I think I’m becoming an adult

I believe it started with my priorities. Before, my priorities were to get through the work day as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Then, I had all that free time after work to go ahead and get messed up on alcohol and weed while playing video games until I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I would pass out. That was fun, or so I thought.

Now I find myself with all these new (desired) priorities and habits. I find myself playing video games less and less, and on  the times that I do – my attention wanes quickly. I still get excited for new and upcoming games, not as much so, but it’s almost as if I enjoy reading about and watching games more than actually playing them.

I also find myself not running away at that mere hint of the word “responsibility”. It was weird going through the interviews that I had when I first arrived to Seattle. I made it a point of emphasis that I wanted “responsibility” and that I was seeking the opportunity for advancement. Where this came from? I have no idea. But it wasn’t just interview speak, it was something that I felt.

I’ve long suffered depression and anxiety and lowered self worth, and I think one of the reasons could be because I never had faith in myself to BE responsible and to get my priorities straight. And now I find that the more I come around and steer towards these goals, the more my self worth is creeping towards ideal levels.

I find myself wanting to structure my life. I have several goals for myself this week, including building a personal budget and setting up a weekly planner to help keep track of what I want to accomplish for the week. I’m not content to sit around and piss away hours on the internet anymore. I’ve found that if I’m going to read, I’m wanting it to be a book, and not some “Top 10 lists of hilarity found on the internet between the hours of 2-4 pm on this day” or whatever. Those lists are usually too specific, and the hilarity is way overstated. And what do I get out of them? I usually forget every single thing that I read the moment I hit that little Red x.

So I find myself wanting to read, and exercise, and meditate, and accomplish things. I find myself cleaning more, and not just to put on airs for my girlfriend and her family (whom I’m staying with). But for myself. I find myself wanting to cut back on habits I know are bad for me. I find myself, becoming more and more….responsible.

Like, for instance – I recently spent time in NYC with my brother and his beautiful (now!) fiance. And I’ll admit, I was a bit jealous. While their schedules were pretty hectic and the stress resultant wasn’t necessarily the thing that I wanted, I found myself appreciating that they were pursuing their interests. They had a wonderful apartment in a fantastic neighborhood and great friends and all these places they were regulars of that they loved and…. And I want that kind of lifestyle.

I want to quit blowing off work and working for the weekend, when all I do on the weekend is fuck off. I find myself wanting to spend time writing more, something that scares the shit out of me (which makes me know I need to do it more). I want to read more.

I don’t even fall into the old habits as quickly as I used to. During said visit to NYC, I was at the party where all the friends showed up to celebrate the engagement. Normally, in a situation such as this where I know practically no one, I would turn to alcohol early and often and hide in the corner, until I felt sociable. This would usually be after one too many drinks, and I would stumble and slur and make a fool of myself, causing me to keep drinking to chase the shame away. Not ideal.

This time, however, I sipped on a few beers and even went empty handed at moments (something I wouldn’t dare to do in the past) and made sure to go up to people and make small talk. Some of the conversations weren’t earth shattering, of course, but practice makes perfect and that’s something that I can be proud of. My brother even commented on the fact that I seemed so “laid back” when it came to that evening. He’s seen me when I’ve had too many, and we both know it ain’t pretty. I seemed to have ditched the crutch and started relying on my own muscles to get me moving.

And that seems to be the case for a lot of things in my life. I’m wanting to kick away my safety nets and try living, truly living, for the first time in, I don’t know, ever? I find myself wanting to quit caffeine because I know it exacerbates anxiety. I find myself wanting to get myself out there and throw myself into uncomfortable situations, simply because I know that it’s impossible to know how I’ll handle them until I actually do it!

All these changes, and they haven’t necessarily been at the forefront of my mind. They’ve just gradually happened. I’m staying with my girlfriend’s family, and they have a son (Also named Joe, go figure) who reminds me so much of me from a couple of years ago. Always wanting to get high, to go drinking, to fuck around with his friends, to skirt his responsibilities, getting into arguments with his parents, coming up short at his job and currently jobless….

Reminds me so much of me. And I can’t help but shake my head and be thankful that not only am I NOT that kind of person anymore, I don’t want to be that kind of person anymore. And I think, is that what it feels like to become an adult? It doesn’t happen with a bang, like a balloon popping. It happens slowly, over time, like a bucket left out in the rain, slowly gathering what life has to offer. I think I’m finally going to use that bucket to water some of these new seeds that I’ve gathered in my last couple of years. Feels good.

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Moving is interesting. It’s like hitting a reset button. Here you have your established life, friends, habits, hobbies, and you leave them all behind to carve out a new chunk of personal experience.

I left my hometown about four months ago. I felt like I had reached the extent of what opportunities I had there. I commonly blamed my (perceived) lack of “success” on the town. This was an easy cop out, as the things I want to achieve can be done in just about any setting. Just human nature to blame where you were raised as “holding you back”, I suppose.

I’ve made it to the city of Seattle, after a 3 day ferry/car trip. I’ll tell you what, there’s something insanely rewarding about sitting behind that wheel, purposefully distancing yourself from what has been, and steeling yourself for what may be. It was a fun three days. And I had actual poutine for the first time ever, Canadian style. Good stuff, and I’ll have to wag my finger at the bar in my hometown. That stuff you had there? That ain’t poutine.

I digress.

Upon arriving in Seattle, we (I made the change in location with my girlfriend) set up home base with her aunt and uncle. Great people, even if it was only for the fact that they’ve allowed us to stay rent free up to this point. Incredibly calming, knowing that you can job hunt without the fear of money tugging at your feet.

They live in a pretty nice, quiet neighborhood in the West Seattle area.  A smaller house that has been lovingly added onto, making it deceptively large on the inside. You’ve got the basement/garage/TV room, the main floor and kitchen, and the upstairs, which I currently inhabit.

The aunt is a character. She works with patients with spinal cord and other debilitating injuries. And, from what I’ve heard as she comes home through the door with a whirlwind of stress and chatter, she seems to be the only one working there. She’s a talker, and she can just go off for 15 minutes at a time, if you’ll let her (I usually start trying to inch my way to the door as she’s talking). I guess there’s been some trouble in paradise, however. Her and her husband tend to argue, and the noise often rises to levels that you can’t ignore, no matter where you are in the house or how many doors you’ve shut along the way.

I guess I shouldn’t say that her and her husband tend to argue. That statement is a little misleading. Instead, I would have to say she just looks to pick fights. Often, as soon as she walks through the door, her fists are up. It gets pretty tiring, especially since most of their fighting is done in the kitchen. It’s like, shit, can you guys hate eachother somewhere else? I’m hungry and you all are making it too awkward to go fridge diving.

I could get more into their style of argument and how it seems more that she just is holding the house hostage, but that involves too much complaining for now. Truth is, when she isn’t being hot headed, she’s pretty interesting to talk to. Very involved in advocacy for women and has an interest in technology, as she sees a lot of advancements at the medical level being used to help her clients (like externally syncing brain activity to movement for the paralyzed).

