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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Dreamscapes

A Story about Jack
James Nantau

There was a man who’s first name starts with J but it was not Jack and he did not live in New York. A lot of people live in New York City but he was not one of them. Nor is this, his tale but he remains prominent in the telling and before we go much further you should also know that in this particular story Non Jack does not save the world, win the war or get the girl at the end. Besides he’s got a girl at the beginning. Of course she’s not what you’d call the greatest woman on earth – but she does the trick and Non Jack is happy to keep her. He’s all decided about that.

One day Non Jack says to Cupcake – obviously not her real name but he liked to call her Cupcake and besides whenever he called her that she’d always answer to it, so it worked just like a real name anyway – "Say Cupcake."
"Yes dear," said Cupcake.
"I’ve been thinking."
"Uh oh."
"What do you mean uh oh?" said Non Jack.
"Last time you did some thinking we almost moved to New York City."
"Oh that was a long time ago. When are you going to forget all about that silliness from long ago?"
"Oh I don’t know. One day I suppose."

Non jack was nonplussed. See, he thought to himself, this was exactly the kind of imperfection that made Cupcake not what you’d call the greatest woman on earth. She was always remembering the bad stuff and never forgetting about it like she should.
"Anyhow, what’s your idea this time," said Cupcake trying to make him smile again.
He looked at her and decided she was being sincere.
"I think we should move to New York City," Non Jack said.
"Are you crazy?"
"No I’m not crazy. I know how its sounds but it’s completely different this time."
"Oh brother," said Cupcake.
"Are you going to listen to my idea or are you going to just stand there complaining all day."
"Don’t get edgy and sore at me. I’m listening."
"Okay, so here’s the thing…." Non Jack grabbed both of Cupcake’s hands and led her to the sofa and had her sit down comfortably. He moved across the room to his favorite chair and barely sat on the very edge of it. He really liked that chair and when Cupcake saw him sit like that, she knew he was over-the-top excited. That’s when she got scared.
"I say we move to New York City because it’s very exciting there and it’s not very exciting here," said Non Jack.
"Why are you chasing excitement? What sort of good will that do for you?" asked Cupcake.
"Everybody likes excitement, not just me, and we can’t find it here."
"I’m not so sure that’s any better a reason this time to move to New York City."
"Of course it’s a better reason. Last time I suggested moving to the Big Apple, it was to get away from paying that parking ticket."
"I remember."
"This time we wouldn’t be going there to get away from something bad, we’d be going there to pursue something good. Besides I paid off that ticket over a month ago."
"I’m still not sure that’s a great reason to move all the way there."
"Well if we don’t move there, where the heck are we going to move to – Detroit?"
"Why do we have to move at all?"
"We can’t stay here Cups and you know it. This town is a sleepy disaster."
"Oh now that’s a bit harsh," she said.
"I’m not so sure. It’s painfully boring and dull here. You must at least admit that it’s very dull and boring in this forgettable place."

Cupcake knew that whenever he got this way it was best to let it rest for a while. He’d come down over time and then she’d be able to tell just how much he really meant to move away. It was better to let it be until tomorrow she decided, so she nodded at him and smiled and didn’t say another word.

The next day Non Jack and Cupcake were walking down the road together. They could have driven the car but that way you might end up with a parking ticket. On the other hand if you walk somewhere there was no way in the world you could get a parking ticket and since they were going somewhere Non Jack suggested they walk to get there.
Cupcake didn’t bring up anything at all about moving to any place at all just to see if it would come up all by itself. That way she’d know just how motivated Non Jack was about going to the Gotham City.
They had been walking for two hours.
"So I noticed you haven’t brought up the subject of moving to exciting New York City," said Non Jack.
"Oh, I guess not, probably cuz I figured you’d bring it up if you wanted to anyway," said Cupcake.
"I bet you’re just testing me, to see how determined I am about this whole thing." See, now here again, he thought to himself, this was more stuff that she was so imperfect about that pretty much guaranteed she’d never be the greatest woman on earth. She would run these little tests from time to time. Absolutely imperfect of her to do so. My god if she wasn’t busy remembering everything, she’d be testing away.
"Oh stop it will you, I am not testing you."
"Okay, if you say so."
They walked on.

Finally they arrived at the place where they were going and it was busy with lots of people milling about and standing and talking. They joined everyone and it was great fun. Just then they ran into a man who was a stranger to Non Jack but seemingly not a stranger to Cupcake. Cupcake shook his hand and exchanged greetings and then a few more words. She was about to introduce him when he abruptly said good-bye and disappeared into the swelling crowd of passersby.
"Who the heck was that strange fellow, Cups?"
"Oh, he’s just a guy I met a little while ago."
"I see. So what’s his name and where did you meet him?"
Cupcake didn’t answer right away. She looked like she was trying to find the exact right words for the job. It took her several seconds to find those special words.
"I can’t remember," she said.
Uh oh, thought Non Jack to himself, ‘can’t remember’ is simply put - not a very good answer. Those were most definitely not the exact rights words at all. Cupcake remembers everything. What does this mean?
Non Jack let it pass for now but he had a gnawing pain in his gut all the rest of the afternoon. Still, they enjoyed the place very much and it was worth the walk.
"Well that was a nice afternoon, even for this dull city. I’m glad we came here today," said Non Jack.
"Yes, it was a splendid day."
They had a dreadfully long walk home.

