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Routine

27 Mar

I wake up in a sweat and out of breath. A loud boom takes me from my sleep. Sitting up in my bed, it takes me a few minutes to shake a sense of fear and anxiousness as I sort through the rude awakening. I glance over to my alarm clock, it is six in the morning and I have three hours before I have to leave for work. The thought of work begins to calm me from whatever nightmare has me out of breath.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate my mediocre job as much as the next guy. However, I enjoy knowing what I’m doing every day. I am an office worker, running numbers and going over documents at town hall. It is boring and tedious work, but it’s work and it’s stable.

Finally, I roll out of bed and stretch out my legs. Living in a small home by myself is right up my alley. It is a one bedroom, bath, and floor home. Sometimes I watch TV from the kitchen; the living room is barely a separate room. A hallway leads down to my bedroom with the bathroom mirroring it. I traverse this hall now, on my way to pour myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Still weary, I pour the cereal and milk into a semi-clean bowl and make my way to my recliner in the living room.

I turn the TV on and flip to ESPN. I’ve got to get my sports news before everyone at work starts talking about the things I’m unaware of. I don’t even care that much about sports. Sportscenter is on, just like every morning. The anchorman is new today. He is odd looking with his long ragged beard and hair. Not something you see on a polished TV program. I hate this show.

Of course, as a guy who enjoys just fitting in, I have grown mildly interested in sports. However, my favorite teams always seem to lose. Everyone at work is big on the Red Sox, who have been successful of late. I moved around as a kid, so I never really picked a favorite team based on region but by name, jersey, and logos. So, I root for the Florida Marlins. I like blue, in retrospect I wish I picked “my” team based on winning history rather than the colors they wear. I get ragged on all the time about how terrible they are. I tried to change once, but I just got called a bandwagoner and got ridiculed more. I hate my co-workers.

I glance at the newsfeed on the left. Next up, the good people at ESPN are going to talk about last night’s game between the Red Sox and “my” Marlins. I usually watch the games when I get home from work. I have little else to do. Last night something kept me from the game. I don’t recall exactly what though.

“And so, the Marlins capture an upset victory over the Sox,” the odd anchorman said. I barely believe his words. Most Marlins fans probably love this win. I, however, will get the hate for the Marlins channeled to me from my co-worker Sox fans. It happens to Arty all the time as a Yankees fan.

I turn off the TV and head back down the hall to get ready for work. A quick shower refreshes me. I’m not dreading the hate to come my way as much as I originally thought. I step outside to a beautiful sunny day. It had been a rainy April thus far, so it is a nice change. I get into my car and turn the key. To my surprise, it starts right up. I own a 1990 Chevy pickup; it never just starts right up.

I begin my short drive to work. I live in a small town in northern New Hampshire. The town is literally in the middle of nowhere. I like it because there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, which means there’s nothing to shake me from my day to day activities. Today, however, I enjoy it for its invigorating atmosphere. I never really noticed how spiriting it is driving around the small homely town before.

Pulling into work I begin to brace myself. The onslaught of bitter Sox fans awaits me, but I decide that I would meet it with a smile. Stepping out of my car I am greeted by my boss. My first thought was, Oh Christ. My boss is my least favorite human being. He is an absolute dick to everyone in the office and does it with a smile. I hate my boss.

He calls out my name and walks over, that damnable smile on his face. “Rusty, How was your weekend?”

“It was fine sir.” I try to keep interactions short with him.

“Listen, I think you have been working hard lately. It is about time I up your pay I little, what do you think?” I am shocked, mostly because I haven’t worked any harder than I ever had in my 10 years at this job.

“Um… Thank you sir.” My boss tells me to enjoy my day as he walks away with a wave, meeting up with some man I‘ve never seen before. Or have I? His beard looks oddly familiar. He shoots me a wink as he and my boss walk into the building. It was strange if nothing else.

I make my way into the building and walk into the break room. Derek is there, the biggest sports fan in the office. I brace myself for the hate that stems from a Sox loss. It comes, but not in the way I expect. Derek is an ass, but right now, he seems almost happy for me that the Marlins had won.