The husband is hippy dippy. That’s for sure. But he also reminds me a lot of my father. Even in just the way his voice will boom into your ears at the start of a sentence, only to fall off into less audible levels at the end. A sing song quality, but with a deep, gravely voice. He’s interesting to talk to as well, and I’ve quite enjoyed grilling him on the history of Seattle and his experiences with the different sports teams in the area. I feel bad for him sometimes, as he is usually the recipient of his wife’s rage, often undeservedly so.

He takes it in stride though, and I think that’s due to his experience as a therapist for war veterans. He’s probably used to unbridled and oddly focused rage. Besides, his wife probably just uses her angry rants as a coping mechanism for the stresses of work. Not ideal, but if that’s the way they do it, then who am I to pooh pooh their methods?

They have their kid living with them as well. And here’s another funny coincidence: he reminds me a whole lot of me when I was his age. Yes, I can fondly look back to all two years ago when I was his age…I joke, but it’s also true. Sure, he’s only a few years younger than me, but the way he acts and the mistakes he apparently has been making are classic me. Even shares the same name, so go figure. I’m lucky I’ve learned enough over these past couple of years to be able to comprehend where I’ve correctly veered on my path, compared to this fellow. Hopefully he’ll start making some better decisions.

Of course, that certainly isn’t to say I’ve got everything figured out. Far from, in fact. Like, I don’t know what I’m doing with myself at this very second. It’s a Saturday, I should be doing something, but I just don’t know what.

It’s only the second Saturday I’ve had since I started my job. And man, what a job. When I arrived to the city, I fully expected to have to slog my way through months and months of unemployment and hundreds of applications. Not exactly looking forward to this, I put off the whole process for a couple weeks while we settled in and just took it easy. Then, I got to work. Slapping out an updated resume, and applying to about 12 different jobs over the course of the week.

Here’s where I got super lucky, because I actually got called back or emailed for interviews at about four or five of these places! It was something else. Funny story about one of them. I was expecting a call back from one of the places that had called me, because we were playing phone tag at that point. I went to the bathroom, dropped myself onto the seat, and had just started relaxing the proper muscles when the phone rang. I quickly answered it, thinking that it was the place from earlier and I was just quickly going to set up an interview time. It turned out to be a different place altogether, and he asked if I was willing to interview at that very moment! Now, in retrospect, I should have said, “Sure! Let me call you back in just a minute as I’m kind of busy at the moment.” Easy, right? Instead, in my desire for occupation, I quickly said “yeah sure let’s do this!” and proceeded to have an entire phone interview while on the shitter. A first.

It went well, and I was actually extended an invitation to come in for an interview. Bam. Then, the next day, I was called and offered another interview. This one was interesting as the company wanted to interview me for a different position than the one I applied for. I took that as a sign that they saw something they liked in my application and thought it would be a good fit.

I’ll skip over the next little bit simply to say that I got job offers from my first two interviews, and ended up taking the second offer. The one that interviewed for a different position. And what a position. What a company!

I never thought that my first job in Seattle would be something that I enjoyed. I figured I would come in, start at the ground level in some terrible job that I struggled to get through, and try to work my way up from there. Instead, I came in and scored a better paying, better benefits, better atmosphere, better fitting, better everything than my last job back in my hometown. Incredible. This place is a supplier for independent grocer outlets, so it’s located on a huge, mile long complex with several warehouses. And they care about their employees, big time. The amount of kickbacks and neat little things they do is so fun, and something I still can’t get over.

I am constantly marveling at how lucky I am. So I’ve got the job situation secured. I have somewhere to kick my feet up at night. Those are the two biggest worries I, or anyone I imagine, had about moving. Next up is the wants, not needs.

And there are quite a few wants, I suppose. Now that I’ve been working for two weeks, I’m starting to feel ready to try to branch out more for extracurricular activities. Maybe meet some friends. As much as I love my girlfriend, and enjoy the company of her family, I would like some new people to hang out with.

Honestly, I’d say even more so than making friends, I want to start chasing some hobbies. I’ve been meaning to get into a rec league. Of any variety, really. Ultimate frisbee, flag football, basketball…I just want to play a sport for the fun and the exercise of it.

Speaking of exercise, I do have to mention that I got a sweet bicycle. Of course I have to be thinking about commuting by bike in SeaTown, right? I mean, only Portland seems to be more bike friendly. So yeah, after not having bike ride since I was probably in middle school, I’ve been pedaling around town like crazy. And I forgot how much fun it is. A great way to get around, and you get some exercise. Plus it’s fun to pretend to be a car.

I also want to get into a couple of meetup groups of common interests, or maybe a Toastmasters club. Maybe a writing group? Learn some piano?

This is the reason why I moved here. My options are so, so plentiful. I’m glad I’ve got time to figure all this out, though. I tend to move slowly and I’m not exactly quick to warm up to people and new experiences, so to have a job and a place to call home in the meantime has been freeing. Here’s to a continued life of self improvement.

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Ugh. Gross.

I haven’t bothered to check when I last updated. It might just deter me even more so from getting around to writing this. I’m disappointed, right now, in myself. There’s a bit more that I’ve been wanting to do and I, I haven’t done it.

It’s curious, however. I can’t seem to permanently quit this blog. I’ve propped up a blog in the past on shaky handfuls of posts, only to deteriorate over time and fall into obscurity. Yet I can’t seem to let that happen with this one. I feel drawn to keep adding on, no matter how much I’ve let myself get distracted with randomness.

My goal was to write a short story a week for 52 weeks. I haven’t done that. Not close. I have this thing where I start to feel good about something I’m doing, so I’ll run away from it, wheezing from the effort, but not slowing to turn around until I’m feeling awful about myself. I don’t get this part of me. This fear I have.

I find this fear most strikes me regarding writing. Other crap that I dabble with, I’ll forget about it, quit, and not even give a second thought. But when it comes to writing, I constantly feel awful about not doing it.

It’s got to be some sort of sign.

I like to make constant comparisons between what I’m reading and what I think of my own work. Read some Douglas Adams and whine about how I’ll never be as dry and funny as him. Read some Cormac McCarthy and lament how I’ll never have his grasp on setting and creating visceral imagery. Read my brother’s articles and sob about how I’ll never be as insightful or passionate when it comes to my own craft.

I give myself every reason to quit and never start up again. And yet, here I am, X weeks after my last post, and I’ve been miserable every day. I follow all these writing related accounts on Twitter, and they’re constantly full of quotes talking about how writers write because they don’t know anything else. That they write to live. That they write to dream. That they write because not writing would be death. And I’m slowly starting to understand.

I’ve been struggling through a bout of depression this past month or so. Nothing too major, but it’s been there. And I rationalized not writing because of this. “I’m depressed, therefore I don’t feel like writing.”

