Late for Work Chapter 2

Late For Work Chapter 2

The aftermath


The television reporter was standing a block away you could see over his shoulder smoke, dust and debris strewn everywhere. A police officer came over asking all the reporters to move even further away because they did not have the scene contained nor was it considered safe.

The reporter nodded and as the crew walked another block away the reporter did a re-cap of the events.

The reporter said: “As commuters were traveling to work, some were parents driving their children to school or day care; two bombs went off that were placed on two separate over passes. The overpasses collapsed sending projectile debris in all directions. Store fronts and private homes were damaged. Vehicles were trapped between the overpasses. Fender benders were the least of the damages done to vehicles and their passengers. At this time we do not have a total count of those who survived and are missing. Someone called in and said they saw a man in Muslim clothing using a cell phone he was on the shoulder of the expressway. After the explosion 2 men got out of their cars and started after the man. The 2 men grabbed the man who they believed used his cell phone to blow up the overpasses. They proceeded to beat the man until he did not move. This was told to me by an anonymous caller.”

I listened in horror as the fatality count came in with the reporter stating these are approximate figures as first responders push through the rubble. 36 dead, many are still trapped some are calling out for help.

They brought the reporter back on who is on the scene and he continued to tell his impressions of the situation, he described it as Ordered Chaos.

It took 6 months for everything to be cleared up 70 dead 50 injured. Many are still reeling from the event. There are terror groups taking credit, FBI was still investigating the possibility of a home grown terrorist, while Home Land Security was combing through the intel.

Our office had become busy with people wanting to know who they could sue for the loss of their loved ones. Others wanted to know who is responsible and if there were any legal recourse. We said no to all of the requests not wanting to add insult to injury.

I am grateful for that morning when my alarm was set for PM instead of AM.


Late For Work Chapter 1

Late for work

I had the alarm set for 6:30 am something woke me at 5:30 I looked at the clock and was grateful that I had another hour. I rolled over and fell back to sleep. When the phone rang it woke me up it was 9:30 I screamed obscenities and jumped out of bed ran into the shower. I quickly showered blow dried my hair put makeup on and ran out the door without even grabbing a coffee or answering the phone. I was technically only 45 minutes late I will try to come up with an excuse when I get there. The traffic was snarled up nearly to a standstill. I inched closer to work as fast as a snail lumbers across a road.

Everyone around me was irate, as they spoke on their phones they were told how crucial it was for each of them to make it to their destination. I just sat there staring in front of me not wanting to talk to anyone from work knowing I will be in big trouble when I get there. I will not be able to explain why I was an hour late. I decided to use this time to figure out how to handle the fallout.

A police officer on a motorcycle drove on the shoulder of the road. People started to call out: “What the heck is the hold up officer?” He waved at them and shrugged while yelling: “I won’t know the extent of it till I get there sorry, the details are sketchy.”

That sent a shiver down my spine and my mind started to spin all sorts of scenarios. Horrific crash, someone jumped off one of the overpass bridges, someone threw a brick through a window of a car, ducks in the road and the police are escorting them across the street. The last one made me smile.

At this point, some people were getting out of their cars still on their phones trying to get a better look. We were at a stand still. A man walked passed my car and kept walking forward to see what the hold up was. After an hour we were still at a stand still. The man that had walked passed me an hour ago came back with his head down and it was obvious he had been crying. I looked over my shoulder and watched him get into his car. He immediately placed his forehead upon the steering wheel and his shoulders started to heave with sobs.

I was in the Northbound lane, cars were finally starting to flow going south. Finally, we started moving 5 mph and then 15 mph. Once I reached a certain point I realized the traffic going southbound were the cars that actually intended to go north but were redirected. I tried to get a glimpse of the people’s expressions going south, they were mixed, irritated and confused.

It was my turn to do the turnaround and I decided to go back home.  I called into work to let them know that I could not get to work. My boss answered and I told him what happened on the expressway I tried an alternate route but all were blocked.

