Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” – Conclusion
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” – Conclusion
Pushing his aching body as fast as he could Luco arrived at the Arboretum Gardener’s Shed in fifteen minutes. He called out.
“I’m here, Thayer. Marlee, are you in there? Are you OK?”
Dennis was waiting.
“I’m sorry, Reyes. I’m afraid she’s a bit tied up right now.”
“Dennis, let her go. She’s not invol –“
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Dennis screamed. This is my turf and I make the rules here.”
Luco paced back and forth knowing that every second that Dennis still held Marlee anything could happen.
“Dennis, let’s talk. Come on out here, face to face.”
Dennis looked at Luco through the window shutter, standing there. “Did you come alone, Coffee Boy?”
“Yes, Dennis, I’m alone.”
Inside the shed Dennis, grinning, turned to Marlee. “He came alone. He really is such a Boy Scout.
“Reyes, you come in here if you want to see your little ‘Nursey-Wursey.’ Now!
Luco walked under the Gardener’s trellis that was covered with California Poppies. The door to the shed swung open. He went in. He had no choice. He could see Marlee tied up sitting on the floor, tape across her mouth.
Her captor was standing to the left of the doorway. When Luco came through the door Dennis, using a wooden fence slat, hit him in the middle of the back. Luco crashed, face down, to the floor. Every muscle and still knitting bone protested in pain reminding him of how recently he had been almost killed by Dennis’ van.
“Welcome, Boy Toy, How nice of you to drop in.”
Marlee, helpless, struggled against the tape holding her wrists and ankles.
“Have you two met? Oh, let me do the honors. Miss Marlee, this pathetic creature you see before you on the floor is one Luco Reyes. He’s a Bus Boy in a local dive and an irritating fool who thinks he can push me around. Isn’t that right, Pal?
He emphasized the word “Pal” with a sharp kick to Luco’s ribcage. The pain made Luco close his eyes and fight to not pass out. He had to stay alert to get both Marlee and himself out of there alive.
“And, ‘Mr. Thinks-he’s-hot’, this is Miss Marlee Owen, a friend of MINE, a neighbor of MINE, and just plain MINE.” He poked Marlee with the pointed fence slat each time he said the word “mine.”
Luco crawled closer to Marlee and pulled himself up to a sitting position. He looked up at Dennis, who was smiling at his two “guests.”
“Dennis, why? Why are you doing all of this. I understand why you might have a problem with me, but – “
“Why?” interrupted Dennis. Why am I so….” He paused a second and, bending close to his two prisoners, screamed his next word. “… ANGRY at all of you? Why? It’s because when I came here to Haight Street all I wanted was a chance to start over – to leave it all behind. I wanted a Second Chance.”
“But, Dennis, that’s all any of us wanted – You, me, Marlee. We all came to The Haight to leave our pasts and our pain behind. We all wanted and needed, to have that Second Chance.”
Dennis threw the wooden slat at him and turned away, frustrated.
“But you and all those shop keepers and drug dealers in the neighborhood ruined it for me. You wouldn’t leave me be. You were all the same as those people in Massachusetts. Do you see what I mean?” He turned back toward the two of them on the floor.
When he did he was met by Luco and the slat smashing into his face. The slat broke in half and he staggered backwards. He quickly turned the initial shock into rage and charged at Luco, driving them both across the wooden floor slamming them into a tall metal storage rack. Tools fell from the shelves bouncing across the floor.
Dennis clamped his hands on Luco’s neck. He wanted to squeeze the life out of the man he blamed for everything – the Drugs – the Murders – all of the wrongs in his life.
On the floor, pressed up against the bags of mulch, Marlee was hit by some of the fallen tools. A pair of long bladed steel clippers landed by her and she reached out and started to rub the duct tape on her wrists across the blades.
Feeling his life and his future being stolen away, Luco fell back on the street fighting skills he had learned as a teen on the streets of the Mission District. He broke the grip on his throat with a head-butt that shattered Dennis’ nose. He followed up with a left jab and a right cross to the chin. Dennis retreated, stumbling over the tool scattered about the floor.
Ignoring the pain and the blood that he could taste Dennis reached down and picked up a razor sharp axe that the Gardener used to trim diseased and storm damaged trees throughout the Arboretum. He took a wild swing at Luco who jumped back to escape the fatally sharp edge.
