I wake up. Thoughts begin to tumble in my mind.
They come into focus when the rest of me does.
Cold water hits my face in the shower. I don’t flinch. I make it warm and go about washing myself. I remember to check myself for unusual lumps. There’s still pain in my arms from the last few days. I ignore it and move on.
I get out of the shower. I still look more or less clean shaven even though I’m not. My face looks chiseled because I’ve lost weight again. I eat more when I get to eat, but I don’t get to eat as often. My chest is broad, but not solid. I will get that back very soon.
The family coffee gets made while I drink the rest of the old stuff. I’m grinding the beans that my best friend sent me. The smell of fresh beans almost makes up for the noise of the grinder. Fortunately, I am on autopilot. I can switch my mind off to the noise anytime I please.
Coffee is brewing in the kitchen while I run back to my room to set up the laundry. This sets up the second half of my day. It promises to be long.
I drink fresh coffee as I finish the task. Time moves faster than I expect. I guess it really does fly whether or not you’re having fun.
I do a hundred push ups. The first two sets are clips of 25. I do 50 more before I text my best friend on skype. She worries. I scoff, but in secret I worry too ..
I finish getting dressed and I make the mistake of sitting down. I’m not sure I want to get up again, but I haven’t even put on my shoes yet. It’s minutes before work, and I don’t want to go. I do what I must, and push on.
I don’t let on that there’s a pain in my right foot from the blister that popped. I don’t bother to mention that I barely got to eat breakfast. I let it get cold.
I arrive at work. A co worker looks up and says “there he is.” Another co worker smiles. I smile back, but I can tell it’s a tired smile.
I move to the back room and punch in for the day after waiting for five minutes. My brain is already going. My job is a minimum wage job. It will do for now.
I make the mistake of believing that my body can move fast and that my brain will eventually catch up. What else would three massive cups of coffee be good for? I spend the first two hours screwing up book returns. I accidentally process two books from the same publishing company in separate returns. I then proceed to lose the paperwork for one of those returns while I switch the forms for two others. By the time I realize my mistakes, my right eye begins to hurt. I slow down and take a breath. I remember that I saw Sherylin Kenyon’s book. I also remember that I follow her on twitter now in the hopes that she’ll follow me back. I’ve never even read what she’s written, but it’s still wild to have seen her book in my hands .. It’s even wilder to know that Jerry Seinfeld might have been here too, but I missed him.
I don’t follow him on twitter though. I guess I don’t want to be a stand up comedian with a hit television show under my belt.
A full on headache ensues when the next obstacle appears in the form of a six legged menace. A cockroach appears and I stop dead. I’m something like 20 times its size, but I freeze. Childhood memories come flooding back and I want to scream. It’s not the roaches that frighten me, but what their associated with ..
And this makes me angrier than I expect.
My chest heaves when the creature appears again. A young lady points it out to me, and I walk toward it. I try to step on the thing and it scampers, creepy antennae and all. I sigh. I’ve missed my chance to reclaim my manhood.
Stupid emasculating bug.
The third time it manifests, it scuttles toward me. Goosebumps form on my legs as I drop the book I’m scanning. As soon as the book hits the ground, I clench my teeth and stomp after the thing. It scampers away, making a mad dash for the bottom of a metal bookshelf. I go to kick the thing. I want to hear the chiten of its shell crunch underneath my black Lebron James shoes. I want the thing to quiver underneath my foot ..
The fourth time it appears, I am prepared. I have grabbed a book from the “strip” list. The thing was going to get its cover torn off anyway. What a waste. I use it for something much more worthy. With a discuss throw, I hurl the book at the object of my childhood fear and rage. It connects. The book bounces off another bookshelf and sails across the room.
Now I have to clean the thing up. I gather an empty box and a broom, but I still have the fight the shakes for 15 minutes before I get the corpse into the box. It’s severed clean in half.
I hope to God I put the other half in the box too.
Funny thing. As soon as I toss the thing into a trash bag and wrap it up tight, I feel a rush. I’ve done more than kill a stupid cockroach. My childhood fear has become less tangible, somehow. I don’t know if it’s gone, but we’ll call this a step in the right direction.
Work goes a bit more smoothly after that. It seems my brain has caught up with my body. I tear through returns, and get them ready for shipping. I rip through some more, and I get those ready too.
My day is over at 4pm after a last minute cock up. I punch out and head home only to remember I set up laundry. Damnit.
But I have to do it. Nobody else can.
God, why do I feel like Micheal Keaton in a batsuit?
I make the mistake of sitting in my captain’s chair and turning on my computer. I tool around briefly on social media sites. It bores me, but I am addicted to them like I used to be to cigarettes. I need my fix.