He told me he understood under the circumstances. I asked him what circumstance would that be?

“You don’t know?” He asked

I stood for a moment and just listened to everything Harry said. I was in shock and yet grateful I was late getting up this morning. I turned the television on to see if there were any more details.

The River

The River


As the river winds around its path it brings with it life to many creatures, I wonder how many lives it has taken? Sitting at the water’s edge has always been my deepest need at the end of the day. I am eternally grateful to my dad for giving me his place. Long after my mother passed away dad took it upon himself to build his retreat from the compression of the city. I do not mind the hour drive to work as long as when I come home I can sit at the water’s edge.

The weekend gives its magic by allowing me to start and finish my day at the water’s edge. Friday did not come soon enough as I sit here I realize even more the need for me to find work outside the oppressive pressure the city inflicts on me. People have changed over time. It seems there is no longer the same value for life, respect for others or even simple courtesy of saying excuse me. Rage is just beneath the surface of those who walk the streets.

I was standing a foot away from her when it happened. My arms hung helplessly at my side when the man punctured her lung with the knife, he turned to me I quickly took the knife from him and had him to the ground when the police came. My training in the Marines had saved my life yet I feel I should have acted quicker to save the young woman’s life. I did not see it coming; the man came walking nonchalantly giving no indication he was going to take her life. I looked him in the eyes when I took him down. There was no remorse, in fact, he seemed pleased with himself. He had a cold dark stare of amusement as he said, Allah Akbar. I have seen those eyes too many times in others I cannot bring myself to count nor do I want to remember the carnage eyes like that can bring upon a community.

I understood why my dad built this place he too was a Marine. There is a saying once a Marine always a Marine I truly believe that is so. When mom was ill dad was at her side and was her caretaker. He knew basic palliative care he learned as a Marine. You needed to know certain things in case one of your team was in need of emergency care before the medic got to you.

Mom died of cancer, my dad felt helpless there was no tourniquet that could keep cancer from spreading, draining the life out of her one day at a time.

When I arrived back at work after the incident out on the street I was applauded as a hero I felt like a failure. My boss told me to take the rest of the day off. I gave him a nod and said I would be taking all of the following week off as well.

Tonight’s thoughts are weighing heavily upon me the water usually has a calming effect but instead, the current is hammering away rather pulling away my day. My mind is replaying the events of the day; all the should have, could haves will never be quenched. I slowly tipped back the Jack Daniels allowing the burning liquid to take effect, numbing my thoughts.

My wife left me 6 months ago she could no longer take my sullen disposition when events not under my control bring me to the water’s edge with my best friend Jack Daniels. I would drink myself into a stupor and tonight will be no different. I expect to wake up damp and chilled, crawl up the hill to the house and flop on the sofa until I feel halfway human again.

The sound was sharp and came from the north; the fog in my brain slowed my reaction. When my eyes opened I saw a slight figure hanging from a limb above the water’s edge. It suddenly occurred to me that there was a girl hanging from the limb crying. I jumped up swam across to position myself under her. She let go of the limb just as I arrived. I reached out just as her head went below the surface. As I pulled her up she fought me with all her strength. I did not give into her fists nor her cries to let her go.  Once I got her to the bank she stopped hitting me and just sobbed.

“Why did you do that? I did not want to come out of the water.” She said

“I could not let you drift down this current to disappear without someone showing they cared enough for you to pull you to safety,” I answered

She was silent as she stared up at me and she finally said: “Thank you for caring, but why should you care if I don’t?”

“No one was here for my father when he no longer cared. He must have thought no one else cared either. I cared. I still care.” I said

We introduced ourselves and I shared what was left of the Jack Daniels. She told me she lost her sister today someone had walked up to her and stabbed her puncturing her lung. My heart finally felt relief and I felt the river take my sorrow away. I told her what I had done and apologized for not acting fast enough to save her sister’s life. She forgave me. That was exactly what I needed. Forgiveness.



