Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #14- Perspective

A story inspired by a common every day item that many of us have come to rely on a great deal. For an explanation of the Ray Bradbury Challenge, check out this blog post by Arial Burnz here.

Perspective

And to my nephew Michael I leave the small oak box that sits upon my desk.”

The words rang in Michael Warren’s ears and fueled his anger. The box sat on the front seat of his 1998 Camry as he navigated back to his one bedroom apartment in Chatsworth.

A friggen box! The old coot was worth millions and all he gave me was some useless knick-knack.

The smug look on his cousin Jenny’s face said it all. She got the house and the money. He got a box. He had burned a vacation day to attend the reading. What a waste of time. Not that schlepping packages all over L.A. was his idea of fun but it paid the bills. He had hoped his inheritance would allow him to take some time off. He pulled into his parking space and picked up the box.

Not unless there’s a couple million bucks stuffed in here.

By the time he climbed three flights of stairs (because the elevator was on the fritz, again) his anger had settled to mild annoyance. He tossed the box on the kitchen counter and pulled some left over pizza from the fridge. Thirty seconds in the nuker and lunch was served. As Michael wolfed down melted cheese and greasy pepperoni he noticed that one side of the box had a slit in it. His fingernail just fit allowing him to pry open the lid. His excitement was short lived as the only contents was an old pair of glasses and a handwritten note.

Dear Michael,

Doubtless you are cursing my name and your extraordinary bad fortune. Trust me when I tell you that what I left you is much more valuable than the pittance that shallow trollop Jenny received. You’re a smart young man. You’ll figure it out.

Martin

Michael picked up the glasses and slipped them on. Either the prescription was perfect or there was none. There didn’t seem to be any effect on his vision. He stepped into the living room to check out his look in the mirror. A little retro but not bad. He turned his gaze toward the couch and witnessed a man and a woman in a passionate embrace. Before he could say anything they moved apart. The man was him! And the woman was the pretty redhead from the legal office on Center St. She was friendly enough but he’d never said more than hello to her. Michael pulled off the glasses and the image vanished.

Great! Martin left me his hallucination inducing glasses.

Putting them back on produced no further visions prompting Michael to remove them and drop them into his shirt pocket. He grabbed his keys and headed out the door. The pizza had been the final vestige of food in his kitchen and he was still hungry.

Antonio’s Deli was crowded. It took him nearly twenty minutes to reach the counter.

“Pastrami, mustard and pickles only,” he said to the girl behind the counter. She rang him up and handed him his receipt. He stuffed it in his pocket and brushed against the glasses.

What the hell …

The view remained unchanged. He was about to take them off when a speeding white car careened down the street headed for the deli. Michael jumped out of the way as the car burst through the front window spraying the patrons with shards of glass. A number of people lay on the floor bleeding. As Michael stood up the glasses fell off his nose. He caught them and noticed everyone was staring at him. The window was still intact and the floor was clean. His face burning, he shuffled to the counter to pick up his order and slinked out the door cramming the spectacles in his pocket as he went.

Twenty feet from the door the roar of a car engine forced him to turn around. He stared in shock as the same white car plowed into the deli. The glasses were in his pocket. This time it was for real. A numbness settled over him as he pulled out his phone and called 911.

*****

The next day he ran his deliveries on autopilot. He couldn’t shake the chill that had settled into his bones. Two women had died in the accident. They would be alive if he had said something. Maybe. Probably.

He was only vaguely aware he was in the law office until he saw her. The redhead. Her desk was right across from the receptionist. Her nameplate read ‘Mary Ann Stewart’. He started to walk out when the image of the two of them on his couch filled his mind. With a deep breath he strolled to her desk and waited until she looked up.

“Can I help you?” she said.

“I hope so, Mary Ann. My name is Michael and I would love to take you to dinner Friday.”

She smiled, her cheeks reddening a bit.

“Thank you Michael, I’d love to. You’ve been coming in here for weeks. I was beginning to think I was going to have to ask you out.”

It was his turn to blush. “I … umm, you know, I don’t know you that well.”

She giggled, scribbled her number on a sticky note and handed it to him.

“Call me tonight.”

Michael left the building walking on a cloud. Without a thought as to why, he pulled the glasses out of his pocket and put them on. He passed a newspaper stand and read the headline at the bottom of the morning edition.

‘Local Woman Killed During Robbery Attempt’. Mary Ann’s picture appeared next to the article. Michael scanned the rest of the paper. The date listed was next Saturday. He stared at the picture and removed the glasses. Mary Ann’s face vanished. Michael stood frozen in place, sweat soaking his shirt.

You’re a smart young man. You’ll figure it out.

Would he? Maybe. Hopefully.

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