Before Dennis could pull the axe head back for another swing Luco moved in close, inside the reach of the axe. He tried another jab, but Dennis sidestepped the blow, pulled in the axe handle, and slammed it into Luco’s left ear.
Luco staggered and fell to the ground. He was on his back, helpless in front of Marlee who was still trying to free herself. His head was swimming with images from his life: Alicia, Regalito, their wedding at Mission Dolores. He also saw Marlee and felt her in his arms. What he didn’t see was Dennis standing over him with the axe in his hands. Blood from the broken nose dripped from his chin onto the shiny steel blade.
“Well, well, Lookie here – the Big Brave Boy Toy is down on the floor like a cheap rug. Hey, Coffee Boy,” Dennis sneered, “Wake up, look at me.” He prodded Luco with his foot. “I want you to see this coming. I want you to see the end. Are you ready?
“Say your prayers.”
He raised the axe over his head, ready to drive it deep into Luco’s body.
“I warned you. I don’t sha -.”
Before he could finish the word Marlee lunged at his back with the long bladed clippers. The sharpened steel cut into his back slicing blood vessels and organs, emerging through his chest carrying bits of lung tissue and heart. His eyes grew wide as his breath escaped him for the last time. He gasped and looked back at Marlee. Lacking any air to make a sound his lips, red with blood, silently spoke to her, “Oh, Miss Marlee.” With that his eyes closed and his body folded up and he slumped, dead, to the ground.
A warm October day.
Luco Reyes with wounds and injuries healing over time is standing alone. A light is shining in his eyes. He is feeling like his world has turned upside down and spun like a top leaving him reeling.
For the first time in years he is dressed in a suit, a light tan, almost a coffee. It compliments his complexion, a warm color painted over generations by the ocean.
A movement to his right draws his attention. He sees Marlee in the distance in a golden yellow dress the color of an early sunrise as it bursts over the East Bay Hills, reflecting off of the Bay. She is smiling at him with tears in her eyes as she takes a step toward him, moving into the light.
As she moves closer a hand reaches out to her from the left. It is Spider from the Café. She hands Marlee an orchid and kisses her on the cheek. Another step toward Luco and another hand reaches out from her right. It is Mike from the little store across the street. He hands her a Sunflower. Scar with her toddler, Lucifer, on her knee, hands Marlee a Marigold
With each step another person from her life reaches out to her with a flower.
As she nears Luco Marlee’s Mother and Father rise and stand next to her. Her Father gives her a Carnation; the State Flower of Ohio, and her Mother takes a silver ribbon and binds the flower stems together into a bouquet. Marlee holds it to her heart as she reaches out to take Luco’s trembling hand.
To Luco’s left Alicia Luco’s aging Father approaches and pins a sprig of Forget-Me-Not to his lapel. He stands by Luco in support.
Marlee and Luco are together, side by side, in front of all of the people in their life. They look into each other’s eyes as the voice of the Padre from Mission Dolores fills the chapel.
“Friends, we are gathered here on this beautiful morning to rejoice and to celebrate a truly glorious occasion.
“These two people, Marlee and Luco have known tragedy and terror and survived to find each other and to come here today to stand in front of God and Family and Friends.
“These two wonderful, strong, and loving people have also been blessed with something that very few of us ever receive. After everything that is now in their past – they have been granted a Second Chance.
Let us pray.”
Terrific, John! I loved the ending, not sure how Dennis would die or end up. And the wedding was at the Mission Church. Perfect. Thank you for a wonderful serial! Well done!
Thank you for your comments.
This is the 2nd draft and now the real rewrites begin.
I came up with the wedding format and we did the flower thing at our wedding 15 years ago.
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You are such a good writer, John. It doesn’t seem like you need much rewriting on this story. And you did the flower thing at your wedding! That was especially cool. Will you be posting another serial?
I’ve always got something on the back burner. I have a few short stories that I can put up for Saturdays, but there may be some empty days.
“Haight Street” does need fixes. Continuity and backstory tightening. By the time I’m satisfied there will be at least 2 more drafts. Bear with me, my friend.
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I am in your corner all the way, John. I know you must always have something brewing. I will always bear with you, my friend. 🙂
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