New Short Story: Seaside Park

So this story introduces a character I’ve created named Achilla Johnson.  Since it doesn’t fit in the series I’ve written for her, I figured I could post it here.  Enjoy, and shout-out to all of my friends from Bridgeport!  I hope I did justice to your city.

Seaside Park ©

By G. Miller©

Achilla Johnson stepped out of her black Honda Civic wearing a gray petticoat, black slacks, and grey flat shoes.  Her curly black hair rested on her shoulders before she pulled it up into a bun and leaned against the side of her car as she looked out onto the water that churned under the late November sun.  Bridgeport’s Seaside Park always had a way of making the Long Island Sound look bigger than it actually was.  It was Connecticut’s answer to Lake Shore Drive with a walkway along the beach and a beautiful view of the sunrise at six in the morning that highlighted the brown leaves on the trees nearby.  Achilla’s green eyes watched her breath roll through the crisp fall air like a warm mist as she watched the waves lick the shore line.  She noticed a tall, black male in his fifties wearing jeans and a gray hoodie walking towards a park bench to her right.  Achilla laughed and locked her car before approaching the bench.  The man looked up at her and smiled.  As usual, Brendan Johnson was right on time.  He always taught Achilla to be punctual, and he always led by example.  When he tried to stand, Achilla held him down by his shoulders and kissed his forehead.

“Don’t get up,” Achilla said as she rubbed her hand across the waved hair on his head. “You’ve done enough for a lifetime.  The least I can do is let you have a seat.”

“I’m not crippled,” Brendan replied. “I can get up and hug my baby girl.”

“I know, Pops,” Achilla sighed. “So how was your week?”

“Busy,” Brendan said.

“Work kicking your ass?” Achilla asked.

“You know we don’t talk about work,” Brendan snapped. “And how many times have I told you to watch your language?”

“Sorry,” Achilla said before sitting next to her father. “You know I’ve never been much of a lady.”

“And you know I’ve never believed that,” Brendan replied as he wrapped his arm around his daughter’s shoulders. “My baby girl is the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“That’s nice, but I’m not the Cinderella type,” Achilla chuckled. “You don’t have to tell me how pretty and delicate I am.”

“I didn’t say that,” Brendan said. “I said beautiful.  You’re beautiful in your own way.”

“What way is that?” Achilla snorted. “There’s a reason I agreed to never talk about work when we meet.  My job’s gruesome.  I’ve always been a walking weapon-”

“Stop it!” Brendan snapped. “I won’t allow you to talk like that.”

“But-”

“You’re strong,” Brendan said. “Maybe you’re too strong for the rest of the world to handle, but that doesn’t mean you’re evil.  You’re not like….her.”

Achilla lowered her head.  He was referring to Achilla’s biological mother; the woman from whom Achilla had inherited her Amazonian mind and body.  She was also the single greatest source of misery for Brendan, Achilla, and her two hundred victims.  She was dead now; killed by Achilla’s own hands.  Of course, Achilla couldn’t tell her father that.  He couldn’t know that his daughter was more than just a hot-tempered,high-ranking Marine. He couldn’t know that Achilla’s service in the military was just a cover for her days in the CIA; days that were long gone now.   He couldn’t know what Achilla really did for a living.  So she wore her secret close at all times like the bullet-proof vest under her cotton blouse.  Achilla leaned forward and rested her forearms on her knees as she watched the waves.

“Thanks, Pops,” Achilla said. “That’s good of you to say.  I won’t argue with you on that one.”

“You ever considered settling down?” Brendan asked.

“Oh God, Dad-”

“I know you’re a free spirit,” Brendan chuckled. “But it’s good to settle down and have kids; leave a legacy.”

“Leave that to Samuel.”

“Yes, your brother carries our name,” Brenda said, “but you carry the blood just like he does.  Some children might-”

“I have a child,” Achilla blurted. “By now she’s a five-year-old girl.”

Brendan turned and faced Achilla with his mouth open.  Achilla sighed and lowered her head again.  She was never good at easing into shocking news.  Her brother Samuel was always better with words.  He was a lawyer like his father and knew how to say things just the right way.  Judging by Brendan’s expression, she still had a lot to learn.

“When were you going to tell me?” Brendan asked.