I’m looking at it wrong, however. I’m not writing, therefore I’m depressed. The more I think about it, the more I live my life and am subjected to my own thoughts and actions, the more I truly believe that writing is my purpose in life. It fits me. I enjoy it. It makes sense.

But then I push it away and try to bury myself under bad habits, mindless distractions, and poor time management, hoping that it will never find me again. But it does. Every time. And the consistency and frequency with which it finds me is increasing. I believe that it’s getting impatient. I’ve waited this long for you, Joe. But you’re seriously going to have to roll up your sleeves sometime soon.

I hear you, writing. I hear you.

I kid you not, just with these few measly words, I am feeling refreshed. A little less mucky. Writing makes me happy. It feels like I’m doing what I am supposed to. Why I continue to get in the way of my own happiness is confusing as fuck. As many books about self help and depression and anxiety and whatever the fuck the magic word is that I think I’ll need, I still am left to my own devices. And I need to be aware that I am not my best friend when it comes to personal success.

The default version of myself, the me that I become when I slap on “autopilot” and crawl into the backseat, is boring. Uninteresting, uninterested, content to skate by on the surface of life. No deep sea diving for that guy.

And that’s gross. When I am able to snap out of that frame of mind and fight my way back into the drivers seat, I am appalled by just how pointless that existence is. I don’t want it! And yet, I find myself constantly slipping back into that mode, blissfully unaware and carefree.

And that’s nasty biz.

So I need more structure in my life. I’ve started small, simply making lists at night of what I want to get accomplished the next day. I find making this lists at night preferable, as nighttime me is chock full of ideas on how to TURN THINGS AROUND OH BOY! While morning me is content to sleep until I have to work. Interesting contrast.

I’ve also vowed to start making challenges for myself. Might have been a little overly ambitious with the 52 stories in 52 weeks, but that’s okay. I forgive and accept myself for that misstep. At least it was a misstep in the right direction. So for now, I aim to give myself little weekly or even daily challenges.

For instance, this week, I challenge myself to not drink. Well, even less than a week, since I’ll be on vacation on the weekend and good luck not having a brew while out of town. But! I aim to avoid drinking until I leave town. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how many days of the week I alter my state in some capacity.

Whether it is through a few beers at night to wind down, or a bowl of weed for the same winding down purposes, I almost never go through a full day or two without imbibing some sort of substance. And that, my friends, isn’t healthy. I don’t know if it’s a reluctance to be hanging out with my sober mind, but I aim to rectify that. I don’t want to feel the need to lean on these quick and easy methods of running away from myself.

So no drinking til this weekend. Tonight, so far so good. I aim to meditate every day, preferably upon waking up. Meditating is something I enjoy and that I know is good for me, but I avoid that like crazy as well. Just like writing. Throw in exercising, and you’ve got 3 of my favorite activities (that are also CRAZY GOOD FOR ME) that I love to avoid on a routine basis. I’m not even kidding when I say how much I enjoy these activities. Even exercising. I love a good run. Yet, there I am on most days, figuring out ways to get out of doing any of them.

Why? Why do I do that? Awh well. Time to change all of that.

Change with more structure. You know, I sit here and I get down on myself (on the few instances where I actually commit to writing) about the quality of my work. It isn’t perfect, so why bother!? I find myself saying. Like the thought of having to edit a first draft of a novel seems laughable to a part of my brain, because it should be best at first.

That thinking, is of course, ludicrous.

One of my great interests is stand up comedy. I love everything about the whole deal. Their mindsets, the way they approach their craft, their commitment to the work…everything. My favorite podcasts are ones with stand up comedians talking to other comedians, because I find it all so fascinating. And one of the things you’ll always hear a comedian talk about is how terrible they were in the beginning.

They’ll mention a set they did in some story they’re telling, and they’ll preface it with “I had only been doing comedy for like four years at the time, so I was pretty awful.” Many, many comedians will be quick to say that it takes years, sometimes up to 10, before you figure it out. Before you find yourself with your feet firmly planted on the ground, knowing how to navigate the terrain.

And I have to ask myself, should I really be upset at myself for not being a perfect writer? How often have I actually done it? Can I say that I’ve even written for a year? Here are these guys who devote everything to the comedy lifestyle, and every single one of them say that you have to suck before you can become okay, be okay before you can even think about being good, etc.

And so it is. I need to hold myself to higher standards. I need to treat myself with respect through my own actions. I need to be honest with myself and realize that if this is what I gotta do, then I gotta do it.

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A loaded gun yields no handshakes.

“So, like, I should just leave now, right?”

The cashier wrinkled his brow in confusion, blinking a few times, but didn’t react otherwise. Kyle glanced down at his own feet, toed the dirt in the tile, and brought his gun hand over to scratch his nose before looking back up and repeating his inquiry.

“Like, I’m good, right? I should go. You probably want me to go.” Kyle cocked his head and waited for the answer, nodding towards the cashier.

The cashier fidgeted, his hands still pointed towards the ceiling. “p-please, just don’t kill me. I have a wife and ki–“

Kyle stepped forward, his head bobbing back and forth. “No no no, You’ve got it wrong. I’m not going to kill you.” Kyle smiled wide at this. “You helped me out! I couldn’t do that to you now. What’s your name anyways?”

“Uhm…” The cashier snuck a peek at his nametag, then back at Kyle. Kyle and his smile didn’t flinch, just kept staring ahead at the cashier. There was a pause that felt like hours to the poor cashier, before he finally realized Kyle wasn’t about to pick up on the fact that the nametag was staring him in the face. He stammered out his reply. “It–it’s James,” James the cashier said, pointing at his nametag with his right hand, but keeping his arms reached upwards.

Kyle nodded eagerly at this, stepping around the counter alongside James. “Well Jim, I’m glad you’ve been so helpful. Here, put your arms down. There you go,” Kyle threw his left arm around the cashier, patting him on the shoulder with the gun he kept pressed in palm. “Now, I guess I’m just going to go. You have any suggestions?”

James couldn’t help but keep an eye on the gun, his eyes bouncing along with the barrel as Kyle patted his shoulder. “I–what? Suggestions?”

Kyle swung around to his right, tracing the countertop with the gun as he stepped back over towards the other side of the counter. “Well, yeah! Sure. I mean, you kindly provided me with some vacation funds, so it’s like, where do you think I should go?”

James shifted side to side, clearly uncomfortable. He wasn’t one who really knew much about robberies. In fact, he couldn’t even remember a time when he had heard of any taking place in the plain little podunk town they currently found themselves in. So this was all new to him. Even so, he felt like the people—no…criminals, who perform robberies don’t usually stick around after the crime for some small talk.

