The Yellow Shard
By: Dee Artea
Waking up with a screeching headache, a fragment of recent memory that’s a mystery, and a blazing sun burning right through me. What’s this large rock beside me, like a sturdy companion? Oh, my left shoulder aches, terribly.
Where am I? Raising my throbbing head, I see water.
Oh, a beach. Yes, I remember, someone said something about a boat coming to get us. Can’t remember much else.
To my right there’s a large outcropping of rocky terrain that goes into the water, so I can’t see around it. Turning left, I see the shore disappearing into the horizon.
Standing on that shore not more than thirty feet away are two goons with handguns tucked into their front waist. They see that I’m awake and goon1 turns and walks back up a path away from the shore, perhaps to inform the boss about me. His partner, goon2, sways back and forth on his feet as if he’s not sure what to do.
Suddenly I’m aware of my body.
Um, still wearing my tank top and bra, slacks and sneakers. My left arm and shoulder are sore, very sore. Ah, it happened when these goons pulled me out of my car at a red-light, as I resisted with all my strength – a painful reminder.
Turning my body onto my right side – away from goon2 – I loosen my slacks in front and put my left hand between my legs and a finger into my vagina. Don’t feel any soreness there. That’s good. I take it out, smell it, and put it in my mouth. No foreign odor or taste. Ah, I wasn’t raped – thank God.
Must think fast about what to do. In times like this – and fortunately there haven’t been many such times in my sixty-six years of life; and certainly none as horrific as this one – I close my eyes, make my mind completely BLANK, and let my inner voice tell me what to do.
So … eyes closed … and BLANK …
… Overturn the rock, dig into the sand.
I immediately look toward goon2. He’s trying to decide whether to come toward me or wait for goon1 to return.
Can’t wait for his decision. I have to act now.
I start by trying to rock the rock … to loosen it from the sand. … It works, for I’m able to turn it over. Good. Just then goon2 decides it’s time to see what I’m up to, and he starts walking towards me.
With the rock turned over and moved out of its hole, I quickly use both hands to dig into the sand below. Immediately I hit an object that’s surely jagged, for I feel a sharp pain in the palm of my right hand. Pulling it out, I see it’s a piece of colored glass, about six by three inches. A yellow shard, with razor-sharp edges, one of which has drawn blood.
Gripping the shard in my right hand with the sharp edges pointing away, I hide it behind my right thigh – just as goon2 approaches me. Getting near me, with his left hand gripping his gun still tucked in his front pants, he reaches towards me with his right arm stretched out. Instantaneously, with my left hand, I grab his right wrist holding his arm as steady as I can, while I simultaneously take the glass shard and – using all my strength – I make a sweeping arc along his inner forearm, cutting a deep slash all the way from the crook of his arm to the palm of his hand. Digging deeply though muscles, tendons, veins, and arteries – the yellow shard does its brutal job.
Blood galore drenches the beach below, being sucked up by the hot, dry sand. Must have hit the radial artery.
Goon2 screams and begins to fall. As he does, he uses his left hand to stop his fall, and so I grab the gun from his waist as he collapses in the sand, cradling his bleeding arm against his chest. Now lying and moaning beneath me, he looks me in the eye and attempts to say something. Before any sound comes out, I put the gun to his temple, pushing it hard – squeezing his head between the hot sand and the cold metal – I pull the trigger. More blood for the sand to soak up.
I realize that after all these years of practicing medicine and saving lives, this is the first time I took one. Suddenly my headache is gone. Feels good. I also realize that this is the first time I ever used a gun, and I toss it in a pool of blood.
No time to ponder this unique life-event. Better get my sweet ass outta here – and fast.
Still holding onto the yellow shard, I start running toward the outcropping to the right. Quickly turning around, I see that no one is coming after me, yet. No goon1 and his boss. But still I must move as fast as I can.
Going into the water in my sneakers, I’m able to keep moving forward and eventfully, I hope, get around the massive rock formation. Running in water less than a foot deep, I’m able to keep a fast pace, as I run with nothing but the horizon to my left.
Good thing I keep in shape, despite my age. Working out, doing yoga, eating healthy foods. Sounds corny at a time like this, but this is real life – not literature, you fool. Just keep running.
