‘LIVING THE LIFE’ is a series of four short stories that take place in the year 2020 in a fictional State named Callisto located in the Northern part of the United States. In Callisto, life is the same, yet different, because no one outside the State really understands anything about what actually goes on here. Along with the location; the characters, events, and conversations, are completely made up and you’re not meant to find morals, or meanings, or signs; But neither I, nor anyone else, can tell you what to think. Here we meet one of our characters nearing the end of her work shift, waiting to go home.
LIVING THE LIFE, CHAPTER 2: OPERATION SNOW DAY
It was one of those days where you just couldn’t wait to get home. Shirley snagged the last donut in the box sitting in the passenger seat and took a bite into the delicious double chocolate glazed donut. It wasn’t an unusually bad day at work today, but it was Friday, and who doesn’t look forward to going home after work on a Friday? Plus, Shirley and her friends had plans to go to a club on Saturday night. It’s been a while since she went out to party but she agreed to go because one of her friends wanted to celebrate getting a new job. It wasn’t like Shirley wasn’t into partying, though, she was, but these days she was focused on her job. She was 26 now, and she figured she had to leave that life in the past. It’s been almost half a year since she went to a party; that wasn’t bad compared to going out every weekend a couple years ago. As she took another bite into her double chocolate glazed donut, she imagined how the night would go: she imagined the club scene and loud music and people dancing, laughing, drinking, and doing drugs. Then she imagined herself doing all of that. Like I said, it’s been a while since she went partying; she’s been anticipating this day for quite some time. She wanted to drink all the drinks and drug all the drugs. Her choice of drug was cocaine, she just loved the way it made her feel. Shirley brought the donut up to her mouth…
Three bullets smashed through the windows on Shirley’s car. She dropped the last bite of her double chocolate glazed donut in a flustered panic and ducked under the steering wheel with haste. She quickly raised her head and saw a glossy red car speeding up the street. She flipped the switch on her sirens and began speeding behind the car. She drove in anger for a good 5 seconds before she realized it was only bullets from a BB gun. There was no point in going after them; they were probably just stupid teens and they were basically already gone. She also wasn’t going to put her life in risk on a Friday right before she was done her shift and she had weekend plans that weren’t going to be spoiled. Shirley made a smooth three point turn and decided she wasn’t going to wait; she wanted to go home now, so she drove to the police station where she’d drop the cruiser off and take her car home.
The sun was pretty much set by the time she pulled into the parking lot at the Callisto Police Station. She hoped no one noticed the three holes in the windows. She hurried into the station and walked over to the desk to drop the car keys off.
“Hey, Shirley!” Said the always happy secretary. “How were patrols, anything worth talking about?”
“Hey, Wanda,” said Shirley, giving the impression that she was tired and wanted to go. “No, it was the usual boring day. Just parked on the side of the road, you know.”
“Well, at least it’s Friday. Do you have any plans this weekend?”
“Nothing too exciting,” Shirley lied. “Just going out with some friends for drinks tomorrow night.” That was kind of the truth. “Do you?”
“That’s pretty exciting to me,” smiled Wanda. “I’d love to go out for drinks, but those were my younger days.”
Wanda stopped talking, but didn’t really answer the question. Shirley wondered if Wanda wanted to be invited out. That wasn’t going to happen.
“Cedric and I are going to take Shawn to the carnival on Saturday,” Wanda continued. “So I do have plans.”
“Sounds like fun, let me know how it was on Monday.” Shirley handed the keys to Wanda. “Have a good time, and I’ll see you in a couple days.”
“Okay! Bye, Shirley!”
Shirley gave Wanda a sincere smile left the police station without having to answer questions.
Shirley took in a deep breath of fresh Callisto air when she walked out of the police station. She found her blue and white Mini peacefully parked right where she left it. You might, or might not be surprised to hear that sometimes, in Callisto, if you left your car peacefully parked somewhere it’d be gone when you came back. Even at the police station. Shirley started it up and drove home.
