Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.
Not done one in a while, but got an itch.
by Jonathan Lawrence
I remember the day I first met William, like it was yesterday, even as the decades have flowed by, it’s one of my most vivid memories.
The strange thing is when I first met him, he didn’t leave that much of an impression immediately. He was middling everything, middling height, middling build, middling clothes – I mean everything.
“Ms Rebutem,” William said curt but polite.
“Constable,” I replied, barely noticing him among the crowd of Lookie-loos, here to see the accident. It took me several moments to realise someone had addressed me by name. I’m not crazy, or stupid, but when a tanker over turns as a police officer in London, your focus tends to be on the multitudes that come to gawp, oh don’t look at me like that, the fire brigade and ambulance were dealing with the driver.
“Excuse me, how do you know my name?” I asked him.
“It’s on your label,” he said matter of factly pointing at the velcro patch on my stab vest, it was a more dangerous world back then, “I’m William,” he was returning the gift.
“It also says Constable,” I said annoyed at the middling man, “I’m kind of busy right now.”
“You’ll be busier when that tanker explodes,” he said confidently, there was nothing middling about his voice, it was both strong and calm, easily audible over the throng of by standers, he looked at his watch, “In about one minutes give or a take a few seconds. I’d call everyone back, if I were you?”
“What?” I asked confused and still annoyed, and mildly alarmed even though in the back of my mind I was sure he was a lunatic.
“Hurry,” he commanded, now his voice had an edge, an authority, it spoke to a part of me from my past, I’d been in the army a driver in the Royal Logistics Corp, used to hearing and following orders from superior officers, and somehow his voice, his pose, they suddenly screamed superior officer.
I grabbed my radio, “This is Constable Rebuten, everyone move back from the truck. It’s going up.”
No one argued, no one asked who the hell I was, paramedics and firemen just hauled back, the paramedics were pulled the driver with them as he stumbled drunkenly.
I ran over to help them as they approached the cordon, and just at that moment the air suddenly seemed to be sucked out of the area, and the world flashed orange as the tanker went up in a huge fireball. I didn’t notice the heat until a heart beat later.
It was chaos, the tanker had been filled with some high octane shit, but no one was hurt, we got everyone away just in time. I lost William in the confusion, he seemed to vanish. I was quite amazed afterwards, my story wasn’t doubted. It wasn’t the first time a mysterious man called William had interfered to positive effect in an emergency. It wasn’t talked about much, but once you were aware of it, you began to hear things.
It was nearly two months later, I was chasing down a mugger, I lost sight of him, suddenly William was there again pointing the way, I didn’t question it, I just followed where he was pointing, and came out ahead of the mugger. Got the arrest.
Over the following year he would crop up every now and again, saving lives, helping bag bad guys. Listening to the talk about him, I began to realise I was seeing more of him than anyone else, he was still reaching out to others, but it began to become apparent he was helping me for some reason.
Rarely was a word said, and as it was always urgent I didn’t have time to talk to him.
Then one day, was out with some colleagues for well earned drinks, and he just turned up.
“Shit what is it?” I asked rushing up from my seat.
“Nothing,” he said in that strong calm voice of his, “I thought I should say hi.”
I was gobsmacked, over a year of pretty much no communication, other warnings.
“My name is William,” he said holding out his hand.
“I’m Constable…” I started to say, then stopped, “I’m Sharon,” I said taking his hand and shaking it. His grip was firm, but comfortable. “What’s your surname?” I asked.
“Don’t know,” he said, “Don’t suppose I have one, not anymore.”
Well colour me intrigued, he was the most enigmatic man I ever met.
I got to know him much better over the years, I worked closely with him, taking down more and more bad guys. My career soared to newer and newer heights, but that wasn’t important to me, the work we did, making the city safe again, and our burgeoning romance were all that I cared about.
So much so, it was almost a shock to wake up and be an MP one day years later. William was by my side, guiding me, pointing me in the right direction, helping me steer through the nasty world of politics, and actually start to make that better too.
Blink again and it was the morning after the election, the count was in, and I was Prime Minister Sharon Rebuten. With William’s help I was guiding a country to be better, and we had started working on the world.
I loved him with all my heart, I didn’t mind how much hard work there was. We shared everything together, the trials and tribulations, and the joy. We never had children, but strangely it never seemed important, I could remember a time before all this started when I wanted nothing more than to have a family like that, but with William the world, the future, that was our child.
