The Beam in His Eye

The Beam in His Eye

A Story by Here's What I Say
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"You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." Matthew 6:5

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For Drew

 
 
I want to be where the sun warms the sky
When it’s time for siesta you can watch them go by
Beautiful faces
No cares in the world
Where a girl loves a boy
And a boy loves a girl
 
What idiot plays that kind of Madonna music along side the sound of Corn Flakes lightly clanging against a pink, plastic cereal bowl? The only soothing part of this morning ritual for Brent Travis was when he poured the soy milk over the flakes, but even that didn’t lack for a bit of violence as the flakes crackled under the cold flow. Brent took his seat at the table, adjusting the radio knob to find a station that didn’t play such sentimental mush. Brent remembered from his high school English class that in psychology, often times what someone talked about incessantly was something they lacked in their own life. Brent mused that he was hearing a lot of love songs so that must have meant the country, possibly the world, was constantly lacking love. Brent didn’t think that of himself. He had plenty of that to go around. He probably had it harvested in him and he probably had enough of it that if it were the corn that grew in his home state, he’d have enough to have a lifetime supply of Corn Flakes, as well as be able to feed other people.
 
Brent winced at the taste of the soymilk. Some doctor at some point in his life told him that soymilk was better for his heart and that he should switch from regular milk to soy. Brent couldn’t even remember the last time he had regular milk; all he could taste was the thick, chalky mass that was flowing over his tongue. It may have been better for him, so he would have a wonderful heart. If only his tongue felt as good as his heart was supposed to be.
 
Brent cringed as he looked at the digital numbers on his iHome. Two more minutes. Brent tightened his shiny Omega watch as he stood up and calmly put the pink bowl into the sink, probably not going to get washed for a day or two, despite the fact that the rest of his stainless steel kitchen was spotless. There was probably good reason, as Brent didn’t consider himself a good enough cook to use the countertops. Well, sometimes he felt like a chef—especially the nights he came home with El Pollo Loco, when he stands at the counter, assembling his tortillas, Spanish rice and shredded chicken and decorating it just right with enough salsa. An indulgence for him, the doctor told him to abstain from meat as much as possible too.
 
“You’ll have the healthiest colon than anyone else on earth,” the doctor said as the rubber glove snapped on his wrinkled, spotted, aging skin. Brent, when the doctor told him that, scowled, but luckily, the doctor was less preoccupied with his face and more to do with his prostate.
 
One more minute.
 
Brent allowed himself only one moment in his day where he could procrastinate. As he stood in front of the mirror in the living room, he adjusted the red tie until there was only the recommended amount of oxygen flowing to his head that his company allowed with the dress code. Brent, at first, hated the ideas of ties, but the manager of the bookstore insisted that everyone look somewhat professional as to set themselves apart from the world of John Q. Citizen. Yes, that’s the way the manager put it to him. What Brent really should have done was put his fist to this guy’s face. But Brent kept his hands on his tie, continually making sure the knot was tight enough.
 
A high-pitched shrill that Brent called a ring tone went off in his organized, but cramped apartment. Brent looked at the clock 8:29 on the dot. Brent picked up his otherwise quiet cell phone and held down the green “Send” button.
 
“I knew you’d call,” Brent said with little enthusiasm. Yet Brent couldn’t control the old, tiny flutter that flushed through his chest.
 
“Such a flatterer,” Elle responded back predictably. “The same coffee place? Same time?”
 
“Same time, same place,” Brent responded mechanically. “Your turn to pay or mine?”
 
“Yours,” she said.
 
“Fine, it’s yours,” Brent replied back. Brent held back a smirk. He always wondered how people learning English could keep “mine” and “yours” separate when they called themselves all the same names, yet expected you to call them by the other name. Because what’s mine isn’t “mine” as in “yours”, and what you call “yours” is actually mine.
 
“Save your college babble, just because you work with books all day,” Elle said. “Just meet me there, ok? And if you get there first, order my drink the way I like it.”
 
“Fine,” Brent said. Everything was always just “fine” with her. “I’ll see you tonight, ok, Elle? I can’t wait to see you.” Finally, something Brent could somewhat say was true.
 
“Remember, non-fat for me,” Elle said before Brent heard the click of Elle’s slim, elegant finger hitting the “End” button on her phone.
 
8:32 AM. Time to catch the bus.
 
 
                                    *            *            *            *         
 
Brent handed off another copy of T.S. Eliot’s poetry to another satisfied customer. Well, sort of. From the sound (whining) of the college student that began to walk away from him, it was merely for some unknown poetry class that was in a long line of GE requirements he had to fulfill for some degree he was probably going to drop when he realized it wasn’t what he really wanted to do with his life. Brent sighed to himself. If becoming a stock person for a bookstore was part of a college degree program, he’d have dropped too.
 