Shirley drove up to the gates of her apartment building and entered 031920. The gates opened up and she drove through. She went around the building to get to the underground parking and reversed into her usual spot. She made sure she got all her belongings before getting out and locking the doors behind her. The parking lot smelled like stale rain because it rained in the morning, when she was leaving for work. She pressed up on the panel and the doors slid open right away, revealing an empty elevator. Shirley walked in, pressed 6 and it took her up to her floor. She stepped out of the elevator, walked through the dimly lit hallway to door number 63, unlocked the door and exhaled as she entered her apartment.
A few hours later, around 11PM, Shirley was relaxing on her couch, watching Netflix on her laptop when she heard a knock on the door. She nearly jumped out of her pants, but when she grabbed her phone she saw a list of missed messages saying that her order was almost there. Feeling a lot more calm, she made her way to her front door and opened it up.
“Hey! Sorry I missed your messages, I was watching Netflix and just zoned out.”
“Hey, Shirley?” Shirley nodded. “No problem,” the young man smiled. He was with another guy, too, who looked a little older. “I’m Jonathan and this is Jackson. We’re here from Alonzo. We have your order.” Jackson unzipped his duffle bag and took out a cardboard box. Shirley’s eyes glazed over. “You have to pay for it, though,” Jonathan laughed.
“Of course! Come in, come in, it’s just in my bag,” said Shirley.
Jonathan looked at Jackson. Jackson gave him a look in return. Jonathan gave him a look, then they walked into Shirley’s apartment.
“Do you guys want a drink or anything?”
“Sure, water’s good. We need to get going, though, to be honest,” said Jonathan.
Shirley reached in her bag and pulled out a handful of cash. She laid it down on the table and opened up the cupboard to get a pair of glasses.
Jackson gave Jonathan another look and organized the cash to count it up. Then he nodded, signalling that it was all there.
Shirley sat the glasses of water in front of the two gentlemen and watched them drink it. After that they both got up and headed to the door. They were really in a rush.
“Nice meeting you! Might see you again in a few months!” Said Shirley, opening the door to allow them to leave.
“Hope not,” glared Jackson as him and Jonathan turned around and left.
Confused, but unbothered, Shirley went to the kitchen and cut open the box. There were a bunch of small black baggies in there. All of them full of cocaine. Shirley untied one of them and tasted it. Perfect. She quickly tied the bag back up and closed the box. That was for tomorrow night. For now, though, she thought she should get to sleep because she would be up late tomorrow.
Her heart was racing when she laid down on her bed. She tossed and turned. And tossed and turned. Until she finally fell asleep.
Saturday morning. The sun was out and Shirley was still in her pyjama’s cooking up waffles for breakfast. She recently got a homemade waffle maker and has been using the hell out of it ever since. She was pacing the kitchen floor, waiting for the waffle maker to buzz, tempted to start her day off with a line but resisted. The waffle maker buzzed and Shirley quickly took it out and threw it on her plate.
Her friends said they’d get to her place later that night so she had the whole day to kill watching Netflix and sleeping some more. She hated waiting, though; She wanted to start partying right. This. Instant. Instead, she took her plate and a glass of orange juice with pulp over to the couch, put her feet up, and turned the T.V on just in time for the morning news.
Breaking news: A horrific robbery took place early this morning at Galaxy Shopping Center. The Rolex store was robbed and then destroyed in the process. 4 people are dead, including 3 police officers and the malls security guard. 1 more police officer is in hospital with life threatening injuries. Firefighters, along with local and state police have been at the mall since 4AM cleaning up the terrible mess left behind by the four suspects who are still on the loose. Unfortunately, as you can see, they are wearing masks in the security camera footage.
Shirley’s jaw dropped as she watched the news. The mall was a total wreck; There were traces of blood in every shot the camera showed; There were debris from bricks and walls and shards of glass lying everywhere. Shirley watched, stunned by what happened in her city. She was grateful it was her day off, though. If the phone rang, she’d let it ring and go to voicemail. She switched the channel in disgust.
Shirley stayed in the same spot on her couch for most of the day. She was there when the sun set and she was still there, now, when the moon was out, only getting up to make a snack or to use the washroom. It was time she got ready though, because her friends would be there soon. She kept her phone in close sight this time so she wouldn’t be surprised when they knocked on the door.
