the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




WORK
BY BRIGHAM HAUSMAN

PARAMEDICAL EQUATION

The true factor that determines who will usually win a fight is the answer to the following question: "Who is the better fighter?" But how do you really determine that? It's not who knows which martial art or who boxes at what gym or who serves in which military organization or whatever training a person might undergo. The better fighter is the one who wants to win more AND who has the most actual experience.

Size can be nullified by a canny veteran. Just like in the case of a bar where characters of a less than reputable nature may be found. There happens to be a young man in there who has the ill fortune of being singled out by a squatty, bearded toad of a man.

For no rational reason, this uncouth brute has taken an unfavorable opinion of the previously mentioned young man. Eventually he deems it necessary to confirm and voice his unfounded aversion with a face to face confrontation.

He approaches and pushes the shoulder of his unknowing rival. The young man turns and smiles and excuses himself for being clumsy and inadvertently jostling the aggressor.

This diplomatic display, of course, only serves to aggravate the unreasonable temper of the antagonistic lout.

"You gotta shitty attitude, man." Forcefully tapping on a now turned shoulder.

"Look, anything I did to make you mad was inadvertent and I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, whatever it was."

"Yeah? Well, that aint good enough. I saw you touch my wife!"

Young man to self: Wife? What wife? To tattoo knuckled cromag, "OK. Well, how about I leave? How does that sound?"

The jukebox is loud there are pool tables, but some people are starting to notice anyway. Dark, sour souls with liquor fever fueling their minds.

"Yeah, I think that's a pretty good idea, fuckhead."

Surprise is everything. He turns to leave and a longneck bottle flips around in a dirty, callused fist. It carves out in an arc aimed for the head but finds itself rejected by the striking forearm of the young man. The bottle falls from a shocked grip and shatters on the ground in time with a kick to the groin of a doubly stunned, failed sneak attacker.

The last thing the toad man sees are fingertips and the last thing he remembers is the kick to his face that leaves him unconscious, needing a good jaw wiring and a glass eye.

The young man thinks to himself: Best leave now before the cops get here.

He attempts to execute this but the affiliates of the vanquished think otherwise. A large one blocks the path to liberty. No time, but a pool cue speaks persuasively. Take a risk, step into the first swing, hoping the knuckles find their target in the trachea. They hit, but off center. Eyes bulge, but he does not drop.

A reflexive haymaker bounces sloppily off a head that dodges just enough to remain standing. In a burst of legs the smaller man crouches under the second whooshing pool cue swing, springing into the air and delivering a lighting kick to the midsection with such force that the giant frame bounces off two walls before crumpling to the filthy floor.

The reinforcements reluctantly begin pursuit, torn between survival fear and anger at the dispatch of two of their best. One slips in the crimson pool haloing out from the mouth of the recently vanquished door stopper. The result of massive internal hemorrhaging.

At least five others are clamoring over barstools, pool tables, pinball machines and each other. Out the door and slowing only to grab raeadully accerssible blunt objects: pool cures, bottles maybe a club that has been stashed under the passenger seat in a truck in the the parking lot, follwing the quickly receding form on a full moon night...

Gone was he, running fast, smooth and breathing easy.

Things are going well. He had a little fun, taught some much needed lessons in etiquette and a woman awaits his proficient escape. He cuts around a corner and skirts along a warehouse, hoping to cut through the parking lot of a convenience store.

Inside the store, junkies are in the process of obtaining fast cash from the cashier via a shotgun and a pillowcase. They finish and exit optimistic, but still needing a fix.

There is still a good contingent of surly white trash pursuing from the bar fight and while he's looking back at their progress and numbers, the young man neglects to see the hasty exit of the robbers and collides solidly with the one holding the pillowcase. He looks up, trying to gather his wits and sees short sawed tandem shotgun barrels.

"Fuck him let's just got the fuck outta here!", but then the approaching mob of homicidal tavern patrons closes in. For a moment everything hangs in crystal balance. Frozen junkies, woozy hero and a rambling mass of confused drunks and speed heads. Sirens crack the stasis like an ice pick and all three parties move at once.

A single figure is followed by many. A car full of junkies and money screams out of the parking lot and attracts the attention of the first of the squad cars to arrive on the scene. The second goes in quest of the other perpetrators.

