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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2095846
A businessman reads the headline of the newspaper and tries to avoid the outcome.
The Paperboy

Dan Richter

Chapter 1

         Steve opened the front door and stepped outside. "Donna? There's no newspaper again", Steve yelled.

         "Just pick one up on your way to work", Donna said as she poured him a cup of coffee. "You will just need to leave a few minutes earlier than you normally do."

         "I like to read the headlines as I drink my coffee, though."

         "Well, get a cup of coffee at work, and read the paper as you drink it", Donna said with a smile.

         Steve Lyons was the type of person who had a set routine. If anything messed with that routine, he was instantly grumpy. Donna, his wife, on the other hand, liked to be more spontaneous, which could really bother Steve. When going on vacation, Steve would have every activity planned out to the minute. Donna always liked to suggest something else, just to bother him.

         "I'd better leave so that I can get a newspaper."

         "Have a good day, Dear. I love you", Donna said.

         "I love you too. Maybe you can call and find out why the paper didn't come today?"

         "I can do that."

         As Steve walked to his car, he was looking into the neighbor's yards, to see if they got their newspaper. It didn't appear they did. Steve backed the car out of the driveway, and waved to Donna, at the front door. They had a modest, ranch style home, just outside of downtown. It wasn't a long drive for him to get to work, but further than he wanted to walk.

         Steve stopped at the coffee shop on his way into work. As the day was already looking like a rough one, he got a large coffee, with two extra shots of expresso. When Steve parked his car at work, he said, "I could have bought a paper at the coffee shop."

Chapter 2

         Steve was muttering to himself as he walked down the busy street, to get to the entrance of the building he worked in. At fifteen stories, it was one of the taller buildings in this city. Steve's office was located on the tenth floor, as did the offices of the other associate marketers in his firm. As he weaved through the people, in order to make any headway on the sidewalk, he notices a young boy selling newspapers ahead of him. Finally, I can get the paper and see what's happening in this world, he thought.

         When he got close to the boy, Steve heard him say, "Newspaper! 50 cents!" The boy's blue eyes were focused on Steve, as though they were piercing through him. It made him feel a little uncomfortable, but he really wanted a newspaper.

         Steve reached into his pocket and grabbed two quarters. As he handed them to the boy, he said, "I'll take a paper."

         "Here you go, Sir", the boy replied with a grin.

         Steve didn't even look at the paper. He tucked it under his arm and proceeded to enter the building. Once inside, he pressed the button for the elevator. As he waited, he took a glance at the headlines on the front page. 'Man Jumps From Office Window!' The elevator still wasn't there, so he continued to read part of the story. 'Steve Lyons, a successful marketer, jumped from his office window yesterday afternoon.' Wait a minute, Steve thought. How could I have jumped out my window yesterday, when I'm here now?

         He glanced up at the date on the newspaper and noticed it had tomorrows date on it. "This has to be someone's idea of a bad joke", he said, as he walked back outside. He wanted to find out from the paperboy, who had put him up to this. Once outside, he looked in both directions on the sidewalk but didn't see the paperboy anywhere. Steve stopped one of the men walking by and asked, "Did you see a boy selling newspapers on this block?"

         "No, I haven't. Sorry", the man said, and continued walking.

         Steve goes back inside the building, not sure what is happening. He finds a place to sit down in the lobby, to read the rest of the story. This has to be a sick joke, he thought as he started to read.

         'Steve Lyons, a successful marketer, jumped from his office window yesterday afternoon.'

         "No! This isn't going to happen", Steve exclaimed. He left the building and decided to go home for the day.

Chapter 3

         Steve hurried into the house and slammed the front door. He was panting, both from running to the house, and his nerves.

         "What are you doing home so early?", Donna asked.

         "I've decided to work from home today", Steve decided not to worry her with the newspaper article. "I'll be in the computer room if you need me."

         "Ok. I'll be quiet, so I don't disturb your work."