“Finalyyyy!” screamed Shirley, opening the door for her friends. “It’s been too long!”
“Shirleyyyy!” All her friends said at once. There was one girl there who Shirley didn’t recognize. Shirley hugged her friends, and showed them inside her apartment, closing the door behind her.
“Oh, Shirley!” Said her friend Mellissa. She was the one who got the new job. “This is Tracy, she’s one of my friends.”
“Good to meet you, Tracy! Welcome to my home.” Shirley tried to sound elegant.
“Thanks,” said Tracy with a nice smile. “Good to meet you, too.”
Shirley led them to the living room, and they all slid down on the couches. It had been about half a year since she last saw her friends. They had some catching up to do. But first she had to offer her guests a line of coke. They all accepted except Tracy, Mellissa’s friend.
“Have you tried it before?” Asked Maria. The last of Shirley’s friends. So there was Shirley, Mellissa, Maria, and Tracy.
“No, I just don’t think I should do it. I love drinking, though; I’ll drink as much as anyone, but I’m going to stay away from that.”
“Listen, girl; you have to live a little. Nothing is wrong with trying something new. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Meaning, you’ve heard about it but haven’t tried it.”
“Yeah! Honestly, Tracy, I was like you! I realized I love it, though! If you want to have a good night, I suggest you try it.” Shirley chimed in.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” Added Maria.
“I die. Yeah, I’m okay.”
They spent the next few minutes chopping up the cocaine and lining it up for each other to take. Shirley told them this is a fresh batch she just got from her guy last night. That got them very excited. Tracy watched as Shirley took her line first, then her friend Mellissa, then Maria, who said, while wiping her nose, looking at Tracy “there’s plenty more where that came from.”
“You got that right!” Cried Shirley. “Just let me know.”
“Tracy, you can do whatever you want,” sniffled Mellissa.
Shirley told her friends how her job as a police officer was going, saying that it was pretty boring sitting in her cruiser all day but at least it was safe. Then she remembered yesterday when those hooligans shot the cruisers windows with a BB gun. They all gasped as if a major question was answered in their favourite T.V show, but Shirley played it off like it was nothing.
Tracy, Mellissa’s friend, was scratching her head, confused because how could Shirley be a cop but advocate the use of highly illegal drugs at the same time.
“I told you it’s not that bad!”
Of course, ‘Adults’ being ‘adults’, they had to continue talking about work life. Everyone was interested in hearing more details about Mellissa’s new job. She told them that it was a new job, technically, but she still worked for the same company.
“So it’s more of a promotion than a new job,” said Maria.
“You could say that, but I’m doing something completely new.”
“What’s that?” Inquired Shirley, sitting up straight to listen.
“I was working at the community center for so long and they finally gave me a better job. Before, I had to work at the guest services desk, dealing with problems all day. Now, I get to organize sports activities and special events.”
“Wow!” The three other women said at once.
“Thanks. I know, it’s pretty cool. So that’s why we’re celebrating tonight!”
That reminded Shirley. “I want some shots! Tracy! You said you could drink as much as anyone, you have to be in.”
“Of course I am.”
Shirley raced to the kitchen and reached under her sink cupboard. She pulled out a bottle of Tequila. All the ladies cheered. Then Shirley got 4 shot glasses. All the ladies cheered again and gathered around the counter.
“Cheers to us! Living the life tonight!”
The blacked out Uber SUV they ordered pulled up outside the club and Shirley, Mellissa, Maria, and Tracy stumbled out, already drunk off finishing the whole bottle of Tequila. It was a great night; the weather couldn’t have been any better. They skipped to the line, that wasn’t too long, and waited to get inside. The club they were at was called Astro’s; it was the highest rated club in the city. They played a mixture of music, mostly hip hop, to a crowd that was generally diverse. The ladies could hear the deep bass banging from inside. Shirley began getting antsy, tapping her feet to the beat. She wanted to do another line but they were nearing the entrance.
“How are you ladies tonight?” Asked the bouncer, eyeing them all at once.