“Rusty! Man, the Marlins won!” He hooks his arm around me in what I assume is a brotherly nature.

“Yea, I heard.”

“Arnt you psyched man? I would be psyched! I mean, it sucks that the Sox lost. They totally should have won.”

“Totally.”

“But hey man, good for you anyway.”

Usually, Derek would say something to this effect: “Fuck you Rusty! Those wannabe major leaguer Marlins don’t deserve to fucking win a hot dog at Fenway let alone a game. You should be fucking ashamed you dick.” Hell, I’ll take what I got.

As I’m leaving the break room I run into Dave turning the corner. I love Dave, and by this I mean he keeps to himself and doesn’t talk to anyone. Qualities I adore in a co-worker, at least considering what I currently deal with. After our collision, I give my apologies and Dave continues along. I expect as much, but then again it has been an odd day.

I sit down in my cubicle and stare at my computer screen. I zone out; I usually do this when I get to work, mostly because I know I’d rather not be where I am. Today, however, I sit now in bliss. This must be how monks feel when they find their center meditating. At this point, I figure I’ll focus on my breathing. Why not give meditating a shot?

Here I sit in my cubicle, surrounded by blank walls and a plethora of documents. I realize something now, though. While all this good keeps occurring today, deep down it kind of bothers me. I am a man who likes his routines; I like the day to be predictable. Today seems to be the exact opposite. People are unexpectedly nice. Things are unexpectedly going my way. While initially this was nice, I don’t know what to expect next. This makes me nervous, anxious, and almost scared as to what will happen. I want to know what will happen next, the thought of not knowing irks me.

It is time I get some air and calm myself. This shit should not be bothering me. The fact that it is bothering me bothers me. Walking down the skinny path between cubicles I come by a piece of paper on the ground. It had Dave’s name on it; he must have dropped it when I bumped into him. It was just a document, you would find something similar on my desk. I suppose I’ll return it.

At his cubicle I find he is gone. I ask the guys around him; they inform me a little too cheerily that he went home early. After informing them I had found one of his documents they tell me it must be important. It probably isn’t important, but one offers to drive me to Dave’s house to return it to him. He offers so kindly it took me off guard, I accept without even thinking about it. Before I knew it, I’m in this man’s car thinking, what the fuck am I doing here?

The ride over is unnerving. I barley know this guy, but he was so incredibly friendly. You’d think we have been friends for years. He keeps this wide smile on his face the entire time. He must see my uneasiness on my face as he says, “Don’t worry, I let the boss know where we went.” That damn smile seems to be sustained as he talks.

“Oh… um, great.” It is so self deprecating to hate a man who is only nice to you. I enjoy hating people, so I prefer they act accordingly.

We arrive at Dave’s and my ride informs me that he will wait outside for me to return. I walk up to the stoop and notice how similar his house is to mine. I knock on the door and he answers it immediately. Covered in stubble, he looks generally unclean. I hand him the paper and tell him I found it on the ground.

“Why did you come to my house to bring it to me?”

I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why I accepted the ride here. I shrug at him and his frown gets bigger. He takes the document from my hand and slams the door in my face.

Back in the car my driver says, “Jeez, some people are just rude.” He was right of course; it was downright rude of him the way he acted towards me. I find it refreshing though. Everyone is too damn nice today. Even though I usually love Dave, I hate him right now. I hate him because he is a dick today. For that though, I love him.

Weeks continue to go by, and everything keeps going my way. Everything keeps changing with these strange occurrences. My co-workers are nice to me, and in effect I can no longer justly hate them. I hate that I can’t hate them. My boss keeps giving me promotions, and it seems like every other day I have a new job, doing something different within the office. Too bad there are only cubicles at town hall. It would be nice if one of these promotions would come with some kind of private quarters.