Now really running for his life, the young man thinks fast and hops a fence into a poorly lit park. He cuts through a tangle of playground equipment, down a river bank and thorough a copse of woods finding himself in the old part of a very large cemetery. The full moon casts crazy blue-black checkers across the rolling slope. He runs for another cluster of trees circling a large mausoleum. One of his thighs had a bad cramp from the recent collision with the robber and his pace had slowed considerably.

Even though he could hear the pack pursuing him a bit too close, he didn't care. Fuck, did somebody know he had a thing for that mystical blue moonlight? It makes his blood pump harder. It feels like it stimulates an otherwise dormant gland.

He stops at the trees looking into the circle that they form. Fuck it. Certain mayhem approaches yest still he tarries, wanting a closer look at what sits in the center of the trees.

Ducking into a shadow, low and quick. His lungs burn and he is glad for a bit of rest. He does not think of his respiration for long though. A motion catches his eye and now he thinks only of her, sitting there, the icy whiteness of the abyss itself. Man, she runs a tight ship. Sulking there on the ground with a rose to her lips languishing in front of her stark, stone dwelling.

Her porcelain skin reflects the moon's splash off her cheek, showing a black streak, the eye makeup run astray by a single errant tear. Death sheds a tear? Ah, yes, for you, my brave one. She cries that you come but once. That is the way of death.

His eyes lock onto a riveting stare of terminal beauty and he calmly bears his throat...

or, the ears hear shouts of heated pursuit and one must decide which way to continue...

...of course he must leave. What sort of sap gets killed for sex?

Turning in his crouch, he makes ready to sprint for the safety of his borough's streets just on the other side of the cemetery wall.

Still unseen by the rapidly approaching enemy, her next motion steals back his attention. She had only raised her leg and moved her torso slightly, somehow creating a vision beyond rationale. Surely magic of some sort, but his knowledge of this did not diminish the affect.

The cascade of thick, black hair falls over the shoulders of an elegant black dress suit. She wears nothing underneath and the cut of the coat reveals a chilling patch of immaculate white skin. Actually he hardly notices that he has such an advantageous view of her lithe figure. He scarcely glances at the pattern of her silk stockings, exposed by the way her dress falls back.

None of this libidinal magnetism even registers compared to the rush of compulsion generated by those infinitely black hawk eyes...

...Somewhere else, a breathless male voice cries out, baying like a hound on the scent. Others follow...

"You can't leave me, baby." Her icy whisper fills his mind and the first contact feels like someone drrove a spike so cold it burns into the deepest part of his being. Her lock on him surpasses any pain he has ever known and yet he happily presses on. He steps forward and approaches this maiden of terminal attraction.

Now next to her and her gaze lowers slightly, dropping him to his knees. She reaches out and pulls him to her by the back of his neck. Her touch feels cold and it sends goose bumps to the all the way to the tip of his rapidly engorging genitalia.

...On the outside, the hounds close in on the fox...

She smells like the roses strewn about her but there is the faintest hint of something else, peat, maybe and... blood? He doesn't care, far more preoccupied with the intensity of the arousal it causes him than the specific ingredients.

"Take your time, hit man, because you only have one shot." This time it comes as more of an impression than a string of words. The chill still comes with it, but the part that had caused him so much agony the first time has now gone totally numb. It is like she has somehow protected him from those that pursue him. She has engulfed him in her frigid envelope and now nobody can touch him.

...Glass is breaking and boots are making crunching noises on bones somewhere...

Now he truly loves her, too. He finally feels completely free from the manacles of a world that never truly wanted him.

"Melt my ice." She commands and uses her languid motions to push him down on her. When she pulls him back to her face, she shows the barest flush in the cheeks. She pushes him on his back and assaults him with attention of such prurient vigor and endurance, that he actually starts to think that the price is fair.

They are both covered with sweat when she finally lets him go, eons later. The first twinges had flashed, like a sneeze coming on and he rode them out letting it increase slowly until he could no longer withstand the its full force and let it take him like white water in stormy surf.

And then he is gone. She gets up, wiping one more tear from her cheek and slowly strides back to her domain, a raven settling on her shoulder just in time to cross the threshold.

*****

"Shit, we just lost him."

The paramedic takes the electrodes off his chest.

"Damn, for a second he started breathing again. Jesus fucking Christ, what a mess. Oh well, looks like he died happy. You musta given him too much juice!"

They both laugh at the circular stain on the freshly beaten corpses' crotch and zip him into the body bag.


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m.a.g.