Complicated Sisters

Complicated sisters by Christine Swiderski


Mornings are my favorite. Waking while it is still dark out. I know it will be light in 45 minutes. The birds beckon the sun, welcoming it before the human eye can see it. Coffee is brewing I start my rounds opening up the blinds to let the warmth of the sun, light the room. Showing the dust settling from life’s movements.

Geese cruise overhead trumpeting their existence. Wild flowers spread their gift upon the field across the street. Squirrels are skittering about the trees with their chatter. Wild Turkeys are bustling through foliage making their way to the cornfield for their morning meal. Too much of society misses out on the simpler things in life. Nature is a level playing field. Only the strong survive.

My sister is staying with me after a fight she had with her boyfriend. She goes through boyfriends as some people go through chewing gum. Once it looses its flavor she spits them out and moves on to the next. I told her once, one day you will try and spit out the wrong one. He will either be the keeper or the creeper.

In the kitchen, I hear the coffee maker sputter the last amount of water as it brewed the black caffeine beverage. My feet made a naked padding sound as I crossed the hardwood floor onto the tiled kitchen floor. After pouring my cup of coffee I looked out of the kitchen window and spotted my neighbor Norton taking his trash out. I wondered about the immense bag he was dragging to the curb. Norton lives alone, he seems to be a loner. He is friendly when I am out in the yard, or if we meet in town. There have been times I had asked for his assistance. He is tall, angular man. Very nice looking. I cannot fathom why a woman has not snatched him up yet. I decided to be nosy. I stepped off the porch onto the dewy wet grass as Norton was dragging out another large bag of garbage. I walked over with an extra cup of coffee in my hand.

Calling out I said: “Norton! I figured you could use a cup of coffee after all the grunt work.”

He turned to me and said: “Jeannie. Thank you. When are you going to call me Carl.”

I smiled and said:”Ha, I don’t know why I don’t. I guess it’s because I don’t know you well enough to do so. Silly really. We have lived next door to each other for a couple of years.”

Carl said: “Okay, fair enough. Why not let me fix you some breakfast.”

I was taken aback at the offer. I accepted. Following him into his house, the back door stepped directly inside the kitchen passing the laundry room and a small bathroom.

Carl motioned for me to sit at the counter. We chatted about the weather as he refilled my coffee. He turned to open the refrigerator, my cell phone rang. I excused myself as I answered it. He nodded.

My sister Melanie was calling wondering where I was. After I told her and hung up I looked up and Carl was looking directly at me. At that moment I realized what striking blue eyes he has. I smiled knowing full well my face was probably registering what my loins wanted.

Carl smiled and said: “I have always found you equable Jeanie. Each time we have come across each other, you are always in a serene mood. Even if it was storming outside. Your demeanor shown as though the sun was out.”

Surprised by this clear sweet compliment, I sat back in the chair and smiled. I thanked him and said: “I have, to be honest, Carl. You are an enigma wrapped in a riddle.”

His laugh was hearty. So delightful it made me laugh. As he tipped his head back to laugh I noticed the slope of his jaw and throat. Realizing if I do not focus on something else I will embarrass myself. Looking away to take in my surroundings I was pleasantly surprised by the clean tidy house. Turning back to Carl I said: “A bachelor who is neat and tidy. You get points for that.”

He turned to look at me over his shoulder while he was cooking the bacon and eggs. I know after breakfast I will stay for desert.

After breakfast, I helped with the clean up. Carl asked if I would like to do some garage sales with him. I told him I could not that I needed to help my sister get settled in her new apartment. He then asked me over for dinner. A simple barbecue. I accepted.

It was a grueling day moving boxes. I left my sisters by 5 pm. I told her I would come by tomorrow to help her unpack and get settled in. She laughed and said: “You better or I will come over to Carl’s house and drag you out of his bed.”

