Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Story for College Application

So this is a story I am submitting to an MFA program I really want to get into and I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks! :D

Hidden Dangers of Roofing

Of one thing everyone was certain: on February 29th, 2007, in front of thirteen witnesses at the Cafe de Joure, Eric Davidson fell to his death from the roof, impaling himself on the low, wrought iron fence that lined the courtyard before the cafe. Three webcams–– mid skype–– one smart phone busy recording a friend’s homework, and the old CCTV in front of the door all captured the fall–– every last gruesome detail caught from five different angles. The poor jury had to endure the replay, slow-mo, and zoom-in of each– seven times. By the 35th viewing they could already joke about the fall and the noise of the crunch of wrought iron and vitamin-D deficient skull. But the hardest part of all, of course, was deciding who was responsible for this (the fall but also the jury system) and how best to punish them for inconveniencing the 13 people for several weeks and forcing poor, innocent, hardworking taxpayers to compensate their strained labor of thought.

In order to help the laughing jury, the two attorneys were to guide their poor minds in the right track. They were both masters of showmanship, but unfortunately the council for the defense was told his high top hat could conceal a possible terrorist weapon, while the prosecutor had to leave his pony outside, since there was some debate whether or not his pony may have entered the country illegally (and from the “undesirable” side too!) Both would have to wait outside during the court. However, they were still allowed to have their burning hoops to jump through, if they so desired. But without top hat or pony, neither felt it even worth the effort anymore.

Instead they would have to settle for good ole fashion convincing. The prosecutor was up first, and he knew that his best bet lay in causing the jury to feel that anyone of them could be maliciously thrown from their or one of their friend’s roofs. This great injustice should not be tolerated. And like any great ringmaster, he called out as he began,

“Ladies and gentlemen! In this corner I have the only remains gathered of Mr. Davidson. Here, in this brown paper bag.”

“Ohhh.” said the jury in astonishment and wonder that the prosecutor could hold a brown paper bag up so wonderfully.

“And in this corner,” he continued, “We have Mr. Thomas Didymus, who, some have said.... killed Mr. Davidson!”

“Ahhhh!” cried the jury, one particular soccer mom dropping a tear on her cashmere sweater.

“Drat!” whispered the defense attorney as he straightened his purple silk tie, “He’s really good at making a point!”

“Now, I will tell you. I will tell you what really happened, three weeks ago, when Mr. Davidson died!” the prosecutor continued.

* * *

Two men walk upon a roof, a roof covered in green, mossy tiles. They scurry along its breath holding on for their very lives. They tentatively walk the tightrope of the edge, one foot placed carefully before the next. In places such as Portland, Oregon, where it rains and rains constantly for months on end, the mosses flourish on the wooden slats of the houses and become thick, sleek carpets, ready to send anyone foolish enough to step on them to their doom. They also slowly eat away at the roofing, which is why the Roofers of Portland, LLC had been called. That was why the two were up there to begin with.

A foot catches on a large patch of moss, and with a slick, green smear begins to slide on the decayed wood. His other foot moves of its own volition, before he has a chance to tell it, he is trying to get a foothold to hoist himself forward on the sloped roof, three stories high. He knew he shouldn’t have had that last beer. Now, as he flounders and rolls over the muddy, slimy moss, hands and feet all desperate for any kind of nook or foothold, he feels sluggish and slow, his clothes slowing his slide enough to give him time to struggle, but not slowing him enough to stop himself.

His heart is pounding in his ears, his mind buzzes with a low drone, and his breath is coming in short, snorting grunts. As he feels his foot, up till now still scraping against cold, mossy roof tiles, suddenly floundering in the cool empty space of pure air, his mind presents few options. The edge of the gutter catches the front of his calf, straining between the sharp metal edge and his hard bone is a thin layer of denim and skin. Something finally gives, and the metal peels back the skin on his calf as the nails from the gutter rake across the freshly exposed red flesh beneath. He yells and curses as the dark stain of blood seeps across his leg.

