Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Late For His Shift
By Peter G. Reynolds
Rain began tapping lightly on the windows as Ron reluctantly joined Kay on the couch, holding his bedsheet as strategically as possible. It only took a moment before the dam burst, and the questions gushed out.
"Where am I? What's happening? Where are my clothes? What are those marks on the walls? Did I do that? Did I hurt someone? What time is it? What's that glass? Why was it singing? Who are you?”
Ron felt overwhelmed. He wanted to run; running always made him feel better. But where would I go? He thought. He had no clothes and no answers. The only thing he did have was a splitting headache.
May sat down beside him, placing her hand on his sheet-covered knee. Ron initially recoiled at her touch but relaxed as she spoke in soothing tones.
"It's alright, Ron. You're alright. You got into a fight last night, and we brought you back to our apartment. It's alright."
"And my hands?" Ron asked, pulling them from underneath the sheet; they were still red with what Ron was sure was blood. "And the marks on the walls?"
"The blood is yours, Ron." You were still very agitated when we got you here." May then pointed to a brick wall by the front door; cracks radiated from a shallow hole around head height.
"You sure showed that wall," said Kay from behind her phone, her pale face made even paler from the glow of the screen.
May ignored her. "We then got you to the bedroom where you collapsed, breaking the bed."
"You sure showed that bed," mumbled Kay.
Ron felt relief. Was it weird to be relieved the blood was his? Ron pushed the thought away. There were still a lot of things that didn't make sense. Those bloody marks were too big for him to have made in this present form. How much did these sisters know?
"Did I hurt anyone?"
"Not badly," answered May. Her face a picture of concern.
Kay chuckled. "Let's just say you hurt more than their feelings."
"Ignore her," said May. She then turned and gave her sister a dirty look. "安静" she added. In response, her sister held up her hand in surrender.
"Please tell me what happened," Ron asked.
May went to the kitchen and grabbed some ice and a towel for Ron. The cold felt good pressed against his forehead, and he sunk a little deeper into the couch. She then told him how the three of them had a few beers at the club and were dancing when a couple of local guys started causing trouble. “They pushed you and tried to dance with us.”
Ron sat up. "And that's when we started fighting?"
May shook her head, "No. You tried to defuse the situation, told them there was plenty of music for everyone, but they just laughed and called you a loser."
"…and a moron," added Kay.
Ron ignored Kay as best he could. "And that's when we started fighting."
"Oh, no." May said, "You offered to buy them all a beer."
Ron was starting to think maybe he didn't want to remember what happened.
"So when did we start fighting?" Ron asked, exasperated.
"When they did this," May said, pulling her hair back and revealing an ugly bruise that ran from just above her right eye down to her cheek.
Ron's blood began to boil, and he could feel the rage from last night returning. He struggled to suppress it and quickly thought back to his father’s training, breathing deeply and pushing it down into the pit of his stomach. This was not the time for emotion, he thought; it was time for answers.
Ron reached out and gently caught a tear that had fallen onto May's cheek. For a moment, the world fell away, and all he could see was the face of a girl who needed his help.
"And then what happened?" He asked finally.
"It was epic!" Kay said a little too enthusiastically, putting down her phone. She then stood up and proceeded to mime the fight, complete with sound effects. Her colourful performance ended with a mock upper cult, resulting in a backflip over the couch.
"And then we came straight here?" Ron thought he already knew the answer.
"Well, no. We left the club and took a shortcut through the park, but the locals followed us and tried to jump you with some of their friends."
"Emphasis on the try," Kay interjected, a big smile on her face.
Ron's panic began to return. "What?"
"Biggest mistake of their lives." Kay continued, laughing. "They got in a couple of shots before you went all furry Hulk on them. I've never seen so many men wet themselves. Like I said, epic."
Ron was quiet, taking it all in. There was a lot he could say, a lot he could ask, but only two words came to mind.
The rain had stopped, and sunlight had begun reflecting off the windows. May was the first to speak.
"Yes, Ron. We know you're Faoladh, a shifter. That's why we were outside the club last night.