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McJibbles
July 8th, 2015, 09:23 AM
First time ever. Have mercy. Got the idea a few hours ago from a conversation at my job.
Also, anything that might offend, Opinions in here are not mine but the characters.


Apartment 403



Walter glared, bearing a worn grimace that could have only belonged to a man of 78 years. The target of his disdain was the rusty black Cadillac parked in the handicap spot just outside of building four. Parked in Walter's spot. The only damned parking spot in the entire rundown roach motel of an apartment, he thought. Staring back at him is his own glowering face in the faint reflection of his window. His scowl deepens as he regards his aging features: pale white face, deep set wrinkles and squinting eyes behind drug store reading glasses.

He remembers the day 403 moved in. Walter was checking the mailbox like he did every morning. Not that Walter ever read any of his mail. He had a peculiar habit of dumping it in the floor of his disheveled apartment. On that day, as Walter shuffled up the stone staircase back to his hovel, he saw someone pass hurriedly along beneath him. The old man eyed the stranger from his perch on the staircase. The stranger was tall and thin, with dark brown skin and an odd yellowish robe. In his thin arms were an assortment of paper bags resting atop a larger blue suitcase that looked more like an oversized cooler than a piece of luggage. Then, the stranger turned to look at Walter.

"Hallo!" the man's accent was barely intelligible, and no doubt from some distant third world hellhole where the people didn't bathe.

Walter grunted at the foreigner, gave a half-hearted wave, and returned to his apartment. He'd seen it. In his Arab, scraggly, worn-out beard and face. He'd seen it in his eyes too. Another dopehead.

It could have ended there. Walter could have easily forgotten that dumb raghead with the black, dilated eyes if that backwards schmuck hadn't made things so personal.

************************************************** ********************

Walter woke up from his nap in pain again. The pounding in his skull and behind his eyes blinded him and dulled his senses. He reached for the little bottle again, the one the doctors claimed could heal him, and shook the plastic container over his hand. Empty. Bunch of damn quacks. I pay for this shit and it kills me. Walter jostled his way down the steps to his handicap spot with surprising agility and fury for a man as elderly as himself and started his car. The little green junker sputtered and kicked and pulled out of the handicap parking spot for the last time.

The rusty black Cadillac belonged to 403. After the old man returned from the store with his death pills, the same Caddy was parked in the precious handicap spot, the one luxury Walt had excluding the occasional beer.

"Apparently they don't have handicap spots wherever the hell Akbar comes from!" Walter proposed to no one in particular as he hobbled from the far edge of the complex to building four, cursing whatever imaginary country 403 hailed from.

Walt tried to do the bigger, better, thing. He grumbled to himself about immigration and the damned ghetto he had to live in and his conniving family with their nursing home plans and his cancer and how the doctors had killed his wife and know they were coming for him. He didn't go downstairs and shoot 403 after his new neighbor parked in the handicap spot day after day. But Walt couldn't help watching. Every night in the middle of the night, that dopehead dragged in people. The only time the Cadillac moved was around midnight, and only for a few minutes. It snatched up some other freak and toted them back to the apartment.

Then that bug-eyed freak and his new cronie would crawl out in the dark, go into 403 for a few minutes, and leave laughing loud enough to wake the dead, no doubt stoned out of their minds. Slowly, the anger mounted within Walter. The old man had a plan. The next night, he would beat that son of a gun at his own game.

************************************************** ****

He watched the Caddy, that damned hearse, that wheeled demon and bearer of sleepless nights roll off into the black abyss of that summer night. It would be the last time. He ran, or hopped rather, on his bad knees. He strained his bad, nicotine coated lungs to make it to the little green junker at the edge of the lot. Above him, ancient light poles strobed with wicked laughter, mocking him with their humming, flickering chuckles. He reached the car, slammed the door, and lurched the machine into motion without so much as a sputter. He cruised towards the parking spot, the faded blue symbol like an oasis in the asphalt desert. Streaking, in front of him the color of night, the Cadillac shrieked into the spot.

Walter didn't wait until he was out of the car to start screaming. Nor did he stop as he followed the silhouette of the tall, thin Arab to 403. His expletives rang out through the night, but did not seem to phase the stranger, although they did attract the attention of the new dopehead, a sickly looking man of about 40 who glanced over his shoulder at Walter. The two strangers reached the door first. The Arab let the other man in before turning to Walter with his huge empty dark eyes.

He smiled at Walter. "You wait here, ok?" the ringing accent still unfamiliar.

Dumbfounded, the Old man stood outside, staring at the brass numbers on the red door.

403

The other man answered the door a few minutes later. He smiled at Walter too.

"He's ready for you in there," the man said, patting the old man lightly on the shoulder.

Walter did not watch as the man walked away into the night. Instead, he looked into the now open door to 403. He was 78. He was dying. He had nothing to lose.

