“The Street Lights”

Emily Hamm

All rights reserved by the author

 

Part 1:

The street lights glinted off of the dark rain soak street as Stephen made his way past dark ally ways and closed shops.  He felt just like the streets did: cold and transparent.  He entered a coffee shop, a kitschy little place where all of the bohemian kids go to write poetry in the dark corners and listen to depressing music.  It’s a good place to be alone while surrounded by strangers.  Stephen had been working hard all day.  He needed to just sit and be, but with a mug of hot coffee in his hand.  He poured in mounds of sugar and sat there stirring and looking off at nothing in particular.  He was thinking, about everything where he was going what he was going to do once he got there, what it all meant.  His mind felt idle.  None of these questions had answers.  He needed a hint.

Opal entered the coffee shop; her face resembled that of every classic beauty of the silent screen.  A subtle beauty that stunned those who looked deep into her eyes which were a swirling green and gold.  She sat down next to Steven, she had followed him there.  He didn’t notice her; he didn’t even know who she was to begin with.  She ordered mocha, and added only a little bit of cream to help cool it off a bit faster.  She observed the man next to her, khaki pants, Castleton t-shirt, his coat a black trench, thrown over the stool to his other side.  His hair was a bit mussed, and she thought he was in need of a hair cut, and had been in need for quite sometime.  And yet he was attractive.  She reached to grab a menu and “accidentally” spilled her mocha.  It spread all over the counter top reaching his elbow and burning it.  He snapped back to earth, lifted his elbow in bewilderment grabbed a napkin and started to clean it off.  Realizing that the coffee on his elbow belonged to the pretty girl sitting next to him he turned and looked at her, befuddled from his sudden mental reentry. 

Objective reached, she apologized profusely.  “Oh damn, I’m a wreck today, it must be the rain.  Is your elbow alright?  I’m really sorry.” 

He became more coherent, the woman who sat next to him was dressed rather plainly and her face was void of any makeup.  “No no, I’m fine just startled me is all.  You said you were a wreck... want to talk about it?”  

Opal stood up, “lets move to a booth to talk.” She suggested.  He stood awkwardly, grabbing his trench coat and his coffee.  Opal asked the waiter to bring her a new mocha.  They shifted over to an open booth by the door, one that was a little more lit than the others.  The smell of clove cigarettes permeated the air. 

“You come here often?” he stammered, attempting to be suave and start some kind of conversation.  She played it cool and almost ignored him while she fixed her coffee the way she liked it.  She lifted her head and looked him in the eye. 

“Yeah, a few times.  Usually when I’m feeling a bit low and just want to be with my thoughts.”  She explained.  “I enjoy the music too.” 

“What is it that you do?” Stephen queried. 

“I’m in fashion.  I started out as a stitcher and now I’m designing, or at least trying to.  And you?” She asked. 

“Oh me, I make stuff, with computer chips and nano technologies.  Nothing too exciting.” 

“Really? I’ve never understood that sort of thing, I’ve always liked simple hands on sorts of things. Your line of work seems just, too complex.”  She said.  

“You really have to be into it and really understand it.  Something just clicked for me one day and I started rigging stuff up.”  He went on.  “My best friends and I used to make these cheesy dinky films through high school but as soon as I got this down, ya know, our special effects got better and subsequently so did our films.”

“Wow, films, intense.  I’ve seen more bad films than good ones, but I guess that makes sense.” 

“Yeah, you’re right, more often then not they flop.  Hey have you eaten yet?” he asked her. 

“No, I don’t think so.” She bit her lip thinking, “nope not since noon, what time is it now?” 

“Bout 8:15ish.” 

Right on track she thought, “Dinner would be great. Where shall we go?”  He was a bit taken aback, he was ready to order sandwiches right here where they were, but he could see that she was expecting more, and with a face like that, could he really say no?  A pretty girl asking him to take her to dinner, this was a rare occurrence.  “Heck, you only live once,” he thought.

“Where would you like to eat?”   

“Oh no where too fancy…” this brought him some relief…”how bout Klark’s around the corner?”  And now Stephen suffered from the equivalent of 15 cardiac arrests.  Klark’s was one of the swanky places that charged you a small fortune for a pretty plate, and miniature sandwiches that wouldn’t even feed a small child in one sitting.  “Sure, why not.” He stammered.  He grabbed his coat and offered it too her, the rain had decided to return and at an impressive rate raindrops were thundering to the ground.

They ran around the corner careful not to step in any of the massive puddles that threatened to swallow them whole.  Due to the weather Klark’s was not nearly as crowded as usual.  They easily got a table, another one near the door.  Stephen only had a twenty to bribe the host with, he was probably put off by that having been so used to plump 50’s.  The menu was horrifying, Stephen could not make out a word of it and it was supposedly an American-Mediterranean restaurant.  He ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, she ordered some 20 dollar dish, could have been worse he thought, at least she’s being respectful and not ordering that 50 dollar surf and turf platter. 

“Shall we get a bottle of something?”  She asked. 

“Sure, why not.  But we need an occasion to celebrate.”  He responded and then ordered a cheep bottle of Andre. 

“How about our meeting, you seem like a pretty level headed guy.  You’re smart and funny, almost the perfect man.” 

“Almost?” he asked

“I can’t say you’re perfect, I don’t know you that well yet.” 

