by Ladee Caid
A man finds he likes being away from his keyboard.
|Rob sat at his keyboard tapping an e-mail response to his wealthiest client. The sun had found a gap in the closed curtains and streaked across the back of his hands.
Good Afternoon Mr. Belford,
I have read your inquiry and have looked into the matter. I see the mistake you spoke of. The price of the-
His screen blackened.
Rob jabbed the "enter" key. When the screen wouldn't light, he stabbed it a few more times. Nothing. He pounded other keys to no avail. He scooted his chair back and looked at his tower. The green light was black. Pressing the power button was useless.
"Oh great! And I just bought this piece of junk."
He sifted through the desk drawer for the owner's manual, then remembered it was still in the box with the Styrofoam ends and flimsy wrapping. When he stood his bladder protested, so he trotted to the bathroom. He flicked the light switch, but the room stayed dark. He pinched the switch and worked it, but nothing happened. Rob stepped to where he thought the toilet might be and felt around like a blind man.
Tank. Handle. Lid.
He lifted the lid, then reached for the seat. The lid fell cracking the lower knuckle of his thumb. He cursed, plopped his joint in his mouth, and started peeing. Once he started, he couldn't stop. Urine splashed off of the lid onto his leg and undershorts. He reached down, grabbed, and slammed the lid and seat. A clapping snap on the tank pierced his ears. He relaxed when he heard the sound of a waterfall in the bowl. The toilet flushed, but didn't fill. He tilted his head back and looked at the darkness.
"Great. No water, and I have piss all over me."
He pictured the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink, and then remembered he had bottled water in the refrigerator. He felt around and found his wash cloth draped across the side of the tub. He took his Axe wash, his rag, and headed to the kitchen. With the cold bottle from the ice box, he stepped onto his scorching patio. The frigid water hitched his breath. After scrubbing himself, he left the items sitting on the cement and went to his room to change his clothes.
It's going to get hot without the A/C.
He threw his soiled boxers beside the dresser and donned a new pair. He slid into basketball shorts and flip flops and decided to step outside to see if his neighbors had electricity.
Rob opened the front door and stepped outside. He felt as if he was stepping into an oven. The man that lived in the apartment next to his stood in the grass with his back to Rob. The man, Walt, rested his fists on his hips and scanned the complex. Rob walked to his side.
"So, this is what the front yard looks like."
"Do you have electricity?" asked Rob
"Nope. Was gettin' ready ta cook. We had people comin' over, and they were lookin' forward to my hot wings. I had to call 'em all and cancel."
Damn, my cell phone. Why didn't I charge it when I saw it getting low?
"Now, I'm gonna hafta grill out." Walt Shrugged. "Fine by me. I like 'em on the grill."
"Why are we without electricity? Do you know?"
"Yep. One a them power company trucks came through here, and I flagged 'im down. He said there was a train wreck and it took out a power line. There is a bunch a people without electricity. Might be a day or two for they can restore it."
"A day or two!? I have a business to run and e-mails to answer."
Walt took a handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed his forehead.
"Ya wanna have some wings with us?"
"Oh no. Thanks Walt, but I have..."
Rob couldn't think of what he had that didn't need the oven or a burner.
"Okay, maybe I will."
"Becky's gonna drive cross town 'n get beer 'n ice. If ya need somethin, she won't mind pickin it up for ya."
Rob spent the evening with his next door neighbors and a few others from the complex. He found he enjoyed hearing the laughter, the easy talk, and the community he had only looked at through the window of his apartment or car. He especially enjoyed the company of the exotic Angelina who lived above the elderly widow, Mrs. Teigal.
Mrs. Teigal had shimmied close to Rob and patted him on the knee.
"She's single you know," she whispered and winked.
Rob smiled, pulled two bottles of Pepsi from the cooler with melting ice, and sat next to Angelina. He was grateful to have been pulled away from his computer. He smiled at her. When she returned the smile, he felt like gelatin, and all thoughts of Mr. Belford were gone.
The next day, after the power was restored, Rob cleaned his bathroom and rushed through his work. He finished the e-mail to Mr. Belford, shut down his computer, and headed into the heat of the outdoors to visit his neighbors.