“We’re doing excellent! How about you, sir?” Slurred Shirley.
“I’m fine,” he replied, realizing how drunk Shirley was. “Have a good night.”
Without uttering another word, the bouncer took their ID’s one by one and gave them back when they were all approved to enter Astro’s.
Lights. Cameras. Action.
That was what they saw when they broke through the crowd by the door and fully entered the club. It was hot and humid, jam packed, and smelled like body odour. There were people dancing, laughing, taking pictures, taking shots. Shirley looked behind her and smiled at her friends. She saw Maria signal to her to move up, then she brushed her finger across her nose. Understanding the signal, Shirley gave Maria a thumbs up; it was good to be back, but she cringed when she felt the bottom of her shoes stick to the ground as she made her way across the club.
After pushing their way through to the outskirts of the club, they found the washroom and drunkingly walked in. They all huddled up in a back corner, away from the other ladies in the washroom, and Shirley busted out her bags of coke. She took one for herself, then gave one to Mellissa, and one to Maria, then stuffed the rest back to the bottom of her bag.
“Are you sure you don’t want to try it?” Shirley asked Tracy. “We’re only doing small ones off keys.”
Maybe it was the drinks, maybe it was the night, maybe it was not wanting to be a buzzkill but this time Tracy took longer to think about whether or not she wanted to.
Assuming that everything would be fine, and being curious about cocaine, Tracy nervously smiled and said, “I might as well.”
“That’s the spirit!” Shirley was proud to have successfully pressured Tracy into trying cocaine. “You won’t regret it!” Shirley handed Maria her bag of coke and reached in her bag again and took out her apartment keys. “Here! I’ll go first, Mellissa next, then you Tracy, so you’re not last, then Maria.”
It was Tracy’s turn now and her heart pounded as Shirley gently dipped the key into the bag and gathered a small hill of white powder on it. She tried taking the key from Shirley but her hands were shaking too much. Shirley told Tracy that she would hold the key for her and that all she had to do was inhale. Like she was sucking from a straw attached to her nose. Quickly, easily, and smoothly Tracy did just so. She rubbed her nose vigorously then smirked. Shirley smirked. Then everyone was smirking as Shirley reached inside her bag and pulled out another bag of coke. This time she gave it to Tracy, who practically ripped it open.
A couple bumps and a few actual icy lines later, they bursted out of the washroom and back into madness.
At the bar section, the newly promoted Mellissa ordered shots for her friends. They all clanked their glasses together and downed them at the same time.
Shirley leaned back against the bar and eyed the clusters of people having the time of their lives. Everyone seemed to be pretty normal, but one guy stood out to her because he was on the dance floor only bobbing his head while eating a chocolate bar. He was just eating a full sized chocolate bar in the club; that was so weird to Shirley because who stands up, basically right on the dance floor, eating, not just one piece of chocolate, but an actual full sized chocolate bar. At least eat it on the side, if you’re going to eat a full sized chocolate bar. At a club.
Shirley leaned over to Mellissa and pointed out the peculiar young man.
Shirley continued talking to Mellissa, laughing at the guy.
Shirley felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned her head around to look.
“I see you’re eyeing my chocolate loving friend. Want me to introduce you, or do you just think he’s weird?”
“What?” Shirley didn’t hear a word and looked at the stranger like ‘what the hell did you say to me?’
“I SEE YOU’RE EYEING MY CHOCOLATE LOVING FRIEND. WANT ME TO INTRODUCE YOU, OR DO YOU THINK HE’S WEIRD?”
“OH! SORRY, YOU KNOW HIM? WELL HE’S NOT A BAD LOOKING GUY BUT YEAH HE’S EATING A FULL SIZED CHOCOLATE BAR AT THE CLUB.”
“SO YOU THINK HE’S WEIRD?”
“YEAH. KIND OF. SORRY.”
“IT’S OKAY. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW WEIRD HE IS.” Then he smiled at Shirley and extended his hand. “I’M BRYCE.”
She noticed Bryce had crutches and started laughing out loud. First there was a guy eating chocolate, then there’s a guy with crutches. Why were they here?
