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  #1  
Old 07-31-2009, 02:27 PM
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I told Doffen I would post my first part of a new story here. I hope you like it!
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“Get a job!"

Torstein wasn’t begging, but the Big Guy thought he was. He was doing the opposite of begging — he was offering. He had a bag of sunflower seeds, and he was offering them to people who passed by. It was kind of weird — but Torstein was a weird guy. Like, who’s going to take sunflower seeds from a stranger on the street? Especially one that looked like Torstein. He looked weird. For one thing, he always wore this bottle green coat, like he was leading an electric St. Patrick’s Day parade. I don’t think he had any other coat, but he gave the impression of being the kind of guy who had a hundred coats — probably really great designer coats — but chose to wear that one every day, like a costume.

He really could have used that advice — “Get a job! — but I never saw him too concerned about that. He seemed to prefer trying to hand out sunflower seeds to people who could have cared less. Every once in a while a kid would take a handful, but even then, you know the kid was wishing it were M & M’s.

I was there the day Maggie first passed by. She had an entourage. There must have been seven assistants flanking her, left and right, with cell phones, pagers, PDA’s. Everyone had something to remind Maggie where she was supposed to be and what she was supposed to be doing. One of those seven must have flinched because somehow a bag of sunflower seeds got shoved in Maggie’s face — the assistants had let Torstein slip through! They’d been gliding along in phalanx, but he must have weaved in between them.

It was kind of comical. When someone handed Maggie a phone, she talked. When someone handed her a PDA, she texted. When someone handed her a clipboard and a pen, she signed. When Torstein handed her the bag of sunflower seeds, she grabbed a handful. I think it was force of habit. I think these seven assistants had been programming her actions so long, she just assumed Torstein was one and did what he prompted automatically. Then — boom! She stopped. The whole phalanx stopped. She was standing there with a handful of seeds, staring at Torstein in his green coat. And I think, for her, for the first time in a long time, all her entourage disappeared. And for a minute, there was only her and Torstein.

And she put some seeds in her mouth and spit out the shells, and laughed.
It happened like that sometimes — instantaneously.
Other times ... well ... Torstein was patient.

There was this crack addict named Angel in a ratty old building on the block behind the city street where Torstein met Maggie. Angel never even looked at Torstein — she didn’t look at any men, really; they were just business to her. I doubt she even noticed when Torstein was offering her sunflower seeds. She didn’t think men gave away anything for free. But she had a kid, maybe 5 years old, Sully. Torstein would give the kid sunflower seeds, and other stuff — sandwiches. He’d tell him, “Take this home to your mom. She needs to eat.” Like crack addicts ate anything but crack. I think Sully ate all the sandwiches himself. Who could blame him? He had to be hungry.

One day Torstein took Sully into the bodega, gave him some money, and showed him how to buy bread and peanut butter and jelly and milk. Torstein told him to keep the bread and milk and jam in the fridge ... After that sometimes he’d give Sully a few bucks for groceries. Everyone thought maybe Sully was his kid. Someone even asked him. He said, “Sure he’s my kid. He’s yours, too. If his father and mother abandon him, shouldn’t we take him in?”

So Torstein was Sully’s hero because — well, who else ever gave a darn about him? But Torstein was trying to get to Angel. Only once a person’s on crack, nothing gets to them but the promise of more crack. At least, that was my opinion. I mean, Torstein was a great guy. My brother and I had fallen victim to his Irresistible Charm almost exactly the same way Maggie had. We wanted to stick by him and see what would happen next, no doubt. But for Angel, she wasn’t sticking by anyone except the guy that could get her next fix to her. I figured she’d be happy if Torstein took the kid off her hands completely and she never saw either of them again. But like I say, Torstein was patient.
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:48 PM
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I think your story is real! Some people are so concentrated in their lifes that forgot the realy important things like sunflower seeds!
I am curious with what will happens to Torstein, Angel and Sully!

Good job inkspot!
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:57 PM
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A response already! Thank you! Thanks for reading.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:03 PM
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This was really great, as always! I always live myself into your stories in a very unique way. VERY well written!