But before even realizing what he’s doing, he swings the leg to the side, to try and catch the edge of the gutter with his boot, to pull himself back before he goes all the way over the edge, trying to ignore the burning sensation of his own hot blood. He misses, but uses the momentum to bring his leg up for a higher kick, and manages to imbed his heel on a rusty nail sticking from the gutter. This time he screams.

Thomas is working not even 10 feet away, but does not hear him. Thomas still has his earphones in while he’s working. Thomas is still mad at him. Mad about finding out about what happened with Gina. Thomas has no reason to take the earphones out, no reason to turn around and check on him.

And deep down, Eric knows he wouldn’t want his help anyway. He didn’t need any of them. He threw his other leg up too, and grabbed the edge of the gutter with both hands as his whole body slid slowly across the muddy, slimy green moss gently over the edge... and as he did, Thomas took the silent iPod out of his pocket and turned on some music. Something loud.

* * *

“... and well, you know the rest. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!” he said, bowing and then running his hand over his well oiled, well combed-over head.

The jury clapped, threw roses, and asked him for an encore. He smiled, bowed, blew kisses, and walked to his little red mahogany desk, and sat down. He turned with a smile of confidence towards the defense, and stuck out his tongue.

The defense attorney swallowed hard, fixed his purple silk tie again, and whispered to his client, “That will be a tough act to follow. He’s good... but maybe... too good. He had too much logic in his act. With my tie (it’s nice, isn’t it?) and my secret weapon we’ll show him how a real show wins a jury.”

The defense attorney walked to the middle of the courtroom and raising his pointed finger to the painted heavens and cherubs on the ceiling called, “Bring me... the theater troupe!”

But of course, things rarely ever go as we imagine them, and unfortunately, because his troupe included a mime (a group still banned from marrying each other or acting in a public courtroom (though welcomed in military tribunals as a less humanitarian alternative to waterboarding)) the whole troupe was told to wait outside next to the top hat, pony, burning rings, and Ted Kennedy. Meanwhile, the poor, dejected defense attorney took a deep breath as he straightened his tie, which was all he had now to convince the jury.

* * *

“Get out!” Eric yelled as he threw the empty beer cans at the younger man.

“Jeez man! I told you, it was nothing. Aright. Gina just invited me in to talk. That was all.” Thomas said as he scooted out of the other side of the small, grimy pickup.

“You think I’m stupid?! And you know what else! I don’t give a rat’s ass what you two did! Gina is my wife! So! There!” Eric slammed his door so hard that rusty flecks of faded blue paint showered down.

“Listen. Eric. You obviously still feel something, man. Maybe you shouldn’t go through wit––” But Thomas couldn’t finish his sentence before the big, hairy hand grabbed him by the collar.

“Shut up! Just shut the hell up!” His eyes burned dangerously. “No one. Talks like that. To me!”

Before Thomas could see the fist coming, he felt the hard impact of knuckles against his jaw bone. Luckily, because he did not see it, he was not expecting it and did not tense to take the blow. His head simple went with it, and so the fist grazed off him. As realization of what just happened dawned on them, Thomas stepped back, his hands beginning to shake with adrenaline, watching Eric intently, who still stood where he had been, clenching and unclenching his fist, face red, veins bulging, breathing heavily.

“What’s your problem?” Thomas said, spitting, not because he needed to but because it helped him feel better.

“You better shut up! Or I’ll give you something real to whine about!” Eric scowled.

“No! You know what! I’ve had it!” Thomas said, stepping forward, feeling his own anger rising up. “You can’t treat me like this!”

“Thomas you better hold your mouth!” Eric yelled, getting redder.

“And you can’t treat Gina like this either!” Thomas said, pointing at Eric’s suddenly shocked face. “Thats right! She told me. You’ve gotten pretty good at punching, haven’t you Eric.”

“I said shut up!” Eric screamed as he dived towards Thomas, who ready for him, stepped aside to let him fall in the mud, where he moaned. “You don’t know anything about us!”

