervous with her brow dampening all of a sudden. A bunch of guys barges through the door making rough sounds and shouting: Motor Cyclers Rule. They wear a symbol of a burning tree with MCR written beneath. Richard couldn’t help himself staring at them. He has never seen Motorcycle Club members roaming around like animals from the wild.

‘What are you staring at? You wanna mess with me,’ a member said. Richard doesn’t open his mouth. He is in awe of their presence.

‘He’s lost his mother. That’s all. We were about to leave.’ Stuart turns towards Richard. ‘Isn’t it?’

‘Oh, yes,’ Richard said.

The bartender wishes them good luck on their trip. They wish her goodbye. Then, they leave in haste leaving their grumbling stomach behind.

‘What were you thinking? You could have got us killed or worse beaten by a bunch of thugs,’ Stuart said.

‘Not thugs, they are riders just like you,’ Richard said.

‘No, they are nothing like me. I’m famished. Now, where do we find food in this wilderness?’

The Copycat Stigma

10

Gerard finds the same news reporter on the seat getting ready for the show. ‘She’s with experience and charisma, and booty,’ his wife said. Booty she has but not sympathy, Gerard thought. He takes his seat beside her. And the show begins.

Twenty minutes into the show and everything goes smoothly. The news reporter has been respectful tonight. Gerard is tapping his right foot and smiling nervously. His lips can’t seem to find a resting place. His wife knows he needs a drink. Brandy always calms him down. She asks for one. A staff member shows interest in getting some and goes out but doesn’t return back for some time. He shouldn’t take so long, she thought.

The show ends with a great viewership. The news agency is happy with the launch of the new show. But Gerard is not. He feels life sucked out of him. He lost something. There is no excitement. It’s as if people are prone to his tantrums and they are afraid to express themselves openly in front of him. He feels a dent around him. He doesn’t feel special but sad at the loss of contradictions in his life. His wife agrees with him on everything after the first outburst. He finds her a good company but not open about her feelings. His son has stopped making a ruckus every now and then. Now, he realizes that he liked all of these things in life. His actions and reactions have made people give him a cold shoulder. He seeks real people with real emotions.

Gerard starts a twitter page where his readers can openly discuss whatever they feel like. He allows the media to say whatever they feel like without lashing out at them. He becomes a calm and composed person, one who would have made his mother proud.