The apartment was empty. The lights emanated from the back room, a bedroom without a bed. In the center of the room stood the stranger, looming over a collection of illuminated stones and empty paper bags.

"Come in Walt."

Walt came in.

"Don't be afraid, Walt."

Walt was afraid.

The man's accent had vanished. In the next instant so had his yellow robe, his brown skin and his scraggly beard. The dark, deep set eyes remained, but the man was not a man. Not exactly. He was a tall, thin creature with pale white skin. He glowed ever so slightly. He smiled at Walt. He touched the other stones, before picking up the brightest, bluest of the the objects. He reached out to the old man with his long bony fingers and touched his head and eyes.

Something cool passed over Walter O'Malley. Something like a wave of arctic air had roared into the apartment, into the back room, and beneath Walter's skin.

"You called me a no-good, low down, dirty raghead son of a bitch, Walt,"

There was a pause between the two of them. Walt began first, and then 403 joined in the fit of hysterical laughter.

The laughter gradually faded, replaced by the sound of the buzzing of the ancient AC units outside the bedroom window. Beyond that the highway sat silent excluding the occasional scream of wind and wheel as a car flashed by. Somewhere in the night sky, distant stars sang unique songs for no one. The two stood there, listening.

Walter looked into the jet black eyes. "Why?" he asked.

"Why not?" grinned 403.

************************************************** **************

403 opened the passenger door for Walter. He tossed the paper bag collection into the trunk. At the turn of the key, the Cadillac revived. The rusty black car rolled quietly towards the street, and rounding the Shady Oaks Apartments sign, disappeared into the dark.

Angel101
July 8th, 2015, 12:50 PM
First, I'll say that this was engaging enough to keep me interested. That part is good. It is nicely written, except for some minor things, but I'll get to those in a minute. I found the story as a whole a bit anti-climactic. I think because the ending was rushed, or perhaps it just isn't the right ending. The concept of seeing a ghost figure and then changing your ways has been done many times, so I was sort of expecting that ending once you started developing it. That might be just me, but it's something to think about.

As far as the technical aspects of the writing go, you should watch your tense. It changed a couple times at the beginning. For example:


The only damned parking spot in the entire rundown roach motel of an apartment, he thought. Staring back at him is his own glowering face in the faint reflection of his window. His scowl deepens as he regards

You go from "he thought" (past tense) to "his scowl deepens" (present tense). Pick one and run with it! It seems like the majority of the story is leaning toward past tense, so just fix those spots where it's off.

The other thing I'll mention, again, has to do with the ending. Throughout the story, you've developed quite a racist and grouchy character. It was a bit off-putting for me as a reader because there's nothing really redeeming about him at all. To have him completely change so quickly with that little detail at the end wasn't believable. Again, just something to think about.

Hope that helps. It was an engaging read either way. Thanks for sharing it.

Bay

McJibbles
July 8th, 2015, 03:46 PM
I feel you on the ending. I typed this up on an aging iPad in the middle of the night/morning. The battery was about to die and I Just wrapped it up suddenly. I was trying to come up with something better, but that happened and stuff...

Also, I have always had a "tense" problem when I try to do fiction. I didnt think it was too bad throughout, but that might be because I'm "tense deaf". :|

Thanks for the critique. I agree with you. I'll write a better ending and fix those tense spots.

NYXTaxiDriver
July 8th, 2015, 05:27 PM
Good story but agree, the ending is a bit odd. I think it would work better if the ending were darker, for example its a satan type figure and he takes the old man away leaving his car with the door open in the street and nobody can find him.

McJibbles
July 8th, 2015, 07:04 PM
I considered leaving the ending open. If anyone has ever read the short story, "Where are you going, where have you been?" I think making the ending similar could be interesting. Leave the rest to your imagination. I definitely need a better finish, then I think this will be solid.

Tell me what you think of the edit.

AtleanWordsmith
July 8th, 2015, 09:12 PM
Since I just registered, I wasn't really able to see what you'd written before the edit, but I liked the "Death is a jerk" twist there, and the story was entertaining.

McJibbles
July 8th, 2015, 09:28 PM
The previous one sucked. I'm glad you picked up on the Death thing, that was one interpretation I hoped might pop up.

NYXTaxiDriver
July 8th, 2015, 11:25 PM
Its okay I like the seediness of it, i can just imagine some seedy apt complex inhabited by people who are at the bottom runge of society like unemployed, criminals, etc, and also the cars would be older.

Issachar
July 9th, 2015, 03:28 AM
McJibbles,
The ending seemed to loose cohesion, but I loved how you created the character of Walter. Details such as "nicotine coated lungs" and "raghead" really bring to life the appearance, condition, and personality of Walter.
Keep at it,
Issachar