My sister is so forward it makes me laugh sometimes. Once I was home I showered, changed, filled a cooler with ice, beer, wine , Tequila. I could see car putzing around in his garage. I called out the window, “Carl I have some liquid refreshments. Are you interested?”

He called back, “Yes I sure am.”

I laughed and said: “I packed the cooler pretty full I need a hand with it.”

He pulled his charcoal grill out of the garage and jogged over. Instead of a helping hand, he lifted the entire cooler. I wondered what was in those bags that he dragged. I glanced over at the curb, there were flies but not a large amount. Tomorrow Waste Management will dispose of them. Shrugging off my common sense I followed this sexy guy over to his yard. Noticing some lawn chairs I ran over and grabbed 2. We settled in with our first brew. Clinked the beer cans together we chugged the first cold brew. Followed by a shot each of Tequila. Carl said he likes my choice of liquid refreshments.

By the time we finished our steaks and satiated our appetite for each other I passed out on Carl’s bed in a heap of mangled legs and sweat, knowing full well I was going to have a hangover in the morning.

I awoke to my sister throwing stones at the bedroom window calling out: “Olly Olly Oxen Free!” My eyes opened, my heart pounded and Carl was nowhere to be found. Leaning out the window I asked Melanie if she had seen Carl. She laughed and said:”What did you do to him?”

I dressed quickly all the while my head was throbbing. Due to the holiday, the garbage was still at the street. There was a patrol car there, a police officer was talking on his phone. By the time I came outside there were 4 patrol cars. A police officer was walking up to the house. The officer asked me: “Mam do you know anything about the contents of those bags?”

I said: “No sir.” I told him how I saw Carl dragging them to the curb. I also said I did not know where Carl was. I was embarrassed to explain the event of the last couple of days, admitting I did not know Carl all that well. The officer was not forthcoming in regards to the contents of the bags.

It took a month before they caught up with Carl. I had to get special permission to visit him. I needed to know why he killed those 3 women.

He said: “They treated me as though I was disposable. Jeanie I know you would not have treated me that way. I left because I realized I screwed up. I forgot they would not be picking up the garbage till the next day because of the holiday.”

A shiver went through me. I told my sister what he said. She now realizes how lucky she is that her remains were not found at the curb.

Current Ebb

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Being young I wonder sometimes why my parents are so angry and negative. Their belief is that most of the younger generation, are mediocre. I wonder if that is typical for their age group? Yet I know when I do certain things I want to just slide through it. Such as a grade or a job. My parents in no uncertain terms believe that there is a prevalent move to mediocrity.

I understand every generation goes through their mantra of what should be happening. They want to leave a strong legacy for those who have come after them.

Am I shrugging off their brave reflections? Or am I understanding the need for society to evolve? Into what? Into something more predatorial with a pervasive wind that ushers in a new era.

Each generation has it’s own Characteristic. I would have loved to have grown up in the 60’s when women were burning their bras. On the surface, it seemed like a fun thing to do. Yet in the end? The women who did this wanted equal rights. Equality! Yet in recent year’s these same women who burnt their bra’s and marched on Washington followed by a gaggle of horny men for free love did not accomplish what they claimed to set out to do. They became the banal love toy of the free love era.

I want to be more relevant. It is difficult to be relevant due to the antagonistic atmosphere. I need to tread lightly when I speak my mind. I wonder how I can achieve something my parents can be proud of.

My first goal if you can count it as a goal is ‘not to get pregnant’ too many of my friends put their lives on hold because of what they call a mistake. Planned parenthood as far as I am concerned is to ‘plan your sex life accordingly’.

My current status is in a relationship. I am really good with that. I do not see me going to college. Many of my friends have degrees and are out of work. In fact, I plan on giving my best girlfriend a job in my salon now that it is open. I wonder can I truly make a difference doing hair? I believe I can. So many men and women speak to their stylists as though they are the bartender. It does not take long to know what goes on in their lives if you listen. I have had young girls mulling over their life choices, only to be set back by indecision. I want to think they take my advice.

