Here’s the third installment of my short story So Beautiful.
The first two parts are at http://lauramchaleholland.com/fiction-2/so-beautiful/ and http://lauramchaleholland.com/fiction-2/so-beautiful-part-2/
So Beautiful – Part 3
Ho lifts the Open/Closed sign from his shop’s front window, turns the hands of its clock and flips it. “Closed. Back at 1:30” now faces the street. He hasn’t taken time off for lunch in years, but his wife, Lily, and daughter, Jasmine, have been down with the flu for a week, and one of his long-time neighbors, Marcie, just dropped off homemade chicken soup for them on her way to the beach. She said it contained a secret elixir that would fix them up in no time. Ho doubts that, but he does believe in the healing power of good old chicken soup.
He carries the warm soup up the back stairs to the flat where his family lives. There’s just enough for three people. He serves Lily and Jasmine, who out on living room couches, watching an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Back in the kitchen, he pours the last of the savory brew for himself and takes a sip. It slides like a caress down his throat. He makes a mental note to ask Marcie if she could prepare a big batch to sell in the shop. He brings the spoon to his lips for another sip when he hears a thump, then glass breaking, followed by his store alarm blaring. He races down the back stairs, through the store and out the front door just in time to see a man running, with Ho’s electronic cash register under one arm and a bottle of liquor under the other.
The thief is almost a block ahead, but Ho gives chase and finds he is surprisingly fleet of foot. The thief looks over his shoulder. Ho recognizes Darrell, one of the thugs who hang out on the corner and make eyes at Jasmine whenever she passes by. Incensed, Ho runs faster, thinking it must be the adrenaline that is helping him catch up to the man.
Darrell reaches the beach, and his heavy boots slow him down in the sand. Ho hits the beach and runs faster. Gaining more ground, he calls out, “Stop!” He sprints harder, and sees Marcie, a young woman and baby playing with blocks on a blanket, a little boy at the water’s edge and several other people milling about. He keeps going. “Stop!” he calls again.
The scoundrel drops the cash register and the liquor, but though his load is lighter, Ho continues to gain on him.
“Stop! I said,” Ho calls.
Darrell finally stops, spins around and pulls out a semiautomatic pistol. He shoots. Wildly. Without aim. He twirls and shoots, twirls and shoots, twirls and shoots. The beach becomes one enormous scream. Ho continues to run, unable to stop. A bullet hits him in the heart. He drops. Darrell points the gun to his own temple and shoots.
The sand fills with blood.
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The fourth installment is coming next week. As always, my friends, I will welcome your feedback. WordPress stopped sending me emails when people comment, and I haven’t figured out why. I’ll endeavor to respond in a timely manner anyway.
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Copyright © 2013 by Laura McHale Holland