James took a long second to take in this armed robber before him. Kyle the robber stood about six feet, if James were to guess. He had a frame that conveyed awkwardness. His shoulders were much wider than his waist, and his limbs were gangly and looping about as he carelessly waved his gun about the air. His eyes, while intense, had a certain sort of aloofness behind them. Kind, even? James couldn’t help but feel like this man that stood before him reminded him of the acne covered, awkward teenage who flipped burgers across the street. Harmless.

Yet here he was, waving a gun about and asking the strangest questions, given the situation.

“Uhm, well, uh, sir, I -“

Kyle tsked at this, interrupting James. Placed the gun on the counter between them, and said, “Now, listen here. It’s Kyle. Not sir. Sir was some guy with a top hat in the 1800s.” He leaned back, obviously pleased with this comment.

“Okaaaay, uhm, Kyle. Well I suppose if I’m being honest, I would prefer you to go anywhere but here. You know, having robbed me and all.” James couldn’t bring himself to look Kyle in the eye, and instead stared at the counter.

Kyle leaned back at this, crossing his arms and tucking the pistol underneath his armpit. He pulled at his bottom lip with his teeth, and hummed in agreement. “Alright, now, Jim. You’ve made yourself a point.” Leaning forward, he started to extend his gun hand, and point it towards James. James flinched backwards at this, reeling against the wall and throwing his hands up towards his face.

“Oh, oops!” Kyle laughed, grabbing the gun with his left hand and re-extending his right, this time in anticipation of a handshake. James stayed frozen, peering out of crossed arms at Kyle, fear plastered across his face.

Kyle paused, hand still out but the smile falling off his face. He pulled back, and rested into an awkward stance. Frowning, he said, “Yeah, okay. Probably shouldn’t have expected that. Well,” he glanced around, bunching up his shoulders, “guess it’s time to head out.”

With a furtive nod towards James, Kyle turned on heel and went to the door. He popped his head out of the door, peering in all directions. Satisfied with his surroundings, he gave a look back to James. A quick, “Later Jim!” and he was gone.

James eased himself into a chair, whispering christ almighty out loud to no one. He allowed himself a minute to calm his nerves. Legs bouncing, the adrenaline was pumping through him, and it took more than a minute to settle down. He threw his head back for a heavy sigh, and tried to think what was the most unnerving – the robbery, or the cavalier way the robber, Kyle, went about it.

Once his chin stopped trembling, James scooted the chair towards the counter, and made to grab the phone that sat nearby. He had just wrapped his fingers around the receiver when an all too familiar, and unwelcome, voice popped up from behind him.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Please don’t do that.”

James jumped from his chair with a yelp and backed against the counter. Behind where he sat was the face of Kyle the robber, peering in through the window and frowning. Kyle slowly shook his head, eyes on the man before him, and brought the gun back into view. He tapped the gun twice with his left hand, brought the gun up to his temple and tapped it twice more, then threw his hands out, imitating an explosion.

No words needed, and James understood. Clammy hands gripped the counter so tight, his fingers turned white, and he choked down a swallow before slowly nodding towards Kyle.

At this, the goofy smile exploded back across Kyle’s face. “Neat! Okay well I’m trusting you to not do anything stupid!” Kyle said, winking at James. “Oh hey, Jim, check this.” He straightened himself in the window, filling the frame with his wide shoulders, and gestured as if he was hitting a button in an elevator. Then he slowly sank out of James’ view with a wave.

James gawked after Kyle, unsure of how to handle any of this. Kyle popped back into view, startling James once again. “Elevator, right!?” Kyle exclaimed. “Okay, bye!”

Kyle turned and disappeared from view. James didn’t move for fifteen minutes, convinced the next thing he did would bring Kyle the robber back into his life. Something he didn’t think he could handle again.

 

 

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Wake up.

He woke up.

He was in his room. He crawled out of bed. Clothes. Downstairs was breakfast. Seven course meal, thanks butler fleet. He went to work. Helicopter is always fastest. He sat down and was presented with a screen. The screen showed all the vital stats of his world. Like a video game. Crime, down. Happiness, tops. Peace, never better. Profit, immeasurable. He decided that life as the King of the World was pretty good.

He woke up.

The rain woke him up. He stretched as best he could in the trench. He woke the soldier next to him. Before he could apologize, the world exploded around him. He fell to the ground and grabbed hold of his weapon. He saw comrades fall. He jumped to cover. He fired back. His aim was impeccable. Dozens he felled. He dragged soldiers to safety. He found a rocket and blew a tank to pieces. Single-handedly he repelled the ambush.

He woke up.

The teacher was yelling at him. The kids around his desk were laughing. His cheeks burned in his realized embarrassment. He slowly followed the command to present his report. He stumbled over words. His pages were blank. He could feel the resentment in the room. He broke. He fled the room. Have to get away. Outside was his family. There for support? No. There to point out his lack of clothes. He felt tears run down his face.

He woke up.

He conversed with his friend. They sat on a mountain overlooking a great sea. He admired the beauty of the scene before him. His friend spoke of business ideas. T-shirt company, but with funny ones. The mountain floated in the air. The friend told of a time when they partied with Justin Timberlake. The mountain floated across the sea, and soon they were at said party. They watched themselves dance off with JT. They laughed.

He woke up.

He floated on the water. He was warm. He stared up into a bright white sky. A face appeared. A beautiful woman. He admired her face. Gorgeous flowing red hair. Her face took up the entire sky. Fair skin. Big full brown eyes that spoke. They were sad. He noticed her fuckable mouth, and was aroused. The beautiful face began to cry. The teardrops were the size of buildings. The waves washed over him. He choked. He panicked. He thrashed.

He woke up.

He started out of bed. He looked around. He saw no one. He went downstairs. It was nice to be home. He made breakfast. Drank coffee. Thought about the day ahead. Mondays were the worst. He showered and brushed his teeth. He thought he was looking pretty good. He drove his car to work. He got along with his boss. He cracked a few good jokes. Everyone loves the Texas Rabbi joke. He got a date with the girl he crushed on. He went home and dominated Xbox.

He woke up.

He was in an arena. He found weapons scattered in front of him. He inspected a sword. Sharp. He heard a noise. He turned. There were dozens of them. Hundreds. They shuffled towards him. He knew how to kill zombies. He grabbed his weapons and began to fight them off. He was quick. He thought he recognized some of them. Friends and relatives. All they did was moan and wail. He cut through them all. He was winning. A gate opened. More zombies. These ones were garbed in white coats. More indecipherable moans. His weapons broke. These zombies were different. He tried punching. No matter. He was losing. They were on him. A sea of white. They poke and prodded his flesh. He screamed.

He woke up.