I think I know what happened. Yeah, it started with the identity theft. Someone got my credit card and started to withdraw funds. But I caught it right away. I then had to get a new card and decided to use my middle initial. So I was now Carol E. Borland.
Damn, this outcropping is huge. I can see only to my left.
But there was another Carol E. Borland, and in the same city. On finding out that the other Carol E. lived in West St Vitus and I live in East St Vitus, I thought there wouldn’t be a mix up.
My guess is these goons and their boss think I’m that other Carol E., who now is getting on with her life while I’m running for mine.
When will I see the other part of the shore? I’ve not run out-of-breath, yet. But this will not last long, at my age. And the water seems to be getting deeper. Oh, it is. This isn’t good.
Geez, who would have thought? What began as a case of identity theft, has turned into a case of mistaken identity. And me running to stay alive.
I’m not doing well. The water’s too deep and I can’t catch my breath. Think I’m going to … relax. Close my eyes. … BLANK …
… Take a deep breath, dive deeply, go to the bottom, follow the cave.
Deep breath … dive down, straight underwater, pushing myself forward. … Deeper. … Ah, I see light, … yes … a cave. Swimming through it, the light gets brighter. I better get to that light soon … not much longer … holding my breath. … Yes, there it is … a circle of light…. But, what? There’s an almost invisible film blocking my way out. … I use the sharp shard to try to … yes, it’s working. The shard is cutting through the … just as I expel my last bit of air in my lungs and take in the―
* * *
‘Wake up Dr. Borland. I think you should get up. You’ve been sleeping almost four hours, since you came in this morning rather disheveled and looking spaced out – if I may say so. Good thing you have no appointments this Monday morning. I assume that was why you came in dressed so casually. But you were supposed to get all that paperwork (as you call it) done, and you haven’t even started. Don’t you have to pee?’
‘Yes, I do have to pee, but not immediately.’
‘Well, in that case I have to tell you something that I just heard on the news that you will want to know, and really that’s why I woke you up. They just announced that a Carol Borland – and I assume it’s the other Carol E. – is missing. They found her abandoned car at a red light. Remember her, and the credit card issue you had?’
‘Of course I do. What else did they say on the news?’
‘That she may have been abducted. And if anyone sees her, or has any information about her, to call the police. That’s all I know. So I thought you would want to know this.’
‘Of course, thank you.’
‘Oh, one more thing. I washed up that piece of glass that you brought in with you this morning. It was coated with something that was difficult to remove, and there seemed to be seaweed and some dried substances on it. Cut myself cleaning it. See the Band-Aid on my hand?’
‘Yes, and I’m sorry you cut yourself. Where is it?’
‘It’s on your desk. I would suggest that you not put it on your shelf as another tchochke. Someone might get cut, just dusting it. Uh, just a thought. Okay, I’ll leave you alone.’
‘Yes, I agree. Good point’
Humm, what should I do? Go to the police? What can I tell them? I’ll sound like a psychic kook. And the beach? Where were we? St Vitus, both East and West, are land locked. I have no idea where we were. And I tell them I killed a man? Do I have a body? No! All I have is a piece of glass. Oh yes, the glass.
I walk to my desk.
This yellow shard is as clean as when I first dug it up. Ouch, yes, you’re sharp, you yellow thing. Who are you?
I wonder: when the old St Vitus Cathedral was torn down, being beyond repair – meaning the city budget couldn’t support the upkeep – the wrecking crew accidentally dropped the huge, round stained-glass window that was supposed to be sold to a museum to bring some cash (lots of cash) into the city coffers. A big disappointment. Politicians still speak of it, and that was years ago.
So, my friend, yellow shard. Are you a remnant of that famous dropping? Do you have some special powers and such, coming from the old Cathedral and all? And how did you get on the beach – wherever it is? … For now, I’ll put you in this bottom drawer, here, the one I can lock with a key. …There, done. For now.
And, for now, I’ll do nothing else but get back to my life. I want to do the right thing, but right now I don’t know what that is.
Ah, let me call on my inner voice. Yes, that’s it.
Deep breath … eye closed … BLANK …
… Go pee, just go pee.
Dee Artea lives in Winnipeg, Canada. For Dee the act of writing ever entails amusement and gratification.