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by Richard Tornello

Hey Soose Visits Reston


Richard Tornello




Richard Tornello © 2013





Vincent the security guard walked across the promenade that in the winter was the ice rink. He looked about and noticed the rather large rotund man asleep on the wooden park bench with his two bags neatly folded underneath and atop of a plastic sheet to protect them. His jacket was rolled under his head as a pillow. He had slept there for a few days now.


There was a lot of talk regarding lay-offs and furloughs. Vincent felt the town’s insecurities only made his job more secure. It wasn’t a great job, but it was a job. He told his boss, “I think that old guy out there,” as he pointed to the bench. “I think he was some government contractor. He’s too old to get a job and got thrown out of his home.”


“That’s the way it goes out there,” waving his hands the direction of the fountain. “Too bad for him. Just make sure he’s outta here, soon,” commanded his boss.


Vincent looked about and inhaled deeply. The morning was fine, about 75 degrees, low humidity and there was a slight breeze. The sun was beginning to just caress the corner of the building that sat on Market Street on his left. Vincent walked over to make sure the 'old guy' was still alive, and that being the case, then continued on to his rounds and duty station.


A six foot six, silk suited, cigarette smoking, well-build gentleman watched the proceedings from the smoker’s 'leper colony' AKA 'smokers area', in front of Panera’s, from beneath the shadows of the overhang. He nodded as he observed the security guard make his rounds and as the guy asleep on the bench began to stir and wake up. He figured the old gentleman knew he had to vacate the area before the business crowd arrived, and most assuredly before the stores opened for business later at 10 AM. He guessed that this arrangement was either understood or had been verbally explained and accepted. Reston could have no bums. The shoppers, and the business folk, didn’t want their vision sullied or reminded of the current job situation by the sight of such a creature.


Another observer to the morning goings–on was a guy named Rudy. He was people watching as he walked to the black metal table that was chained to an anchor imbedded in the concrete. Rudy was about to sit down with his breakfast, an egg sandwich and coffee, when he noticed a bag on the ground. Before he began to eat, he picked it up and walking over to the trashcan he also picked up an empty coffee cup someone had carelessly deposited on the ground. Both these items were placed in the trash receptacle. Only after this had been done did he wonder what diseases might be on the garbage he just disposed of. Do I go into the washroom or not? he asked himself.


Rudy thought, screw it. It was too nice a morning to eat inside. This was a great location to eat, to sit and to observe before he had to attend a computer class. Rudy returned to his seat and began to eat the egg sandwich, watching and eavesdropping as best he could. A few tables away there was a bone thin woman in a black jacket and pants, in an animated conversation with a guy in sharply creased blue jeans, tan, very expensive shoes and a black polo shirt that barely fit over his bulging stomach. From the bits and pieces of the conversation that Rudy overheard they were obviously coworkers. And as co-smokers, they were just like the others that came and went with cigarettes in their stained hands, banned from the interior of the building while partaking of this drug. They did not appear to be in any hurry. He figured they must be the managers or business owners.


A group of four others stopped just before the door to the offices, inhaled deeply to get that last bit of drug, and milled around for a second or two in what appeared to be an invisible demarcation that they couldn’t cross, exhaled and then crossing that invisible line, entered the building.


The two people’s conversation that Rudy was observing, and trying to get a better handle on, consisted mostly about some coworker that did or said something that was supposedly true, but not politick. They were joined by a third person, better dressed in slacks, a tailored shirt and tie. This guy seemed to know a bit more regarding the story, spoke for a minute or two, looked at his watch, snuffed out his cigarette, and motioned toward the interior of the building while stating, “See you inside in a few minutes.” The other two just nodded.


The difference in dress between the guy in the shirt and tie and the relaxed manner that the two sitting down seemed to display, led Rudy to assume that they were the company owners.


Rudy then noticed the tall guy in the silk suit. He had longish thick straight blond hair. It was combed back and just touched the collar of his suit jacket. The fine cut and the quality of the suit was obvious to Rudy who had sold men’s clothes 'in a past life'. He was well aware of what constituted finely made clothes. Rudy looked the guy over as best he could without being too obvious. The tall guy hadn’t moved except to light another cigarette. He kept staring at the old guy on the bench.


Rudy didn’t smoke. The spot was convenient for sitting, eating and watching, and sometimes, the perfume from a cigarette or a cigar just smelled good to Rudy. Today was one of those days.


Rudy also noticed that the tall unmoving gentleman was rather well built and in a strange way. His muscle bulges covered and framed by the suit jacket reminded him of the angel in the movie Michael, after Michael had been cleaned up. 