Brent squinted at the sunlight that poured through the window of the bookstore. He looked around him. It looked about right to him. Out of the many plush chairs lining the windows of the store, only a few people occupied them, and a handful of those people were actually actively engaged in a book of some sort. He lifted an eyebrow when he noticed one person reading through a War and Peace sized book about corn harvesting in Ohio. He walked past these chairs, like he did everyday for the past four years, and he paid little to no mind to the people in the chairs until he passed one that held a slim, dark girl with long, silky black hair. Brent’s mouth opened slightly in shock.
 
“Douglas Adams?” Brent blurted out. Shiny haired girl looked up. Strike that, almond shaped chocolate eyes instead.
 
“Yes,” she said confidently. “Only Adams can write about the end of the world in such a funny way, huh? And the story doesn’t end when the world blows up, too.”
 
“Didn’t the b*****d die of a heart attack when he was making that into a movie?” Brent asked with a hint of amusement in his voice. Almond eyes chuckled silently.
 
“Yeah, he did,” she said. “And he was Atheist. I wonder if his story ended there on that treadmill, too.” Brent finally showed some sign of being able to smile. She understood his word play.
 
“Sorry, I don’t usually pick up women with those kind of lines, I swear,” Brent said, putting his hands in his pockets, and he had to remind himself that he was at work and not a bar, so there was no need to make sure the condoms were still there.
 
“So you were hitting on me,” she said, closing the book and looking up intently at him. “I was beginning to think nobody here was going to figure out that I existed, let alone think me worthy enough to sleep with.”
 
“Nobody noticed you?” Brent asked incredulously. “This place is like ninety percent white. How can you not stick out?”
 
“Maybe they see the book and they freak,” she said. She definitely did not have a midwestern accent. It just wasn’t the way he was used to hearing anyone speak.
 
“That must be why this place is never packed, and the movie theater next door is,” Brent said shrugging. Brent was suddenly self-conscious of himself. He hadn’t had a conversation with a random stranger that didn’t involve directions to the bathroom or to the manager because the person at the register wouldn’t give them the perceived discount. Brent mentally berated himself for not being able to keep the conversation with this distinctively separate stranger going. She stood up suddenly.
 
“As much as I’d love to keep going with this intellectual tango,” she said with a wink, “I do have to get going. Unfortunately, I’m only in Ohio for a business trip, and it’s business time.” Brent folded his lower lip into his mouth, trying to keep himself from saying anything stupid.
 
“Thanks for shopping at Wormwood’s,” was all he managed to get out. Almond eyes laughed and began to walk to the door. Several curse words and sharp insults ran like numbers on the wall at the Stock Market, but he noticed a small white card on her chair. He didn’t take care to see what the business card said about what she did for a living but only focused on the name:
 
Gaia Ellison.
 
                                    *            *            *            *
 
“You forgot to tell them to put whipped cream on it,” was the first thing Elle said as she placed her delicate a*s on the wooden chair. Brent could hear the squeaking of her leather boots under the table as she rocked them back and forth and sipped at her latte and tossed her breathtakingly straight blond hair behind her back. Brent had never gotten over the way just one look at her made him speechless. The way she sipped her coffee through the tiny slit in the plastic lid almost noiselessly always captivated him. If he judged merely by sound, he would never know that she sucked every last possible drop of life out of the coffee cup.
 
“So how was work?” Elle asked with a wide, pearly smile. Brent smiled back without thinking about it. His mother always told him to smile because it was contagious.
 
“Fine,” Brent said. “You?”
 
“Fine,” Elle said, loving the way Brent was admiring her. She knew her power over Brent, and he noticed how every meeting they had, she took advantage of it. She continued to rock her feet, shifted side-to-side in her chair as if it were really that uncomfortable, and she always touched her white, creamy face.
 
“So, what are you doing tomorrow night?” Brent asked, expecting her response: “Nothing, so why don’t we get coffee together? It’s your turn to pay, though”.
 
“I have study group tomorrow,” Elle said. Brent’s head snapped up. He definitely wasn’t expecting that one.
 
“Since when do you do study groups?” Brent asked suspiciously. Elle kept her perfect smile up, as perfect as it was when she walked in, but the way the crinkles around her eyes popped up, it was Brent’s only real indication of Elle’s changing mood.
 
“Oh, what business is it of yours what I do?” Elle asked as if what possible motive she had for using a tampon. “I didn’t have to tell you, you know. We’re not dating. And I guess I was wrong to figure that you were mature enough to even handle that.”
 
“You always said you hated groups like that,” Brent said. “You were always the loner like that.”
 