Every Friday, our asshole boss takes us out to a bar for drinks to, “celebrate a great week of work!” I like sitting at home Friday nights, actually having me time. However, here I am sitting at the bar. I am becoming more comfortable with these weekly outings because they have taken on a short of ritual. The rest of the office is drinking together as I sit and watch in the corner. I catch an odd looking man from across the way out of the corner of my eye wearing a sports coat. He smiles at me through his big beard and gives me a thumbs up right before a woman walks into my line of sight.

That woman must have thought I was looking at her. She comes up to me and asks if she can buy me a beer. She is a gorgeous thing. She has bright orange hair with blonde streaks. Her face is angular and yet contains a cute smile and big innocent green eyes. She is the perfect height in relativity to me. She is perfect for me, physically. I accept the drink on this notion.

“I’m Ginger,” she tells me.

“Rusty.”

“I don’t usually do this. I fucking hate people.” I smile at this. “What put that smirk on your face?”

“I despise people.”

“Well cheers!” We clank our glasses together and take a simultaneous swig. The beer is bittersweet. “So, you work around here?”

“Yea, I work down at town hall. It is a cesspool of assholes.” Ginger laughs. She laughs at something I tell her. I have never seen myself as comedic, merely a cynic, but she does.

“You are not alone my friend. I work for the church as an accountant. The people there are so fucking righteous it is nauseating.” It is my turn to laugh. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun talking to another person.

We are still at the bar for last call. We part ways upon this realization; it is late. She initiates a hug and we exchange contact information. I love this girl.

I get home and make my way to my room. Sitting on my bed I look at my clock. It is 2 am and I just got home. I never get home later than 11pm, and before these Friday night outings, 9pm.

The next Monday, Ginger comes into the office. She tells me she wanted to surprise me. I hate surprises. She tells me she knew just that but couldn’t resist coming anyways. Did I mention I love this girl?

We sit in my cubical and Ginger is pointing to my co-workers. We play this game, she points and I tell her all about them. Eventually she gets to Dave, and I have nothing to tell her but the story from weeks back. She tells me that he sounds like me. She is right; I would’ve done the same thing in his position. Ginger tells me that I could actually make a friend at work. I dread the thought of even more change, not only will I have to hang out with Ginger, but Dave too? It would disrupt my work routine. Ginger lets me know that she hates her co-workers and she is all the happier for it. I love this girl.

The next day I run into Dave, again. For whatever reason, I act on the impulse that we could be friends. I hate myself for doing this, but I offer him help and ask him to go out for a beer. He looks reluctant so I tell him that we can talk shit about our co-workers. He accepts at that notion. Throughout the work day I regret this act; I really don’t want to go out tonight.

I give Dave a ride to the bar. He doesn’t thank me, and I love it. I hear the word too damn much of late.

I motion to the barkeep with the sports coat to get us two beers. It takes me three or four attempts before the idle beard laden barkeep takes heed to my request with a wink. “Fucking dick,” I say under my breath.

“Really is, what a mess of a man too.” Dave commented on the odd barkeep.

“Yea, I feel like I’ve seen him before though,” I say, “probably ignored me the last time I wanted a drink.”

“Fucking Lucy in accounting is just as bad. I have to ask one hundred times before she gives me the numbers I need.” Dave says, looking down at the counter.

“Yea man, she ignores me every time I need something. Bitch, I have shit to do too.”

Dave looks up at this and cracks a smile. “She is fucking Derek.” I start laughing into my drink, spilling it over myself. While I clean up Dave continues. “Yea, they go into the printing room and put the maintenance sign on the door and lock it.”

“Motherfuckers. They must be in there every god damn time I need to print documents.”

“Yep, motherfuckers. Have you noticed how much nicer they all have been?” Dave asks me. The look on his face tells me he needs me to know what he is talking about.

“Yea, they turned into angels or something. It makes me hate them so much more.”

“And yet you gotta hate yourself for hating them for being nice. It only makes me hate them more.” It is like Dave is voicing my own thoughts. We laugh at each other’s cynicism and how we hate all the same things, especially at work. We both look at our watches to find that is 12am. In unison, we say, “Fuck! I should’ve been home hours ago.” We share a chuckle and I drive him home.

