Perfect Perspective (Weekly Writing Challenge)

Perfect Perspective (Weekly Writing Challenge)

 (C’mon folks, it’s Saturday afternoon.  If you haven’t looked at The Daily Post and their suggestion for the week, you’re kinda lagging behind.  Hop to!)

Let me just begin by saying that there are two sides to every story. This is my side, the right one. “ –Easy A

**********

“I can’t believe that jerk almost killed me.” 

a3500_einstein1_gCarlos tore off his ski mask angrily and stormed in the door.  His hair raged like his temper; clumps of brown follicles thrust this way and that in an unintentional homage to Einstein.  The rest of his body was not keen to rest either.  His tempest of frustration surged.  Carlos tore off his gloves and jogging shoes.  He paced back and forth in his living room as he pulled of his jogging pants and shirt.

Making his way for the shower, Carlos still couldn’t calm himself down.  He stepped into the hot water and felt the moisture stream down on him.  Normally he turned the hot water on and then tempered it with some cold for the ideal amount of heat.  Tonight, Carlos let the shower spray out stinging pellets of scorching water to fuel his fury.  His sore body yielded and relaxed under the showerhead.  The physical exhaustion was ebbing, but not Carlos’ indignation at the event.

Carlos had thought going for an evening run would be a nice source of relaxation.  He had a ski mask that he wanted to break in for the ski trip that Connie and he were taking for Christmas.  Also, it had been getting colder outside and the thought of not having dribbling snot and sweat freeze to his face held an appeal for him.  In his dark-shaded attire, Carlos had made his way around the city streets.

The first few miles had been the same as they always were.  It took Carlos a bit to get his legs warmed up and loose.  In another mile, his lungs had adjusted to the thirty degree chill.  The only problem with Carlos’ chosen route was the lack of sidewalks.  The residential streets where he lived had nice little paved strips for him to travel on.  Besides the occasional garbage can that waited patiently to be picked up by early morning sanitation workers or mailboxes that took up permanent residence at the edge of the curb, the route was obstacle-free.  However, further away from the houses and mowed lawns were the city streets.

Back when the area had first been established, jogging was probably the furthest thing from the city planners’ minds.  No one was buying running shoes or meandering about the town for exercise seventy years ago.  So it was that the sidewalks soon gave way to vehicle lanes.   Carlos loathed racing in the same lane as cars, but he hadn’t seen any viable alternatives.  He wanted his ten miles and there were only so many routes available to him.  He wasn’t about to jog the same block over and over just because some moron on his Bluetooth couldn’t yield to a pedestrian.  Regardless of his stubbornness and his determination, Carlos would have admitted that the whole thing made him nervous.  The man had long been worried about an incident just like the one that happened that night.

For the first hundred yards on the street, things had been fine.  Carlos hugged the edge of the road, trying to give the cars as much room as possible.  Some cars honked at him, others swerved into the middle lane at the last moment.  All these activities were rather normal and the intrepid runner was able to take it all in stride.  That was before the blue four-door.

In the last stretch of the street route, Carlos noticed a car coming up behind him.  The headlights cast an eerie glow over his shoulder.  Unlike the other double-lit signs of approach, these were unyielding.  As the circles of light 549787_3225555432071_1788332779_nbecame more distinct, Carlos’ fear became greater.  To his left was the inside lane of traffic which was heavily populated with more vehicles.  To his right, Carlos saw the concrete barrier that kept him from falling off the edge and plummeting down a hundred feet to the lake below.  The car continued to approach Carlos.  He knew his escaping unharmed was entirely on him.  He scurried up onto the foot-wide perch on the top of the barrier and tried to keep from falling either down the steep drop or back into the path of the car. 

Suddenly, the blue four-door noticed the pedestrian.  It honked, swerved to the left, and screeched its brakes all at the same time.  The vehicles in the middle lane also stomped on their brakes and narrowly missed the other cars when they darted across the double-yellow line and back again.  The blue four-door somehow missed colliding with any other cars.  A man threw the passenger door open and screamed to Carlos who was lowering himself from atop the concrete wall.  He ignored the curses and angry shouts when he realized that the car wasn’t going to stop and apologize.  Sure enough, the car door slammed and the blue four-door sped away.

Carlos turned off the shower and dried himself.  His anger had almost entirely dissipated, but he still couldn’t understand why the event had happened. 

Cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians.  Yeah I was a little hard to see, but that’s the social contract people sign when they get behind the wheel.  Why couldn’t they stop gabbing at each other and focus on, I dunno, the road?  There was a time when joggers weren’t required to wear headlamps and reflective gear.  What happened to letting people not die?  There are too many distractions and too many displays in cars these days.  I’m sorry, but once you start putting DVD players in vehicles, you’re just asking for trouble.

Putting on a t-shirt and his most beaten up pair of jeans, Carlos decided to relax on the couch.  He knew he wouldn’t have the television to himself for long, so he pulled out The Three Stooges.  His wife never understood the comedic brilliance that they were performing.  Carlos got it though, and he was in the mood for some laughter.

Sure enough, as the credits started to roll, the sound of Connie’s car was heard as she pulled into the garage.  The car door slammed.  The door to the garage slammed.  Finally, Connie walked through the living room and threw her bags on the counter with a mighty thud.

“Unbelievable!”

“Honey?  Connie?  Are you okay?”

“You would not guess what happened to me.  Morons, Carlos.  We’re living in a world of morons!”

“Tell me about it.  I mean, just an hour ago…”

“I’m sorry dear”, she interrupted.  “Do you mind if I go first?  I want to… I mean… I’m so angry!”

Carlos nodded without saying a word.  He had pacified himself and his wife was clearly still incensed at her day.  He turned off the television, waved her over, and let his wife collapse onto him.  Connie sighed, slumped onto the soft cushions, and let her head rest lazily on Carlos’ shoulder. 

“It’s good to be home”, Connie said with an exhausted tone.  The relieved attitude didn’t last long.

“I still don’t see how anyone could be so stupid!”  Connie leapt to her feet and started pacing in front of the television.  Nothing that flickered across the screen could dare be as animated as the enraged woman was and Carlos gave her his utmost attention.

“You remember how Stan and I had to make this presentation downtown tonight, right?  That’s where I was for the last few hours?”

Carlos only nodded, knowing the questions that would be thrown out were only rhetorical.

“Well the whole thing went great.  I expect them to offer us a contract in the next few days.  Stan and I are happy little coworkers.  We head for his car since I left mine parked at the office.  We’ve talked about his hybrid before.  I wanted to know how it handled.  I mean, how much have I spent on gas in the last six months?

“Anyway, Stan offers to let me drive his car.  He takes the passenger side, I slide behind the wheel, and we make our way back to the office.  Traffic was awful.  There was some accident by the first intersection.  It blocked things up for I don’t know how long.  Then… then came the real kicker.

“I think everything’s going to be fine.  I figure we’re through the worst of it.  But no.  I’m driving along the city road and the most incredibly asinine person gets in my way.”

Carlos started to feel a tingling down the back of his neck.  He didn’t understand what it meant at that precise moment, but he soon would.

“Someone, some complete buffoon who’s too stupid to run on a track like a smart person, decides that the street is the perfect place to get his jollies.”

After that, Carlos could only stare on in horror.

“I mean, he wasn’t even smart about it!  Was he wearing white?  No!  Was he running in the opposite direction of the cars like he’s supposed to?  Of course not.  And why would he be out jogging at night time?  Is he suicidal?  Do joggers have some sort of death wish to offset their need to be healthy?  I mean, c’mon!”

“Uh, Connie?”

“So there I am.  I’m driving a car that I’m still trying to figure out, and there’s this jogger.  In the road!  Not off to the side, not on some sidewalk.  He’s in the flippin’ road!  Doesn’t he know that there’s a massive cliff on the other side?  Of all the asinine behaviors…  And he’s wearing all black!  Who wears all black anymore?  Emo-running is the hip new thing now?  I just, I can’t even believe it.  I need to take a shower and calm down.” 

Connie sighed and stopped pacing.  She looked at her husband, took a deep breath, and kissed him. 

“I’m glad I’m home.  Would you be a darling and cook dinner while I scrub this atrocious night off of me?  Thanks.”

“Uh, honey?  What kind of a car does Stan drive?”

“I told you”, she said as she made her way down the hallway.  “It’s a hybrid.”

“What kind?”  Carlos could feel himself twitch with fear as he asked the dreaded question.

13203533121548009075ski-mask-psd7675-md“I don’t know, Carlos.  It’s a hybrid.  His is blue.  It’s a four-door.  What do you want me to tell you?  And why is that new ski mask I bought you on the floor?  What have you been up to?”