Thomas looked down at the muddy, red faced man who struggled to find his footing. He didn’t say anything, just went to the truck and grabbed his gear. As he walked by Eric, the man in the mud lunged for him, but with little success. Thomas left him with one thought.

“After today’s job we’re done.”

Eric and Thomas began work, neither speaking to the other. As they did, Eric’s mind was ticking at a million miles per second. Gina had told Thomas. But how much? How much did he know? Did he know about everything? About the hitting and the money and even.... that? No, she was smarter than that. She wouldn’t have told him. She better not have told him! He felt his blood beginning to boil again.

How could she? How dare she?! To go to another man! To Thomas! Thomas who has been his friend for all these years! He should have known! But he wasn’t going to let this happen again. After today he would fire Thomas and then he’d teach them both not to interfere with other people’s business! Gina would be sorry. If she thought he was unfair before, cruel before, heavy handed... oh boy, just wait until tonight. She and that good for nothing piece of...

But as he was walking along the ridge of the roof, he had not paid close enough attention to his footing, and he began to slide down the slick side. And as he did, he was also in time to hear the sick sound of his harness’ line snapping. A foot catches on a large patch of moss, and with a slick, green smear begins to slide on the decayed wood.

* * *

The jury sat, looked at one another, before the chairperson cleared her throat and asked, “Um, is that it then?”

“Well, yes.” said the defense disappointed, hand touching his tie to make sure he was still wearing it.

“I see. That’s a shame.” she said as she turned to whisper something to the juror next to her, who nodded in agreement.

“Alright, the jury will convene now––” The Judge began to say but was interrupted by the chairperson again.

“Em, excuse me your Honor. You see. We are already ready.” She smiled between extremely illformed teeth.

“And what is that?” asked the Judge.

“We the people, find in the case of Eric Davidson’s little brown bag of remains, vs. Thomas Dydimus, in favor of the defense and charge the estate of Eric Davidson to cover all legal cost of the trial. Thank you both attorneys but even though the prosecutor was good, his tie didn’t match his navy blue suit.”

“Hey! It’s black!” cried the prosecutor, obviously lying.

“Thank you.” said the defense attorney, seemingly to the judge and jury but in fact to his lucky and stylish tie.

“Thank you.” The Judge replied, beating her gavel with glee to know that the question of legal costs were so easily settled, “Case, dismissed!”

* * *

Outside the courtroom, as the azure sky was filled with the cry of white doves winging around the marble facade of the building, a woman stood in a small black dress with a black hat on her head. She looked to all the world to be a younger, less attractive version of Nancy Reagan, wearing era-specific gloves and veil as well. When she heard the footsteps behind her, she turned to see a man standing in the shadows of the barrel vaults crowded with ivy.

“Gina.” he spoke her name as he stepped into the afternoon light.

“Thomas.” she said, stepping towards his embrace. “What did they say?”

“I’m free. The jury said I was not guilty.” he breathed deeply as he held her close.

“I knew it. I knew you were innocent.” she spoke into the lapel of his suit.

He was silent for a moment before he whispered, “Can I tell you something?”

“Anything,” she replied.

“I did it. I killed Eric. I heard him yelling for help, but I kept my earphones in, pretended I couldn’t hear. But I did. I killed––” but he couldn’t finnish as he found a finger placed resolutely on his lips.

“Shhh. No darling.” she whispered as she reached into her purse and pulled out a large pair of wire cutters, “I did. I cut his harness before he left home. I knew he’d be back. Unless I made sure he didn’t come home. I killed Eric.”

“Gina...” he said, pushing her hand down and stepping even closer, “I love you.”

The doves flew around the marble collumnade once more, blushing slightly to see the two lovers caught in true love’s embrace under the ivy covered arches. The doves winged higher on the spring breeze, around the white marble courthouse, soaring over the large image of justive. A woman carved of coldest marble, holding a scale and a sword, eyes wrapped tight by a cloth, on which though faded by years was carved the word, “amor”.

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