Chapter Three

Chapter Three

A Chapter by Jooolie
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Broken Windows

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        A rusty hinge creaked as Darwin rattled his brass doorknob and heaved open his apartment building’s front door. It had gotten colder and he pulled his old leather jacket and scarf closer to him, then tugged a knitted cap over his short blond hair as he walked down his stoop and onto the street. It was a short walk to the bar Ian tended, and Darwin’s eagerness to see his friend quickened his pace. It had been a few weeks since he had seen Ian, let alone a few days since Ian had remembered to call him, and Darwin hoped the visit could remove any thoughts of the carbon dioxide from his head. But while he dreaded the thought of discussing the issue again, Darwin could not determine why his stomach turned with excitement over his new film, or why his mind could not wait to tell Ian about the idea.
Darwin had always confided in Ian, even in grade school. With his stress level typically shooting through the roof, Darwin was grateful for Ian and his way of calming him down. He smiled to himself as he thought of the many incidents when Ian would drag him away from his schoolwork and somehow manage to give him a social life. With that kind of power, Darwin almost thought for an instant that simply Ian’s presence would make the carbon dioxide disappear entirely; that maybe by seeing him tonight, the air itself would become clearer.
He frowned. As much as he tried to avoid it, the prospect of death had been coming to Darwin’s mind more and more. He looked up from his feet and focused on the surrounding city. He saw one man, dark and brooding, standing on his balcony with a cigarette in his mouth and a guitar in hand. Two men were standing across the road from one another, yelling profanities back and forth above the noise of car horns and wailing sirens. A man and woman walked past him on the sidewalk, hand-in-hand, as a drunken man staggered along behind them, grasping for the wall of a brick building to avoid collapsing on the cold concrete.
All of these people would be gone soon, Darwin could not help but say to himself. For him, it was easier to imagine the world being destroyed until he set foot outside, when he understood that every person walking by him could soon become a victim to the largest genocide in history. He thought back to Ian, waiting for him only a few blocks away. Ian, too, could die. He let out a short, hesitant breath as he looked up at the street lamps, their light blending with the neon signs coating nearby shops. Darwin wondered how long they would all have, if the invisible disease did exist. His heart sank with the thought, and he could not stand to look at another passerby. He turned his eyes back down to the ground until he saw the entrance to the bar and walked through the doorway.
The bar’s familiar smell of smoke and alcohol floated through the air as Darwin stepped into the room. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust in the dark and he fumbled his way to a stool. The thick smoke filled Darwin’s airways and he began to feel light-headed. He barely noticed when the seat next to him became occupied.
“Rough night, huh?” a stranger’s masculine voice said as Darwin held his head in one hand and leaned on the table.
Darwin looked up at the young man next to him. He was immediately shocked, as the stranger looked much younger and shorter than Darwin had expected. Though small in height, the man’s biceps were large under his gray sweater and his wide shoulders connected to a surprisingly thick neck. The man’s lively gray eyes seemed to gleam out from behind a scruff of brown hair that hid the majority of his forehead. As the man’s eyes stared intensely at Darwin, a slight grin accentuated the small amount of stubble he had on his chin.
The man let out a quiet chuckle. “Don’t mind me saying, but you don’t look so good.” He reached out to the table and grabbed his drink. As he spoke casually, he rolled the glass between his hands. “It’s interesting to see a city this big. I never thought I’d get the chance to be here.” The man  looked back at Darwin and nodded as he caught the look of confusion spread across his face. “I suppose I’m coming off as a bit mysterious,” he added. “I just came to see if all the commotion is as big up here as it is in Florida.”
Darwin stared blankly at the man, assuming he was talking about the poison and, for an instant, felt his stomach sink with dread. He glanced around in an attempt to find Ian, with no success, and was forced to answer the man. “Uh, yeah,” he said, rubbing the back of his head as his eyes began to fully focus on the man through the smoke. He gazed about the room in a final attempt to avoid talking about the disaster. Darwin sighed as he squinted his eyes from the upcoming pain in his head. “Yeah it is. I’m sorry, what was your name?”
“Jeff Manning, I’m a captain docked out at the pier,” Jeff smirked as he adjusted the bill of his hat. The gaudy sailor’s cap dipped low on the man’s head and his energetic eyes were nearly covered by the hat. A large smile spread across his young face as he crossed his arms with pride in his profession. 
“What do you sail?” Darwin asked. “You seem a bit, you know, young to be in charge of your own ship.”
The edges of Jeff’s smile quickly snapped into a frown and the sparks in his eyes seemed to glare directly into Darwin. “With all due respect, it looks like I’m not much younger than you,” Jeff growled, a harsh undertone in his voice, as if he had argued the topic in the past. The man froze for a minute as he collected himself. He glanced down at his large hand, which was clenched into a fist, and slowly relaxed it. He looked at Darwin apologetically, then gave a surrendering shrug as he let out a long sigh. “And besides, I don’t actually own a ship exactly. It’s, eh, a tugboat.”
