Lucky Thing

Posted: 27th September 2013 by Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue in Single-run ("One off") Stories
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The sight of the man in costume made her seethe. He’d just saved six hostages from another costume-wearing transhuman, but his actions and appearance fueled her rage with every second she gazed upon him on the television. She snapped up the remote and changed the channel to something—anything—else.

Her fury boiled inside her, but there was no place for it to go.

I feel like kicking a puppy or beating a child, she thought. Breaking a window or shouting at a neighbor until my throat is too sore to make more than a croaking sound. But I am a good Christian woman. I must be meek. I must be forgiving. I must pray for even the demons among us.

And to her, the man in the costume was a demon, no matter how many lives he had saved. A blight upon humanity. A corruption. An abomination in the sight of God. At least the hostage-taking freaking was honest about what he was.

As if the gays weren’t enough; now thousands or millions of these things, thought Abigail Dougherty. Such a lucky thing I’m not one of them; such a lucky thing I’ve never had one in my close family or among my friends.

At least that I know of…

She tried to ignore them all—every transhuman in general but especially those in costume—and never followed their exploits in any detail. She shunned any articles or books about them and their powers and comforted herself with the knowledge that whatever turns her life had taken, at least she didn’t bear their stain on her soul.

* * *

With no place to vent her frustration or to decompress except to watch pregnant teenagers on an MTV reality show or insipid celebrities dancing, cooking or competing against one another in humiliating trials, Abigail struck out from her apartment. A walk would do her good, she thought. A trip to a distressed-older-womanconvenience store and perhaps a Hostess cupcake and a bottle of rosé—maybe even the rare pack of Parliaments just to spite her doctor. He was a nice man, for a Jew, but he certainly knew how to ride her about her bad habits.

At least I don’t break the commandments, she considered. Now, there would be a bad habit worth worrying about.

As she strolled on slightly shaky legs that had carried her for 64 years now, she passed the St. Lucy’s Catholic Church where she used to go for bingo night some eight years earlier. Not because she was Catholic of course, but because a game like bingo played in a church surely could not be considered gambling. Gambling would be a sin.

That had been a good time—What? Six months I’d played there, she considered—but it came to an end, like so many good things in her life. They’d told her one night that she couldn’t play there anymore; that she won too much; too often. Was that her fault? If God chose to bless her thus, who were they to question it? It made her distrust Catholics even more than before. When they ushered her out, they said something about not being able to let a Charm run roughshod over them.

A Charm? Whatever that was, I don’t want to know, Abigail fumed, the memories sharp again, whetting the edge of her anger. Probably some polite way to say “cheater” or “ con-man” these days instead of saying “grifter.” As if!

She remembered the night she’d walked by here eight years ago just days after her expulsion from bingo, and stood staring at the parish church, resentment filling her even as she asked God silently to forgive them. She remembered how the next day, she heard the news that half the church had burned down, and thought with savage satisfaction how God repaid unkindness at times.

Abigail sighed, and was ready to walk again, when she realized something under her shoe didn’t feel right. She looked down, and realized that she was standing on a $50 bill.

Oh, what a lucky thing!

* * *

Two young men from a moving company were hauling furniture from Keith Lubbins’ house across the street. Abigail though about what an irritable and impolite man he was—certainly not one of her better neighbors. But she’d been stuck with him for 15 years now, except for the six-month period when his house was being repaired after a fire broke out there. God was merciful and the flames only took part of the home.

Such a lucky thing, she thought.

Not unlike the church, Abigail thought. Lucky thing for Mr. Lubbins—or, more accurately, a blessing from God—retribution mixed with forgiveness. After all, he’d kicked my little poodle Jasper just a day before the fire over some silly little bite of his ankle.

The movers’ muscles flexed and sweat dotted their brows. Abigail smiled to see such honest sweat and toil. Neither one of them a Brutus—or Brawnies or whatever it was people called the super-strong transhuman things—just fit, masculine humans of the sort God intended.

It made her think of little Bobby McKendrick when she was a girl.

Oh, Lord, how long ago was that? Was is 1954? No, it was 1956, when I was 10 years old—just a year before the curse of Eve came upon me and I began to bleed monthly. Oh, what a foul boy Bobby was!

Not because of how he behaved then, she realized. He was foul because he was almost certainly transhuman—he must have been, she thought. One of the ones who existed before anyone knew they existed. He had to be, she reasoned. Such a skinny boy but with such strength.

She remembered how he had asked her to a school dance when they were both 16. How glad she was in hindsight that she’d declined and gone with Rupert instead—the man who would eventually become her husband. Had she dated Bobby, they might have married, and then she would have borne freakish babies that were counter to God’s intents.

Abigail shuddered.

Such a lucky thing!

* * *

Abigail handed in the lottery scratch ticket to collect her $150—her third winning ticket this month. Ever since Rupert had died seven years ago, she’d been able to mostly get by on his Social Security checks, but the extra $1,800 dollars this month from lottery scratchers had been a welcome boon. She’d worried that unlike bingo, the lottery might be gambling and therefore against God, but clearly He stayed with her, blessing her.

