Thursday 12 December 2013

Always a Price - MWBB

The Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge has returned after a hiatus for National November Writing Month and I was ready to get stuck in. Although the song prompt was not really my cup of tea, so I went with the lyrics. I struggled with the ending, it was difficult to find a way to end the piece. And it is probably behind why it didn't get placed. Have a read.

The Song Prompt for this weeks was:
Dirty Boulevard, by Lou Reed.

He’d been told that there would be a good life there; that it was like the roads were paved with gold, that there would be plenty for him and his family – well what was left of it, now the war had taken his wife - but it wasn’t true.

He tried real hard to find a way; he worked any job he could get, sometimes up to four, but most of them were shitty, most of them consisted of him having to humiliate himself some how. And he tried hard not to give in to the darker side of life, but it was there for the taking, offering up pretty much as much cash as he wanted if he was prepared to stoop so low.

He thought about it, considered it, and spoke to his children about it. They looked at him and listened to him tell them how much difference it could make to their lives, how much it could give them; the opportunity of college, the opportunity of a good life, a proper home, not just some ramshackle broken down apartment, somewhere safe where they wouldn’t be surrounded by shootings, drugs, and violence.

They looked unsure at him, especially his son. He was just coming into teenage and the school wasn’t working for him, not when it was busy fighting the attitude of all the other kids in the area. But he looked at his younger sister and thought about how tender she was, and wondered how his father could ask her, or why he would. But she smiled up at her dad and said she’d do anything for him, so there was no argument. He promised her it wouldn’t be for long, that it would be okay and that he would be there to protect her.

And he tried hard to be, but he wasn’t a fighter, never had been, which was why he’d left his country in the first place. So he ended up in the hospital, along with his beautiful little girl too – who wouldn’t be quite so beautiful anymore thanks to the switchblade the guy was carrying, and having thrown all his money at the man he couldn’t cover what was needed to try and make it right.

So it was on his son, who faired better, and was able to hold his own and dictate his own terms. And for a while he thought they would be okay, that in just another six months they could get out of here and find a better place, and repair the damage he’d done. But he hadn’t bargained on the depravity of the people, the crude desire to hurt another, particularly a young boy, who, by the time they’d finished with him, would never walk again, dependant on a catheter for both ends.

He sat there in his scant kitchen with his head in his hands, staring out of the window, wondering how he got here, how he’d been reduced to someone who would abuse his children in this way, and then he caught sight of it on a billboard poster across the street and started laughing; the very image that had inspired him, and given him hope, making him believe in a better life, in freedom.

When his children joined him looking puzzled he could only point at it, unable to speak through the laughter, but their confused looks remained as they wondered why a picture of the Statue of Liberty was so funny.

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