He was in a hospital. He didn’t feel sick. He looked around. The red headed girl was in a bed next to him. He went to her. He took her hand. Warm and familiar. He knew this beauty. He realized she was trapped here. He woke her up. He explained his plan. She kissed him in gratitude. It felt good. They snuck down the hallway. Robots were on patrol. He was clever, and they stayed undetected. He passed family members in other rooms. They encouraged him to keep going. Down the stairs they went. The exit was just ahead. Then an ambush. T1000 motorcycle cops everywhere. He yelled at her to run. He could hold them off. She went. He fought. Too many. He looked over at the girl. She stood at the exit. Tears poured down her face. She called out to him. Come to me, she said. She was begging. He was confused. Just go, he thought. I saved you. She threw herself on the ground, hysterical. He became upset. Why wouldn’t she just escape? The T1000s were too much. They wrestled him into submission.

He woke up.

He was in a nursery room. It was gigantic. The crib was the size of a semi truck. Towered above. He realized the room wasn’t big. He was small. An action figure. He tried to move. Couldn’t. A child waddled in. Flinging toys around. Gnawed on some. Broke the limbs off others. It came over to him. He was scared. The child picked him up. Moved his limbs. A mother came in. That’s right sweetheart, she said, look at all the ways you can pose him. He noticed the mother. The red head. He wanted her to tell the child to put him down. He couldn’t speak. The child brought him to its mouth. It started gumming his legs. He felt a phantom pain. His mind screamed out. He was able to kick his legs. The child became upset and dropped him to the floor. Relief. The child cried. No matter. He was safe now. The red head was angry at him. Why? She picked him up and walked to the window. Why won’t you do something, she asked. She threw him out before he could respond. He was falling. Blue sky all around him. Fell forever. Or seemed like it. The ground appeared below. He couldn’t do anything.

He woke up.

He was in a jungle. Colorful flowers surrounded him. Dense bush. A trail cut through the towering trees. He followed it. The trees on his right fell away into a surging river. Scattered boulders made the waters rapid. He heard a buzzing. Insects the size of his head approached him. They had needles the size of sticks. One got to him. Drew blood out of his arm. His arm shrank and withered. He screamed and batted the bug away. He ran. The cloud of oversized bugs gave chase. The trail went into a cave. He went inside. Rolled a rock over the entrance with his good arm. It was dark. He found a torch. The flame showed a huge cavern. Wet rock slowly descended to an alter in the distance. Glowing. He went down. He slipped. Slid all the way to the face of the alter. Lost his torch. The glow was enough to see by. A golden box sat atop the altar. He carefully opened it. A picture fell out. The red head and him. Together. Smiling. He felt a great longing. A voice behind him. A woman in a flowing gown made of flowers. Relax, she said. The alter hissed. He turned back and saw a snake. It moved quicker than he’d expect. It was climbing him. Entwining. It paused at eye level. Relax, the flower woman said again. The snake flew into his agape mouth. He tried to pull it out. Too strong. He could feel the snake slithering down his throat. He gagged. It’s for your own good, flower woman said. The snake disappeared down his person. The sensation was intense.

He woke up.

He sat at the head of a grand table. A banquet hall. Biggest he had ever seen. Around the table were his favorite people. Family and friends. Celebrities. Athletes. Musicians. They were all here for him. A fantastic meal was served. All his favorites. The conversation was electric. These people that he looked up to were coming up to him. Telling him of what he meant to their lives. He swelled with pride. They played board games with athletes. Jammed with musicians. Gossiped with celebrities. He sat at his throne at the end of the table and had people line up to give him hugs. The line parted, and the red head appeared. She was so beautiful. He went to her. She was wearing a stunning white dress. Her hair tumbled to her shoulders. He walked to the dance floor with her. They danced. The people around them wept at the beauty of their dance. He never felt so loved, surrounded by these people. He never loved anyone as much as he loved the red head at that moment. The lights dimmed. People began to leave. Still they danced. She rested her head on his chest. They were alone. She said she would always love him. He looked in her eyes. Tears again. She was always so sad.

He woke up.

He was in his own bed. In his own home. He took a second to stretch. He went downstairs. She sat at the kitchen table. She drank coffee in her bathrobe. He put his mouth to her vibrant red hair. Good morning. She jumped up and hugged him. She expressed how worried she was. He laughed and told her she worried to much. She said she had waited so long. They sat and held hands. He brushed a strand of hair from her face. Where is everyone, he asked. She said she wanted them to be alone. He nodded, and went to the window. They were alone. Where his neighbors had once been, now there was nothing. Barren land stretched out in all directions from their house. Nothingness. She came up to him. Stroked his neck. Ran her hand down his cord. He shuddered and moved away. It’s okay, she whispered. He felt the plug at the back of his own head. When? She moved her body into his. He looked outside. The horizon loomed dark. Creeping closer. Moving towards them. She grasped his plug. It’s been this way for too long, she said. He nodded. He sensed she was right, even if he didn’t fully understand. The darkness outside was close. It wanted them, and soon it would be inside. She embraced him tight. I’ll never leave you, she said. He pulled her face to his. Then don’t, he whispered. Stay with me. She sobbed, shaking her head. She couldn’t. He knew, somehow. He kissed her on the forehead and guided her hand to the plug. Her moist brown eyes met his. So sad. He smiled weakly. The darkness was here. He gave her hand a squeeze, and together they pulled. The darkness shattered the windows. The doors blew open. They were engulfed in nothingness.

He woke up.

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Crazy week – missed out on the short story.

So this week was moving week for me and my roommate. If you’ve ever moved, I have a feeling you can understand just how surprisingly consuming the entire process is. I’m constantly annoyed by how there just seems to be one more box of stuff every single time I step back into my room. Garbage comes oozing out of the walls, apparently, hours fly by like minutes, and before you know it, an entire week has passed and you’re completely spent.

I mean, moving is the only time where I’m completely comfortable leaving the front door wide open, because if anyone wandered in and stole some shit, they’d be doing me a favor.

While packing was sporadic throughout the week, as I had work, come Friday I was completely invested in getting everything out and done as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this became a 48 hour process, even though I had done some pregame action. So over moving, right now. In fact, I don’t want to move again for at least a year! So says my lease, at least.

I ended up moving all my junk into my new place, moving a person out of said new place, and then helping my (now ex) roommate move into their new place. Best part was, my roommate’s new place was up about ten flights of stairs, tucked away into a corner of a building, tiny efficiency style. He also somehow managed to have some of the heaviest furniture out of all of us, making for these treks up the flights of stairs as cumbersome as could be.

In fact, a couple of fingers on my right hand are still somewhat numb from a 500 pound dresser the two of us had to haul up these stairs. You know the type of dresser: way too big, even though the drawers are way too small to really have decent storage, awkward angles and corners that don’t  leave anything to grab and, as a result, all the weight from this huge thing is pinpointed into the center of your palm, destroying your fingers. No fun.

But.

It’s all said and done, thank fuck. I’m currently sitting in my new room, shaking my head at the amount of unpacking to be done. Got my bed set up last night, and crashed out. All I had the energy for.