         After the children had grown up and moved on with their lives, Steve and Donna took over the two bedrooms. One of them was converted into a computer room, as Steve did not like having the computer accessible during family time. The other was converted into a craft room for Donna. She had her sewing machine and different 'crafty things', as Steve called them, all set up in there.

         Steve sat at the computer desk and stared through the computer monitor for quite a while. "There was no way I can jump out my office window when I'm not even in my office", he said to himself. "I had better get some work done though. I do have that presentation due on Friday, as long as I'm still here."

         Steve turned the computer on and waited for it to go through all of the initial startup. Just as the computer was about ready to use, Steve's cell phone rang. "Hello"

         "Steve, where are you at?" Steve's boss asked him.

         "I wasn't feeling well, so I'll be working from home today."

         "Don't forget about the major project we're working on. I'll need to see what you have by Friday."

         "That's exactly what I'm working on right now", Steve only bent the truth a bit. He would be working on it shortly.

         "Ok, well, get better. I'll see you tomorrow." Click.

         "I sure hope so", Steve said, knowing his boss had already hung up.

Chapter 4

         While Steve was in the computer room, he heard Donna in the next room. She was always starting crafting projects but didnât finish many. He figured it gave her something to do while she watched the morning shows on tv.

         He would get upset with her when she would notice a fabric or craft store was having a sale. She would come home with bags of fabric and supplies, that he knew would sit in the closet. She still had material that she was going to use to make a shirt for our son when he was little. Now, our son is twenty-five years old, and the material is still in the closet.

         She had told him about the current project she was working on. It was something to do with beads for bracelets. He really didnât understand most of the crafts she did.

         It was now approaching lunch time, and there was a knock on the door.


         "Yes?", he replied

         Donna opened the door and peeked her head inside. "Is everything alright?"

         "Yes, why wouldn't it be?"

         "I was just curious, as you don't usually bring work home", she said.

         "I just wasn't feeling very well when I got there, so I thought I'd work on the project from home today."

         "Ok, do you want me to make something for lunch? I usually just have a sandwich, myself."

         "A sandwich sounds good. Thank you."

         After the door closed, Steve thought about how he would never bring work home. He had started the rule of the house stating, work is for at work, and home is for family time. He knew that Donna would be thinking something was wrong. It would end up being a conversation at dinner time.

Chapter 5

         Steve was trying to work on his marketing project but was having problems concentrating on what he was doing. The thought of him diving out of his office window had scared him. I hope that with me staying home, I can avoid it, But what if it just changes the date? Maybe instead of today, it happens tomorrow. I have to go into the office at some time.

         He was slowing making progress on his project when he smelled smoke. At first, it was just the slightest hint of smoke, but the smell grew in intensity very quickly. "Donna? Do you have something in the oven?" He yelled. There was no response. "DONNA!?"

         Steve got up and jogged over to the door, when he grabbed the handle, it was hot. He quickly let go, and felt the wood of the door, and it was also hot to the touch. "DONNA!!" Steve pounded on the door, as smoke started coming under the door into the computer room. The room was filling up with smoke, so he pounded again on the door. "DONNA!!!!!" He was starting to choke on the smoke.

         Finally, he heard Donna say something about a fire extinguisher, but he was having troubles hearing her with his coughing. When he couldn't handle the smoke anymore, he went across the room to the window and opened it. Some of the smoke was leaving, but not enough, he thought as he jumped out the window. When he landed on the ground, about three feet below the window, he started to laugh. The coughing had just about stopped, but Steve was laughing so hard he was crying.

         Donna finally appeared at the open window, she was saying something about a hot glue gun and fire extinguisher. Steve was unable to hear her well enough to understand.

         "What did I miss?"

         Steve stopped laughing long enough to say, "The rest of the article."

         What article? Donna looked confused, but Steve ran the entire article through his head while laughing even harder.

         'Steve Lyons, a successful marketer, jumped from his office window yesterday afternoon. A fire had started in a nearby room, that grew quickly, and trapped the marketer in his office. The fire was put out within minutes with the use of fire extinguishers, but not before Steve leaped from his window.'

© Copyright 2016 D John Richter (drpanther at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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