“WHAT’S SO FUNNY?”
“YOU HAVE CRUTCHES.”
“HOW’S THAT FUNNY? I’M WOUNDED. I HURT MY LEG PLAYING SPORTS AND STUFF. I’M AN ATHLETE, YOU KNOW.”
“WHAT SPORT WERE YOU PLAYING WHEN YOU HURT YOURSELF?”
“HOCKEY! I SLID AWKWARDLY INTO THE BOARDS. I’M OKAY, THOUGH.”
“GLAD TO HEAR.”
Tracy appeared in front of Shirley out of nowhere and whispered something into her ear. Shirley nodded like fifty times and handed her bag to Tracy. Bryce watched Tracy with the bag until she was out of sight.
“SO DID YOU HEAR ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT GALAXY?”
“YEAH I DID. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, IT’S SO SAD. THEY HAVE TO CATCH THOSE BUMS AND TOSS THEM IN JAIL.”
“IT’S NOT SAD. IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, THOSE GUYS REALLY DID THAT AND GOT AWAY. THAT’S HISTORIC. THEY’RE LEGENDS.”
“ALL THEY DID WAS STEAL WATCHES.”
“THAT’S NOT THE POINT, IT’S THE PRINCIPLE. NOW, I DONT KNOW THEM BUT THEY SEEMED TO BE ON A MISSION, YOU COULD TELL.”
“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?”
“WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING, AND YOU KNOW IT’S YOUR LIFE, WHO WILL STOP YOU FROM GETTING WHAT YOU WANT? IN YOUR LIFE. TOO BAD THOSE POOR SOULS GOT IN THEIR WAY.”
Perplexed, Shirley ordered another shot for her and her friends, who were still at the bar, save for Tracy, who was still in the washroom. Shirley turned back to continue talking to Bryce but she saw him limping away with the chocolate guy and two others. What was that about? Shirley wondered. He sounded like he made sense, but in a situation like that, would it be too far? Shirley wondered.
She turned back to Maria and Mellissa to ask them if they wanted to dance, but they weren’t there anymore. Shirley assumed that because she was talking to that guy Bryce for so long they decided to go off on their own, and speak of the devils, Shirley spotted them already dancing by the DJ’s booth. Shirley noticed that Tracy wasn’t with them and supposed that she must be in the washroom still so she went to check on her.
The washroom looked deserted.
Shirley took a couple slow steps further into the washroom.
“Tracy, are you in here?”
Shirley walked by the stalls and peeped under them one by one.
She found Tracy unconscious in the last stall.
“TRACY!” Shirley ran inside the stall and slammed the door. “TRACY. Can you hear me? You have to wake up!” Shirley was panicking and as her eyes darted all over the tiny stall she noticed the bag she gave Tracy, on the floor, empty.
Shirley rushed out of the washroom and plowed through the crowds of people raving, unaware of what was going on, until she spotted Maria and Mellissa, who, at this point, were also raving. She bulldozed by more people and made it to Maria and Mellissa nearly sweating her face off.
“SHIRLEY!” Mellissa yelled while she continued to dance. “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? AND WHERE’S TRACY?”
“SHE’S IN TROUBLE! WE’RE IN TROUBLE! I’M IN TROUBLE!” Then she began running back to the washroom. Maria and Mellissa stopped right in their tracks and followed.
“She’s in the last stall,” Shirley said shakily. “Look.”
Mellissa crept up to the last stall and pushed it open. She gulped and reacted the same as Shirley did; she began screaming Tracy’s name and shaking her, trying to get her to wake up but she wouldn’t. Minutes passed and Mellissa put two fingers on Tracy’s wrist to feel for a pulse. She looked up at Maria and Shirley with her makeup smeared from her sweat and tears. It was no use.
Shirley led Maria and Mellissa into the stall and slammed it again. What were they going to do? Tracy was dead and it was her fault. She should’ve never tempted Tracy to try the cocaine, she said no and that should’ve been enough. Shirley’s thoughts were in a whirlwind. She had no idea how she was going to get out of this mess. She was police for crying out loud. She thought about calling the paramedics but then remembered what that strange boy said at the bar. If this was her life, calling 911 would put her life in jeopardy; she wasn’t worried about dying, necessarily, but they would definitely come to the conclusion that she was involved. Then her life would be ruined for eternity. She basically killed Tracy. No. They had to get out of this.
