I hurled a rock towards the plate glass window of the office building, followed in quick succession by two more.
Alarms sounded, but nobody came running. First, it was before dawn a Sunday morning, and the place was closed. Second, it was surrounded by no residential buildings whatsoever. It rose like an island in a sea in this part of town.
Yeah that’s me, rowdy Tony, I thought as I left the lottery office building behind.
My fury at losing the 700 million jackpot that had been split three ways earlier that night had made me do it, and I am damn proud of it.
This place sure is popular with the high school crowd, Tom thought as a gaggle of male high school jocks flocked into the pool area, headed over to the sauna kibitzing and laughing about this and that. The very sight of them made him feel so old, he sometimes felt like moving into a retirement home. The first well-preserved 33 year-old to do so, Tom joked to himself at times.
His own teenage years had roared by and had left a sense of incompletion in their wake; that he had not gotten out of them all of what he wanted. All Tom could do now was look at all the youths who hung out at the Lifetime Fitness he frequented and wonder if what might have been.
Tony wished with all his heart that he was rich. That he did not have to worry about money; motherfucking money! As he always silently called it. He sweated for it under bright hot suns; shivered for it on days with -20 wind chills; got humiliated for it by people who joked that he could load more bags of salt than the eight he was already tasked to carry. But by the way his temper kept building, a pink slip instead of a winning lottery ticket was more likely in his future.
Nicol the vandal
Nicol raised the spray can and took aim at the church sign that proclaimed an event related to “Comedy Sportz” without regret. God had betrayed him for the last time.
He sprayed and sprayed; sprayed until the word “Bullshit” appeared in crude letters on first one side, and then the other. “This place isn’t about God! You all deserve to die,” soon appeared below the expletive.
A few minutes later Nicol appeared in front of the church across the street. Soon the word “propaganda” appeared on the sign that proclaimed “God loves you.” Then Nicol aimed his spray can below “propaganda” and added “God is a traitor, if not a big fat lie” one letter at a time.
Sated at last, he flung the spray can into a nearby dumpster and stormed off down the silent street not giving a rusty f-word about his deed.
Back home, he sat up for the rest of the night smoking the last of his weed feeling not only glad, but damn glad.
Chadwick lumbered off down the hall. He had no idea that now he had done it all thanks to his little outburst a few minutes ago. A performance none other than United Food’s district manager had witnessed. “Get him out of here!” He demanded to the store manager.
The store manager caught the eye of the assistant department manager Chadwick served under, beckoned him over … and soon Chadwick was on his way home facing either voluntary or forced termination.
He was so stunned, he could not think.
Nick and the moneyed elite
Nick hated the moneyed elite. “It’s all their fucking fault!” Was his common refrain when it came to the economic woes America suffered these days. He especially loathed the moneyed elite likes those fucking no-talent hacks and whores named the Kardashians ; they who loved to put their insipid lives on “reality” TV for all the world to see. They were the scummiest of the scum in Nick’s eyes. Why can’t terrorists pick on assholes like them? Nick sometimes grumbled in silence. (Well, the men anyway; Nick still respected the women even if they were tramps.) Instead, all those kill-crazy fucks did was kill innocent people like him and the next John or Jane Q. Public. Nick just could not understand it.
Canby hated his life with a passion. So much so, he had become an empty shell. Someone who ate, slept, and did little more than that. Life now flowed past Canby like he was an island in the stream. As he sat there spooning cereal into his mouth, his face looked as pensive as a kid who did not want to go to school.
2. Morant and God
If Morant had had his way, God would have drawn a line in the dirt with His sword and called out to all His believers to cross it as if he were Colonel Travis at the Alamo. But Morant would not have crossed it. Just like legend said one decided not to do at the Alamo, because that soldier was “not ready to die.” Morant heaved a deep sigh as he clicked the turn signal. God had not given him such an option. Now here he was, trapped by His will yet again in a situation he did not want to face ever again: a lean bank account that now compelled him to pull into the parking lot of a Cub Foods. He cursed Him over and over as he crossed the snowy parking lot, bound for the employment kiosk inside.
3. Yablonski’s dream and reality
Wow, that sure felt real, Yablonski thought as his eyes opened. So real he swore he really had been living the good life. One that had been chock full of wine, women, song, and plenty mucho money for him to spend on whatever he wanted.
He turned his eyes to the alarm clock. “4:30” it read. Just enough time to snooze ninety more minutes before he would wake up for the day. A day of yet another shit standing by a register with an orange apron that said “Home Depot” over his street clothes.
4. George and Morris
When it came to customer service, George warmed to the task like he had been born to it. He always had a friendly greeting backed by a smile ready for the men and women young and old that came to his register.
By contrast, Morris went about his rounds at the grocery store like he was a clerk immersed in ledger. He kept only one eye cocked for customers to meet and greet. Sometimes he did as well as George. Other times all Morris could do was “phone it in” as best he could, doing his best to play the part in the vital meeting and greeting of customers so vital for sales, sales, and more sales; or so the company propaganda claimed.
Despite this 180 degree difference in work ethic, both men had become good friends. When together they mutually bemoaned both the downsides of working for such a big grocery chain and their apparently eternal lack of success in meeting eligible women they could date.
5. Harry’s diary
As Harry scribbled away in his diary, his dog alternately looked out the window of his car and lay contentedly on the passenger seat next to him. The sun had begun to set in a glorious blaze. Harry scarcely paid it attention as he scribbled away; felt like the soldier named Sago in Letters from Iwo Jima as he buried hundreds of letter destined never to be sent home from Iwo.
6. John hates Walter Mitty
Even fantasy no longer let John escape the drab realities he confronted every waking moment. The powers of those escapist daydreams to perfect worlds were at last spent.
Eat shit and die, Walter Mitty! He thought grimly as he punched in for work. You can’t hide in your daydreams forever.
7. Lloyd’s upset stomach
Lloyd stood on the asphalt path, his bicycle lying on the grass near him. He kept watch on it out of the corner of his eye as he scribbled notes down onto scraps of paper. But the words did not soothe the burning ache in his belly and, by extension, his soul.
8. Mickey and the Ides of March.
“Beware the Ides of March!”
“Not me, man,” Mickey’s reply to that saying always went. “In my family, the freakin’ Ides of March come in freakin’ February.”