by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! co-win
The alarm clock woke James Emery into eye opening awareness and a yawn. “Thirty years doing this exact same thing. I’m an old workhorse putting on the harness for the last day on the job.”
Habit got him going. His body bent, worn, hurting every step of the way, went through the motions. James Emery’s mind went elsewhere. He could not fathom doing anything else than what he’d been doing. There was no plan for his golden years. An empty abyss seemed at his feet. “Going away party, is it? Young whipper snappers don’t know shit, what they’re doing and they’re telling me what to do.”
His feet were hurting in a particularly annoying way this morning. “Jez-bah-jez, I put my shoes on the wrong ones. Toes are screaming at me for release.” It felt worse than being in a straitjacket. They went from tingles, to growing dead numb, to fiery pulsing agony.
James Emery stumbled and swore his way to his kitchen. His fingers fought and lost untying the shoelaces tied better than hangman’s knots. “What a start to my day.” He’d never been late to work before, not in all of thirty years. No sick days, not one emergency, nothing had kept him away.
“Slaved away on holidays since before skateboards got popular pushing people off sidewalks outside the store.” James Emery held the position of salesman at a local hardware store. Not manager, although he had filled in when needed, unpaid, of course but doing what was required.
“Dadgummit, where’s a sharp steak knife?” Sometimes, these days, his mind slipped a cog. His memory recalled old times, places, that no longer existed. Just like he would be after today at the shop.
An empty spot to be filled by one of the owner’s endless family members. Always late, on any excuse leaving early, long lunches to beat the band, never learning what they were supposed to be doing, blaming it all on him.
“Junk drawer. Got to be something I can use in there.” His nerves up to his knees were now on fire. “Junk, that’s what I am.” There would be no golden watch, no ceremony, no thankful words of praise. Work would be like every other day until party hour.
A slap on the back in place of a slap on the face. “Eat cake, drink warm punch and be expected to give thanks before being pushed out the door.” James Emery felt sorry for himself. “No-one else will.”
Work was all he had, no family, not even a pet. “What the heck is holding this drawer shut?” With a jerk, an old rusty Exacto knife sprung from where it was caught in place. James Emery stared where it had embedded itself into the palm of his bloodied hand. “Crucifying myself. Can’t do anything right all of a sudden.” He hadn’t gone to church in ages, even worked Sundays getting ready for Monday’s when called upon.
Careful in what he was doing, the knife managed to cut through the shoelaces. “Now, what am I going to wear? Can’t go barefoot, can I?” He’d managed to wrap a hanky in his pocket around his wounded hand. Hot nerves began cooling back into normal arthritis and sciatica, both old friends accompanying him everywhere.
“What’s that? Who could be calling and for what?” No-one ever phoned James Emery unless it was the job. “Probably want me to come in early. Get the last ounce out of me before they let me go.” He’d had enough, James Emery realized his teeth had bitten into his cheek, grinding there in a passion he hadn’t felt since forever.
“Trying subconsciously to murder myself and for what?” Wearing an old worn out pair of mismatched slippers flip flapping down his front steps, James Emery, shirt tail flapping like a white flag surrendered him into his beat up fifty-four Chevy.
He waved at neighbor kids headed to school who never waved back and he found they hadn’t moved the hospital after all. The waiting room was the same as he remembered from long ago, old and worn out, like himself. Fingers rubbed at the scar left from when he’d last been there, another accident he’d done to himself now all but forgotten in age.
“What you in for?” asked a voice sounding creaky as his own. “Been here since forever, growing cobwebs is what I’m making do with. How about your own self?”
A withered up old mummy laid a skeletal hand on his arm. “Darned if you didn’t hurt yourself. I got one like that not so long ago. Quite the story.”
James Emery filled out the paperwork, nodded absently and let the mummy’s words fall like gentle rain. He settled himself into the comfort of a well worn chair softened in all the right places. “That so?”
He watched the news. Same bad stuff happening around the world, national, state and local. Nothing good but one. An elbow nudged him. "Shame, that hardware store going up in flames. Caused by birthday cake and candles igniting a fire, they say. For a going away party. Took out the owner and some family. Nothing lasts forever."
James Emery found a smile twisting itself on his face. How had he forgotten it was his birthday? "Ain't that God's truth?" He let it go at that. Lucky he'd missed work today.
Trading stories of old age aches and pains went on so long he thought he was forgotten by the staff. Patients traded histories like prized playing cards. It was a game of sorts of one-up-manship he was the hero of.
“Can’t be true.”
“Got to be kidding.”
All were in awe nothing had happened to James Emery but thirty years of boredom. Still, there was much in common. Life could be a real pain. Bodily ills, cancer survivors, surgery mistakes and near fatal accidents compared themselves. James Emery found himself surrounded by new friends as he played hookey from work for the first day in his life. “See you tomorrow, here? Got a checkerboard. Meet up in the hospital cafeteria.”
His phone was ringing off the hook when he got home after a satisfying lunch of soup and hospital jello.
It wasn’t work, like he’d thought. One of his new friends didn’t want him feeling bored any longer. Had him in stitches unlike the ones in the palm of his hand. Talked for hours without saying much at all, except laughing at fate and enjoying every minute of stealing another day from the grim reaper.