Anyways, I just didn’t want to go a full week without a post, as this is one of the few things I’ve actually felt passionate towards. I want to keep up this short story a week idea, because it’s fun and why not?

So I’m going to cheat a little this week, and tap out a short story I’ve already written in my journal. It’ll be shorter, but it will be something. I’ll try to have that posted in the next 24 hours or so. That will leave the rest of the week to work on this other idea I’ve had for one, which should be fun.

Thanks for reading. Hope to keep you entertained.

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A Cruel Joke.

Is the door locked? Okay. Is the door locked? Okay. Is the door locked? Okay. Now I can leave. I turn swiftly and approach my car in the full 7 strides it takes to be beside the driver’s side door. Grab the handle. Let go. Grab the handle. Let go. Grab the handle. Okay now I can get in.

After sitting, I take a quick survey to make sure everything is in place. All is well. I’m ready. I snatch the keys from my pocket, and start the car. It’s time for the pre-drive check. Wipers? Wiping. Blinkers? Blinking. Headlights? Lighting. Brake lights? No, it couldn’t be. I feel the skin on my face run cold. A bead of sweat pushes out and finds a home in the middle of my forehead. My brake lights! The left brake light was out!

I sit in place for a minute. I don’t know what to do. A quick check on the time, glancing at my wristwatch. 7:37 A.M. Okay. 7:37 A.M. Okay. 7:38 A.M. NO! Now I am officially running late! I normally have left by now! Not okay. Quick. Think. I’ll have to drive to the auto shop and get a replacement bulb. But my brake light is out! My car is illegal! Okay. No, not okay. Can I call someone? No, there’s not enough time. I have only a 10 minute window depending on traffic to get to work. If I leave right now, the shop is on the way…

Okay. I can’t over think this. I just have to make it to the shop. I take a deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath. Okay let’s go. The car slides into reverse and I ease out into the street. I push the brakes after backing out, and nearly pass out. If there was a car behind me, and this was at night, who knows if they could have seen me just then! They might have plowed straight into me! I put the car in park. My sweaty palms clutch to the rubber steering wheel cover. Twisting it. The headache has officially settled in. Coming up slow, like a barge, but then announcing its presence with a blaring horn. My head gets tossed back, the pain is so intense.

No time for this. This is all a temporary inconvenience. I just have to, I just have to make it to the shop. Everything will be okay once I get to the shop. Everything. The car is back in drive, and I inch my way forward.

I just have to be careful about using my brakes. I can’t handle knowing that one of them is out, so I’ll just drive slow and roll to a stop, right? Okay. Right. Only a few blocks to the store. My car is inching along now. It should only take a few minutes. Luckily there’s only an intersection or two (3 to be exact) that I have to make it through. That’s okay. It’s okay.

The first intersection is only a hundred yards away. I slow down, taking my foot completely off the gas. I’m only going about 10mph, I should be able to roll to a stop in time, hopefully sooner. I glance to the right and watch as a couple of schoolchildren keep pace with me. They are staring. My brain bristles. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?! I want to scream at them. They don’t know. They don’t know. I return my attention to the stop sign that is creeping towards me. Close. Closer. Come on. It’s going to be okay.

The schoolchildren have already turned the corner, as I finally sputter to a stop, a full 15 feet short of the sign. I give the car a little gas. Inch closer. Little more gas. Closer still. Just graze the pedal with my foot. Close enough. I’m here. Okay. I don’t bother allowing myself any relief, though. I still have to make it to the shop. I look left. Then right. Then left. Right. Left. Right. The road is clear. A small victory. Deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath.

I start to suggest the car to the right, refusing to give it more than just a little momentum. Who knows what sort of unexpected things might pop out in front of my car, requiring me to slam on my brakes? A child might dart across the street. A dog. Another car might pull out. The headache is now a full bodyache. The sweat is sliding down the back of my neck, burrowing into my shirt. My breathing is shallow, despite my exercises. I feel twitchy. The car is scooting down the empty street, but my worst fear lies ahead of me. I can see it now.

The next intersection.

I have to get on the highway. The stop light looms above me. I see several cars stopped at the red light, waiting to turn. Their brake lights emit a soft glow in the feebly lit dawn. A reminder of the absence of my own required safety measures. My stomach does a full flip, and I gag. Must focus. Have to get there. I speed up a bit, hoping that I might time my arrival just right, and catch the green light. Surely I deserve a green light? I’ve played by the rules my entire life, it’s not my fault my brake light is out. How could I have known? I couldn’t have known.

The cars whip from side to side in the intersection that I’m steadily approaching. Flying about without a care, they are. Stupid disgusting careless people. That one there just had a headlight out! Just asking for a life ending collision they are. I know better. I know so much better. Okay. The cars have stopped passing in front of me, which means…There! The light has turned green for my side to go. I’m too far away! No. That means it will turn yellow, and then red, and then I’ll have to… NO!

My foot falls on the pedal and the engine roars to life. It whines for a split second, before catching its courage and throwing me back against my seat, leaping forward at a heart stopping rate. Half the cars have cleared the intersection, only a few more left. Parked cars on the side of the street go whizzing by, I must be speeding but I have to make this light. 200 yards. 150. 100. The light turns yellow. YELLOW. I CAN STILL DO THIS. 25 yards. The way in front of me is clear. My lane to turn left is unobstructed. It is the answer to my prayer.

The rubber squeals as my tires frantically cling to the road, hitting the turn as I crank the wheel. The car skips once, twice as I fly through the intersection, clearing it just as the light turns red. I start to fishtail on a patch of loose gravel, but quickly regain control. I look up in my rear-view mirror and start laughing. I’ve made it! My foot retreats from the pedal again as I try to calm myself. I fall back to the pace of the traffic and start planning my next move. The exit for the auto shop is in a few miles. From there it is a right turn, down on of the main streets in town, and then a left into the shopping center and the auto shop is positioned in the back left, next to the yogurt place.

It feels daunting, but if I could make that intersection just then, I should be okay. I settle into the normal flow of traffic, allowing myself to relax a bit. Deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath. Exhale. Deep breath. I don’t have to worry about anything for a little while. Traffic is consistent here. Nothing to worry. I get ready to make the exit, and signal my intention to get into the far right line. Signal on. Then off. On. Off. On. The car to my side passes and I have my clearing. Okay. Perfect. Perfect. This is going well. I shouldn’t have worried so much.

I scan, looking for the all too familiar sign. There. Next exit, a mile and ha — What is this? Ahead of me, not a half mile away, a domino effect of red brake lights. Flaring up. Then off. Then permanently on. Traffic is crawling to a stop? An accident? No! I’m so close! I can’t, I won’t. Must make it without having to use my – ngh - brake lights. Absent, broken, brake light. Destructive, sinister brake light. Ruining my day. The drive into work is supposed to be my peaceful time before I have to face those people. But no!