The day after the next day Non Jack was down on the street moving his car to ensure he wouldn’t get a parking ticket. Cupcake walked up to greet him as he got out of the car.
"I need to talk to you," she said.
"Okay. Let’s talk."
"Well, I have some bad news I’m afraid."
"Bad news? How can you possibly have bad news?"
"Well I do and I’m afraid it may hurt you some to hear it," she warned.
"I see. Well you better spit it out then so I can hear it and find out if it will hurt me or not."
"Okay, I will."
Cupcake walked around in a messy circle. She was frightfully nervous. Non Jack sat down at a street bench and then Cupcake sat beside him.
"Come on Cups, just give it to me."
"All right," she said "here it comes then."
"I’m listening."
She looked at him with that soft face of hers and sent him a pitiful smile.
"I have decided to leave you and I will be moving away."
"Leave me? What do you mean leave me? Where are you going? Why are you doing this?"
"I’ll be moving to another city and I’m leaving today. In fact I’m getting picked up any minute now."
"Who is picking you up?"
"You now that fellow we met yesterday at the place?"
"Yeah." Non Jack felt the pain return to his gut. It was even worse today and now he wanted to throw-up.
"Well I am moving away with him."
"Him?"
"Yes, he is a very nice man and he likes me very much."
"But I like you very much and I found you first."
"I know that you like me some but you’re always saying how imperfect I am and such and how I’m not the greatest woman on earth and stuff."
"Yeah, but I always say that you do the trick."
"I know and that’s nice. I was always glad to do the trick for you. But still it never sounded real great whenever you said it."

Non Jack was in a state of utter shock. He couldn’t believe what she was doing to him, right here on this public sidewalk in front of the whole world. Maybe there wasn’t anybody around at that particular moment in time but as they were outside, theoretically the whole world could pass by at any second. Boy she was being so cruel right now. Non Jack was suddenly very sad.

"But you’re my Cupcake."
"You will find another cupcake for yourself," she said kindly.
"But who will call you Cupcake? I’ll betcha anything you want this new fella won’t call you Cupcake like I do."
"Actually I think I’m ok with that. I’m not so sure I want to be a Cupcake anymore."
"You always loved being a Cupcake."
"Maybe not as much as you think."
"I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You’ve obviously changed overnight. I don’t even know who I’m sitting beside right now."
"That may be true. I do apologize if you’re hurt by it."

Just then a flaming red sports car came zooming up in front of them. Right away Non Jack noticed that there were five or six parking tickets stuck under the windshield wiper. They were just blowing there as if the driver didn’t worry a bit about them – like he was some reckless traveler who was about to leave town and never return.
The driver bounced out of the car and danced around to greet Cupcake. He had wavy brown hair and a thousand white teeth. He gave her a big smile and a hug too.
"Hello Darling," he said with an authentic British accent. Non Jack couldn’t believe his ears – ‘Darling’ – how shallow and insincere does that sound, he thought.
He watched their happy embrace and felt even sadder but he didn’t say anything. Not until the man walked over to him and extended his hand.
They shook hands like gentlemen and then the stranger spoke.
"Really sorry about all this chap," he said with his crummy accent, "nasty business I know. But I say old man, don’t worry about a thing, I shall take good care of her all my days, you needn’t fret about that."
"What’s your name buddy?"
"Yes indeed, good question. May I present my card. My name is Jack and I live in New York City."

Five seconds later the wondrous red sports car was speeding away with his former Cupcake. A parking ticket had blown free and came floating down and landed on his shoe. He stood there, still as a lamp post, watching the flaming red roadster drive clean out of sight.

© James Nantau March 2009

Bio: James Nantau is a fiction writer living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He has BA (Poli Sci) and BComm (Finance) degrees from University of Windsor and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario in London. He is a commercial banker by day, loves to travel and has a second novel underway.
Publication Credits:
‘Third & Nineteen, Tale of the Lonesome Loser’ novel 180 pages, Publish America, Baltimore USA, 2008 , ISBN 1-60563-307-0
‘We Were Seven’ flash fiction, Ascent Aspirations Magazine British Columbia, Canada, Vol 12 Number 3, August 2008
‘The Last Hour’ short story, Hackwriters United Kingdom, October 2008
‘We Were Seven’ flash fiction, Taj Mahal Review Cyberwit, Allahabad, India, December 2008 Volume 7 Number 2, ISSN 0972 – 6004

Email: jnfife at hotmail.com


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