Ring! Ring! Ring!
The phone cried with a resonating intense that actively and intently showered the room. There was a silent pause before each new ring that sat and lodged itself only to amplify the next ring. A quiet soft gap in between like it was perfectly spaced to be not too short and not too long. It was made such that every new ring become more intense. It existed for the sole purpose to be interrupted by the ring.
Alfred raised his short stocky hand, looking at the phone only to notice his ring finger had a callous that irritated him. One of many wounds he has suffered to get his driveway fixed. He knew it would have been better to hire somebody to do it. But on his insistence he was supposedly saving money on labor by doing it himself. He did not believe it at all but he had convinced his wife and he was now stuck with the job and had to finish it.
The driveway was just one of the many things he had gotten involved with, never learning and never accepting defeat. It was his way of showing his wife that he was a man. He could work with his hands every once in a while and not just his head. He was tough and strong behind the round layers that had grown accustomed to the middle of his body. The pudgy roundness of his belly had accumulated and increased over the years of sitting in the office, fine dining with clients and his wife’s cooking.
He wanted to show he could be a man, like the man she watches on TV with giggly eyes, fanning at the renovation channel. All the roughness and sweat of men working. There was something appealing about it that he could never understand but learned to accept that women were always drawn to such men.
“I should have hired someone else to do it” he often wondered , this happened more these days, especially when he would see the callous on his fingers.
He paused with his hand mid-air considering if it was the last ring or if the phone was about to buzz one more time. He could not make up his mind, catching himself and his mind forgetting, wondering about his own problems.
Alfred returned to the most important thing at the moment, the phone had stopped ringing. He had an inkling of who might be calling, he was more certain it had to be him. He resigned himself and decided it was best to avoid the matter and the man for now.
“What’s done is done.” He thought, he shuffled a few papers on his desk and smiled to himself.
It was a smile filled with self satisfaction but not in a happy way. A more inward type that comes with doing something inappropriate that gives you a short lived kinda of joy. Before he could finish his thought he was interrupted some sounds on the outside that quickly invade his space.
The tainted half glass wooded frame clicked as the mass of the black wooded door swung open and the glass slapped against the wall. The clattering happening abruptly and with a sharpness caught him off guard sending him to a nervous shock.
The chaos in the air was quick but short lived but had sent him into a frenzy. A frenzy of confused surprise that he jerked back with his chair as he cowered at the corner of the office. Alfred’s eyes enlarged so much that there were almost popping out of his up lifted brows.
He felt a little jolt of coldness run through his skin, as if an electrical shock had passed through him.
“ You fucking piece of shit! You think you can hide by not picking up your damn phone!” a voice shouted.
The pin-striped suit with a shade of navy blue had towered the door, accompanied by a man with dark hair and strands of gray on his sides. He entered the room with such a presence that all his blood lust evaded the air. The redness in his face shadowed his perfect square jaw which was cleanly shaved. He was tall, and broad with his arms raised and ready to pounce.
Alfred gazed at him and he could see the piercing blue eyes that he was well acquainted were now turning glazing red. The words coming from his mouth were like a breathe of fire, igniting the air in the room, raging flames were almost visible in his tongue.
“Roy, what can I do for you?” Alfred responded with a rendered smile.
He sent a smile across the room as if to mock him, in fact it was precisely what he was doing. He was used to these situations and as he would when things got this way he would get into character, the well rehearsed and perfectly versed Attorney Alfred Dunchen.
He pulled back his chair and sat back down. He leaned back clenching both arms together like a man asking for alms. A well played plot he would do, to ruse and to raise the agitation, he knew he had got him and he was not going to give him the satisfaction because deep down he was afraid, very afraid indeed of the man before him.
He could feel the temperature in the room rising but he simply did not care. He was going to add gasoline, no, not gasoline, much like propane to this fire. He needed to see Roy burning, he needed him on fire because that's what he did to all his rivals. Get under their skin well enough and you did not have to do a thing they will destroy themselves.
“You stupid bastard!” Roy replied. “ You think this is funny” he continued. “You think all the work I did to get Freehouse to sign was a joke.”
“You think the world revolves around you and you can do whatever the hell you want right? Well, I’m gonna tell you something which I don’t think you know” Roy continued.
“Not again, Roy” Alfred interrupted. “ Not again, we’ve been here before” he added.