I have to focus. The line of flashing red is nearing. Soon, the cars directly in front of me will be stopping, and they’ll be expecting me to do the same. Okay. Think. It’s not okay! Wait. Of course. The emergency lane! This is an emergency! That is an emergency lane! It’s so perfect. I just have to get over. I check my left mirror, then the right. The rear-view. Left, right, rear-view. Left, right, rear-view. I’m clear. It’s clear! I signal. Off. On. Off. On. Merge over. There! A straight shot to my exit, now! I don’t even have to worry about cars in front of me. I just have to – wait, what’s this?

Behind me, the twirling chant of a siren approaches from the early morning fog. It must be an accident ahead of me. This must be the ambulance. That’s okay. No, not okay. It will be in the emergency lane as well! They’ll expect me to pull over and stop. I shudder. I won’t. I can’t! I keep a steady speed, passing cars that officially stopped in the other lanes. Car after car. Red glow. Everywhere. I know I have a brake light out! I KNOW I KNOW QUIT REMINDING ME I’M GOING TO FIX IT. I just have to get there. Only a half mile until my exit. Deep breath. Exhale. Not working. My breathing is too panicky. My leg fully spasms and extends, causing the car to lurch forward with this new intent on accelerating. No! Too fast! I need to slow down to coast to the exit!

I ease off the gas and start my coasting. This should be good enough. Just like last time, I’d rather come up short than having to (shudder) slow down. I peek back behind me. I can see the lights turn the last corner before coming up on the same straightaway I am on. As if on cue, I see the front end of the ambulance appear from behind the row of cars. It’s coming up fast. There’s nothing I can do. It will just have to wait until I reach my exit. After all, this is the emergency lane and we both have an emergency. I was just simply here first.

The ambulance is upon me. The horn is blaring. My headache is blaring. I try my breathing exercises. No luck. Too much happening. Shut up shut up shut up you stupid ambulance! Over and over again like I can’t hear it, the horn is honking. Piercing my thoughts. Sirens wailing. My fingers wrapped around the steering wheel are pressing into my palm, tight. I can feel the nails pressing into my skin. I’m starting to feel faint. Must. Make. Exit.

The ambulance swings to my right and inches up. Intends to pass me, but there’s hardly room. Not enough. Maybe. I’ll inch over to the left and then – there! It made it! The ambulance scoots by, but I don’t dare look over. I can’t worry about judgment right now. No time. I can’t. The ambulance is now safely ahead, back in the emergency and racing ahead. I breathe a sigh of relief and wipe the sweat from brow. Right to left. Right to left. Right to left. A slight bend of the highway to the left, and then I see it! My exit!

I guide the car towards the exit, and drift closer. My attention is pulled from the road as another set of flashing lights snatches my attention. Another ambulance? No. Oh no. No, no. Police. Please let me make my exit it time! The cruiser is racing around the last bend, but I’m so close. Yes! I signal on. Off. On. Off. On. And then I am on the exit ramp, free of the emergency lane. A sharp breath strikes my lungs. The hill! I forgot the exit was on a hill!

There’s no way I’ll slow to a stop in time, not unless…of course! The emergency brake. I can use the emergency brake just like I used the emergency lane. Okay. Yes. Okay. Yes, it will work. I’m going slow enough, I’ll just start pulling on the emergency brake halfway down the – behind me? The police cruiser has turned off the exit as well, and is now right behind me. So close. I can almost make out the features of the officer behind the wheel. Older man, looks upset. Just go around, I think. That’s when I hear what makes my heart plummet.

“Pull over. You in the wagon. Pull over immediately. This is the police.”

The sound comes over the vehicles PA system. Loud and clear. He must be talking to me, as I’m the only wagon on the exit ramp. My mind starts racing. I can’t pull over. Doesn’t he know? Oh! He must now. He’s trying to get me to pull over so he can see that my brake light is out! And then he’ll write me a ticket. And I’ll have to go to court. And sit with all those criminals. Murderers. People who don’t follow the rules. That isn’t for me! I follow the rules! I always follow the rules.

Our cars are creeping closer and closer to the bottom of the hill where the stop lies. From there it is a right turn, and a left against traffic. I’m so close to the shop. The police have to know that I’m just trying to follow the rules! It’s not my fault that my brake light went out! I just have to – I just have to get to the shop. He can follow me to the shop and I’ll make it there and I won’t use my brakes and it will be okay.

“Citizen, pull over immediately or I will be forced to take action. You will be arrested.”

Arrested? ME? I’ve never, I haven’t – I can’t. What is he talking about? Doesn’t he know I’m trying to do the right thing? Arrested? Me? Jail? Jail? My god. Jail. No. Disgusting, filthy uniforms. Surrounded by disgusting, careless, filthy criminals. What would people say? Everyone would know that I hadn’t followed the rules. But I do follow the rules!

My fingernails are drawing blood, oozing from my palms. My brain is becoming numb as the sweat drops from my brow onto my nose. I twitch. Hyperventilate. A darkness is looming over my eyes, slowly casting a shadow. The bottom of the hill is impossibly getting farther and farther. I seem to be shrinking into myself. The space between my ears is now nothing but flashing pain. I squeeze my eyes shut, squishing my face, and the scream bursts forth from my lips. A wail. Long. It hangs in the air, and stifles my breathing. Then, just as I can feel myself slipping, the thought shoots straight through to the forefront of my mind.

Fix the brake light.

Of course. Yes! How could I be so silly. I need to fix the brake light and everything will be okay. Okay. Yes. Okay. Nothing else matters now. Nothing else. The police say something else over the intercom, but no matter. I know what I have to do. I slam the pedal down, and the car shoots forward. Barreling towards the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, I hit the turn going fast. Got to go fast to fix my brake light. Can’t slow down. If I brake, then the police will know that my brake light is out, and that’s against the rules.

I slam against the driver’s side door as the car bounces on the uneven surface at the bottom of the hill, launching into traffic. Horns blare. Tires scream. I see a car to my left swerve to avoid hitting me and go head first into the concrete wall. I narrowly miss the rear end of another car as I settle into the center lane. Too many cars. I can’t be bothered to wait for them. I have to fix my car! I have to be legal!

The morning rush hour traffic is in full effect. Before me is a sea of tail lights and headlights, winking from all around me. With an unprecedented urgency, I push my car into the mass of steel ahead. I begin to think that they’re all part of this. Sent to obstruct me from doing what was right. Well, screw that! I will not be made a fool of for any longer. My foot doesn’t even think about the brake pedal as I weave my way through traffic.

The row of cars is dense, and I am forced to actively maneuver through the lanes. I come flying up behind a semi, and have to act quickly. A sharp jerk of the wheel, and I am into the lane on the right, narrowly missing the car, now behind me, that takes issue with this move. They lay on their horn, but are already disappearing into my rear-view mirror. Zig zagging through these cars, driven by dirty, nasty people, I keep my focus on the end destination. My fingers are flying from the wheel to the indicator, as I am cautious to make sure to signal my intent on each dash across the highway. Must signal my intent. It’s only legal.