Quote:
Originally Posted by inkspot View Post
When someone handed Maggie a phone, she talked. When someone handed her a PDA, she texted. When someone handed her a clipboard and a pen, she signed. When Torstein handed her the bag of sunflower seeds, she grabbed a handful.
What I love the most about your story telling is your remarkable way of doing good humour. This bit cracked me up ^^

Can't wait for the next part
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:27 PM
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Thanks. Here's a bit more.
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The green coat made Torstein look like a dragon fly. It was that kind of green. And he was light on his feet, almost dancing when he walked ... he shimmered. It wasn’t so much what he said that captured people’s attention, because usually he didn’t say much at all. It was more just the way he was. He was like a flame, a green flame, and some people were drawn to him like moths. I was, Maggie was, my brother was. Little Sully never had a chance. He was devoted to Torstein almost from the first handful of seeds.

But the Big Guy? His immediate response had been that snarled, “Get a job!”
It sounded rude, but Torstein wasn’t put off at all. He said, “I’m surprised anyone with a job like yours would tell me to get a job!”

Then it hit me: we knew this Big Guy. It was Bruiser, one of the Big Guys who collected protection money for Nicolai, the Russian mobster who terrorized the legitimate business owners and ran the illegitimate businesses around here. Yah, Bruiser had shaken my old man down every week for a few bucks. For protection. My dad used to own the fish market. He’d given it to me and my brother, and we’d sold it. But I still remembered Bruiser.

The Big Guy, Bruiser, I thought he’d just pound Torstein into the pavement there on the spot. After all, Torstein was quick and light on his feet, but big he was not. He wasn’t any taller than me, and slighter. Bruiser could have laid him out with one sucker punch, easy. But he just said, “Everybody’s gotta make a living,” as if he had to justify himself to the nut-job on the street offering everyone sunflower seeds! I was floored.

Torstein said, “I don’t make a living. And yet, here I am, living. Care to join me?”

And the Big Guy, he reached out and took a handful of sunflower seeds. And he laughed. Torstein laughed, too, and did a little two-step around the guy. That about killed me — crazy man in the green coat dancing around ol’ Bruiser the collections man.

But that was Torstein’s Irresistible Charm. Some people couldn’t say no to him. Not that my brother and I had tried very hard. We’d first run into him the day we signed the papers to sell the fish market. It had been bought by a big gourmet food chain that wanted the great storefront space for merchandise, and wanted access to our dad’s vendors of fresh fish. The ocean was just 20 miles away, and our dad knew all the old fishing families from when he used to fish. He’d always had the best seafood in his market.

So my brother and I had been ready to celebrate. We thought we’d done remarkably well on the sale. That day, Torstein didn’t have any sunflower seeds. He’d just been standing on the street when we came out of the broker’s office; almost like he was waiting for us, though we’d never seen him before.

We thought, like the Big Guy, that he was panhandling.

He said, “Looks like a party, boys!”

My brother said, “Heck yah it’s a party!” and he pulled $10 out of his wallet and handed it to Torstein. We were feeling generous.

But Torstein just smiled and gave it back, saying, “I’m not that cheaply bought. Where are we headed?’

My brother, still thinking Torstein was a beggar, started laughing and said, “You’ve got guts, I’ll give you that.”

And we took him out to party with us. We’d been following him since then ... or not really following him anywhere, because he hardly ever went anywhere except for a few city blocks around where we’d met him.

Every now and then, someone else seemed to see in Torstein what we saw in him, and they’d start coming around, too, a couple of days a week, or every day for a week straight, and soon they’d just be part of the crowd. We didn’t do anything but watch him dancing with his sunflower seeds or listen to him tell a story ...

... but somehow it seemed important. Apparently, to Bruiser it seemed important, too. He stopped doing his collections. I guess Nikolai got someone else to take over for him, but he wasn’t happy about it. He sent some other thugs to talk to Torstein, but Bruiser got in the way and told them unless they’d come there for sunflower seeds, they ought to go right back the way they came.

Later that day, Torstein told us he wanted to visit the ocean. It would be our first journey with him.
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Old 08-01-2009, 02:31 AM
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Thanks for posting this story. I like really good original stories like this one. I am waiting for the next installment. Good job Jax!!!
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Old 08-01-2009, 02:38 AM
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That is AWESOME I love it!!! I love how it's writtem, the descritpion is good, LOVE IT!
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Old 08-01-2009, 03:17 AM
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I always enjoy your stories, Inky. And now you've got me hooked just by mentioning Russian mafia... Can't wait to see what happens.
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Old 08-02-2009, 07:05 PM
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Thanks for reading. Here is a bit more.
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We took the bus to the shore. There was this crazy man who’d appeared that spring. He dressed in camo and had a deep, booming voice. I guess he was homeless, and the beach police must have been afraid to try to run him off because he was a pretty large and sturdy looking individual. His deal was, he went into the sea every day, in the shallows where people swim, and if you got too close he would grab you and dunk you under.