More weeks go by. Ginger wants to move in, and despite the fact I love to live alone, eventually she does. Dave and I become good friends, but we almost resent each other for it. My life literally has been turning upside down over the past two months. So much so, Ginger starts to notice that I’m losing my mind.

“You should see a shrink,” she tells me one night. She knows I don’t trust them, she said so right afterwards. She doesn’t trust them either. According to her, something has to been done before I lose all my sanity. She suggests I go to church and pray with “those fuckers I have the privilege to work with.” For whatever reason, I do it despite her sarcasm.

The drive to the town church is the exact route I take to work; they are right next to each other. It is somewhat relaxing making a routine drive. I get to the old church and push open the large doors that bear down upon me. The detailed etchings in the door of Jesus Christ are staring down at me as if to tell me that he carried the cross for miles, moving these massive doors ajar shouldn’t be too difficult. I grasp the rusted metal latches and push the heavy door open just enough to enter the old stone church. The rows of pews lead up to the altar, unremarkable leading to extravagant. The altar was a marble platform and stair with silver railings leading to the top where a golden and wooden podium stood high in the large room. Above, angels frolic amongst the clouds in a painting that covers the entire ceiling. The place makes me feel warm inside, like nothing bad can ever happen. That irks me to no belief.

As I glance around, I see Dave sitting in the first row. I get closer and slowly notice that he is praying. He hears me coming and opens his eyes to greet me. Taking a seat next to him, I ask why he is here.

“Because,” he says, as he begins to sob, “I killed you.”

“What are you talking about? I’m right here dumbass.”

“I know! Back in April, I got fed up with all the people at that infernal office so I decided to shoot every last motherfucker. I did it man! But when I shot you, well…”

“Well?” Apparently we are both losing our minds.

“Well I don’t remember what happened next. There is like a big void, like the memory was there but now it’s gone. The next thing I remember is waking up the next day as if none of it happened!”

I don’t believe what he is telling me. Standing now, I begin to back away slowly. He seems so adamant that he has killed me I feel as if he might try again.

“Tell me, why do you think all this good stuff is happening to you?” Dave asks me. I am perplexed by the question. He noticed too? Right then a man walks into the church, making a rather loud entrance. He must want our attention. He is a short man with long ragged hair and beard wearing a sports coat. I know I have seen him before. He gives me a wink and I know. He was the anchor for ESPN the day the Marlins beat the Sox. He was the man my Boss talked to after giving me my first raise. He was the man in the bar the day I met Ginger. He was the barkeep the day Dave and I became friends. “Do you know that guy?” Dave asks of me.

“I… I think I do…”

He walks right up to me and says, “Hello Rusty, it seems as if this paradise doesn’t suit you as well as I hoped.” After he spoke, a flash emanates from him and I am surrounded by white emptiness. It seems like an eternity is going by until. BANG.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I wake up in a sweat and out of breath. A loud boom takes me from my sleep. Sitting up in my bed, it takes me a few minutes to shake a sense of fear and anxiousness as I sort through the rude awakening. I glance over to my alarm clock, it is six in the morning and I have three hours before I have to leave for work. The thought of work begins to calm me from whatever nightmare has me out of breath.

I begin my short drive to work. I never really noticed how spiriting it is driving around this small homely town before.

Pulling into work I begin to brace myself. I make my way into the building and walk into the break room. Derek is there, the biggest ass in the office. I brace myself for the hate that stems from a Sox loss. It came, exactly as I expected. Derek is an ass; he expresses his unhappiness for the Sox loss and then some.

“Fuck you Rusty! Those wannabe major leaguer Marlins don’t deserve to fucking win a hot dog at Fenway let alone a game. You should be fucking ashamed you dick.”

As I’m leaving the break room I look around the office. I don’t see Dave. I turn back into the break room and ask Derek if he has seen him.

“The dick moved.”

I turn back to the office and continue looking around until I spot an odd man across the way. I can barely see his smile through his long ragged beard. He shoots me a wink and gives me a thumbs up. I can’t help but think who the fuck is that?

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Fiction, Short Story

 

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