“I hope you’re with me,” she began, trying to sound calm. “I know this is my fault but I can’t go down for this. We have to get Tracy out of here.”
“What do you mean, Shirley?” Pleaded Mellissa. “What we have to do is call 9-1-1 to try to save her!”
“She’s dead, Mellissa,” Maria grimaced. “Shirley’s right. We’re in trouble. Unless we do something.”
Mellissa wiped her face and stood still in the stall breathing heavily.
“Mellissa, it’ll be okay. Either way, we’re gonna be screwed, but at least this way we’re not giving ourselves and our lives up. We either make it or we don’t but we can’t give ourselves up.” Shirley rubbed Mellissa’s shoulder. “I feel bad. I really do. But she’s dead and I have my life to worry about now. And you have yours. Think about your new job.”
Mellissa knew Shirley was right.
Shirley laid out their escape plan in a cramped up washroom stall in a club at 1AM.
They were going to use the washrooms emergency exits to get Tracy’s body out and tell anyone who asks that their friend passed out from the night. Then they were going to find a vehicle, steal it, drive it to the middle of nowhere and dump the body out. Simple as that.
Shirley cracked open the stall and checked out to see if there was anyone in the washroom. It was empty. Then the 3 girls moved quickly. They picked up Tracy’s slumped body and put one arm around Maria’s shoulder and one around Mellissa’s, who couldn’t stop the tears from leaving her eyes. Shirley figuratively kicked, but literally, she pushed the stall door open and Maria and Mellissa, with the dead body dragging behind, rushed out.
Shirley opened the emergency exit and looked left and right. Then looked left and right again. Then again. Just to be safe she looked left then right one more time.
Maria and Mellissa walked out of the washroom. The door closed behind them and they found themselves outside on a cool summer night. They all stopped and took a deep breath of fresh Callisto air. Now they had to find a vehicle, so they hustled to the parking lot at the back of the club. There were some people, who already left, walking around the parking lot so it wasn’t quiet but at least they were minding their own business, or too wasted to notice or pay attention.
The three new criminals did the dash all the way to the back of the parking lot and Shirley wasted no time pulling at car handles, trying to see if there was one that was unlocked. She pulled on 10 different handles. This is a lesson to never give up because you could try something 10 times, but be unsuccessful and give up, but the 11th time could’ve been when you got it right. Shirley tried for the 11th time and the door swung open.
They rushed to Shirley with Tracy’s bare feet gliding across the pavement. Shirley knew how to hot wire a car, she was a cop, after all, but being under pressure really messed with her. She told herself to breathe but it was hard to. She stopped what she was doing and told herself to breathe.
The car started and she began crying. Thank God. She jumped out with tears in her eyes, opened the back door for Maria and Mellissa and helped them stuff Tracy’s body inside the car. Shirley plopped back down in the drivers seat, put the car in drive and sped off.
At 3 in the morning, with the sharp, crescent moon shining above and a million tiny stars sparkling around it, Shirley turned off an abandoned side road and headed for a river she found looking at google maps. A few minutes later Shirley pulled up beside the river, got out of the car and opened the back doors for Maria and Mellissa. Tracy’s body was in the middle.
They desperately worked together to carry Tracy’s body to the river and laid her down on the damp grass.
“Tracy,” Shirley started. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. If you’re watching from the afterlife I hope you forgive me, Maria, and Mellissa. But it is really only my fault. I shouldn’t have forced you to try it. I hope you understand that we have no other choice but to hide your body in the river because we can’t get caught for this. We had a choice to give ourselves up or try to escape and it was an easy decision. You see, we have to live our lives still. You were great and you’re gone too soon. I’m sorry, Tracy.”
Maria helped Shirley with Tracy’s body. They respectfully placed Tracy’s body softly into the river, looked at each other and let go.