Death & Life – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Death & Life

Death

Wonder how long would it take me to reach the ground if I jumped?Ted thinks as he swings his legs in the light breeze. How many bones would I break?Which part of me would hit the sidewalk first?He won’t of course, would have thought about it a year or so ago but he’s turning his life around, working hard, getting off the booze. This is his last bottle of old JD. Mr Daniels and Ted go way back. JD was there when he needed him or thought he needed him but instead of going to the liquor store, he’s started going to the café next door. Hadn’t even noticed it before, in a world of his own, but it’s real cute, a real homely atmosphere with damn fine cups of coffee.

He sits looking at his colleagues, eating their lunch next to him on the girder, chatting away, not a care in the world and thinks, They’re lucky – probably have swell homes, loving wives… gals who make their lunch pails and kiss them off to work. Someone to meet them, hold them, have their supper ready on the table when they get home, someone to care for them… think about them when they’re not there. The ‘old’ him would have felt all bitter and twisted, but he takes a good hard look at them then at himself, and sees they’re no different; just men trying to be happy, getting through life as best they can.

Things on the outside are improving too; the Depression’s easing and the mayor’s got big plans for the grand city of New York. “Do something about the smog,” he says – breathe it in and it chokes you – gonna be a thing of the past. “Look to the future” he says. More high-rise buildings as far as the eye can see, right up to the clear blue water of Rhode Island and out to Martha’s Vineyard. So the city is on the up, literally, and that’s gonna keep Ted in a job, so he’s all for it. Maybe he’ll even get out of the Bronx and move to Queens… and one day Manhattan!

So they’re constructing the great Empire State Building. Making a new piece of history – John Raskob’s vision – he reckons there’ll be a million bricks by the time they’ve finished. Had to be higher than Walt Chrysler’s Building. That Raskob fella must be mad, Ted thinks, doing all this just to outdo his rival. Hey, maybe one day I’ll even be able to buy one of their cars.

This girder is boiling – Ted feels like his arse is burning. Fred’s got the right idea, bare chest and all.

Ted looks down, at all the people, the worker ants, crawling about their business, never talking to their neighbours. Up here, they’re a world away. Ted then spots his apartment block. Could do with a lick of paint.

His mind wanders to the girl in the coffee shop yesterday, thinks maybe he’ll speak to her tomorrow. “What? Yeah, Joe, it’s a fantastic view. Thanks, I’d love a cheese sandwich.”

*

Life

The hospital doors fly open and a woman is screaming out “where’s my husband? Where’s Matthew?”

Twenty blocks away a man kneels down and takes a picture. Little does he know that this innocent snap will be famous worldwide for many years to come. Right now he’s thinking about getting the job done before he rushes home to his expectant wife. Their first child is due any day and he can’t concentrate. So he continues staring through the viewfinder, hoping for clear shots before getting his equipment together and going home. He looks at the people that compile his picture. Eleven ordinary men but with nerves of steel. He marvels at how they could sit on a tiny, narrow ledge hundreds of feet up in the air. He expects them to look fragile – as if a gust of wind could carry them over at any point – but they’re as strong as the girder they sit on. His eye, then lens, focus on a solitary figure at the end. Although he’s sitting next to his colleagues, he seems detached – a bit of a loner – and a liquid lunch it would appear. Looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The photographer wonders what the man is thinking. He puts down his camera and sighs.

The heat of the day hits him. He had thought that it would be cold so high up but it’s baking. The white vested guy manages to look cool, clearly used to the heat. Apart from the outsider, the rest of the group seem very relaxed. One lights up a cigarette for a colleague, two others shut their lunchboxes and get to their feet and all but four head back to their site office, casually strolling back along the solid iron tightrope as if they were part of a trained circus. The four remaining men chat for a while, then to the photographer’s amazement, swing round to face each other and lay length ways along the girder and go to sleep! He carefully takes more pictures – the shutter sounds deafening as it closes. Today has been one of the best of his life.How many people have the opportunity to see life so raw. Up, natural above the clouds? He feels privileged. Here he is…over a thousand feet off the ground, witnessing the building of the eightieth floor of a planned one hundred and two. As he watches the men nap, he realises that he’ll have little sleep from now on but he can’t wait.

As his thoughts drift, his wife is going through the early stages of labour.

Senior nurse, Bertha Albright, applies a damp compress to her patient’s forehead and holds her hand while a colleague tries, again, to get hold of the father-to-be, willing for the day when people will be able to carry telephones with them. Bertha has assisted in numerous births but the moment a baby arrives still amazes her. She is sure that tonight would be no different.

A visitor in the next ward talks to her friend about a customer in her coffee shop the previous night and hopes that she sees him again before too long.

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What Cost A Human Life? – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

What Cost A Human Life?

Jack didn’t care that it hurt his shoulder. All he cared about was getting the people out. He’d been to derailments before but this was the first train of the day – he didn’t expect there to be many passengers – but on home territory there was a chance he’d be rescuing people he knew.

They’d arrived in the dark, someone heard or witnessed the crash, he didn’t know but they’d called 999, and now it was just getting light, making the job easier but not easier. He’d see clearer but then he’d really see what devastation the Jeep had caused.

He knew the driver would be dead. No one would escape a head-on like that; head-on car to side-on train. Only one victor in this entanglement. Not that anyone would call this a victory, with all but two of the eleven or so carriages concertinad in various directions down the embankment, the remaining at right-angles to the track.

Jack blamed the council. The locals had been campaigning for better barriers on that bridge for years but it all came down to money. What cost a human life? he thought as he thumped his right shoulder again at the twisted metal.

A shout went up, “I’ve found someone!” so Jack stopped pushing, ran over to join his colleague, just as the man behind the caved-in panel stopped breathing.

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The Last Thing You Think About – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s smaller short story collection (just 93 stories instead of 250!), The Story A Day May Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

The Last Thing You Think About

Four hours’ sleep isn’t enough for anyone but you’re used to it. You pretend you’re Margaret Thatcher. RIP.

You’d wanted a Jeep ever since you were a boy, since Uncle Frank had given you the white one on the huge wheels and now you were driving one, your pride and joy. Not white, but red – ‘Fireman Red’, your mother had called it, amongst other names.

Sylvia loves it as much as you do, or that’s your impression from her emails, your webcam late nights, your chatroom banter. You could both talk for England, or Scotland in her case.

And now you’re going to see her, for the very first time. You’d offered to meet her halfway, drive all the way, but she’d told you how much she’d loved going by train so you’d offered to collect her from the station, in the Jeep. You’d got up early to wash it, in the dark you may have missed a bit. You still smelled the shampoo as you’d started the engine, switched on the radio, too short a journey for a CD.

As you drive, about to cross the bridge just a mile or two away, you imagine her chatting to the person next to her, boring him or her rigid about anything and nothing, probably about you, possibly the Jeep.

You wonder what she’ll be wearing, something pretty for sure. She liked to dress up even just for a webcam. Sometimes she’d like to undress too.

You picture her getting on the train at Edinburgh, her floral skirt blowing in the early spring morning breeze, you know it’s too early for the sun on her face, too early for warmth. You’re with her as she settles into the journey, passing through the beautiful Lake District, the not so beautiful West Midlands then gathering her belongings at Rugby… embarking on the last part of her journey at Milton Keynes.

She’s the last thing you think about as you drift off to sleep…

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