“Tugboat?” Darwin asked. He scanned the young man’s large build. Jeff’s small stature and young face along with his toned muscles seemed almost comical to him, and he struggled to hold back a laugh. “Looks like you put in a lot of work.”
“Yeah, it’s just me and Darla out there,” Jeff mumbled in response as he took a long drink from his glass. “The boat would be Darla,” he added when he was finished.
“Darla,” Darwin nodded. “Great name. My great grandmother’s name was Darla.” He turned to see Jeff staring meekly back at him.
“Don’t tell me. She was one of those crazy cat ladies, right?” Jeff asked, the spark in his gray eyes dying, as if in anticipation of an upcoming mockery.
Darwin felt bad for the captain. He guessed the man had already gotten enough cracks on the name. He shook his head. “She liked to knit,” he replied blankly before squinting his eyes again.
“You alright, man?” Jeff asked. He motioned for the bartender to get him another glass and then handed it to Darwin. “This should help.”
Darwin gratefully took a sip of the drink, then extended his hand toward the captain. “Well then Jeff Manning, Captain of the Darla, it’s a pleasure. I’m Darwin Hayes,” he winced as Jeff’s strong grip tightened around his hand, “um, I'm a student,” he muttered as he pulled his hand away from the captain. “So you said you were from Florida? What brings you all the way up here?” Darwin continued as he settled back on his stool and discreetly massaged his sore fingers.
Jeff shrugged. “Like I said, I was curious about the commotion. I heard it was calmer up here in New York than in Florida.” He stared around the bar for a moment at all the usual customers. He nodded, as if examining the game of pool going on in the corner and a jukebox playing quietly in the background. “Yeah, this is nothing compared to Florida. From what I’ve seen, there’s gotta be at least one riot every day down there.”
Both men turned at once to the sound of glass shattering in the corner. An outburst had occurred in the game and two players were rushing at each other, pool sticks in hand. One lunged at the other and the two crashed onto the table below them.
“Well if you call that calm, I’d say Florida’s in trouble,” Darwin yelled over the growing cries of the two fighters. He grinned as he noticed Jeff gaping at the riot. “Welcome to New York City.” His words were cut off as one of the men’s possessions was thrown through the window, causing the pane’s glass to shatter on the sidewalk outside. “You should try to ignore that,” Darwin placed a hand on Jeff’s shoulder. “You just get those guys. Who knows if this disease even has anything to do with it.” Darwin glanced out the window at the shattered glass on the sidewalk. The hole in the pane was now bringing a cold draft through the wall, and it sent a chill up Darwin’s spine.
“Hey! What’s all this about?” a familiar voice rang from the door. The shout seemed to echo in every corner of the bar and the yells from the fight immediately stopped at the sound. Darwin turned to see Ian dash through the front door, his apron dangling over his shoulder and a piece of glass in his hand. He stomped toward the men at the game. “That replacement’s coming outta your bill!” He swiftly ran outside to collect the glass shards, then threw the remains in a nearby trash can before clapping Darwin on the shoulder as he let himself behind the bar. He shook his head as he tussled his thick black hair. “I’m gone for a few weeks and they’re tearing this place apart,” Ian sighed as he began working. His voice began to take on the normal, chipper tone Darwin recognized, and his white smile flashed from the other side of the table. “Hey man, how’s school?” Ian asked casually as he quickly sifted through a sink full of glasses near Darwin’s seat. He tossed his apron on a stool behind him and adjusted his open, black vest and loose, black tie before rolling up his white shirt sleeves and diving into the cupboard of bottles behind him.
Darwin smiled at the gesture. “It’s been good, stranger,” he gleamed as he leaned across the bar toward Ian, momentarily leaving Jeff to his drink. Darwin was somewhat reluctant to continue the conversation with the captain for fear of the topic ruining his reunion.
Jeff leaned closer to the table and looked from one man to the other. “I don’t suppose you two know anyone that can help me fix a broken window on my boat,” he cut in.
“Broken window?” Darwin muttered through partially clenched teeth.
Jeff nodded glumly toward the bar’s shattered window. “Picture that, with a brick,” he replied smugly. 
“I guess somebody likes you,” Ian grinned. He nodded to Jeff. “I’ll call around, see what I can find. Ian, by the way,” he added, extending a hand toward Jeff.
The sailor shook his hand in response and rose to leave. “I’ll be at pier 25. With my luck, the smart-a*s that broke my window’s probably set the whole damn thing on fire by now.” He attempted a grin as he walked toward the exit. “I’ll see you around.”
Darwin waved Jeff off, then turned back to the bar once the front door had shut behind the sailor. “You seen that guy around here before?” he whispered to Ian.
“Not that I know of, but that guy’s got quite a grip. What is he, some kind of macho man?” Ian answered sharply as he shook his hand up and down. “Anyways, the usual for you?” he asked, picking up a shaker with his one good hand.
“I’m good,” Darwin replied, holding up his glass. “He bought me a drink.” 
“What was he talking about anyway? He seemed kind of ‘out there’ to me,” Ian chuckled as he tossed the shaker back down on his counter. He stopped as he spotted a sign of hesitancy on his friend’s face. “Hey man, what’s goin’ on?”
