This story is by Carleste Mitchell and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Another 5pm trek to the bus stop. As Willa awaits her carriage, she thought about her to-do list. Put away the clothes, order new work shoes, pay the bills, make her lunch, and feed the dog. All done. She is ready to go to work.
“Everyone in the world is getting off work and I’m just starting.” She thought. The bus pulled up and she waited as the people got off.
“Hey Lady!” the bus driver greeted her.
“Hey Girl! How you doin’?” she responded.
“I’m good. Today’s your Monday, but it’s my Friday.” The operator chuckled. Then they said in unison:
“But today is Tuesday!”
By now Willa was seated behind the driver and the other passengers had boarded. The bus pulled away from the curb and began its journey downtown where she would take the train to the Valley.
Wednesday morning. She boarded the train. She selects a window seat and prepares for the ride home. The sun is just beginning to warm the morning air. A young man takes the seat beside her. He has a newspaper tucked under his arm. He sighs, opens the paper and begins to look at the ads.
‘House hunting?” she asks as the train starts to move.
“Yeah. Rent is too high and the neighbors are too nosey.” He replied.
“Rent is high everywhere in the Valley. You need to come down to my area. The rent is reasonable and people don’t try to run your business.”
“Where do you live?” This sounded like just what he needed.
“Check out Jefferson Gardens. I hear they have some places open.”
“Ok.” He returned to his paper and she settled in for the trip home. She had no intentions of telling him where she lived. She wanted to help but she didn’t want to invite trouble either.
Willa trudged into the courtyard of the only apartment building on the block. She walked into the quiet courtyard past the aging fountain to the middle apartment. Beau barked loudly when he heard her put the key in the door.
“Ok man! You’ll have your walk soon enough!”
The telephone rang loudly. Willa sleepily answered;
“Willa. This is Madeleine. I need you at Inner City for the next two weeks 7 to 7.”
“Ok I guess.” She groaned.
“Thanks a lot! They’re shorthanded.”
As she hung up the phone she thought about the bonuses of her new assignment. She would only have to take one bus. She could leave an hour later. Now the work would be harder. Inner City is one of the busiest places in the country. Willa liked her job in the Valley. It got her out of the hood at night. Then, again there was that bonus. Sweet!
Oscar shifted in his seat at the management office. He really needed to move. The rent was nice, $500 less than what he was paying now but not as quiet as he would have liked. Too big and not secluded. The manager returned. “I’m sorry.” He began. “We cannot offer you an apartment at this time. Your present landlord mentioned some noise issues and a broken door.”
“Frat brothers made a surprise visit. Big guys, one fell against a door. He apologized and I paid for the damages. Scared the neighbor. She’s old.”
The manager nodded. “We have too many old ladies around here. My sister has a place. It’s a little quieter. Secluded. Maybe you could go and see it?”
Oscar thanked the manager and headed straight over to the apartment. He met the manager and rented it on the spot. Not a bad place, really. A nice courtyard with a fountain in the middle. His apartment even had a backyard, perfect for the dog. The one he told the manager he would keep from time to time in a crate in the back.
The manager thought he was a little strange. She didn’t think she would have much to worry about. Not with a LAPD, LAFD and medical personnel all living on the block. Not too much was going to happen, even if he did belong to a fraternity called The Claw. Who ever heard of a military fraternity anyway?
Willa had her work cut out for her. People were coming into Inner City hospital with all the usual complaints. There were the usual wounds, gunshot, stabbing and one not usually seen. Young men were coming in with deep puncture wounds that resembled claw marks. There were no bears in the area and the gang members that received these wounds were not known for hiking or hunting. The gang members gave no description of their attackers. No one was talking to the police.
” Lunatics” Fiona said as she restocked her ambulance. “We only see this kinda stuff at night. People coming out of the shadows. Strange noises like some kinda animal. Even the pit bulls are afraid to come out at night.”
As the week slid into the next Willa noticed that those strange attacks had diminished considerably. By Wednesday there were no new cases. “Temporary insanity” Willa chuckled to herself as she went to the terrace to eat her lunch. She found her favorite table and gazed up at the stars. No moon tonight. She missed yesterday’s full moon but she was thankful for the work slowdown.
When she got home Oscar was painting. There were scratches everywhere.
“Sorry” he said with a sheepish look, “frat brothers.”