At first people were freaked out by it. But as the days grew hotter, and more people crowded the shore, and nobody drowned, it got to be kind of a game. Kids would try to see how close they could get without being dunked. The guy was fast, though, and he could catch most people — grab them, pull them under, let them up. It was pretty funny to watch, actually, girls in bikinis shrieking and sputtering, teenaged boys jumping and splashing to try to evade his long arms. We stood watching from the shore, laughing and carrying on a bit, cheering for the best looking girls — he always managed to grab them I noticed. But he caught almost everyone.

Then suddenly Torstein said, “He’s my cousin, you know.” We were all stunned! Was this another Torsteinism, like Sully belonging to all of us, or was he making a statement of fact that he and the Dunker were blood relations? Torstein looked nothing like the Dunker. Torstein had short, straight almost black hair and a face so pretty, it was almost like a girl’s face. Only he was one of those short guys like a gymnast who is slightly muscle-bound, so that saved him from looking too delicate. But the Dunker, he had about a yard of gnarly dreadlocks streaming out the top of his head, a kind of bulging forehead and dark eyes set deep under it. He was well over 6 feet tall, taller even than our Bruiser.

Sully had come with us to the shore, and he’d been having a fit to try his luck with the Dunker, only he couldn’t swim. I didn’t bring any trunks, so I wasn’t going in the water. I was just there for a corndog and a gander at the bikinis. The Dunker was in water up to his waist, but that would have been almost over Sully’s head, so he couldn’t go alone. Before we could ask Torstein if he were serious about the madman being his cousin, he had whipped off his coat and shirt, and was stripping down to his shorts, saying to Sully, “Let’s do it! Let’s try if he’ll dunk us!”

He held out his hand to Sully, and they went splashing out into the water. Sully had just been wearing a ratty old pair of shorts and a t-shirt. That’s what he was wearing when the Dunker lunged at him, grabbed him by the shoulder and yanked him away from Torstein, plunged him under the surf — then lifted him back up and launched him like a missile through the air, back toward shallower water. Sully was screaming and laughing all the way. He splashed down in about 2 feet of water and came scrambling back toward us on the shoreline.

Meantime the Dunker ha grabbed Torstein, but didn’t dunk him. He gave him a big old bear hug. Clearly they knew each other. Sully was standing with us, watching, and said, “Why doesn’t he dunk him?”

Other people splashing around, waiting for the game to continue, were wondering the same thing. Even Torstein, it seemed, was wondering. The Dunker had let him go and was backing away from him, shaking his head, no. Torstein was gesturing to himself and the water — he’d come to be dunked, clearly, probably the only person who came with the purpose of being dunked, and the Dunker was refusing. Except — it was a ruse!

Just as Torstein was about to give up, already turning away, the Dunker’s right hand shot out and grabbed him, twisting him around so he tumbled toward the Dunker who caught him, dunked him, and brought him sputtering back up. At that same moment, a crazy seagull dive-bombed them and landed on Torstein’s shoulder — and bit him on the ear! That was the kind of weird stuff that happened to Torstein. He was still recovering from the surprise dunk attack, and he just laughed at the bird and shooed it away. Then he came wading back to the shore, with the Dunker beside him. They were both laughing.

Torstein said — and I am not kidding — “This is my cousin, Duncan.”
Duncan the Dunker?! We all shook hands, but it’s hard to keep a straight face at a moment like that. Which is why it’s great to have a kid in the crowd. Sully piped up, “You dunked me and you threw me!” The Dunker’s response was to grab him again and toss him in the air. He was that big of a guy, to toss a five-year-old in the air. Sully started squealing, and the awkward moment was over before it really got started.

So, yah, apparently Torstein and the Dunker really were cousins.

Somebody asked the Dunker what he was doing, shoving swimmers underwater. He said in this booming voice of his that it was his destiny. Seemed like a lame destiny to me. And when the weather cooled off, it was going to be an impossible one. But why argue with a crazy man?
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:11 PM
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Awww cool! I like it! Sully seems cute!
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