“Some people change,” Elle said, focusing her glare at him. Brent’s heart began racing, but not in the way it did when they first kissed.
 
“What’s his name, and how do you know him,” Brent growled. Elle huffed.
 
“You really think I’m stupid enough to tell you,” Elle said. It was all the confirmation Brent needed.
 
“Then it’s not my problem that you have a study/f**k buddy,” Brent said haughtily. “So I won’t be expecting a phone call at three in the morning because you need a ride back to your dorm room.”
 
“F**k you!” she screeched for the whole coffee house to hear. Brent’s temper rose with the amount of people that turned to stare. People’s eyes were boring into him, seeming to blame him for whatever he said or did to piss Elle off. He noticed especially guys were ticked off with him. The people Brent would normally think would back him up were entranced by Elle’s flat, smooth, perfect body and her face that was the most worth to be on the cover of every fashion magazine to grace mankind. Elle stomped out of the coffee house, knocking over the coffee cup and spilling it onto Brent’s lap. The coffee had cooled considerably, especially since Elle didn’t like her coffee any warmer than a hundred and forty degrees, but the shock of warmth on his lap prompted him to stand up and knock his table over. Without question, without a mop, and without any concern for his well-being, the management asked Brent to leave and never come back.
 
                                    *            *            *            *
 
Brent followed the streets to the tiny studio hidden in the jungle of red brick buildings. It was tucked between two of those red brick buildings, looking like a shack, even though it was as solid as the buildings surrounding it. Brent took a deep breath and opened the door, and the little bell at the top of the door was the only real sign of his entrance.
 
Face paced music with the same repetitive beat played over the speakers, and Gaia’s white skirt, flowing like a gypsy in the middle of the town square, was almost sliced by the saber in her hand. Gaia moved across the blue mats on the floor as if she were in a sweeping musical, but she wielded the saber as if she were in battle. Brent could tell every move was planned, but the way she executed each move looked natural, maybe like a rain dance in the desert. Gaia’s long black hair swayed around her like a curtain shielding whatever emotion the music and movement were inspiring in her. The music slowly faded out and Gaia’s movements slowed with it. When the music had faded out for good, Gaia turned to face Brent. She studied him with her mysterious almond eyes—eyes that seemed to know things he didn’t and was contemplating how to share it with him. She kept looking him in his lost eyes as she approached him, as if she were walking on clouds instead of the ground. In the few seconds it took for her to close the distance between them, Brent noticed the natural curves on her body with her shoulders, breasts, hips, and her face. He noticed appreciatively the curves on her breasts as they were tightly hugged by the white wife beater she wore. He allowed himself to guess if she was even wearing a bra underneath. She looked him up and down.
 
“Did you want to give it a try?” Gaia asked, her voice becoming as soft as the hair he wanted to run his fingers through. Brent shakily took the saber she handed to him. Despite the fact that it looked slender from a distance, the saber was relatively heavy, even for him. This didn’t compare to lifting weights at the gym.
 
“Try a few fencing maneuvers,” Gaia said as she began to teach him several lunges and other moves.
 
“This is easy,” Brent said surprised. “I could do this.” Brent couldn’t read the enigmatic expression in her eyes, once again, as if they knew something he didn’t. Gaia left him for a moment to grab a beige string that was sitting in her gym bag. Brent smirked. Did she leave random, strange things in her bag to teach strangers a lesson?
 
Gaia walked a distance away from Brent and took the string and wrapped it around her waist, tying the bow right where the head of her labia was. Brent took a deep breath and tried to control his excitement. God knew Elle would never do something as hot as this.
 
“Cut the string with the saber,” Gaia said. “Then we can sleep together.” Brent’s heart rate shot up as adrenaline and testosterone flooded his system. Wild thoughts of Gaia on his bed, thrashing against him, her hair becoming wild and tangled, hearing her loud moans and growls, flooding him with her wetness and flooding her with his all came rushing through him as he began to run as wild—
 
Brent couldn’t remember yelling as his face was about to collide with the blue matt, but he was more concerned about the fact that his right arm with the saber was still in front of him, but if he landed on his arm, he would land on the saber, cutting him from his face down to his unmentionables. Strong yet gentle arms caught him by the shoulders and righted him on his feet. Gaia looked at him seriously, but Brent felt a flash of fire when he saw a hint of amusement and triumph in her eyes. He noticed that the string lay broken on the mat, the strings frayed from Gaia ripping the string off and freeing herself.
 
“Working with swords takes control,” Gaia said wisely. “Dancing with them needs passion and control. If I let myself get lost in my emotions and let that dictate how I use my sword, I’m going to end up killing myself. It’s great that you have strength and all, but it means nothing here if you can’t control yourself or your emotions. There’s nothing wrong with putting your heart and soul into this, but not if you do it in a way that hurts anyone.” Brent shoved her away. Brent spent his entire life controlling his emotions. He was tired of it. The one place where it looked like he could release was the place where Gaia was telling him to control himself.
 