Not everyone was blessed, of course, she realized, even the churchgoing folk. She remembered back when she was 16 and that delivery truck had almost run her down. It missed her by mere inches even as it smashed into her friend Margery.

Perhaps she wasn’t as pure and sweet as I thought, Abigail thought. It was such a lucky thing, I’ve always thought, but maybe she’d been judged. Or maybe she was a freak like Bobby. After all, all the boys were always around her, and don’t some of those transhumans  spew out hormones that make people go wild?

Abigail shuddered at the thought of bearing powers like that—having such a deep-rooted genetic stain that mocked God.

She shuddered even more as she thought of the fish-people who lived in some coastal areas in the oceans, and was glad they had no home on the shores of the Long Island Sound where it touched New Judah. It was truly a lucky thing.

* * *

Dusting her apartment, Abigail took a few minutes to flip through her collection of records, her eyes lingering on Linda Ronstadt’s “Silk Purse” album. She remembered buying it while out shopping with her friend Hope, who had done the duties of best friend in Abigail’s late teens and her 20s for some eight years by then, following Margery’s fateful closed-casket funeral in 1962. Hope had been looking for “Morrison Hotel” from The Doors and Abigail still felt a shudder of disgust for that drug-fueled rock and disco swill from the 1970s. It was the one thing that made her think Hope was someone she shouldn’t hang out with.

Music said a lot about one’s character.

Still, somehow Hope had convinced her to go to that concert in July for a world tour of The Who—God, why had she agreed to that? It was so out of character for Abigail to agree to such a thing that, in hindsight, she wondered if her friend might have had some mind control powers.

Had a transhuman perhaps been that close to her?

Of course, in the end, it hadn’t mattered, since Abigail had won a free trip to France in a contest she hadn’t even remembered entering. It took her out of the country during the concert, so she never had to make good on her agreement to go with Hope.

It was the time of Abigail’s life in the months before she and Rupert finally turned their off-again, on-again courtship into a marriage. The beginning of some very good times.

Not so for Hope, however, who left the concert scarred when some transhuman freak rampaged through the parking lot after the show, maiming and killing people at random.

Suck a lucky thing for me that God saw fit to send me to see the Eiffel Tower instead.

* * *

Abigail in an alley, backed toward a wall, with a greasy-looking man holding a knife. He was approaching her, telling her what horrid things he was going to do to her. How he was going to thrust and hit and spread her wide. The filth pouring from his mouth made her want to vomit. But more than that, she was terrified. No help, and at the mercy of a deviant.

And then she stepped on something as she stumbled into the wall of the alley. A shrieking siren-like whoop! nearly made her bowels loosen inside her underwear. The sudden, screeching wail from the air horn startled her attacker as well, but he hesitated only a few seconds before he advanced on her and thrust her against the wall roughly.

Abigail tried to scream, but only croaked, and then he backhanded her to silence her. She slumped, and he hit her again. Used his knife to cut open her blouse and cut away her belt.

She struggled feebly against him and prayed silently for help.

All at once, he was pulled away by a gold-gloved hand and Abigail gasped in shock but not relief. A man in a unitard and full-head mask, his costume a mix of red, gold and black, hurled the attacker against a wall, then picked him up and hurled him against the opposite one. Satisfied with his work, he bent over the prone body and secured the would-be rapist’s wrists with a plastic zip-tie.

He must have heard the noise and investigated, Abigail realized. Lucky to be safe. Blessed to be safe, but not one of them, please!

Knockout approached her, and held out a hand to help her up. She batted it away, pulling her blouse shut with the other hand.

She’d never been so close to a transhuman. At least not that she’d known of for certain. Certainly not a costumed one, at least.

“Get away from me!” she shrieked.

“Ma’am, you’re safe. I’m not going to hurt you,” Knockout said calmly, soothingly.

“Get away!” she shouted again, lurching to her feet and pushing past him, trying not to touch him and recoiling when she did. “Get away, you freak! Abomination!”

She stumbled backward, never taking her eyes off the costumed man. He was the real threat. The bigger threat than even a rapist. She couldn’t let him out of her sight until she was out of the alley.

And when she was, she fled on unsteady legs, until she was in a secluded doorway to a business that was closed for the day. She panted until she was steady again, still clutching her blouse that she couldn’t close up thanks to the rapist’s knife.

Too close! A transhuman! Oh dear Lord. Safe now. Safe from the abomination, she thought, and then noticed a relatively clean coat crumpled near the door. She put it on and buttoned it up, grateful to preserve her modesty. So fortunate that I’m not a transhuman like that costumed maniac, she told herself.

I’m such a lucky thing.


Photo of woman is titled “Depths of Despair” and is by Neil Moralee. Used under a Creative Commons license. Use of the image does not imply support of artist for my work nor even knowledge of it.