They say that an author's first stories are their most raw.  Here is a collection of S.W. Campbell's first short stories and writings.  Combining both published and unpublished work, An Unsated Thirst explores victory and defeat, triumph and shame, and an unflinching view of our naked selves.  How ones views such stories is dependent upon the mood of the reader.  Whether we are at our highs or at our lows.  However, it is hard for any of us to claim that such stories are ones that we cannot identify with.  Contained within these pages are parts of our lives which we try to forget, though they are an important part of what makes us whole.  Such stories should be embraced, accepted within ourselves so we can better accept them within others.

An Unsated Thirst Cover.jpg

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An Awkward Black History Month

It had been a fun evening, but as they all do, it had come to an end and it was time to return home.  As I walked through the underground parking garage a wave of contentment carried my tired body and mind forward.  Good friends, excellent conversation, and three pina coladas were soon to give way to my nice warm bed. I smiled to myself as I thought of my peaceful safe haven just fifteen minutes away.  

Each footstep echoed through the confines of the garage, bouncing off of the low ceiling covered in pipes and signs warning about the low ceiling and pipes.  The garage was quiet, no other soul but myself in sight. The rows of parked cars, endless upon my arrival, now had their numbers cut in half. Some of the cars, like mine, had yet to be claimed by people heading home that night.  Others would be left to slumber in the world of concrete, their owners unable to reclaim them until the morning sun brought clarity of thoughts and actions.

My feet carried me past car after car, different makes and models, varying colors.  Their backs all gleaming beneath bright fluorescent light. Their fronts hidden in shadows and darkness.  Up ahead I could see my own gallant steed, a bright blue Ford Focus. Not a pretty steed, but reliable. One that would soon be carrying me home to a world of dreams.   

The click of a car door opening was like thunder through the silent garage.  My car's dome light turned on, a lighthouse beacon across a concrete sea. This was a problem.  I heard these sounds and saw that light while still being twenty yards from my car. The shadowy figure moving between my car and the one next to it was not me.

I have often thought to myself what I would do in these situations.  While sitting around bored my brain would often concoct complicated scenarios and the appropriate actions to take if I ever found myself in them.  A thief is robbing your car in a deserted parking garage. Walk calmly by and pretend you don't notice them. Pretend that your car is farther down the line.  Pretend that the nice man totally has some kind of legitimate reason for breaking into what is obviously his own car. Once out of sight call the police. This is why you pay a hefty premium every six months for car insurance.  There is no logical reason to take any other course of action.

Of course, in the real moment, I do none of these things.  No, instead my blood heats up and my fists clench. My brain forgets logic is a thing.  Instead it shoots straight to no rotten mother fucker is going to rob my car mode.  Never mind that there is nothing of value in my car, that the most a thief will get is my stock radio and a used ice scraper with brush attachment.  No, my brain skips past all of these rational thoughts and goes straight to you’re going down mother fucker.  My body puffs up like a cobra, trying to make itself as intimidating as possible.  My footsteps quicken as I break into a fast walk to cover the distance.

Now many people will probably think this about the stupidest possible way to react to catching somebody breaking into your car, and they are absolutely right.  However, even in my idiocy not all logic and reason abandoned me that night. As my feet ate up the distance between me and my car a very simple, primal, and stupid plan formed in my head.  Confront the robber and scare the shit out of him. If he has a knife, gun, or is even just a big mother fucker, run like hell. Again, a very stupid plan, but I was a little caught up in the moment.

I round the car next to mine.  The thief is bent over next to the open driver side door, his head and shoulders inside, rustling around.  My voice booms across the garage with authority.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?!"  

The would be thief pulls his head out of the car and looks up at me, his eyes filled with shock and surprise.  His back begins to straighten. Everything begins to move in slow motion.

My eyes and mind work in conjunction, quickly taking in every detail of the suddenly slowed down scene.  The thief is a black man in his mid-twenties, he’s of average height with a slight build. He’s wearing a striped polo shirt tucked into a pair of dockers, both one size too big for him.  He has a large afro and a neatly trimmed goatee. I can see both his hands. Both are empty. No place to conceal a weapon. That’s good. His eyes are filled with surprise and a trace of fear, caught in the act.  The car is unharmed, no broken windows, no obvious signs of forced entry. Fluorescent light reflects off the car's blue paint and custom rims.

My brain, moving at top speed, suddenly hits the brakes.  Custom rims? Who the hell puts custom rims on a 2006 Ford Focus?  My mind desperately tries to jerk me into another gear, forgetting to use the clutch in its hurry to catch the rest of me up with the situation.  My car does not have custom rims. I am not standing next to my car. This confused looking man is not robbing my car. This......oh shit. My head turns and I see a second blue Ford Focus parked six spaces down.  I look again at the poor shocked motorist before me. My body deflates. My face turns red with embarrassment. My eyes fall to the floor in shame. My mouth stammers, its boom gone.

“I'm...I'm so sorry, I thought this was my car.”  

The man gives me a look which conveys his thoughts of what the hell man.  A look that quickly turns to one of sour reproach and disgust at the ways of the world and how a nice young man can't even get out of his car without some crazy white guy assuming he's robbing it.  In my head I desperately try to come up with some way to convey the fullness of my regret for the mistake. Some way to convey that I'm not a racist bastard and that this terrible mistake has nothing to do with the color of his skin.  My brain fails miserably, so instead I turn and walk away very quickly.