“F**k you, then,” Brent said, but not without a tinge of regret. Was this what it was like to be Elle? Was this what it was like when he would tell Elle what he felt was best for her and then have her shoot him down? Gaia didn’t look at all heartbroken that a handsome man like Brent cursed her out. Disappointed, but hardly heartbroken.
 
“Come back when you learn to express your emotions without being such an a*****e to people who try to help and love you,” Gaia called after him. “And the next time you start running at someone with a sharp object, make sure your shoes are tied.”
 
                                    *            *            *            *
 
Brent felt safe in his apartment. His safe, little apartment. His kitchen was almost clean except for the cereal bowl in the sink. The couch was undisturbed, seeing how it wasn’t Thursday, the night Brent and Elle reserved for their weekly f**k. He heard the familiar creak of the hardwood floor under his leather work shoes. That he tied when Gaia wasn’t looking. Brent wanted so bad to get out of his work clothes but waited for the privacy of his bedroom with his single bed and his neat, gray bed sheets. Brent carefully untied his shoelaces and put them in their designated corner in the closet. Brent stripped himself of his tie, button-down shirt, and stiff work pants and folded them each neatly on the chair, that he would put in the hamper after he got into his black cotton pajamas. Brent was down to just his undershirt and his cotton boxers when he heard a slight creaking over his head. Brent usually paid no mind to the creaking; he assumed that when his neighbors upstairs weren’t fighting, they were usually in the middle of make up sex.
 
As the ceiling over his bed collapsed, Brent barely had time to step back. Wood splinters, drywall, insulation, and termites splattered all over his bedroom and Brent looked in horror at the wooden beam that was supposed to be holding his ceiling (and his neighbors’ floor as well as bed, bed frame, and naked bodies) up. The wooden beam had been eaten through for quite a while, but the termites were artful enough to eat out a sharp point in the beam that stabbed Brent’s pillow where his left eye was supposed to be.
 
To the shock of his naked and surprised neighbors, Brent began to yell and scream as if someone had been murdered in his apartment. Brent ran into his living room, tearing up the couch cushions from the couch, knocking books he never took time to read from the shelves, tossed over his table, ripped what little food there was out of his forty-year-old refrigerator, and, of course, throwing the soiled pink cereal bowl across the kitchen and living room, cracking the window and making a spider web design. Brent looked at the devastation around him and smiled a real smile. There was energy surging through his body like he never knew. Brent carefully walked through the mess, still smiling as if he had been greeted by a class of sweet kindergarteners and walked to the mirror in the living room. Brent took his first real look at himself. His usually pale face flushed with red in his cheeks. The red in his cheeks prompted him to admire his rich red hair that he kept trimmed and neat for so long. The volume of his hair called him to look into his sky blue eyes, seeing soft, pillowy clouds instead of black thunder clouds and rings. Brent nodded knowingly in the mirror. Maybe he could grow out a little bit of a beard. Gaia seemed to like guys with a natural kind of look.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

© 2009 Here's What I Say


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Featured Review

this story was at once weirdly wonderful and confusing..

when did you write this? did the writing style remind you of my writing style? Is brent me?

I like the use of names in this story. Gaia is a sweet name, and so is Elle.. and Brent happens to be a character I often name people in my stories.. Brent, Dave, Doug, etc..

there were a couple confusing tense issues in the first few paragraphs.. and the part with the dream confused me a little at first. and the part when brent met gaia confused me a little. but all in all, this was such a fun read. i really like the paradox of elle's "delicate a*s." almost as if it's describing her.

at the end, was it elle that came crashing down with someone else? or gaia? or just a random person?

super good stuff.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

this story was at once weirdly wonderful and confusing..

when did you write this? did the writing style remind you of my writing style? Is brent me?

I like the use of names in this story. Gaia is a sweet name, and so is Elle.. and Brent happens to be a character I often name people in my stories.. Brent, Dave, Doug, etc..

there were a couple confusing tense issues in the first few paragraphs.. and the part with the dream confused me a little at first. and the part when brent met gaia confused me a little. but all in all, this was such a fun read. i really like the paradox of elle's "delicate a*s." almost as if it's describing her.

at the end, was it elle that came crashing down with someone else? or gaia? or just a random person?

super good stuff.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on March 14, 2009

Author

Here's What I Say
Here's What I Say

Torrance, CA



About
I was born on July 3rd 1986 in Torrance, California, and grew up there all my life. I had a hankering to start writing when I was eight, but didn't start actively pursuing it until I was thirteen and .. more..

Writing