What comes after

Early-Mid March 1993: Coping Part II

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[At the end of the next two weeks we will know a whole lot more about your characters. Almost everything. I want you to focus on the big passions in your life. Until now we focused on one passion. We should diversify. There’s always more than one thing going on in your life. At the end of the two weeks we know all about what drives you and what ties you to this existence.]
-Storyteller quote.

Darren gets home from the meeting. He spends the night watching TV with his wife, married with children is on. None of them are really paying attention though. Denice is reading a magazine, her husband is reading a flyer. It doesn’t really matter though for it’s an easy show to follow. The episode ends on a positive note, the family hugs each other on the couch. A one liner is flown around. “They look happy.” Darren remarks with the hint of a question in his voice. He wants children but his wife doesn’t necessarily. She is still weighing her options and even after all this years she considers it’s too much of a commitment. In the end the discussion that Darren hoped to start never takes place.

Stewart also spends his night in front of the tv albeit somewhat frustrated. In his frustration he drinks and through his drinking he decides to go outside. While on the street he sees none other than her. The woman he has been watching for weeks. They almost bump into each other. He apologizes quickly, she says not to worry and the woman goes on her way. Stewart affected by both her and the whiskey in his system decides to follow her at a safe distance. This works for a block or 3 until he sees her entering a supermarket. He is unsure of what to do or what to say to her. After ten minutes of agonizing about his decision Stewart says to himself “You’re hopeless. Get the fuck out of here.” And so he leaves. A smile appears on his face when he realises the big step forward he has made. At home he celebrates, drinks more and goes to bed later than he should. Satisfied and drunk.

The next day, for the first time in his year and a half of employment, he’s late at work. He still smells of last night’s celebration. His boss tells him to go home and return tomorrow. But the newness and the thrill of this situation also kind of excites him. While at home he looks at his dog, Buster, who has given him unconditional love over the past few years. Stewart feels good enough to take a walk with his dog in a location other than his own backyard. They are outside for almost 2 hours. He smiles and thinks he’s happy. When he gets home he’s satisfied, albeit a bit exhausted for he hasn’t really been exercising lately. In the end he smiles, pulls out a beer. “To you Buster, I love you man.”

Dereck goes out gambling on one of the following days. He sits at a table on someone’s porch playing games. He loses himself in the thrill of gamble, the excitement is what keeps him going. He isn’t interested in the outcome, he isn’t interested in what it costs him. Dereck gambles to weigh the chances, to pierce through his rival’s bluff and over bluffing them. This gives him a lot of satisfaction. He doesn’t care about the money. Still, today he wins quite a lot. While going home he ponders what to do with the money. It’s been a long, long time since he bought his wife a gift. He wants to salvage his relationship at home by buying her a necklace.

When he gets home he teasingly presents his wife with the wrapped package. When Sophia opens it and sees a golden necklace she notices that this has cost a lot of money. “Where did you get this? Did you steal it?” Sophia asks accusingly. “No, no, no! I bought it. I won and I just wanted to give you something.” Sophia loses her shit. For all these years Dereck has wasted so much money and this one time where he actually earned something he spends it on something useless. “We could’ve brought the car to the mechanic, or we could have paid for our children’s schools!” She berates him endlessly.

The next day Stewart shows up to work on time. When his boss asks him about what happened the previous day he simply replies with. “Oh you know, I was just celebrating. I had a great time with a beautiful woman and it got a bit late. I’m sorry and won’t do it again.” Even though Stewart knows that what he said was technically a lie, he feels better about himself for having said it out loud. For the rest of the day Stewart works as he always does, and as always, at night, after he gets home he stares outside of his window between 9 and 9:30.
While at work Darren catches wind of an ongoing discussion between co-workers. “Our president, a democrat. Within a month of being in office, he passed a bill that says that any employer.. Eh. Say, your wife gets pregnant. I know your wife doesn’t work but now it’s mandatory to give her paid leave. That’s a good policy and he did it within a month!” The other co workers get furious, they don’t have much love for the new president Clinton. “This is man is gonna bring it all down. He’s too young, he’s a self righteous prick and him preaching about family values.. I mean, do you remember what he said during his campaign? He wanted to make abortions legal, safe, and then with a wink he’d say; rare. No man, he’s already reverting laws passed down by Raegan and Bush. Laws that kept family values in place. Darren mixes with the winning side of the argument although the words maternity leave linger in the back of his head.

Dereck finds himself at his usual grocery store. He has to tell himself that this is the affordable one but he can’t deny that he’s surrounded by those who are well off. Mostly white folk who buy from the higher shelves while Dereck himself has to crouch down to the lower ones, supported by his prosthetic leg. He sees a child there, about Louis’ age, he sits there patiently while his mother goes about her errands. The child stares at him, when he looks down the aisle the child keeps staring at him, with the most bitter expression on his little face. The kid looks at Dereck as if he were a monster.

After a while the gambler tries to confront the child. He walks towards him slowly. “Hey kid.” With every step Dereck takes towards the child, the child in turn takes a step back towards the safety of his mother. By the time Dereck asks if the child wants to hear a story the little boy is behind his mother’s skirt. The mother confronts Dereck. “I’m sorry, why are telling stories to my child?” This leaves the man a bit flustered “Well, you know. He was staring at me and I thought to myself what this child needs is a good story.” “My child doesn’t need anything from you.” She swiftly replies while she puts her child in the shopping cart, scoffs with “Good day, sir.” As she rounds the corner.

