Ticking, Sweating, and StutteringJRNappier / Actions & Adventure
Ticking, Sweating, and Stuttering
By J.R Nappier
Copyright J.R Nappier, 2016
All Rights Reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Summer Heat and Leather Seats
About the Author
Jack stares at his watch. He bobs his head to the side in rhythm with the ticking. He keeps his brown, leather suitcase closely by his side.
He taps his foot as he glances around anxiously, surveying the restaurant. He grips his suitcase’s handle and pulls it underneath his chair. Despite the fancy décor, it appears to be rather slow today as only a few tables are occupied.
As he takes a glance at his watch for the hundredth time, he hears the front doors open. He turns around to see a beautiful woman with long Auburn hair, wearing a stunning silk dress. Jack stares at the beauty in awe.
“Hello? Are you Jack?” the woman asks.
“Um, yeah! Yeah, I’m Jack!” he responds. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe I ever caught your name.”
“My name’s Felicia,” she says as she takes a seat across from him.
“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, Felicia. Name’s Jack. Sorry if I seem a bit panicked. I just got off work, so I haven’t had the chance to prepare.”
“No no, it’s perfectly okay! I must apologize myself for being late!”
“Well, we’ll just call it even then.”
“I guess we have to,” responds Felicia, giggling. “So where do you work, Jack?”
“Oh, I work in botany! I mostly deal with medicinal herbs and-“
Jack lurches forward in his seat, as a chair behind him screeches along the wooden floors. He turns around and spots a table occupied by two muscular men, one bald and one with curly red hair. From the corner of his eye, he notices one of them glancing over. His heart beats louder with each moment in conjunction with his watch’s ticking.
“Medicinal herbs? You mean like marijuana?” asks Felicia.
“Well, kind of. Hey, you want to get out of here? I know a burger joint that blows this place out of the water,” replies Jack.
“What? We just got here. Besides, you didn’t answer my question.”
The two muscular men emerge from their seats and walk towards Jack’s table. He grips onto his suitcase and shoots out from his seat.
“I’ll tell you on the way there. Just trust me on this,” said Jack. A bead of sweat drips down his cheek.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” asks Felicia.
He takes a deep breath as the the men approaches him. He zeroes in on his watch to help compose himself. As the bald man places his left hand on Jack’s right shoulder, he swings the suitcase at him, smacking him across the face and knocking him on his back.
The curly man tackles Jack from the waist, slamming him into his table, and crushing it beneath their weight. The suitcase flies out of his hand and lands next to Felicia. She jumps from her seat, but her expression is not one of shock, but of indifference.
“Felicia! Call the cops!” yells Jack as the man pins him to the crushed table.
Instead of pulling out her phone as instructed, Felicia squats next to the suitcase. The bald man stands up, rubbing his bruised cheek. He walks towards the pinned Jack, rummages through his pockets, and pulls out a small brass key. He tosses it towards Felicia, who catches it in her left hand.
The color washes from Jack’s face as she opens the suitcase, pulling out bags of colorful powders and leaves.
“Oh, this doesn’t look like marijuana at all. You have like a whole cocaine festival in here. I’m impressed!” says Felicia.
“Felicia? What the hell is going on?” asks Jack.
“That’s Detective Felicia to you,” she replies as she pulls a badge from her pocket.
The two men lift Jack onto his feet, slapping handcuffs on him.
“So, this whole thing was a goddamn set up?” asks Jack.
“Oh, come on. Of course it was! Who the hell would go on a blind date with a lame ass botanist? Oh, he works with ferns. I gotta get me some of that!” replies Felicia.
Jack struggles as the two men drag him out the front door. They lead him to a police car, and throw him into the back seat. Sitting up straight, he takes one last glance at his watch. Cracks cover the watch, obscuring most of the numbers. The second hand refuses to budge. Jack’s time is finally up.
Summer Heat and Leather Seats
It’s been four days now since I left my home in Tucson, Arizona. What was supposed to be several weeks of food was already diminished. Perhaps I should’ve taken my anxiety under account, as I tended to eat more when I was stressed. The desert heat and the throbbing pain in the soles of my feet wasn’t helping.
I wanted to avoid hitchhiking as long as I could, but the pain was clouding my better judgment. My thumb shot out purely out of survivor’s instinct and I watched as hundreds of cars blazed on by, ignoring my plea. Several hours passed and I contemplated continuing on foot, but before I had the chance to make a final decision, a vehicle stopped in front of me.
Upon my eyes was a blue semi-truck, which has seen better days. There wasn’t a single spot that wasn’t covered in a thick layer of dust. I was hesitant to even open the door, seeing that the handle was rusted beyond repair. Fortunately, or as fortunate as one can get in this situation, the truck driver extended his right leg, and kicked the door wide open.
It was then that I finally met the man behind the wheel. I was greeted by what seemed to be an endless supply of hair, whether it was from the bushels of fur that covered his beefy forearms or this thick immaculate beard that hid nearly most of his face. Ironically, the only place that seemed to be void of any hair follicle at all was his cleanly shaven head.
“Where are you heading, kid?” asked the burly behemoth.
“Huh? Oh! Um, to Los Angeles, please,” I responded.
“Los Angeles, huh? Well, I’ll take you as far as the next town. After that, you’re on your own, you got that?
I nodded in agreement. Though I wish we could’ve gone a little further, any opportunity to rest my feet was welcomed. I climbed up onto the front seat and I instantly regretted my decision. The cushion in the seat must’ve hardened after all these years, because it felt like I was sitting on a pile of hard cover books. Because it was made of leather, the atrocious summer heat that soaked into it roasted my butt.
Before I could ask the grizzly gargantuan to turn the air conditioning on, I noticed the knob to it was missing. I kept my complaints to myself, however, as I didn’t want to invoke the wrath of the Incredible Hulk’s older brother. Right now, I couldn’t tell if the sweat dripping down my face was due to the heat or the immense intimidation I felt towards this man. I just kept my hands on my lap and prayed the trip would go smoothly.
“So, you want to be an actor, huh?” asked the tremendous titan.
My mouth was wide open as I never once revealed my intentions to him.
The trucker just laughed off my surprised reaction with, “I’ve seen it a million times before. Some brat running away from home, no plans whatsoever, hoping to make it big in Hollywood. How much money do you have in that backpack, pray tell? Two hundred bucks? Three hundred? You expect to just kick down the bigwigs’ doors and demand a job?”
I gritted my teeth and struggled to keep my composure.
“Look, kid,” he continued, “Let me give you a piece of advice. I’m not saying you’re never gonna make it, but your chances are much slimmer if you’re running around blindly with no foundation. The faster you run away, the harder you hit the pavement when you eventually slip.”
I’ve heard this lecture before from my parents and teachers, but for some reason, the same words struck harder coming from him.
“Why do you care anyway? You’re never going to see me again, so what do you gain by giving me this lecture?” I asked, making sure to avoid eye contact as I still didn’t want to provoke the man.
“Who knows? Maybe I’m feeling preachy today,” the driver responds as he adjusted his cracked rear view mirror.
I glanced over and noticed him avoiding eye contact as well. Was he feeling sorry for me or for himself? Maybe both? It wasn’t like I could get any direct answers out of him. Either way, my stomach felt like it was lurching, jerking violently around with each word that came from his mouth. Before I could ask for