by Shawn Kent
The Hunter has come and The Runner must escape him.
| Runner, Hunter (working title) Part 1
An answering machine. An old crappy Radio Shack answering machine, you know the kind that actually still use little tapes. Not exactly the mechanism you expect to completely change your life.
I work at a little sandwich shop on Santa Margarita Parkway in sunny Mission Viejo California. Shelby's is a one of those west coast chain restaurants, that kind of copy Subway minus the fresh ingredients and clean environment. We have about a six ingredient selection all of which look like they have been sitting under the sneeze guard for about a month without the luxury of refrigeration.
I have worked here since I graduated from high school nine years ago and each day I come to work I am shocked that it is still open. The keys to this little eatery's continued financial solvency are threefold. We are open two hours after bars close, we are dirt cheap, and the manager sells the best pot in the state, and he NEVER runs out.
Mr. Macafee has been the manager here since I was in middle school, and always refers to me as "Sport". Not a bad boss if you ask me, he gives me a joint out back occasionally, (I don’t smoke much, that stuff makes you paranoid) and never asks for much in the way of actual Labor. The one thing that annoys me about him is that he never worries about anything. I kid you not! This guy negotiates drug deals on his cell phone out front of the store while smoking a joint and greeting customers. Sometimes I get so freaked out I have to go hide in the bathroom and turn out the lights, trying not to picture guys in black SWAT outfits storming the sandwich shop. I cringe in the corner hands covering the back of my neck waiting for the deafening sound of flash bangs and the shouts of mean rough men with far too much body hair to rush through my work area making a mess and therefore causing me to have to stay later to clean up COMPLETELY destroying my schedule. (Glad he is not paranoid) The world is a terrible place with lots of scary things in it and with his life style he is just asking for trouble.
Anywhoo, this summer got off to its usual start, lots of cool new movies and games for my PS3, Xbox, Nintendo Wii, ECT. Oh, I also got this awesome new surround sound system that some guy paid Mac off with and it sat in the back room all winter collecting dust. I asked Mac if I could borrow it and since he forgot about it when he had to walk past it for four months to get to his office, I am pretty sure that baby is mine.
I know the answering machine, I’m getting to that but you are going to need a little background or this is going to sound crazy. Ok, you will probably think it’s crazy anyway. I have a little one bedroom about five minutes from work over on Alicia, like all apartments In SOCAL it is over priced and pretty small. But the complex isn’t very old and no one had smoked in here before so I was pretty happy with it.
Oh by the way I really have this thing about everything being in its place. Before you even start, it’s not OCD. I know what everyone says about people like me but just because I use a tape measure to keep all furniture a uniform 1 inch from the baseboard, and I post an itemized list of the contents of each drawer, closet, and box does not mean I have a mental disorder. It’s just that I get nervous and sometimes throw up if anything gets moved.
Oh yeah, and I am not too crazy ( you sure) about having people over cuz no one seems to understand that all my furniture should be approached in a clockwise direction from the door. God, you even TRY to tell some one to go back outside and do it right and they either burst out laughing or get all huffy. Then of course I have to tell them to leave and not ever come back so I can keep from walking one hundred laps of the correct CLOCKWISE approach from the door every time I see them to restore the universe to normality. I guess you could say I had not had much in the way of company in the last umm…. 8 and a half years.
So, when I come home, I walk in the front door removing my shoes as I step left (clockwise damn it), into the main room, circling along the left hand wall depositing key and name badge on the little kitchenette table and grabbing a microwave dinner from the freezer.
I then step left to the microwave opening it from right to left (If you every see one that opens left to right let me know, I cant find one) placing the microwave dinner into the microwave and pressing start. After which I continue along the left-hand wall into the hallway to the bedroom wherein I quickly change out of my work uniform, and self into my home uniform, and self.
I wear well worn jeans nice white sneakers with white socks, white boxers and an appropriate comic book, movie, or band t-shirt. I do all of this on the left side of the bed where the closet is. I then execute a forward roll across the bed and following the wall (clockwise) I walk back down the hall to where my extensive collection of games and movies are placed to the left of my 60 inch plasma TV and select a game or movie and insert it into the proper player or console firing up the TV and sound system from left to right where ever the controls may be.
I then walk along the wall to the entrance of the rest room and enter, usually dropping deuce in a quick and efficient manner, due to the fact that I would rather under go circumcision by alligator than use a public restroom. I do not wash my hands there since the sink is unfortunately to the left (counterclockwise arggh!) of the toilet so I can’t interrupt the transformation by retreating.
Instead I continue out of the restroom and end up back at the entryway and begin the second smaller circle stopping in order at the sink for a hand wash, then the drawer for a fork or spoon whichever is appropriate. Get myself a soda and my TV dinner and head clockwise into the main room where I sit at the sofa place all remotes and game controllers on the TV tray which I move from my left to in front of me and presto, transformation complete! I am myself at home now and can watch a cool movie or play a game.
Ten days ago. Wow it seems like ten years ago but it was only ten days. I got off work at Shelby’s at 9:00 PM right on schedule said goodbye to a very stoned Mac who was on the phone in the parking lot as usual, and headed home eager for transformation and recreation. I walked the couple of blocks home. Driving in Southern California has far too many variables, but I digress. The streets were brightly lit and there was still light traffic which in California means about as far as the eye can see. I got home at 9:20, still right on time and jogged up the two flights of stairs to my floor, then stopped for a second to catch my breath.
I am not what you would call an athlete, in the sense of cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone, coordination, reflexes or anything else. My sport in high school was avoiding having gym socks stuffed in my mouth by the jocks. Even so I always jog up the stairs. I hate my stairwell. Have you ever seen one of those MC Escher paintings where there are stairs going every which way in defiance of convention, gravity, and good taste. I HATE those pictures. My aunt gave me a calendar when I was ten that was full of those things and my mom forced me to hang the wretched thing in my room, despite the fact that it made me sick to my stomach. So now stair cases make me queasy, so I avoid that by racing up them as fast as I can before the wave of vertigo hits.
Breath regained? Check. Stomach settled? Check. Ready for transformation? Ready! (Will you get on with it please) I unlocked the door, and entered my apartment and received the shock of my life. (About time)
To be continued……..