Where Talent meets an audience…

The Horrors of Paine Street

on April 6, 2014

Dedicated to someone who thought Romance was the only genre I dabbled in…


 It was the stillness, she decided as she dragged her coat firmly across her chest, covering up as if to protect herself from the shivers of fright that crept up her spine with every step she took. Darkness was all that kept her company along that lonely road and her stilettos were not of any assistance. The party buzz was slowly wearing off in a layer of sweat that trickled slowly down the back of her neck. Her head felt the slight weight come back down as the effects of all the green apple vodka and tequila shots wore off. Not too long ago, she could have run this marathon barefoot and not feel the strain on her lethargic muscles.

One drunken car sped past ignoring her like a piece of scenery. Now she definitely knew that her buzz was wearing off, those red tail lights of the car weren’t all that fuzzy around the edges. So much for relying on the high to get her home before the pain of her sky high heels ricocheted through her swollen ankles. It was like those Hollywood horror movies, owl hooting in the distance, eerie noises emanating from bushes and crickets spelling impending doom. She could almost hear the high pitch scary background music that’s added for effect. The roads were wet and slimy after the recent downpour and while wishing she wouldn’t be trapped in another one based on slight winds picking up along her bare calves, she would take the pain associated with such orthopedically nightmarish shoes if only she could make it to her apartment and soak in that warm hot tub she had recently installed.

Coming to this weekend Farmhouse party had been a mistake. While Callie and Brett had managed to convince her into a night of letting her hair down for a change, they hadn’t anticipated the crowds and her lack of self control when it came to free flowing alcohol. She had downed shots with a frequency that would put seasoned alcoholics to shame and the high had led her to frolic with strange men she wouldn’t have been seen sober with. It was all coming back now in a less hazy blur. She had to walk home now. Callie and Brett were still partying away at the farmhouse, or had probably passed out on the lawn like the probably hundred others already there, hoards of bodies surrounded by the pungent stink of vomit and sweat. Somehow she had snapped out of it and knew that getting out of there was her best bet, even if it meant crawling and tip-toeing over the humans sprawled around the place.

It was that high frequency screech of tyres that spelt impending doom to her. While her motor skills were a little slow on the reaction time thanks to all the alcohol she had downed, it took her a while to put two and two together and make out from the approaching lights that the car had come from the direction of the farmhouse. If she were slightly more drunk she might have thought of signalling them down for a ride home. Again, it was that screech of those tyres.

Turning back and hoping the driver would ignore her like a part of the road, she continued limping as the narrow toed shoes clamped horribly around her toes that were screaming to be let out. That warm tub never sounded better.

Soon the lights grew blinding as they drew closer and she stiffened. Becoming road-kill was not her intention when she set out four hours earlier to enjoy the start of a long weekened. But tonight wasn’t her night to make the trip to hell. It came and ended in a matter of seconds. Blink and miss.

Road @ midnight

What seemed like a sleek black Hyundai a minute ago was now billowing smoke out the front with glass shards all over the road. The massive boom scattered a huge fleet of bats that were hidden in nearby trees and it made her regret the alcohol once more. One thought hung heavy in her head. Whoever was in the ill-fated car, would not survive a collision of such proportions.

Shaking the dizzying implications past her quick enough, she felt her lip gloss tumble out of her purse as she fumbled around for her cell phone. Whenever you look for something you need urgently in your purse, you almost always never find it! she remembered Callie wail one night at a pub because she couldn’t dig out her compact in the crowded little girl’s room. Finally laying hands on the slim phone that had sunk to the bottom amidst all the other unnecessary things she carted along, she had almost made it to the car when she began to dial for emergency help. And that’s the moment she lost her breath. The air bags hadn’t deployed and in the passenger seat a head full of familiar curls tumbled out the broken windshield. It couldn’t be. The perfectly twirled blond curls that were Callie’s trademark, the blood that was now staining that perfectly golden head, couldn’t be hers. Hysterics took over and while all she could cry to the response team was the fate of her friend, coherently providing direction of this middle of nowhere address was something her alcohol tripped brain could not wrap around. It was only when a paramedic wrestled her off Callie’s cold and limp body that was jammed tight between the dashboard and that darn seat belt that wouldn’t come free, that she realised that Brett was behind the wheel. While he too was in just as bad shape, there was a paramedic that fought to free him and she began to feel the hot, angry tears that pooled black streaks of mascara around her face.

It felt like a guillotine around her neck as Ben, Brett’s brother, put his arm around her shoulder as they waited for the doctors verdict. The tears kept streaming down her cheeks in an endless cataract. Callie just had to make it. Brett was the reason she was in surgery and as much as she liked him, he was responsible for all that had happened to her friend and she could not get that image of Callie’s head where the windshield should have been. The waiting felt like days but the nightmare had just begun. Brett was pulling through. Callie didn’t.

She had Ben stay over because the commute to the hospital each morning to see Brett would be a lot shorter. But it wasn’t Ben she was concerned about. She lay awake in bed till after the sun had come up with images of Callie refusing to leave her eyes. By then the alcohol had worn off, leaving her mouth dry and Ben’s coffee run had done nothing but reverse what she intended to achieve. Rolling and twisting didn’t help. It only wrinkled her sheets in one big messy pile. Finally, she was just about getting the soft wisps of brewing coffee from her bedroom door when she realised that Ben was awake and probably on his way to the hospital. Sleep chose that moment to lull her into its deep curtains of oblivion.

It had barely been an hour when sweat began beading along her forehead and the duvet subconsciously flew off her legs. Maybe Ben had switched off the air conditioning on the way out by mistake. The switch was right next to the garage door switch. Walking out of bed with her eyes still clamped shut and a slow drumbeat picking up pace in her head, she made her way to the air conditioning controls to the house. She flicked the switch on and turned around to walk back when she ran into Callie standing before her. Her hair tussled across her face, blood streaming down the side of her face, bloodshot eyes and without that smile she always wore. Instead she started screaming “You didn’t take me with you!! You let me die!”.

“Callie!” she yelled, grabbing the sheets around her. It was just a dream and she was still in bed but the image of Callie standing in her living room had driven all the possibility of sleep from her body. Callie was really gone and she was in living hell without her.

She saw Ben standing at the end of the long white corridor. On seeing her, he walked towards her, stuffing his hands into his pocket.

“Hey, you didn’t get any sleep did you?”

“No. Not really. How’s Brett?” she asked

“He’s getting better. He woke up just sometime back but he’s hurting badly. I haven’t told him about Callie yet. I was just inside and he kept asking about her. I was wondering if you could go in and talk to him?”

“Okay. I’ll try.” she said slowly nodding her head and feeling a fresh batch of tears stream down her face as she moved towards the open door at the very end of the corridor.

Brett was lying lifelessly on the bed in the very middle of the room, with bandages plastered across every inch of skin. Hearing her enter, he shifted his head ever so slightly towards the door and said weakly, in a whisper barely audible “She was just here….”


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