“Nothing, I’m fine.” Darwin blurted immediately in defense. “Anyway, he didn’t talk much. Just about his boat.”
“Like hell!” Ian exclaimed, placing his hands on his hips as he studied Darwin carefully. “I may have been gone for a few weeks, but I can still tell when you're lying through your teeth. What did that guy really say?”
Darwin tried to remain calm for a moment, but knew Ian would not let the matter go. He groaned and leaned in close to his friend, whispering to avoid any eavesdroppers. As much as he hated to mention anything remotely related to the poison, Darwin could not resist his curiosity about Jeff’s information. He shook his head for an instant; try as he might, the conversation would not be avoided. “That guy,” he said while cocking his head toward the entrance, “he’s a sailor from Florida. A captain.” He grabbed his drink from the table and took a swig before finishing. “Says the whole poison news is pretty big down there.”
“Sailor? Like he has his own ship?” Ian asked, his brown eyes beginning to gleam in amazement.
“Tugboat,” Darwin replied shortly.
Ian shrugged off the answer in disappointment. “Quite the vessel.”
“Her name’s Darla,” Darwin found himself saying quickly in defense. He shook away the topic. “Look, didn’t you hear me? This news is everywhere!”
“Well,” Ian trailed off a bit, “I’m not saying the whole thing is or isn’t going on, but from what I’ve heard, it really is all over the place; and growing fast. I guess like it or not, this one’ll be around for quite a while.” 
At that, Darwin turned to the camera bag at this side. He bent down to reach into it and pulled out his camera, setting it gently on the table. “And that is what this is for,” he replied as he presented the mechanism. His eyes stared closely at Ian, waiting for a reaction. Darwin could not determine what his friend thought of the idea, and he braced himself for the response.
“What, your old camera? What are you doing with that piece of junk?” Ian finally scoffed as he mixed another group’s drink order.
“I’m not sure exactly,” Darwin sighed. Even his best friend knew his idea was crazy. He, himself, knew it was a bad idea, Darwin thought glumly. “I guess I figured if this whole thing gets serious, someone had better document it, right?” he added a few moments later. The words that came from his mouth recalled in his mind the same words he had heard Ellizabeth say earlier in the afternoon. He cleared his throat. “You know, just in case,” he finished.   
Ian held his usual grin, which covered his face from cheek to cheek; the same grin Darwin remembered all the way back to their childhood. Besides being the designated “Asian kid” in their old school, Ian also held a massive smile which granted him a few snide nicknames throughout grade school. Both features seemed to get Ian a lot of attention, especially from the group of bullies in their grade. Darwin vividly remembered how the two had met in Darwin’s single moment of bravery. 
The group was picking on Ian one day in junior high, shortly after he had moved to the Minnesota school. Darwin had run across the incident and had decided to cut in by attempting to shove the boy he assumed to be the leader of the group. Darwin’s small, skinny frame caused no damage to the much stronger bully, but did gave Ian a chance to hide while Darwin was left with a black eye and a sore stomach. The moment had given Darwin a sense of pride which he never felt again. But the memory had stuck with him almost as well as the first time he saw Ian’s smile, which he had to admit was easy to laugh at. 
“You should go for it,” Darwin heard Ian say as he snapped out of the flashback. “Once this all blows over, we can all get together and have a good laugh about it. And who knows?” Ian patted Darwin on the shoulder, then turned to retrieve a few bottles. “If any of this is real, it’d be a great story. But for now...” He shrugged it off. Another wide grin crossed his face and his small silver lip ring caught a gleam of light as Ian began to laugh. “I’ll bet Aimee could come up with some good title for all this. She’s probably hunched over her desk as we speak trying to come up with some clever name or something. I can come up with one, probably faster than her: ‘The Tale of Earth’s Last Days.’ Whatcha think? I could do that damn job better than she can! I’ll let her keep her dignity though. You know, not intimidate her with my divine knowledge of title creation. Besides, I don’t think I’d like to be a writer,“ he laughed loudly. “Could you see me doing that? Sitting behind some paper for a living? Wouldn’t that be something?”
“It would be something,” Darwin attempted to chuckle as he placed the camera back in his bag. Ian’s words seemed to blend together in Darwin’s head, and he suddenly began to feel dizzy. “It would be something...” He glanced up at Ian and cleared his throat. “Listen, I think I’ll head back to the apartment. The air must be getting to me in here. I’ll see you around?” Without waiting for a response, Darwin stepped off the stool and numbly walked out of the bar, slightly slamming the door behind him. 
The whole idea was ridiculous, he told himself again. If he started the film, he knew he would eventually begin to believe all the nonsense. He needed to get the Apocalypse out of his head, he thought, before he started losing his mind just like the rest of the city. He would only use the film for historical purpose, he decided; something for everyone to look back on and laugh at later, just like Ian said. It would all blow over, Darwin told himself, once they all realized it was just a hoax. And then he would be the one to say “I told you so.” He looked down at the bag, as if promising his thoughts to the camera. If there was one person that would never give in to paranoia, it was Darwin Hayes. 


