I sat in my office, starring blankly at the glowing computer screen. It was the only source of light, as I liked to work with the overhead turned off, and everybody else had left for the day, so nothing shone through the door cracks. For the past few months I had been writing very decent articles, but now winter was coming to a close and spring was starting up and I was out of ideas. Spring always made me stop thinking, it seemed, and not just because I was desperate for somebody to love, or because it always reminded me of how Winter and I weren’t together anymore, but because I was allergic to it. The season in general, I mean. The doctors could never find out what exactly caused the allergies, but every spring I would have a stuffy nose, and red, watery eyes. Not to mention that the hectic reencounter with Len and Winter, and the odd meeting with Bunni had all settled down now, and so I was going at a pretty steady pace in life. It was fairly good; let’s make no mistake about that. I was feeling better than I have in years, but it had also seemed to lose some of its excitement and spontaneity. Then again, it was during the cold months when nobody really wanted to go outside and do anything, so it would probably pick up come summer.
Still, that left me needing articles now, of which I had none. I began typing about how I had no articles, and came up with the paragraph you should have just read. It looked to me that I could rather use it in my book than for The Look. That’s the name of the local paper I was working for, by the way. I decided that maybe I should write an article about local politics and set to work. Everybody knew the mayor was crazy anyway, and if just one good person ran against him, he would be sure to lose the election. I felt this was a very good defining article that expressed my opinions and could spark decent discussion about what was going on in this city. My editor, apparently, felt differently and I was immediately fired. I said goodbye to Duncan O’Duncan, as he expressed sympathies for me and explained how the mayor was actually having an affair with Miss Habendash. I told him I wish I’d known that sooner, because it certainly would have made for a great article and he laughed and said maybe we could get lunch some time or something. He offered me his phone number, and I took it, but told him that I hadn’t paid phone bills for a while, since I hadn’t needed to talk to a publisher, so it might not be of that much use.
As I stepped out of the building, and into the cold, harsh wind of the afternoon, I felt somewhat relived. All that working for a deadline and space restriction had been okay for a while, but not something I could keep doing for the rest of my life. It just wasn’t me. I decided to go to a nearby internet café and use on of their computer terminals to work on various things that I kept on my person, in the form of floppy diskettes, at all times. As I made my way over there I noticed just how many different people there were in this city. People with harsh features and a few broken teeth, to people whom almost seemed to radiate light, in appearance. And I’m sure the spectrum of beauty was over laced with the spectrum of good deeds. They crossed each other in a dimension that was neither second nor third, having people from all walks of both spectrums combine with the other. What I’m saying, if you do not understand, is that people who looked wonderful on the outside could be horrible people inside, and visa versa. You can’t judge a book by its cover and all that.
When I got to the café, however, I found that they had just gone out of business, so I shrugged my shoulders and went to the bus stop. I mean, if they’re closed, where else did I really have to go but home? I stood there in the cold, since the booth was full, and waited. Buses came every fifteen minutes, so I wouldn’t have to wait any longer than that. After approximately fourteen minutes, the appropriate bus showed up, and as I was climbing aboard I realized that it was the second of the month. That means that I should have a gotten a new bus pass, but I hadn’t. The bus driver, whom I’d seen before, was an intolerable hard ass, and would not let me use my pass even though I swore it was just to get home and I would pick up a new one tomorrow. I was forced to fork over the two dollars for admission onto the bus, and took a seat next to an obese lady and a man who smelt rather terrible. Some teenage girls got on at the next stop and stood directly in front of me, since all the other seats had been taken. They incisively chattered on about whatever it is teenage girls talk about and broke into giggles every so often. I was sitting there praying that the next stop would be theirs when the bus skidded on some ice around the corner, which caused one of the girls to fall right into my lap. I’m sure most men would be grateful if a cute teenage girl fell into his lap, but I was just sort of irritated. I helped the girl back up, and by that I mean tried to get her off of me as soon as possible, as she tried to apologize. We stopped and finally a space opened up so the girls could sit far away from me. I could still hear them of course, and the one girl who hadn’t fell was telling the other girl how she should, like, totally ask me out, because I was such a cutie like that guy she saw in that music video or whatever. I laid my head back and hoped the bus would skid into a semi-truck next time, killing me instantly.
At last my stop came, and as I went to leave I could see the two girls waving at me. I gave an uninterested wave back, and heard a thrall of giggles as I finally got out of that horrible hell pit. I entered the lobby of my apartment complex, when suddenly that damn cat flew out of nowhere and sunk it’s claws into my chest. This, of course, caused me to let out a yelp, and I promptly threw the cat out the front door. Hopefully it would stay out for good this time. That’s when a dog came running at me, barking furiously. I cringed in preparation for the oncoming attack, but that didn’t come. Instead a man walked out, the caretaker of the place, and said he had gotten this dog to scare off all the stray cats that kept stopping by here. I guessed that means the cat I had been hating all these years were a bunch of different cats, and now that I think about it, they never did look the same anyhow. That’s what I get for not paying attention. That and an eviction notice for not paying my rent on time.
