Monday, 18 May 2009
THE SAVIOUR - by Keith Rawson
Keith enters the fold...
I have been to space.
I have touched the cold silence and have come back to earth as a burning speck in the sky.
I have done things that only a handful of human beings have ever done.
My accomplishments are something to be proud of.
I am married. I have been married to the same woman for the past 20 years.
We have three children together.
Two girls and a boy.
I’ve come to realize that I barely know them; my training has caused me to miss most of their lives.
I should be sad about this; I should be disappointed in myself for having missed my son’s first steps, my oldest daughter’s first words, my youngest daughter’s first piano recital.
I am not.
I am as disconnected from my family as man atop the empire states building staring down at the ant like people scurrying below his feet.
My family lives in Southern California.
They live in a large beautiful home worth millions of dollars.
I am a stranger there.
I visit three or four times a year.
My real home is in Houston, Texas and occasionally Florida.
I am driving to Texas right now.
I have been driving for the past twelve hours straight.
I’ll have to stop for gas soon.
I’ll have to eat soon: I am growing drowsy from lack of food.
I don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom, I’m wearing a diaper.
I am not driving to Houston for a mission.
I am not scheduled to go back into space for another seven months.
I am driving to Houston for my true love.
My true love is not my wife.
My true love is my science officer from my last mission.
Her name is Darlene.
Darlene lives in Houston.
She is originally from upstate New York. She has told me several times how much she misses it. How much she misses the green and quiet of the woods near her childhood home; how she misses the smell of falling snow on winter nights.
She knows she belongs in Houston. She knows no matter how much she misses New York and all of those pleasant childhood memories, the work is the most important thing.
This is why I love her so much.
This is why I am driving to Houston.
There is also the e-mail I received from her yesterday.
Yesterday, she wrote and told me that she had met someone.
His name is Roy Starling.
He works as a real estate broker.
Darlene explained how they met three weeks ago at a bar that is only frequented by NASA engineer’s and pilots; Darlene explained that Roy was working for the owner of the bar, and attempting to find a buyer for the popular establishment, who was looking to retire.
He is handsome and intelligent.
When I read her e-mail, my stomach dropped and I realized for the first time my love for Darlene.
I began to pace and sweat.
I began to grind my teeth.
I sat down at the computer again and re-read the e-mail.
Darlene had included picture attachments of her and Roy.
They make a gorgeous couple.
They will be one of the sterling couples of Houston.
A couple who will attend gala black tie functions and have their beautiful faces plastered in black and white all over the society page of the Houston Chronicle.
A couple who will build a beautiful ranch style home twenty miles from the city, on a gorgeous four acre stretch of desert dotted with cactus and scrub brush. They will build a massive Olympic size swimming pool and maintain a small vegetable garden; they will own horses and spend their free hours between launches riding through the arid yellow waste.
They will have children who will shine with their love.
She will give up flying missions for her children.
She will stay home to nurture her family.
Roy will go to work every morning, his family waving at him from the drive, smiling.
He will come home at night greeted by the warmth of his home, of dinner on the stove, of after school cartoons, of trumpet practice and household squabbles.
On certain days all of this will assail Roy and he will feel blessed.
He will feel comforted.
On other days, he’ll wish them dead.
He will picture himself stalking from room to room, a grim smile plastered to his face.
The gun tucked into the waist band of his jeans.
His beautiful children and wife unaware.
I saw all of this.
I saw the coldness of his eyes; the sinister glint.
I needed to save Darlene.
I knew she was blinded by raw emotion and physical longing.
I Googled Roy.
He wasn’t hard to find.
Roy Starling, his face was plastered all over his real estate offices web site, along with the office address and business phone number.
I left my family’s home in my son’s junk heap Chevy caviler and hit the highway.
Some time in the first three hours of the trip, I formulated my plan to save Darlene.
I stopped at a Wal-mart in some anonymous Californian desert city.
I purchased a box cutter, a pair of nylons, a box of adult diapers, a snickers bar, and two bottles of distilled water.
I changed into a diaper in the Wal-mart bathroom, stuffing the box cutter and pantyhose down the front just in case the police pulled me over for driving erratically.
I am two hours from Houston.
I need to stop, my son’s fuel efficient gas tank is close to empty and the diaper is unbearably full.
I need to be ready.
Keith Rawson lives in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Gilbert with his wife and daughter. His fiction has appeared - or is waiting to appear - at DZ Allen's Muzzleflash Fiction, PowderBurn Flash, Flashshots, Darkest Before the Dawn, A Twist of Noir, Crooked, Bad Things, PulpPusher, CrimeWaV.com (podcast), Plots with Guns, Flash Fiction Offensive, and Yellow Mama. He is also working on the final draft of his first hard-boiled crime novel entitled, Retirement. And just like every Pulp writing hack on the Internet, he has a blog. You can find it at: http://bloodyknucklescallusedfingertips.blogspot.com/