Sharp, angry knocks resounded through my sparsely furnished apartment and I groaned, burying my head under my pillow. I ignored them in the hope that whoever it was would get the hint and disappear in a timely manner. Who was pounding on my door at this time anyway? The knocking ceased and I relaxed into my lumpy mattress. Just then a deafening crash boomed through my place as the door slammed back against the wall. I scrambled out of bedroom and came face to face with my landlord.
Frankie Artworth was not the type of guy you would want to meet in a dark alley. He was a believer in the death penalty, an ex-linebacker, and probably an ex-convict of some kind. He just had that look to him.
As I took in the sight of him in my apartment, I was filled with dread. This was not good. Frankie’s face was bright red, and a vein throbbed dangerously in his neck as he eyed me wildly.
“Where’s my rent money Gerry?”
I swore silently to myself. That was due again already? “I’ll get you the money, Frankie, I swea-”
I was cut off as Frankie’s hand wrapped around the neck of my shirt and pulled me forward until I was very well acquainted with his face.
“That’s what you said last month, and the month before!” He roared as his grip on my shirt tightened.
“I just need a few more days!” I begged. “Honestly, Frankie, I’ll have it.”
He snorted disgustedly and tossed me down to the floor, like I wasn’t even worth the effort of threatening. Frankie towered over me, glaring as he shoved his index finger in my face menacingly.
“I want you out of my building in twelve hours. Don’t make me drag you by your shirt Gerry.”
He stalked out of my apartment and my broken door slammed awkwardly into the doorframe as he shut it angrily in his wake.
I stared at my slightly askew door for what felt like hours before it hit me: I was just evicted. I had twelve hours to pack up what little crap I had and leave. I sunk down onto my moth eaten couch and held my head in my hands. My life was a mess. I was a thirty year-old loser with no family, no job and now nowhere to live. Unless I could come up with the three thousand I owed Frankie in the next twelve hours… Yeah, I was screwed.
I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I didn’t even realize I wasn’t alone until she cleared her throat. I looked up to see my girlfriend Crystal standing in the doorway. An impatient look marred her pretty face.
“Crystal?” I hadn’t seen her in a few days. Or was it a week now? “Where have you been?”
“I just came to give this back to you.” A key bounced onto the cushion beside me.
I held it up. “Why are you giving me back your key? What’s going on here?”
“You really don’t listen to anything I say, do you?” She scowled. “I’m done with this Gerry! I don’t want to live in this dirty, crappy apartment with you. I’m leaving, and I’m taking the car with me.”
She gave me one last disgusted look before she turned and abruptly disappeared down the hall outside my door.
I picked up the worn silver key Crystal had thrown at me. She left me. And now I’m a loser with no car as well. At least things couldn’t get any worse.
“She’s hot, that one. I’d ask if she was your girlfriend, but from the end of that conversations I’d say she’s an ex now.”
My head snapped up at the gruff voice coming from my doorway. I groaned internally. Two beefy guys stood shoulder to shoulder, blocking any way in or out of my apartment. In front of them stood Scott, the guy I gambled with almost every weekend. Physically, Scott was nothing to be afraid of, but the two body guards he traveled with were.
Scott sauntered into the room, the two beefcakes following him. “You know, I like you Gerry, I really do. But you have to understand,” he said, stopping in front of me, “that it’s just good business.”
He snapped his fingers and I was violently hauled off the couch by beefcake number one. It happened too fast to react. I was on the floor and steel tipped shoes were coming in contact with my ribs, my back and stomach over and over, while a fist covered in blood, probably my own, pounded into my face repeatedly. All I could comprehend was the pain. There was so much pain.
“Make sure you come by with my money sometime this week, yeah?” I heard Scott call out as they walked out of my apartment. “It’s been lovely, Gerry.”
I don’t know how long I laid there in the middle of my floor, blood from my nose pooled on the floor and gasps for air filling the space around me. I felt like I was dying. Then there were hands helping me up, hands that carried and dragged me to the couch, hands that held a cold wash cloth to my face and an icepack to my ribs.
Had Crystal come back? I cracked open a swollen eye. There was a pair of neon green eyes staring back. The sight was enough to shock me into a sitting position, and I ignored the pain in my body as I took in the man in front of me.
He was at least 50 years old, with age lines and white hair that was a stark contrast to his tanned skin. The man was dressed in a faded… a faded… well, the only thing that came to mind was, a faded superhero costume.
“So wait, wait, wait. Hold on, you’re saying that you’re the Emerald Strike?” I was propped up on my couch, an icepack to my ribs, and a tissue to my nose to stop the bleeding. “The superhero I made up as a boy?”
The man stood up straight and placed his fists on his hips. “That is true, son. I am the Emerald Strike! Where there’s crime, my strike of justice will not be far behind!”
Insane. This man was insane. Maybe he had escaped from some sort of psych ward. Granted, his costume was close to what the Emerald Strike used to wear in my childhood sketches – dark green tights under a black, bullet-proof leotard, tall black leather combat boots, and an emerald colored cape with a lightning bolt down the middle – but that just made things even crazier. How had he found my old drawings? How did he find me?
“I’m here to help you Gerry,” the man said.
“Help me?” I looked at him. “I don’t think I’m the one who needs help in this room.”
“You need my help now more than ever. Let’s get you your life back.”
Startled, I sat up on the couch. The room around me was empty, my door was back on its hinges, and my ribs weren’t throbbing. I was about to thank my lucky stars that it was all a dream, when the old man came sweeping through the kitchen doorway, carrying a tray of food and a steaming cup of coffee.
“Are you hungry? I made you some breakfast.”
I groaned and laid back down on the couch. This could not seriously be happening. This old man could not seriously be in my house. He could not seriously think he was really a superhero, let alone the very superhero I made up as a kid. This was not seriously happening.
“So, Gerry, I think we should get to know each other again. It’s been a long time.” He set the tray on the coffee table, and then the couch dipped as he sat down beside me. “You know me just as the Emerald Strike,” he said, “but you can call me Albert. Albert Walters.”
I just looked at him. “Who are you? What the hell are you doing here?”
I just told you. My name is Albert and I’m here to help you.”
“Help me with what?”
“Help you get a job. Help you keep your apartment, even though it’s sort of crappy… Help you pay your gambling debt and get Crystal back. It’s a lot for one person to tackle.” Albert stopped and smiled at me. “But I’ve always got your back Gerry. Let’s strike while there’s still time!”
The above is one of my discovered works, a story I started for my creative writing class.
One morning Gerry woke up in his apartment from a knocking on his door. It was his landlord, who told him he was evicting him and why. After the landlord left, a couple tough-looking men came in, beat him up, and told him he would be missing a finger if he didn’t pay money he owed from gambling. Then his girlfriend came to return his apartment key. He hadn’t had time to realize she had left him. Last, an elderly man in faded spandex appeared at his door, claiming to be a superhero Gerry had created when he was thirteen, and had come to rescue him from his difficulties.