The words were not fully articulated in his mouth and Roy launched forward. Roy picked the metal chair behind the desk and threw it across the room. The glass walls shattered in an epic display of clattering shads. A million pieces falling down like rain drops, fragments of tiny pebbles of glitter.
Without hesitation he leaped behind the table and grabbed Alfred by the neck and dragging him to the back of the room. He pressed his back against the wall putting his back straight on the metal cabinets on the back of the room.
Alfred still troubled and confused felt a sharp pain in his back as the metal handle pressed slight above his tail-bone. He opened his arms to surrender but it was too late, Roy was holding him tight.
As he stood there he could not help but feel the urge to smirk at the irony of his situation, his lips quivered in amusement and he did not know why but he felt the need to rub it on Roy’s face one more time. A soft chuckle much like a gasp came out of him, uncontrolled and unhindered, he could not avoid it. It simply slipped out and echoed in Roy’s face.
In that instant, there was an ambient slowness and silence between the two men. The chuckle very much the last thing he would remember when he recalled the event later in his bed. He was met with a warm feeling embedded on his skin sending a chilling but painful sensation to his left jaw.
The sharpness and pain grew even more relevant when he tried to turn away from the man in front of him, and before he could process what had happened another sensation came to him. Only this time there was a strange heaviness that came lodging to his face, followed by a cracking sound.
The click clack noise sounded much louder and closer to his ears, like it came from within him. His eyes failing him as they could not stay open. He wanted to understand these sensations but he could not keep his eyes from closing and letting the darkness fall in. Much like his eyes, his legs betrayed him at that very moment and he collapsed on the floor.
When he woke up, his vision was still a blur, a faded memory of the events before. It was as if he wanted not to remember, not to know what had happened only to encounter the same painful sensations still present. He felt cold on the floor, fatigued and his mouth was very metallic. He knew that taste very well in fact, the coldness, the salt, the iron, were all somehow familiar yet foreign, he had forgotten the taste blood up until now.
On first opening his eyes, he was met with the gaze of three women looking from above him. Mrs Goodrow his secretary whom he immediately recognized was holding a bag of white mass.
“Here is the ice” she said. Not really addressing him but more to the other two women who were standing next to him. Their eyes fixed to him but slightly confused.
She moved to put it on his face. He could feel the pain increase again as the cold white lump touched his skin. He winced and hissed with a wild cry in protest.
“Oh poor Mr Dunchen, really poor Mr Dunchen. You don’t look good we should call an ambulance immediately” another voice cried.
Although he was feeling a lot of pain he recognized the voice immediately. That nervousness and exaggerated reaction had to be Alice the receptionist. She was always quick to call the ambulance. She had once wanted to call the ambulance for a paper cut from the printer room.
He put up his hand and patted on his face and followed by his nose and upper jaw. The sharpness in his nose was growing harshly with each breath he took. He wanted to stand, he pulled his arm and reached up, failing miserably at his first attempt.
The ladies gasped in horror, each airing some words he could not understand and did not want to understand. He trembled and tried again to rise.
Alfred was held down by the three women, insisting he remained laying down at least for the moment. The severe pain that kept plaguing him prevented him from further resistance.
Mrs Goodrow had placed the chilly ice on his face. She was making gestures while saying something to the other two ladies. He watched and tried intently to make up what they were talking about but the pain grew stronger and he abandoned his curiosity.
Later that day, Alfred sat at the University Drive Medical center emergency room. He had suffered a broken nose, lacerated upper lip and trauma to his left eye. He was treated with man with a middle eastern accent who made a joke about the other guy must be worse than him. Alfred did not say anything, much less he could not utter a word nor dare to open his mouth.
When the procedure was over he was released to his wife who was seating in the waiting room. She had a look in her eyes that was pensive but concerned. She knew what had happened and she was aware Alfred was not innocent in this case. She had warned him not to steal anymore of Roy’s clients.
“You work in the same building, for God’s sake, why do you have to piss of everybody” she had said some time ago during dinner. Their arguments had lasted days until she decided to forget the matter.
She remembered that night vividly now but held it in her tongue vowing not to mention anything on the car ride home. Alfred took his coat from her, and she took his hand to hers. The two walked silently down the hallway to the exit elevators.
He looked at her hand on his and saw the callous just like before, still there, glaring at him.
“I think we should hire someone to do the driveway” he mumbled.