“I wasn’t,” Achilla said. “I sent her away for adoption.  I’m not cut-out for parenting-”

“No one is cut out for parenting, Achilla-”

“I know that, but-”

“How can you have a child and not tell anyone?” Brendan asked. “Jesus, Achilla, it’s always something with you.”

“I know,” Achilla said. “I’m impossible to love.”

“You’re impossible not to love,” Brendan replied as he patted her shoulder. “Just difficult to understand sometimes, that’s all.  You just do things on a whim without thinking of anyone.  I would’ve loved to meet my granddaughter.  I could’ve given her some of my mother’s jewelry, and you know, spoiled her like grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandkids.  I would’ve loved that.”

“I know, Pops,” Achilla said as she looked away and blinked back her tears. “I know you would’ve.”

“I loved spoiling you when I got a chance,” Brendan said. “I would’ve liked to treat her as well as I treated you.  You know I would’ve done anything to make her smile; same as you.”

“I know you would’ve,” Achilla sobbed as she wiped her eyes. “And I took that from you.  I’m so sorry.”

“Well, hopefully I’ll meet her when she gets older,” Brendan said as he stood up from the bench.  “I have to go now.”

“Ok.”

“I love you,” Brendan said before he leaned forward and kissed Achilla on the cheek. “Don’t you ever forget it.”

“I love you too, Daddy,” Achilla said with a smile and a wavering voice. “I’m sorry I made things so hard for you.”

“Nonsense, girl,” Brendan said as he turned his back and walked away from the bench. “Nothing’s too hard for my baby girl.  Nothing.”

Achilla closed her eyes as more tears streamed down her face, and she listened as the waves crashed against the shoreline.  The sound of the waves hitting the Seaside rocks eased her tears and soothed her to sleep in her hands.  She jumped awake when she felt a hand on her shoulder.  Achilla looked for her father.  He was nowhere to be found.  Instead, she saw a tall, thin, black male in his twenties with a smile on his face and waved hair.  Samuel smiled just like Achilla’s father but with the youth and enthusiasm of a young lawyer who had not lost a case yet.  He wore a black suit with a white shirt and yellow tie; the same tie Achilla bought for him last year.  He sat next to Achilla and stared out at the waves with her.  They sat in silence for a few minutes and listened to the Long Island Sound before speaking.

“I figured I’d find you here,” Samuel said.

“How?” Achilla asked. “I’ve never been that predictable.  I make it a point not to be.”

“I didn’t make it through law school without learning to be observant,” Samuel said. “Plus, you’re more predictable than you think. We have a lot of good memories out here.  I’d be worried if you didn’t return.”

“Yeah,” Achilla said with a smile. “I guess you’re right.”

“Need more time?” Samuel asked. “I can wait in the car.”

“No, I’m good.”

“Ok,” Samuel said. “I need your help with Dad’s things.  He wouldn’t want us to just leave it around.  You know he was a stickler for structure and order.”

“I miss him,” Achilla said. “I wish he was still here.”

“Me too,” Samuel sighed. “It might be too soon to say this, but I really hope someone catches the bastard who killed him so he can get what’s coming to him.”

Achilla stared out into the water.  Her green eyes turned bloodshot, and she clenched her fists so hard that her nails dug into her palms.  Blood seeped between her fingers as she stood up from the bench and stalked toward the sidewalk.  Samuel followed and stood next to her.  He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, but she didn’t feel it.  She didn’t feel anything but her heart pounding in her chest and the blood pulsing through her veins like diesel fuel that boiled at the thought of making Samuel’s wish come true.

“I’m sorry,” Samuel said. “I feel terrible saying that.  Now isn’t the time-”

“Don’t,” Achilla snapped as she turned from the walkway and walked towards her car.

“Don’t what?” Samuel asked as Achilla unlocked her car door.

“Don’t feel bad,” Achilla replied over her shoulder. “He’ll get what he deserves; one way or another.”

Achilla looked out at the waves one last time.  She stared at her father’s bench; the same bench where he always sat  for over forty years.  It was on that bench where Achilla bounced on her father’s lap as a little girl.  On that bench, Achilla said bye to her father before she left for the CIA over twelve years ago.   Achilla watched Samuel drive-off in his car before stepping into her Honda and leaving Seaside Park for good.  Seaside Park was a fitting place for Achilla to say goodbye to her father.  Once she found his murderer, she would never be able to return to Bridgeport again.

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