I open on Monday’s even when other salons are closed. Yet my salon is doing well I enjoy the work and the people that I come in contact with. I have a new client she is married to a police officer. Sometimes when she comes in she is not as chatty and forthcoming. I get the impression there are problems at home.

I finally asked her: “Monica, what’s wrong sweetheart.”

Tears swelled in her eyes. I leaned close to her and she whispered: “My husband get’s in moods. When he hits, he makes sure no one can see the mark. He tells me to keep my mouth shut. No one would believe me.”

I said: “I believe you Monica. If you need help getting out I can help you.”

I could tell she was forcing back tears. She nodded her head.

I said: “Just enjoy getting your hair done. Today’s highlights are on the house. I will make a few calls. When you leave here you will be safe.”

She nodded again. By the end of the day her husbands commander was assessed of the problem. Monica was tucked away in another county. I felt assured she would be safe. I am glad there were no children. That seems to complicate things when it comes to domestic violence.

I closed up. Called my boyfriend John. Told him what had happened with Monica. He was glad to hear I could help. He was out of town working. John is an attorney. It is rare he has to travel and when he does it’s for only a day or two. John and I chatted for a while. I told him I was going to the store to pick up some groceries for the weekend. We made plans before he left to have an Italian cook off this weekend. It’s always fun when we do this. John is a great cook.

I pulled out of the parking lot turned towards home, the next thing I knew I hit something. My first thought was irrational “Did I hit a deer?” It was dark, I noticed people rushing over. I got out and could not believe my eyes. I passed out!

The next morning

On a scale of 1 to 10 I feel like zero. My legs are wobbly like a fawn trying to get up and moving after being born. I am moving at a snails pace, bundled in a robe. What happened last night was not my fault. None the less it’s a catastrophe pressing against my psyche. As I poured myself some juice I looked out my kitchen window. Several reporters were on my lawn speaking to cameras.

I am sure the headline will be spoken and read: ‘What a horrible thing to happen. Undercover police officer was run over while crossing the street. Megan Gleason stopped to assist. There was nothing anyone could do.”

Those who witnessed the accident said he was crawling across the street. I cannot make since of it. What grown adult would crawl across the street? I need to drown out the droning voices. I turned on my CD player a Beetles song came on ‘Yellow Submarine’ I never could figure out the lyrics. “We all live in a yellow submarine” If I did I would more likely see a whale out my window not reporters.

I know I should eat something. I need a lift to my well being. Nourishment would help yet I cannot seem to muster the energy or decide what to make. With glass in hand I browsed through my refrigerator. I decided curry eggs with sauteed onions would do the trick.

As I finished my eggs there was a knock at my backdoor. I hesitated until I heard a familiar voice call my name. My boyfriend John. I lunged for the door, it flew opened. John stepped in quickly and wrapped his arms around me. He said: “I came as soon as I heard.”

I said: “I am so very glad you are here.”

John urged me to go into the living room with him and sit down. A knot immediately wrapped itself around my intestines. As I sat with him on the sofa John said:” The man who was crawling across the street was an undercover police officer. He was nearly dead before you hit him. The coroner said he was shot and beaten. You did not kill him when you hit him.”

I looked at John and said: “Thank you for telling me, but I am not sure that helps. He is married to Monica my client. There is a part of me that is glad he is gone.”

John looked at me and said: “They say a pipe was used to beat him. They have not recovered the gun that was used. Do you think Monica had anything to do with it?”

This comment stopped me dead. I shook my head lamely.

John said: “Thus far his partner and commander said that he was off last night. They also added that it does not mean he did not take a call from a snitch he trusted only to be jumped.”

I shrugged my shoulders and asked: “Do you think they will find out what happened?”

John said: “Situations like this, many variables, there is a slim chance. Right now, no one has any idea what he was doing there and who he was meeting.”