Later that night Dereck visits the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is important to the african american community due to it’s connection with Martin Luther King Jr. After the sermons Dereck tells what hat occurred earlier that day to one of the other attendees. This man holds a little more radical ideals, he takes Dereck to sit somewhere privately. The church goer explains that the white man will always try to keep them down, that the black folk need to claim their own place in society for the white man will never give it to them. Dereck finds these ideas extreme but has to agree with his new friend to some extent. The thought of opposing instead of condoning thrills him, though. The two exchange numbers and Dereck’s new friend invites him to a meeting of like minded individuals.

A couple of days later, while the TV is on in the background Stewart is looking at a rainy street. He can’t be sure if the subject of his recent obsession has passed by due to the downpour. The TV catches his attention when it shows a photo, for the girl on the photo looks a lot like his mysterious love. When he sits back down a CNN reporter talks about incidents now several years ago. “In 1984 President Ronald Raegan announced the teacher in space project. NASA wanted to find a quote/unquote ordinary person, a gifted teacher who could communicate with teachers while in orbit. Now. Approximately 17% of americans witnessed this launch live because of the president of payload specialists; Christa McAuliffe. Who would have been the first teacher in space.” The face simply speaks to Stewart. “The first teacher in space. Who doesn’t remember this day, january 28th in 1986 when the NASA space shuttle orbited Challenger, now seven years ago, broke apart seventy three seconds into it’s flight, leading to the death of it’s seven crew members. Which included five NASA astronauts and two payload specialists. As part of this special of the Challenger reports, we would like to repeat to you the footage of that fateful launch.” Stewart sips his beer as he watches the explosion TV. After the broadcast he notices that it’s been ten past ten and he probably won’t see his crush anymore. He can’t help himself when he goes outside on his porch in the rain. Looking left and right in hopes to catch a glance of her. When he gets back, defeated and soaked he sits back in front of the tv where specialists discuss the cause of the Challenger accident.


On that same rainy night Darren climbs the fence of of Casey’s Hill Cemetery. He needed to escape the monotone existence of his married life. He picks up his folding chair, he takes the half empty bottle. He once again visits the grave of Joey Gabreski.
Darren is not used to people entering the graveyard at night but he sees two people enter and strolling over to another gravestone. The father and child don’t suffer the same restraining orders as him. Darren doesn’t engage them, he takes a sip of his drink and looks at the framed photo of a frail, geeky kid.
The mechanic then starts something of which he knows can’t be a dialogue but still hopes to feel that way. “It’s been a while since I came here. Well, not since I came here but since we talked. You know, after the accident and how everything is going I just wanted to bring you up to speed on what’s going on down here. I’m still together with Denice, yes, 15 whole years. All though I must admit that the only thing we share is our history together.
Everyone in school knew you had a crush on her. Who knows, if you played your cards right, maybe, you might have given her more. But like I said, now all it is is now is history. There is no future in it. I wish there was. I wish we could build towards something. I wish we had something to look forward to. But she seems more disinterested with each passing day. So yeah, it sucks.”
He gathers himself when he watches the silhouette of father and child in the rainy distance.

Dereck places flowers on the wet grave. He holds his umbrella over Louis who is very unhappy with being dragged outside, at night to stand in the rain. “It was a bout of luck.” Dereck says to his son. “It was me or Aaron. Sometimes about what would’ve happened. If I could’ve pushed Aaron away, he would have lived. I would have layn here. Sometimes I think about what if his son never dayed and lived to be your age. You know, Louis we should be thankful. We should be thankful that we’re alive. We should be thankful that we made it. That we a is a family still stand together. And we as a family need to find a place, we need to fight for our place in this world. It’s not been easy. It won’t be easy. You know us as black people we’ve always been marginalized against. But we need to be strong, we need to stand together.”

[I think this is a nice moment for a conclusion. This one rainy night where everyone is staring at something. Stewart is staring across the street, Darren is staring across the graveyard and sees two figures. Dereck is talking to his son, we ought to be thankful, we ought to be strong. One last thing.. Is your son who silently mumbles. “Dad, we ought to be a lot of things.”]
-Storyteller quote.

Darren looks at the sight of this father and his son. He feels a slimmer of motivation and finishes his talk with Joey. “I’m sorry for how hard I’ve been for you, man. It was never my intent. I know I kept pushing you and pushing you. If I knew what you were about today I would never have done it. I’m sorry.” And with that he leaves for home.

The next day Stewart tries to dismiss the thought of the girl whom he missed so desperately the previous night. He heads out for groceries and the world defiantly presents her to him, walking down the aisles. He follows her and watches what she’s buying. Or more importantly for how many people she’s buying. It’s all very moderate and this gives Stewart the hope this woman might be single. He tries not to be too obvious as he stalks her down the supermarket.
At the fruit department she drops an apple and against better judgement Stewart races towards it to grab it for her as it rolls away. “Here you go ma’am.” He presents the apple to her with a sense of pride. “Hey, thanks! Didn’t I run into you the other day?” “Yeah, I guess we did. Well, here’s your apple.” Shyness overcomes him though and he quickly walks away after wishing her a nice day. The importance of the interaction doesn’t seem to register to the woman, whom Stewart watches going on with her life as if nothing has happened. Still, he goes home with a good feeling. He knows where she goes shopping after all and will make sure to bump into her again more often.



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