Archive for March 3rd, 2012

3rd March
2012
written by amber

Russell and Leigh Underground

In a concrete stairwell covered with graffiti, two men approach each other. One descends, dressed in a well-pressed light coloured suit. The other, wearing stained ragged sweats, ascends from the darker depths where a flickering light gives up the ghost and expires. A uniformed man carrying a large rifle stands on the stairs just above the landing.

“Russell,” says the descending man.

“Leigh,” says the ascending man.

Russell leans against the wall, removes a battered cigarette package, labelled with a large skull and crossbones, shakes out a cigarette, offers it to the other man.

Leigh stands across the landing from Russell. “No thanks. I had to give it up. Everywhere’s non-smoking up above.”

Russell throws the pack down. “Yeah, I gave it up too. The air’s so bad down here, I don’t need to take another ten years off my life expectancy. So, why’d you ask to meet? You got some crime up there you can’t solve or what?”

“We’ve got a little crime, and it comes from your territory, buddy. We got three bad actors back in play, all three were sent down at least five years ago. I need to check your upper hallways to make sure the gates are secure.”

Russell starts down the stairs. “Oh for fuck’s sake,” he says. “The gates were fine last time we checked. And even if anyone got into the upper hallways, they’d still have to escape through the tunnels and the lasers would get them, right?”

Leigh follows, not replying.

“What? The lasers aren’t working now?”

“Russell, I fought it, the chief fought it, but they voted out the funding for the lasers, just like they did for security cameras last year. Crime is down, it’s true, but it’ll come right back up if this keeps on.”

“You’ll be happy then, right, buddy? Otherwise you’re just some glorified security guard, and I’ll still be having fun down here with all the real criminals.”

“You don’t know what it’s like up there, Russell.”

Russell grabs Leigh by the lapel. “Yes, I do, man! It’s only been a year.”

CUT TO COURTROOM SCENE – Russell, standing, hears VOICE OVER “You are sentenced to permanent exile to the Underground.”

Russell and Leigh are walking down a windowless hallway, piles of garbage along the sides, some of the piles of garbage are, in fact, extremely ragged people. Occasionally, doors open and more garbage is thrown out, or fighting couples are briefly seen before they chase each other back inside and slam the door.

“Man, this is prime real estate,” Leigh scoffs.

Russell pauses and digs in his pockets, finally finding a battered cell phone. “I guess I can help you out a bit, buddy. Our security cameras happen to still work. We captured this image last week. Is that when the three escaped back to the top?”

“Wednesday.”

“Yup. Take a look.”

IMAGE OF A HOODED MAN WEARING A MUSTACHE THAT’S CLEARLY FAKE AND DARK GLASSES. HE GRINS INTO THE CAMERA, REVEALING AN EXPANSE OF YELLOW LEMON PEEL. BEHIND HIM, THREE HUDDLED FIGURES CLUTCH SUITCASES AND CLOTH BAGS. THE MAN’S HAND, HOLDING A ROCK, IS SEEN BRIEFLY, THEN THE IMAGE ENDS.

Leigh says, “Shit! It’s the lemon wedge man.”

“What?”

“Someone’s been messing with the mayor’s lemon tree. Taking off the leaves, taking off the lemons. All we ever find is the wedges, thrown down all over town. That’s the first image of him I’ve seen.”

“Well, it looks like he wanted someone to see it. But we don’t have facial recognition software in that crap room we call a police station. Do you still have it up there?”

“Yeah. I’ll send it in and get them started on it right away.” He reaches to take the phone.

Russell pulls it back. “You’ll never get through the shielding, man. What do you think this is down here? Just the lower floors? Leigh, it’s a crap society like you could never imagine.”

Leigh puts his head in his hands, saying, “I’m sorry. I never expected you to be sent down. Honest, I thought it would just be a fine. I just wanted a little payback.”

Russell walks ahead quickly, muttering too quietly for Leigh to hear, “Buddy, I never would have gone after her if you hadn’t told me you’d filed for divorce. She was practically your ex-wife.”

CUT TO COURTROOM SCENE – Leigh stands in the witness box, testifying, “Yes, sir, I saw my partner, officer Russell, accept the bribe.”

Russell and Leigh walk along a very dark section of hallway, doors standing open to presumably empty rooms. A clutter of metal bars or chain link lies on the floor.

“Here’s our breach,” Leigh states.

“Yeah, this is where we got the image on the security camera.”

He points to a disabled camera on the wall. “No funds to fix it.”

“No funds to fix the gate either?”

“We did fix that. Looks like another escape is being set up.”

“Really?” Leigh looks very surprised.

Running sounds come from the hallway behind them. Russell pulls out a gun.

“Get your gun, man,” he says to Leigh.

“They wouldn’t let me bring it down here. You know, in case it got stolen by the wrong element.”

Disgusted, Russell shoves him toward one of the doors. An exchange of gunfire commences. Leigh takes a hit to one arm before they can get into the room.

Inside the room, Leigh leans against the wall while Russell shoots into the corridor.

“There’s got to be at least a dozen men out there!” he shouts.

In a lull in the shooting, one of the men from outside calls out, “Russell! It’s us. Just let us at him!”

“I changed my mind!” Russell yells back.

“We didn’t change ours!”

After more gunfire, footsteps are heard right outside the door, and something is thrown inside. Russell picks up the grenade, throws it back outside, but it explodes not too far from him, and he’s hurled against the wall where Leigh lies. Now they are both injured, but at least there’s no more activity out in the hallway.

“What was that about?” Leigh croaks.

“I told them you were coming. El Tri’s gang.”
CUT TO IMAGE OF LEIGH PUTTING HAND CUFFS ON A HEAVILY-TATTOOED MAN

“But why?”

“Why? You sent me down here, buddy. What did you expect?”

“But you said you changed your mind.”

“Yeah. Working with you today, even if we were just walking around the halls, shooting the bull, I realized that losing you as a partner was worse than being sent down here.”

“That’s the conclusion I came to as well. And I’ve been doing everything I can to get sent down.”

Leigh’s head slumps forward as he gropes into his pocket, then mashes his hand against his face. Then he looks up at Russell and grins, yellowly.

Russell stares, then laughs. “You’re the lemon wedge man!”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

This is the second story was written with suggestions for a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre supplied by Ryan Hayward. I’m practicing for the script I’ll be writing for the 48 Hour Movie Making Challenge in Calgary on March 30. Ryan gave me: 1. Lemon wedge 2. “This is prime real estate.” 3. Buddy film. Thanks, Ryan!