Oh don’t worry about that. I had the money. I just forgot it was due. Of course it would be a large lump of my final paycheck, which kind of sucked, but oh well. I had to live somewhere, and I certainly wasn’t about to throw in with Len. Not only was his place basically one tiny room, but I heard that him and Bunni were at it like, well, like bunnies. I’d just go without eating for a bit. Heck, maybe I could slim down. Then again, if you just don’t eat to get slim it’s way worse than eating a lot, but exercising. Literal shape does not tell a person how fit and healthy they are, although people tend to assume it does.
I wasn’t the best of spirits so I figured I might as well have a nice hot shower. Of course as soon as I thought this I was summoned to the john to take a shit. Which I did, and it really felt quite nice. What didn’t feel nice was not having any toilet paper and being forced to use the roll to wipe. I figured though that it was clean enough and since I was going in the shower anyhow, it wouldn’t matter. I turned on the water, warm but not too hot, and jumped in. The water rushed over my body, covering me in a blanket of soothing relaxation. The droplets felt like tiny fingers giving me a lovely massage as they went to their watery grave in the drain. It was just wonderful until I remembered that I was out of soap and shampoo again. Well that was okay, I thought, I think I will just dry off, put some underwear and a shirt, and then climb into bed. And I would have too, had not a car skidded out on some ice and crashed into another car, right outside my window. It didn’t cause very much damage, but the guy in the other vehicle got out and started looking around. He seemed like a pretty large man, the kind who could tear your head off with his bare hands, and when he looked to my window I filled with dread. It seemed almost as though he was looking right at me, which he might have been, so I pretended that I was doing something and hadn’t noticed, then I heard him speed off.
That’s when I heard the phone ring. This was odd because I thought I wasn’t allowed to receive calls but I guess I was proven wrong or something. I did really want to just curl up in bed, but I couldn’t let it keep on going, especially since it rang six times already and didn’t look like it was going to let up. I picked up the phone and heard Len’s voice from the other side only it didn’t sound happy. It sounded like something bad was happening. He told me I had to get over there quick, and hung up the phone. I didn’t really want to but, your best friend calls you and tells you something like that, well you sort of have to go. Since I wasn’t a driver, as I’ve probably mentioned, I had to hop on the bus. Now riding the bus was usually a relaxing time for me. Nobody really talks, and if they do they usually don’t notice you, except for earlier this morning, but let’s not get into that. The bus, however, was surprisingly empty except for some sort of teenage goth fellow, and another kid with a big afro. I sat in the back to allow quicker access to seats for anybody else who wanted to ride the bus. This was not a good idea. I should have sat up front and minded my own business. Well, I did mind my business but the young hoodlums at the next stop seemed to not care about that. They came on the bus dressed in their wigger threads, trying to show boat their way down the aisle and into seats surprisingly close to mine. They started talking, and I could hear them call somebody a loser. When he said both of them, I knew I was included since the boy with the afro was sitting too far away to be caught in their range of vision. Having a low brow will do that to you. I basically just ignored it, until one of them tapped me on the shoulder and asked me where I got my jacket. I told them I found it and he bragged a bit about how his cost him money. Now I probably shouldn’t have, but I really just had to say that I must have gotten the better deal then. Then he went into something about shoes and stuff, I wasn’t really paying attention. One of his lackeys made a snide comment about how it wasn’t the 70’s but I was under the impression that shaggy hair was back in style, not that it ever mattered to me. I think there was some talk about my scarf too, although I don’t see why since it was still winter, and people just wore scarves in winter. Finally, the leader called me a mauler or a maller or something. I have no idea what that means, and when I told him I wasn’t hip with the lingo the kids were using these days he proceeded to take offence. He went on with this rant about how he was not a kid and how I was both a fucker, and a goof, and how I had better not talk shit anymore or I might find myself in trouble. At which point he said that okay, he was a kid, and I should shut the fuck up. I suggested that if he didn’t want to be a kid, maybe he could be the one to shut the fuck up. Then I thought to myself that he was right and I should shut the fuck up because I was being and idiot, and I really didn’t need to get in a fight today. I’m not especially strong, you see, and truth be told I always pull my punches. I don’t know how to hit without pulling punches. I remember, in gym way back when, we were suppose to punch a boxing bag and even then I would pull every single punch, so I thought fighting would not be a good idea. Which is why I told the boys that my stop was the next one, and after they had gotten off, I stayed on, and told the bus driver to hurry up and clothes the doors. The goth kid had left by now, but the fellow with the afro was rather supportive of my decision. He told me to not even sweat it, and that those guys were probably all talk anyways. I told them I would have been glad to fight them if I was a bit tougher, and we had a good laugh. He got out at the next stop. After that it was pretty smooth sailing until I got to the stop near the subway station. After a transfer to the subway, on which nothing of note happened, I got off at my stop and rounded the corner to Len’s. That’s when I saw what he had wanted me there for.