The Dangers of a Safety Meeting

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Dangers of a Safety Meeting

There is more real pleasure to be gotten out of a malicious act, where your heart is in it, than out of thirty acts of a nobler sort.” -Mark Twain

Kenneth sat in the safety meeting that his work had required him to attend.  Kenneth slid around uncomfortably on the plastic chair that was made more for its stackable-form than for actually sitting.  Kenneth fidgeted and looked to the paper bag at his feet.  Five more minutes, Kenneth thought to himself.  Five more minutes and I’m wrapping this meeting up.

Kenneth didn’t feel that safety was something that needed to be focused on.  His school of thought was that if you were a klutz, then you should be careful.  If you were a coordinated individual, then you should avoid ice patches and falling pianos.  People needed to follow those simple guidelines and that was all there was to it.  Should a person cut their hand with a knife, they should put on a bandage and shut up.  Kenneth was the “heal with duct tape or super glue” type and had no patience for lessons on how to bend with his knees.  To Kenneth, if you couldn’t lift a box, you were a wimp.

Yet, because the pencil-necked little runt was in charge of things and Kenneth wasn’t, the man found himself waiting for the clock to count down to his freedom.  The presenter was droning on about the “dangers of extension cords” and how they were a tripping hazard waiting to happen.  Kenneth looked at the stranger and assumed that he was a consultant.  “Consultants” in Kenneth’s mind translated to “over-paid talkers”.  Kenneth felt his eyes drooping so he turned his attention out the window.

The view was the only saving grace that Kenneth had.  He always assumed that the company shouldn’t have allowed the blinds to be open if they really wanted him to pay attention.  The Stalwart Shipping Company occupied the forty-fourth floor of the skyscraper.  The building itself was the closest skyscraper to the ocean and the view was astounding.  In the distance Kenneth could see ferries lazily shuttling across the water while several smaller boats puttered about the coastline.  Further down the waterfront were the shipping lanes, but Kenneth had as much interest in the docks as he did in the presentation.  He looked at the water, the blue sky above, and back at the water.  If he were taking in the view under different circumstances, it would have been quite relaxing.

The trouble was that Kenneth wanted to be out in the world, not sitting and looking out at the panoramic view.  It was Friday afternoon.  He had a ticket to the baseball game in his pocket.  He had served the company well all week.  No one had gotten past his security checkpoint.  No unexpected visitors had gotten in.  He was a fine employee, a dues-paying union man, and it was almost time for him to punch out.  The company had gotten thirty-nine hours and fifty-five minutes out if him.  They were not going to get much more.

Kenneth rubbed his hands on his knees.  He felt the need to be free growing stronger within him.  He flipped open his phone and compared the time to the clock on the wall.  Both clocks told him that it was four fifty-nine.  Kenneth began to count down from a hundred and pulled the paper sack closer.  He didn’t want to cause a ruckus, he only wanted to leave.  The paper bag was just in case.

Lonnie Johnson, the creator of the Super Soaker.

The presenter was obviously oblivious to Kenneth’s feelings.  He continued to prattle on.  Kenneth could see that all of his coworkers were as anxious to leave as he was.  Well, everyone except the head of marketing, who had arranged the meeting in the first place after he had sprained his ankle.  Kenneth rolled his eyes at the accident.  If they hadn’t been giving tours of the warehouse, the clod wouldn’t have tripped over the crate.  Or the suit could have just watched where he was going.  Kenneth shook his head.  Now why would you ever do that, he thought to himself sarcastically.

“I know we’re a little behind, but we have just a few more slides.”

Kenneth’s eyes lit up with rage.  The presenter actually thought that Kenneth was going to sit there and listen to more of this.  The presenter was wrong.

Kenneth stood up and started walking towards the door.  The chairs around him started to swivel in his direction as the others saw him leaving.

“Kenneth?  We’re actually not quite done here”, the suit stated.

“It’s five o’clock.  I gotta punch out.  Union regs.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to stay.  I’m sure we can work out the details.”

That was it.  Kenneth hadn’t wanted the opportunity to present itself before, but now he almost relished his planning.  With a sudden move, he reached into the paper bag, pulled out a water balloon, and lobbed it into the air.  It landed on the shiny wood desk, bursting open and thoroughly soaking his higher-up in their precious suit, the presenter, and the presenter’s over-priced laptop.

“I said, I gotta go.”

Kenneth walked out of the room and slapped a few high-fives.  He walked out as a few people whispered their appreciation to him.  There would be repercussions, perhaps even some sort of write up.  Kenneth wasn’t too worried.  One of the men that had high-fived him was the union rep.

Safety could wait for later.  Kenneth had a ball game to enjoy.

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