Michael A. Ferro
Mondays are wretched but there is little you can do to fight against a Monday; you sit down and you let it beat you, blow after blow until the clock runs out. Thursdays on the other hand seem almost the perfect time for fighting back, for violence. Weeks gather momentum and with Friday still a day away, if the right conditions are present, people snap. Watch the news and you’ll see.
It’s always unexpected — discovering what weighs most heavily in the origination of a dangerous, cracking individual — be it an interior motive or exterior pressures. The truth usually balances upon the paper-thin barrier between the two, one influencing the other influencing the other.
It was rush hour on Thursday and Catherine was caught inside the cycle. Not only was she trapped somewhere within her own internal cognizance, but she was also quite literally wedged among a sea of bodies at the corner of W. Madison and S. Clark. It was sweltering and she had on a wool women’s suit. She could have smacked herself right then and there if she weren’t so cautious of drawing more attention. All day long she received plenty of attention; she felt sick to her stomach from the attention, from the hundreds of never-blinking eyeballs fixated upon her. If at that moment there appeared a door in front of her and a game show host told her that she only need walk through that door and she would either receive one million dollars or complete, constant attention every waking moment for one year, she would shyly turn and walk in the opposite direction with her hands in her empty pockets.
From a few blocks west she could hear the long, drawn-out wail of an ambulance interposed by the echoing sirens of multiple police cruisers. Something had happened close by, but hardly a passing glance was made by anyone in the crowd around her.
Over the tops of many heads — some covered with ball caps, others with wild hair, and still others with no hair at all to protect their domes from the scorching sun — she could see the man. He was taller than the rest and so was she — yet another attention-grabbing feature of hers that she detested. Catherine was used to locking eyes with tall men over a field of hair and hats. The man never broke his gaze and flashed his tiny, pointed teeth as he slithered through the bodies toward her.
Annoyed, she briefly looked down, but by the time she raised her head once more the man was directly in front of her. She felt his hand grab hers and as she pulled it away, Catherine felt cold, hard steel in her grasp. Those three words stormed her mind — she knew what it was and recoiled in horror. She looked down and saw the barrel and cylinder, the grip now in her palm. When she brought her head back up the man was nowhere to be seen, having ducked below the surface of heads and slipped away with his wide, shark-like grin.
Inside her thoughts raced while people pushed around her, pressed together like livestock wrestling to make their way into a pen. She thought about dropping the thing but didn’t know if it would discharge. She jammed it into her tiny handbag, but it didn’t quite fit, the grip sticking out. Had anyone seen? Frantic now, she searched for a solution, somewhere to hide. If she told someone, how could they believe her?
Just then she locked eyes with a tall Chicago policeman moving towards her.
Born and bred in Detroit, MICHAEL A. FERRO was awarded the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award for Fiction. His debut novel, TITLE 13, will be published by Harvard Square Editions in 2018. His work has appeared in numerous journals in both print and online at Splitsider, Chicago Literati, Random Sample Review, Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Points in Case, and is forthcoming in The Avalon Literary Review, The Corvus Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and elsewhere. Additional publications can be found at: www.michaelaferro.com. After traveling, working, and writing throughout the Midwest, Michael currently resides in rural Ann Arbor, Michigan.