A traffic light ahead indicates my final intersection that I must overcome. Too much traffic. Too many cars! I hunker down in my seat and aim for the meridian, determined to not let the mass of the unclean keep me from my mission. I swing left and catch the edge of the grass, the car bucking along the transition. The intersection lays before me. A glance up and I see the insistent flashing of the lights from the police car. Fool. He doesn’t know. My wagon is thrashing about the uneven ground of the meridian as I quickly approach my next turn. I have to make a quick left here, and I’ll be in the parking lot complex! The shop is only on the opposite side of the parking lot from there. I am so close!

Deep breath. Exhale. The headlights on my left are but a blur at this point. Up ahead, The meridian angles up as it meets the intersection. Traffic is flowing heavily to both my left and right. No matter. They don’t know what kind of hurry I’m in! I hit the upwards angle and the wagon is sent into flight. I clear the first lane of cars cleanly, as time slows down. A school bus is littered with greasy little dirty children, their disgusting faces pressed against the window as they watch me overtake them through the air.

Up, up the wagon is soaring, but quickly begins the descent. The hood of the car is now angled to the ground. I stare daggers at the cars that are approaching to my right. HOW DARE YOU, GET OUT OF MY WAY! I NEED TO FIX MY BRAK—

My explanation is cut short as I am reintroduced to the ground. My face flies into the steering wheel, bringing forth a warm sensation that dribbles down my face. The car heaves forward, then rocks back again. A compact sports car slaps me from the right, and I am spinning before I even have time to get all four tires on the ground. Spinning. Spinning. Spinning. Stop. I rock back in my chair, and almost forget what is happening for a second. I’m stopped! No! That means… Wait! YES. I didn’t use my brakes! I came to a natural stop, just like the first intersection! My momentum was slowed and I didn’t have to use my brakes! I am laughing now, as the intersection around me explodes in silence. A car horn is going off somewhere. Someone is leaning on it. Stupid loud careless people!

Regaining my composure, I wipe the blood that has been dripping from my eyebrow, and am overjoyed at the sight in front of me. Straight ahead lies the parking lot. Cars have pulled over to the sides, and they are finally letting me do what I need to do. I need to follow the rules! I tap the gas, but am left unlucky when nothing happens. The engine has died! I give the keys a turn, and the engine coughs. Sputters. Chokes on itself, before finally whimpering to life. Perfect! Everything is going to be okay!

I can’t be bothered to check my surroundings when I’m this close to my destination. I have to push forward and hope people will keep getting out of my way. It’s like the parting of the Red Sea. I am called to make it to this auto shop. Nothing can stop me. Not even the forces of nature!

I slam the gas down and the car wobbles forward, unsure of itself. Damn you, I’m trying to fix you! It wants to pull to the right, but I keep it centered and shoot forward into the parking lot. I weave through the randomly parked cars (careless drivers!) and point my car in the direction of the auto shop. Right ahead.

It’s there.

So close.

I can see it! I can fix my brake light!

My joy in interrupted by a sickening crunch from behind me, and again I am sent spinning. Now I am facing the wrong way, and am looking upon the same police cruiser from before. He has friends now, as I spot several more squad cars racing up the highway from the distance. GOOD. They can clean up all these careless drivers from the road! But I can’t be bothered to tell the police about all these poor drivers right now, I have to fix my brake light!

Again I lurch the car forward, cranking the wheel as hard as I can, just for it to drift lazily to the left. Taking too long! I come about and am faced with a clear shot to my destination. My savior! I can fix the brake light and then go to work and then everything will be okay. It’ll be okay! It will be okay. I gun my car forward and get ready to use the emergency brake to slow my approach when the time is right.

Sirens are screaming from all directions, a helicopter is approaching from some distance. It is a cacophony of disgusting noises, meant to invade my mind and make me break the rules. But I don’t break the rules! I’ll show them! The auto shop is near now. Right in front of me.

I let off the gas and yank on the emergency brake to slow me down. Nothing happens. Nothing happens!? This can’t be! I can’t use my emergency brake? Then how will I stop in time!? Is all this for nothing? Will I have to use my brakes and then the police will see how illegal I am?

NO!

I cannot! I will not! I will stop like I did at the intersection just now. I will make my momentum stop without using my brakes! I aim for the far left side of the building, the side opposite of where they keep the replacement bulbs. That would be foolish to come all this way just to accidentally smash the goal of my mission! I laugh at this, the gurgling sound of my laughter drowning out the sirens around me.

20 yards.

10 yards.

My car and the building meet in an explosive embrace. Glass is shattering. The sigh of steel bending. I am tossed about like in a dryer, and briefly lose consciousness.

I wake but a few seconds later, face pouring blood. Stabbing pains in my side and legs. White hot flashes of great intensity in my left arm. I can’t move my left arm. I reach across, slowly and with great pain, and grab the handle of the car door. Then let go. Grab, then let go. Grab, then let go. Okay, now I can get out. Instead, I fall out, collapsing to the ground as if I am a puppet being cut loose of it’s strings.

All the lights seem so dim, and I start scratching at the ground with my feet. With great exertion, I prop myself up with my right arm, the pain almost too intense. But I’m too close. Crying out with pain, I stagger to my feet, before falling across the crumpled back end of my wagon. The dust and rubble settles around me. I see the police cars zooming close, but the sirens sound miles away. Faint, throbbing. I roll across the back of the car to get to the auto shop’s door. I cough. Blood splatters the ground. I look up, and the door to the shop greets me like an old friend. I know why you’ve come. Let me help you. I manage a weak, blood soaked smile, the red contrasting the outline of my white teeth. Dripping down my bottom lip, fully split open.

I straighten up, gutting out the pain. I reach back with my good arm to check my wallet. I pat it once, twice. A third time. Okay. Everything is okay. I have my wallet. I am at the store. I will buy a replacement bulb and fix my brake lights. Then I’ll be legal! I won’t be breaking the rules anymore!

I shuffle over to the door, my left leg dragging helplessly behind me. With a final lunge, I reach the frame, and give the door a shove. It won’t budge. It won’t budge?! I rattle the handle a few times, before I notice the crudely handwritten note that has been taped to the inside of the door.

“Closed for the day – Doctor’s appointment.”

No. No. No no. No no no NO! I drop to my knees and start wailing. Screaming in bloody agony as I am ripped from my purpose. All for naught. Now I am no better than those filthy common criminals who always break the rules.

“FREEZE! HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK!”

I look over at the half-dozen police officers, cautiously approaching me with weapons drawn. They already know. They already know about my brake light! My wailing fades out as I begin to laugh maniacally. Hard, whooping laughter from the depths of my soul. A cruel joke. And to have been played on such a person like me. One who always follows the rules.

THE END

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