Then suddenly it was over.
I’d just returned to number 10, it was in my second term, I’d just completed a deal with that would see a new series of solar farms to be built to just about wean the planet off fossil fuels. I went up to the residence, and found the dining room candle lit, the most gorgeous meal laid out. I can remember it now, the sights and smells, it was everything that I loved, from the cheese souffle starter, to spag bol the way my mum used to make it, burnt bits and all, with Angel Delight for afters… well you had to be there, it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me.
And there was William, stood waiting for me.
“William what is this? It’s amazing. It’s not our anniversary is it?” I knew it wasn’t, we’d had a spring wedding, and it was autumn.
“It’s an apology,” he said mournfully.
“Whatever for?” I asked.
“Sit, eat,” he said, he didn’t need that edge of command in his voice I’d heard when we first met, instead it was soft but a little insisting.
“Okay,” I said, resisting the trepidation I felt, the fear. I’d never known fear around William, the man was a paragon of peace and patience usually, he had an innate ability to calm everyone around him.
I started with the souffle, and it was like heaven in my mouth, so smooth, and velvety, delicate to the extreme. Michelin starred chefs would die for the ability to make a souffle so simple and yet so perfect.
“There are things about me I’ve never told you,” William said.
I paused my eating, “There’s a lot you’ve never told me, and I’ve never asked. Never felt the need to, I was just happy to be with you.”
“I know,” he said mournfully again, “Yet, I would tell you if I could. However, I can’t.”
“It’s fine, you never need to apologise for that,” I told him.
“The apology is because I’ve got to go,” he said, “I was never meant to be here this long.”
“What?” I asked shocked, upset, suddenly the calmness broke.
“I came here to help guide someone to a path,” he said, “That was my role, but this world was in so much pain, and yet had the potential for so much beauty I wanted to help.”
“Guide? Role? What do you mean William?” I asked, the panic rising becoming palpable in my chest.
“People have purposes,” William said, “Sometimes they need guidance. I get sent, along with others, to help things along.”
“I don’t understand,” I croaked, the panic reaching my throat.
“It’s okay,” he said soothingly, “I would tell you more if I could, I promise you. I never expected to fall in love, it’s not what my kind do. And so I stayed, and I carried on helping you, guiding you.”
“I’m the one you were guiding?” I asked… and immediately felt stupid, of course he’d been guiding me.
“Yes. I was to guide you to the police,” he said, “That was always the start of your path after you left the army.”
“I didn’t meet you until the tanker accident,” I protested.
“Yes, you did,” he said, “You just didn’t notice. It’s okay, you weren’t meant to… and I wasn’t meant to notice you, but I did. “Now, I am being summoned. I can’t resist.”
“What?” I repeated myself, I couldn’t help it, to say what he was saying was bending my mind, my world view would be an understatement. I don’t think you’ll ever appreciate what William, the enigmatic stranger meant to me, meant to the world… with his help we were living in the third age, the golden age of man, and I knew love in ways I had never had before.
“It’s just my time,” he said, “I am sorry. More sorry than you can ever know. I know you’ll be alright though.”
“When?” finally I came up with a different question, it’s kind of weird to be in so intense a situation, and suddenly my joy at asking a new question suddenly seemed like such an accomplishment.
And then the feeling was smashed.
“Tonight,” he said simply.
“No!” I think I may have screamed it, I’m not sure, maybe I didn’t, because the guards didn’t come flooding in.
“It’s okay,” he said reassuringly, “It’s just our time to part ways. I’ll always be with you in one form or another my love.”
Those are the last words I actually remember him saying. He didn’t go right there and then, we went to bed together, I won’t go in to details of that, but when I awoke he was gone.
The news channels and the blogs skirted a potential scandal, but somehow they couldn’t seem to get to grips with the story, and it faded away. The world sort of forgot my William.
I continued onto a third term, and when the time was right I retired from politics, to a quiet life here in Brighton. I come out of the quiet life on occasion to guide the administrations that have come and gone, but mostly I just chill, as the kids in my day would have said, the calmness William brought me is still with me today. I’d like to think it’s because he’s still around, unseen and unknowing, but always there.
I wonder sometimes, if there are others like William, out there guiding others like me to glorious and meaningful purpose. I hope so – the world always needs a push in the right direction, me and William just gave it a longer push than it was used to.