You may remember a while back when I challenged Matthew to an honor du-el. The challenge was thus – to improve upon the Sky Hawk story which was his first publish piece of fiction. Ironically, published by me and the Writer’s Club back before I even knew Matt. Well, the deed is done and the time is up. It could probably be cleaned up some, but the due date is here. You all will have a chance to vote for whether you like my story better or the one he comes up with. There is a great deal at stake here – a meal at Boston Market, so be wise when you are asked to choose.
I should mention that my story here is not for the kids. One last thing – I just really, really want to thank Matt for inspiring me to do this. I have been blocked creatively by one thing or another for a long time. This is the most complete work of fiction I have been able to produce in years. Most everything else is ghosts in my mind or incomplete documents scattered here and there.
A Sky Hawk Story
by Michael G.Boucher
Pulling the cork made a baritone pop, followed by the trickle of liquid pouring into the glass. He stared at it a moment, waiting, and then the ice began to crack a bit from the whiskey. The sound had become so familiar and inviting, almost ritual at this point, that he sometimes savored it more than the drink itself. The ice in the glass crackled for a few moments, much as it did outside of the window.
Sky stared out into the storm and watched as the ice cleansed the disgusting remnants of the Windy City. The filth of poverty had compounded with the filth of war and destruction after the attempted invasion. Chicago was lucky – the fate of more major cities like New York and London was not quite as kind. Only scavengers and the mad lived in those places now. From time to time, Sky would muse upon the thought of adventuring to one of those major cities. Maybe he would join one of the mercenary groups hired to retrieve artifacts from before the war.
Sky gulped the rest of the glass quickly and the ice clinked against his teeth. He winced as he looked at the girl, pretending it was the ice. The baritone pop rang out again in the cold apartment as Sky poured himself another and quickly repeated downing the drink. He would always drink two quickly and nurse the third. He and the boys always did this back in the service. Two for courage, one for looks.
“You gonna drink the whole thing alone, baby?”
Sky stared in silence at the girl in his room for a moment before pouring her a quick mixture of vodka and cranberry juice that he had ready at his bar. He hated fruity shit like that, but he learned early on that hookers don’t drink whiskey. Working girls liked to get a good buzz on the job, but smelling like Tullamore Dew sometimes turned off some of the clientele who were looking for someone a bit more “ladylike.”
“Thank you, baby,” she said with a smile as she wrapped her ruby lips around the straw and sipped a bit of courage of her own. She kicked off her heels and sat at the edge of the bed. The two stared at each other for an awkward moment as they sipped their respective drinks.
“I have to go soon, you know,” she said, breaking the silence. He said nothing as he began to pour his fourth drink. The ice was no longer necessary, he didn’t feel the burn of the alcohol any more. Sky finished the fourth in one quick gulp and slammed his drink to the table. The woman gasped as he was suddenly upon her, knocking her drink to the ground. The glass shattered and the reddish concoction splattered against the white wall of the apartment. He began to kiss her feverishly about the neck as he tore at her dress. Her instinct was to resist, but years of on the job training had taught her to suppress this. He was a rough one, but not out of control… yet.
As quickly as he had begun the deed, it was just as quickly over.
“You didn’t even finish, baby. What’s wrong?”
“Money’s on the kitchen counter… thank you for keeping me company tonight.” It was the first thing he had said to her since inviting her in. He turned his head toward the window and quietly started sobbing. She reached for him to offer comfort – a rub of the shoulder, a caress of the back… maybe even a hug, but instinct was overridden by experience again. She began to get dressed again as he sobbed and stared out the window. She knew his type – war veteran, screwed up beyond belief. The other girls believed that they were easy money – freaks. Let them sit there and cry for an hour, then pay up for the time.
The girl couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. As she was getting dressed, he had continued to weep while it seemed he was trying to finish himself off. Her life was in no way easy, but at that moment she felt that he needed, someone, anyone – in fact she was certain that was why she was there. She stopped getting dressed and slipped into bed with him.
She nestled her breasts against his back and began to comfort him. When his weeping had become less intense and desperate, she slid her arm around him and helped him release. She could tell he was still crying, but it was quieter now. She lay there in silence with him for several minutes until he calmed.
“I’m sorry,” Sky said after a long time. He stared out of the window at the ice forming around the tree branches, and thought about how long it had been since he had felt this at ease. “I feel like a monster.” He was not talking about the events of the last half hour.
“It’s ok,” she said. “I didn’t really want to rush out into the storm right now anyway, I’ll stay with you for a while.”
“I could call you a hover cab, if you would like… it’s… the least I can do.” Sky paused as she gently rubbed his hair. “I… just… three years ago… I watched my friend Pete…”
“It’s ok,” she said again as she kissed his shoulder and continued to gently caress him. He began to cry a little more, but the girl did her best to keep him calm. In her arms, he told her what he could about Pete and the rest of his squadron and what had happened in the battle above Tharsis Bulge. He told her of the ones who died in the sky and those who he crash landed into. She quietly listened and comforted him. The girl was well trained and knew better than to interject, but rather simply let him go on.
The wind began to subside, finally, after several hours. Sky had fallen asleep in her arms, but the girl did not leave. She stayed and cleaned up a bit. The broken glass needed tending to and she wanted to shower as well. Cindy had warned her about getting attached to the clients like this, and Cindy was usually right. On a night like tonight, she was sure she would have found another lonely soul in need of attention.
His license read “Sky Hawk” and so the note she left for him was addressed as such. She knew she could not be there when he woke, but she wanted to say… something.
Although she knew she could never see him again, the girl sincerely hoped that he would find someone who would be able to help him through this. She wanted to say all of that in her letter, but ultimately decided on,
Thank you for the lovely evening.