An Architect’s Dream (excerpt)

Cut to a park bench. Early afternoon, December, the oak branches are bare and gnarled as ancient fingers and the sky is the color of mummy skin. Our hero is sitting on the weathered wooden bench, watching pigeons scrounge for crumbs in the pavement cracks. A young woman pushes a baby carriage past him, avoiding eye contact. He feels her thoughts. He has a beard and long tangled hair. If he were clean-cut, she may have smiled.

A gunshot shatters the quiet of the park and shouts immediately follow. Two men stomp full-bore in the direction of the bench, toward the woman and her baby and her fear. Our hero stands. He sees one of the men has a gun in his hand. The other man runs with a purse swinging from one hand. They are close, their footfalls creating a thuggish drum-roll between his ears, close enough that the woman is pushing the baby carriage at a crazy pace down the concrete footpath. Pigeons scatter as the heavy boots move through their concrete lunch table, and our hero jumps in front of the men, waving his arms like a lunatic. They stop. The man with the gun points it at our hero’s head.

“Wait,” Jesus says calmly, and holds out his hands. “There are only two ways out of this. You can keep running, only to be shot and killed by the police, or you can give me the gun.”

The two men face each other and smile ridiculous smiles just before the gun is fired. Luckily, the path of the bullet doesn’t travel quite where the gun had originally been aimed, and he falls only as far as his knees, a hand pressed to his shoulder as he quickly returns to his feet. The two men run past the woman huddled over-top of the baby carriage, and neither of the thieves has looked back, so neither has noticed the pursuer, the man with a brand new bullet wound, has closed to within inches.

Our hero stretches his good arm out and lunges to get hold of a collar. The man with the gun crumples backward, his head smacking the pavement with enough force to knock him unconscious. His accomplice turns to see the ragged man with a bloody shoulder stand with the gun in his hand. The thief drops the purse, the contents scattering everywhere, and turns again to run. Sirens blare on the street bordering the park, then police shouting commands.

Jesus sits next to the unconscious man with his legs crossed, removes the clip from the gun and places the two pieces on the pavement.

“Freeze!” Two officers are running toward him. He raises his hands to show them he is unarmed and cooperative. Their guns are drawn, both barrels pointed at his vitals.

“Down on the ground, hands behind your head!”

He tries to comply, but the pain in his shoulder has sharpened and he can hardly move his right arm. The police don’t seem to hear him when he tells them he has been shot. His bad arm is jerked back to meet the good one and cuffs are tightened around his wrists. He remains silent through the pain, knowing that if he complains the situation will only worsen. Never underestimate the lengths that men in positions of power or authority will go to in order to prove their strength. It is better for him to quietly endure, and hope they notice the blood on their hands when they push him into the backseat of the squad car.

“Jesus,” one of the cops finally says, eyeing the blood on the pavement. “This guy’s bleeding pretty good.” The other cop jabs our hero in the chest and tells him to look him in the eye. They stare at each other long enough for the cop to see that the man before him should not be handcuffed. He unlocks his wrists, tells our hero to sit, then radios for an ambulance.


G stands up from his director’s chair and walks over to his lead actor.

“Great job, Will.”

The actor doesn’t respond. G has forgotten the extent of Will’s dedication to method acting. He won’t answer to his real name until the final day of filming. When not in character his name is Will Chase, but he is still in character. So G has to act along with him if there is to be any chance of a dialogue.

“I mean, Jesus, I never doubted you for a second. You really made me believe.”

The actor allows a mild hint of a smile to emerge. “I am not here to make you believe. I’m here only to help you to see.”

G smiles, thinking that his actor is either the true genius of the medium for his generation, a theatrical prodigy, or the craziest madman outside of an asylum he has ever known. Filming is done for the day. G watches Will walk away with a slow stride. His head is slightly bowed, his hands deep in his pockets. He has not changed from his bloody coat. He descends the steps for the subway.

(An excerpt from an old novel idea–An Architect’s Dream)


About Jason Allen

Jason is currently living in upstate New York and pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Binghamton University, where he is an editor for Harpur Palate. His work has been published or is forthcoming in: Passages North, Paterson Literary Review, Contemporary American Voices, Cream City Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Oregon Literary Review, Spilt Infinitive, and other venues. He hopes to one day meet Tom Waits and buy him a cup of coffee.
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