Thursday, September 17, 2009

BravingKL Short Story - The Shadows That Were (Part Four)

Kevin was blushing still. He wound down the car window and let the torrent of fresh air this lovely Friday midnight hit his face. Streetlights fleeted past him, one by one at first, and then quickly blurred into a stream of dancing lines, of which radiance paled in comparison to the ecstasy written all over his reddened face. He stepped harder on the accelerator.

There wasn’t a single occasion in all his thirty-three years of life where he has blushed as hard, Kevin thought. He blamed the wine they had, not just any wine he proudly declared, but a 1978 Chateau Lafite Rothschild that he had kept for the most precious occasion. For a brief moment, he made the effort to check on the gaze of admiration as the bottle was popped open (there was a list of expressions to choose from) but Kevin's attention was quickly summoned back to the star of the night. This first meet up was as perfect as he had wanted it to be, the ambience, the conversations, the food, the surreal qualities of them all, Kevin almost convinced himself that he had dreamt all these up.

But his eager heart could not lie, and the bliss inconcealable; Kevin didn't make the effort to hide them at all, not to the waiters serving him, and certainly not to the other patrons that night. Everyone was undeserving of his attention tonight, everyone except one. His focus was unmistakably singular.

To be continued

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

BravingKL Short Story - The Shadows That Were (Part Three)

For the longest of time, Kevin stood in front of the row of vanity counters at the locker area, oblivious to the buzz of the crowd that was beginning to build up this Saturday evening. In his hand was a strip of glossy magazine paper, hurriedly torn from the corner of an aging library from the lounge area, slightly crumpled, yet on it a series of numbers were scribbled. Kevin tried but could not take the sight off them, nor could he his fingers. This unassuming piece of paper, it smelled of the prized reward of countless late nights of research, of the well-rehearsed reasoning to his wife and children, of deception, yet sweetened liberation.

He tightened his grasp on the paper and slowly tasted its significance.

Kevin thought, there was a blur on the event leading to this, he tried to recall as he watched his own reflections in the large mirror in front of him, but he realised it didn't really matter perhaps, as all he knew at that moment was he had liked what he saw, this encounter of his in the steam room, and he now had a mean of staying in touch with him. In his head, Kevin was churning with an unfamiliar wave of excitement and the possible thrills this may bring. As the heart raced faster and faster, Kevin knew all too well that his earlier plans of this being a one-off, fuss-free exploration of nursing his curiosity was now being spitted into the sink like a pitiable lump of puss and hastily rushed down the sinkhole.

To be continued

Friday, September 04, 2009

BravingKL Short Story - The Shadows That Were (Part Two)

From a temporary clearing of the steam, Kevin squinted and saw the first sign of life in this lost, muted world. A mild, involuntary shiver travelled his body as he shifted his sitting position on the wet tiled bench and adjusted and readjusted his views to piece together the physical being that was starting to form at the other end. First came the lightly tanned arms, perched against the edges of the bench, droplets of water flowing downwards and disappearing between the fingers. And then the sharp jaw lines, the lightly parting lips, and the prominent sideburn, as painstakingly trimmed as his own, Kevin thought.

He welcomed a sense of familiarity to this sight.

For the longest time nothing moved, this desolate quiet world stripped of all sounds, except for the travelling gust of steam, ever hissing and expanding and filling every cracks on the rough cement floor and walls. Kevin let out a breathless sigh, and watched as the steam in front of him parted and twirled away. His way of saying hi perhaps.

And then there was the hurried decision, Kevin knew he could not entertain the risk of having second thoughts, he was already too far away from the grasp of his mundane life, this was his moment. But he couldn't bear too the fact that he had dug so low, lower than the begging gaze of the ill-performing secretary that he had told off earlier this morning. There was a disconnect now between him and the trembling hand that was slowly stretching forward, sideways, towards the figure. From the corner of his eyes, Kevin watched as his fingers poked into the steam, and faded into a blur of shadows.

He closed his eyes now, imagining what the sight would be if he were to grow eyes on the tip of his index fingers. There was no plan on where exactly to plant them anyway. This, strange, peculiar act of saying hi, this singular moment of eager anticipation of landfall, with all its unspeakable undercurrent of guilt and fun, indeed was as far as Kevin as gone before.

To be continued

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

BravingKL Short Story - The Shadows That Were (Part One)

The air was a sickening mix of lukewarm mist and a strange stench of stale sweat, yet Kevin was grateful for this half-baked setup, he wouldn't survive for more than three minutes if the steam were to be a tad more enthusiastic. At the very spot after the glass-door entrance, he stood there for a good while, blinking and breathing calmly, getting used to the limited visibility. And then slowly, he stumbled forward along the narrow path in front of him, thanking the stray evening sunlight filtering in from the dusty windows for showing the way.

It's all very quiet in here. Kevin swore that he had counted not less than 15 people entering this maze while he was deliberating his next moves outside the corridor, yet apart from the occasional hissing of steam and a distance dripping of perhaps a leaky pipe, Kevin strained his ears but heard only his own heartbeat as he landed on a bench at the end of the path.

Beyond this, a darkened turn bathed in mystery, and unspeakable, unimaginable fun. Fun, that Kevin could have only read online and fantasize about as he led a life that had been laid out dutifully before him. But now, this strange, new world before his eyes was finally materialising. Nights of fighting the urge to stray from the rightful path finally saw defeat, utter defeat, as he now inched forward into the embrace of the darkened corner of a gay sauna, clad only in a thin towel, vulnerable, confused.

Yet eager to explore.

BravingKL Short Story - The Shadows That Were (Prologue)

At the very end of the darkened corridor, a solitary hand emerged, did an unintelligible gesture, and was never seen again. Was the pain from trying to figure out what its gesture meant, or in waiting for its return?