Rudy sat back and watched it all. The smoking section location was dark and rather private. It gave him a bit more advantage allowing his staring of not being too obvious. He liked that.


Sometime earlier, in an ethereal location, an animated conversation had been carried on.


She Who Must Be Obeyed looked at Her Number One troubleshooter, “Hey Soose,” she said with a NYC accent, “You know what? I want to end this. This has gotten to be a very bad joke. For sentient intelligent beings they are sure mean nasty mutha fuckers to each other.”


Hey Soose responded, “Yes it has turned into something neither one of us expected. Look, I have an idea before you go smiting and all that, I’ll bet you that there is at least one human being that would have the kindness of heart to take pity on a fellow human being without being asked. What do you think?”


She responded still on her train of thought regarding the human’s obvious inhumanity and stupidity. “Yes it has. How does anyone destroy a planet? And they seem to be doing a fine job of it. I say fuck-em and be done with them.”


She continued aloud, “Terraforming would take some time but a clean slate, learning from my mistakes, and being a bit more careful, I think we could manage a better program.”


Hey Soose asked, “True, but how about one new try? And if not, then do as you wish. I sort of like these insane beings. They have some rather interesting cultural aspects and the women are rather pretty.” As an afterthought he quickly added, “And if you recall, You created them. So in some fashion they do represent, and hold a, shall we say, small genetic, maybe holographic similarity to you?”


SWMBO looked at him and scoffed, “YOU DARE! You men are all pigs.”


“I beg your pardon,” he said, “but who made us that way?”


SWMBO thought, had anyone else said that to her, gone. But Hey Soose, it’s just that for the very reason he is her number one, he speaks the truth. “Okay what do you want to bet? What are the stakes?”


“I bet I can find one human that without prodding or some fashion of guilt tripping, will aid some poor unfortunate. If I can find just one, then you hold off.”


After some consideration that was seconds to her and would be years to the inhabitants of this rock, SWMBO answered, “A deal, but if you do find one the bet holds only so far as this being stays alive, and good luck with that. After his or her demise, the bet is cancelled and we start again, a deal?”


Hey Soose knew this was the best he was going to get. “A deal,” he said. “And if I lose, they are yours to do with as you wish.”


Hey Soose knew it and SWMBO didn’t have to say it, and she thought, they are mine to do as I wish no matter what. However this exercise could be fun, and watching him squirm to find the impossible, even more so. She stared directly into his eyes and said, “There are a few more things.”


Oh shit he thought, the small print. He only said, “And what might they be?”


“You have 7 of their days and it must be in a very well-to-do area. I pick Reston Virginia.”


“As you desire, My Lord,” he said bowing. Sometimes his over the top old-fashioned formality had a way of calming her, or making her laugh.


She smiled, yes he knows me she thought. She pulled on a wing drawing him to her and gave him a kiss. “Good luck. You’re going to need it.”




Back in Reston, Rudy looked at his watch. It was time to go to class. He got up, trashed the wrappers from his breakfast and headed toward Market Street. At the same time the old gentleman rose off the bench, picked up his bags and was heading in the opposite direction from the one Rudy was walking. As the old guy passed Rudy, Rudy asked, “Sir would you like a few bucks for breakfast?”


The old guy stopped, stared, and with a smile of gratitude and surprise he said, “Yes. Why thank you.” Rudy handed him about twenty dollars in ones and fives. As Rudy was walking away the old guy asked, “What is your name?”


The question was unexpected. Rudy surprised, looked back, “Rudy,” he said.


“Thank you Rudy.”


“You’re welcome sir.” And Rudy continued on to his computer class thinking about this and that, never noticing the old gentleman discorporating into the ether.



Read more stories by this author

2014-02-01 06:58:03
micheledutcher - In spite of the obvious moral to this story, I'm just so opposed to giving cash to strangers. I have taken people to a fast food joint and paid for their meal, only to watch them from a distance as they throw the food away and keep the coke. As far as a challenge between gods to find someone with a 'good heart', this tale holds up. But I still don't give money to strangers.

2014-02-01 06:48:45
micheledutcher - mark211 wrote: An interesting take on the familiar trope of the natural and supernatural worlds being mirrors to one another; I certainly enjoyed the acronym SWMBO (which I guess would be pronounced either ‘swimbo’ or ‘swumbo’) for the not-se benign deity. Actually, it crossed my mind that an interesting variant could have been to include a legal discussion of how SWMBO could have got out of the Covenant (e.g. rainbows miraculously disappearing from the Earth) – but that’s not something I’m saying should be in there – just something I thought about while reading. It’s a nice diverting short story.

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.

by Richard Tornello

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