© 2011 Jooolie


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I loved this chapter because of the relationship between Ian and Darwin and the flashback writing. I am a big user of the flashback in my book. Adds a bit more mystery to the feel of chapters. Sorry I haven't reviewed in a while. And haven't really added in a while either. lol I'm back at it again though so hopefully I will uploading more chapters of some of my stories soon.

Posted 13 Years Ago


And a bromance in introduced. I think for how much you talked up the best friend at the start of the chapter, his character seemed to fall a little short. At least for me. There wasn't some big sense of reuinion like it was hyped up to be, and if that fell short there wasn't quite the proper sense of dissapointment. Aside from that I think it was a good chapter, introduction to this mysterious sailor was good. Your style is perfect for this type of story. The whole thing seems to flow nicely together, which is good. Overall its a very good book so far.

Posted 13 Years Ago



Your determination is very apparent in this chapter. You did into the story and stick with it. A few more bright spots would be nice, because these always enhance the dark shadows of mystery. Otherwise very readable.

Posted 13 Years Ago


I would say so far I think this chapter came out the best as far as prose:)

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on September 19, 2010
Last Updated on March 18, 2011


Author

Jooolie
Jooolie

The city with the water tower, IA



About
I'm a sophomore in Journalism/Mass Communication and in the process of some sweet novel-writing. I thoroughly enjoy show tunes and I don't care who knows. I really like reading short stories an.. more..

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