“Ahh, touché.  Well we could get to know each other, and then you could call me perfect.”  They talked late into the night, the waiters snuffed the candles on tables adjacent to them, and started to reset the table placings.  Their conversation was that of sincere interest and complete attention.  They did not notice the waiters around them until they had finished their 3rd bottle of champagne. 

“I think we should probably go” she said, he looked around “yeah I guess you’re right.  I’ll go call a taxi.”  He stumbled forth from his chair and made his way carefully to the host,

“May I use your phone?”

“Right this way sir.”  Stephen tried his best to keep focused on the big black suite walking in front of him.  He was led down a corridor, to a room with a textured glass window in the upper half.  It had scrolled pretty writing on it; unfortunately he was too drunk to appreciate it, but boy he did wish he could read Greek.  

Part 2:

Once inside the small room, door having been shut behind him.  He noticed the absence of a phone.  Actually the room was completely empty.  He turned to leave and discover that to door had been locked behind him.  “Shoot” he thought.  In a drunken stupor he tried to think, he search the room and found nothing…except a door nob...which was coincidentally attached to another door.  And this one was unlocked. 

It opened and lead to a larger room, There was a table with a lamp hanging down above it from the ceiling.  And in the shadows just beyond that table, something was lurking. 

The chair rocked back into place and Opal’s face was lit from above, no longer the movie star beauty of before, now some kind of camp fire ghoul. 

“Hello, Stephen.  Have a seat.”  A large man appeared behind him and pushed him toward the chair opposite Opal.  

“What the HELL is going on?”  He demanded, starting to sober up rather quickly especially when he saw that the large man had a gun.

“Oh Stephen, don’t you get it?”  She said innocently.  “I want you’re newest invention.”  She paused to see his reaction, there was none he sat and stared back at her, a little dumb founded. And then he spoke.

“What would you want with intelligent fabric?” it was his turn to pause, but he was not looking for a reaction, he was pondering his own question.  “I mean, I know you’re into fashion and all of that, but I don’t see why you have to go about stealing it like this, I’m in conversation right now with some big companies that want to use it, they didn’t deceive me and lock me in a room.” 

“Stephen, we searched you’re apartment during dinner, where are the papers?”  Opal asked casually.

 “I don’t think I’m going to tell you that.” Stephen said and tried to get up only to be thrust back down into his chair again. 

“I don’t think he understand the weight of his actions.” The big man behind him finally spoke.  On Opals signal he grabbed Stephen’s arm again this time bashing his hand with the hammer until his knuckles became raw.  Stephen squeezed his eyes tight-shut.  He would not break so easily, the pounding became less frequent until it stopped completely.  Stephen opened his eyes to assess the damage.  Feeling had left his hand, but he could see at least 3 of his fingers were shattered the other 2 merely bloodied.   Slowly his senses were flooded with pain; the hammer was raised to strike again. 

“OK!” he yelled not able to take anymore, it’s a good thing I’m not a piano player he thought, my life would be over.  “I’ll tell you…ok, just stop...please just stop.  The plans for the fabric are in the lab, in the filing cabinet…that’s all I’m going to say.” 

“That’s more than enough information, Kurzowski…the injection.” Opal said in her cold even voice. 

Kurzowski came close to Stephen, that’s all he can remember.

Part 3: 

“Grass?  Is this grass under my face” Stephen wondered.  As his vision became a bit more focus he realized that YES it was grass.  “Curious” he thought. Then he realized that not only was it grass, it was a field of grass…in fact it was in the middle of absolutely NOWHERE.  Not only did Stephen not know where he was, he had no idea what time it was or for how long he had been out of commission. 

A car drove by, somewhere a ways off.  “A road! Perfect” he thought.  He rose to his feet, or tried too, seemed as if he had not walked in years.  After a few tried he managed a stiff walk over towards the sounds of the road.  After an exhausting walk, they had dumped him in the middle of the field for some reason; he found the road, a quiet country lane. 

“Not much traffic I assume.”  He thought.  After much waiting he was picked up by a man in a little old vintage red pickup truck. 

“whatch’ya dooin’ all the ways out here?”  The old man asked politely. 

“Oh just out for a stroll, lost track of time I suppose.” Stephen lied not wanting to raise suspicion.” 

They finally got back to his apartment; luckily his flat mate was home and able to let him in (his key having mysteriously disappeared).

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?!?!”  Sean demanded.  “It’s been what 2 weeks?  You don’t call; you didn’t clean up that AWEFUL AEFUL mess you left.”

“Dude, chill.  I have no idea where I’ve been either; they drugged me and threw me out in a field.” He tried to explain

“What? Who?”

“The people who ransacked this place.” He went on. “They wanted that project I’ve been working on for school.”

“That intelligent fabric biz?” Sean asked in disbelief “right, like someone would go to the extent to do that kind of thing to you for that stupid contraption.” 

“Well actually yes, because they did.”  He insisted calmly

“I want you out, I’ve already found a new guy to take your place…I already got rid of a lot of your stuff, I figured you were gone for good, the rest of it’s by the door.” 

Stephen turned silently and dug through he boxes that remained of his material life.  A back –pack, his razor, and few changes of clothes.  With that he picked up and left.  Next he had to find Opal, and find out what she was up to. 

First stop, the diner where they had first met, she said she was a regular maybe the boss knows who she is.

 

 

© Copyright 2005 by the author

All rights reserved