THE TRIP INTO THE CITY took him almost three
hours. Rage dominated his already ugly frame of mind.
“Asshole!” he yelled, honking his horn at the unexpected
car that suddenly pulled out right in front of him. “Who
taught you to drive, slowpoke? Hit that throttle!”
He looked at his fuel gauge. Empty. A stream of curses
spewed from his mouth. He wanted so much and had so
little. Life was unfair. Everything he’d ever cared about had
been taken away from him and all that remained were responsibilities.
The upcoming holiday season only added to
his misery. He hatedThanksgiving. It brought out too many
people, the spirit of Christmas already in their eyes as they
clogged up the streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. Beyond
pathetic, they were blind to other people’s misery, pretending
the world was one big happy place. It was not. Not for
the likes of him.
He drove first to the post office.With any luck, his welfare
check was waiting for him. After finding a parking spot,
he got out of his pickup truck. The frigidNovember blizzard
immediately hit him in the face, and he pulled up his collar
against the snowflakes whirling around. The sidewalk was
just starting to turn white, his boots leaving footprints in the
slick layer. As he rounded the corner to Edison Street, the
force of the cold westerly wind slammed into him. He took
a quick hold of his baseball cap, drawing it further down
to keep it from flying away, and shuddered. His threadbare
camouflage jacket was no match for the almost below freezing
Other pedestrians hustled by, all bundled up and eager
to escape the cold. He envied them their warm coats. He
needed one of those rugged waterproof parkas. Preferably
one with a hood and lots of pockets.That would make life a
At the post office, he opened his box and pulled out
the small stack of mail. The first item that caught his attention
was a red note, informing him his rent for the box was
overdue. He mumbled a harsh word, crushed the note in
his hand and tossed it onto the floor. “That check better be
there,” he mumbled, searching through the stack of letters
and advertisements until he found it. On his way out, he
dumped the rest of the unopened mail in the garbage bin.
Whatever it contained, he didn’t care.
Continuing his drive on fumes, he headed downtown to
cash what had become his only source of income. Without
a phone or a watch, he had no idea of the exact time. The
darkening sky suggested it had to be close to five. When he
reached the bank, it was already closed.
“Damn you people,” he shouted.He banged his right fist
several times against the glass door, leaving dirty smudges all
over. “Lazy sons of bitches! Can’t you work a few minutes
He looked around with wild eyes filled with wrath, his
hands still balled into fists. Several pedestrians hurried to get
out his way. He didn’t even notice their shocked reactions as
he continued to rant and rave. “Get out of my way!”
He lumbered back to his truck. His stomach growled,
and he hadn’t had a cigarette in more than two weeks. He
craved the nicotine more than anything. What now?
Frustrated, he stepped in and slammed his palm against
the steering wheel. He’d spent his last few bucks on gas and
didn’t even have a penny left in his pocket, the mental image
of the double burger and large fries beyond his reach.
Dammit, he needed cash. He needed it now.
All over the city, lights sparkled. Store windows glowed,
filled with decorations and signs, trying to lure in customers
with discounts. The holiday season would kick off with
Thanksgiving only a few days away, followed by Black Friday,
Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. All the cheerfulness
and brightness fueled his resentment. What a way
to spend your time, buying useless gifts nobody wanted or
needed. Didn’t they have anything better to do with their
money? Why not give it to the poor and needy, to someone
Traffic crawled. The snow stopped, turning into a light
drizzle. With luck, he might just make it to the Westside
Soup Kitchen.He’d been there several times in the past. Run
by several priests, or some other religious dudes, the food
was decent. They even served a second helping if someone
asked. With the holiday season, people were more generous
to the hungry and donations to shelters increased. Who
knew? They might even offer dessert.
He left his truck and walked the last few blocks. On the
way, he passed an All-American diner, an Italian restaurant,
and two burger joints. The delicious smell of roasted meat
and french fries tickled his senses andmade himsalivate.His
anger against the bank flared up again. He would have given
anything for a juicy burger smothered in cheese and several
thick strips of bacon, or for a bucket of fried chicken with
mashed potatoes and gravy. Instead, he would probably wind
up eating spaghetti and cheap white dinner rolls, or Spanish
rice with sticks of celery and iceberg salad.
One of the city buses came to a halt next to him, the
screeching brakes drawing his attention. The doors opened
and people streamed out on the sidewalk in front of him.
Others waited to climb on board, blocking his path. He
stopped and waited, his hands deep in his pockets, until he
noticed the colorful advertisement on the side of the bus.
It read – ‘Protection for all you hold dear. CallOverland
Insurance’ - in bold lettering, with two men and two women
on either side, all four dressed to perfection, smiling brightly
with their too white, orthodontia-enhanced teeth.
He felt sucker punched in the belly and his blood started
to boil. He knew that insurance agency too damn well. The
Overland family! Definitely the last name he needed to see
today. Acid-filled resentment flooded his throat, and disgusted,
he spat on the sidewalk. He detested those people,
hated them. They’d caused his troubles. They were to blame
for his misery. Somebody should destroy them, make them
burn in hell. That’s what they deserved.