I like klout. I miss my facebook friends sometimes.
But I heave the giant rolling bag full of laundry into the living room with little effort. It’s been done before. I’ve been doing this for a year now. The family laundry is the only rent I can pay while I live with my parents. Even now, I don’t make much. Just enough to feel like I have a job.
I heft the large bag downstairs and I begin to feel my body really hurt for the first time. My chest is sore. My back is in pain. My arms quiver. But I can’t let this go.
I won’t spend my only day off between shifts washing clothes.
The laundromat is crowed. Perhaps I was foolish to try to come out here in the evening, but I don’t feel like I have a choice. If I want to rest tomorrow, I’ve got to get this out of the way.
Loading the machine should be easy, but it feels a lot like pulling circus clowns out of one of those old VW Bugs. It’s beginning to piss me off. My right eye hurts worse than before. I drank water at work, but the heat has robbed me of all hydration. The humidity is low, but I don’t quite feel the difference.
I make eye contact with a young, Asian woman and she immediately smiles. I offer a grin, but it feels odd. I don’t know what to do with my face when a woman smiles at me anymore.
It shouldn’t make me angry though.
I turn my head to pretend to busy myself operating the machine I just loaded. I even stop the cycle and start it again just to be sure I “got it right.” She’s not staring anymore, and I feel a sense of relief. It isn’t like me to shrink from a woman’s attention. It bothers me. I must look the way I feel.
I walk to Time’s Square from the laundromat. I feel like a soldier marching to a steady cadence. My bearing feels like that of a warrior. My feet are already throbbing, but I ignore the pain. I just want to move.
As I get closer to Broadway, I realize my mistake. I need to thread my way through a massive crowd. I do what I’ve been doing lately. I push on, refusing to give in. I don’t want them to cut into my work out time. These people don’t have the same need I have to move fast and stay active. I’m thirty two years old. I am not as young as I once was. I feel it catching up with me in attitude more than anything else. I don’t want to waste time. I don’t wish to indulge others their whims. I don’t wish to become overweight and burned out like so many I once knew.
I certainly don’t feel like the asshole that just stepped on my new shoes is going to get a second reprieve.
But the stupid fuckers with their damned smart phones come out. They text when they should be crossing the street. They call people when they should be watching where they walk. Instead, I must watch where they go. That’s been happening too often of late. I shuck and dodge all sorts of arms and legs without batting an eyelash. Little kids whiz by my feet and I don’t miss a step. A cabbie runs a red light and I flip him off as he sails past my back. I do all this without changing the expression on my face much. I’ve learned to duck elbows, canes, umbrellas from stupid pale women in the sun, and the naked cowboy.
Today, the naked cowboy has a naked cowgirl counterpart that looks old enough to be his grandmother. There’s also a naked Indian
Great, so all we need is a naked construction worker and a naked cop and we have the Naked Village People.
Today, I’m fucking impatient.
I call one guy a dickhead before I run past him to cross the street before the light changes. He just stands there texting his life away, unaware of the amazing redhead in the blue dress that just passed him.
I begin to treat the crowd like schools of fish. I am a shark that must dart through them all unseen, eyes scanning the area. I thread through them as though I’m trying to create a wormhole with New Yorker Ninjitsu. I used to think of myself as a linebacker when I was larger. But I’m thinner now. People don’t get out of my way as readily when they see my scowl. I don’t care as long as I can get past them. They all seem like pestilential weeds. I want to cut them down with a samurai weapon and toss them behind me. I’ll move on to the next series of targets and deal with them accordingly.
I go through the next twenty blocks feeling this way. I walk back along fifth avenue with the same alacrity. I am getting stared at again. I don’t know what to do. People look at me as though they should recognize me. It’s creeping me the fuck out.
I go back to the laundromat and throw my clothes in the drier. Then it’s off to Central Park to visit my duck pond.
Only when I get there, it’s kind of crowded and I can’t sit at my favorite Gazebo overlooking the pond. People and their stupid babies want to take pictures by the water. I almost want the kids to drown as they chase the turtle heads that poke out and form golden ripples under the sun.
I sit on a rock by the edge of the pond and try to phase everyone out as I look at the water.
It doesn’t work, but I start to doze off anyway. So much for mind over matter.
I spend fifteen minutes sitting and getting distracted by wandering people and their dogs. When I finally get up, my feet are sending signals to my brain to sit the fuck back down, but I hit the override button in my head and press on. the chafing of my upper thighs begins to burn. My thighs always were a bit too thick, but in this heat, I feel like my skin will be rubbed raw. I bite my lower lip and walk through the pain. I push my limits. I’ve a massive headache and a sudden urge to scream. I’m so tired that everything I see pulsates with the violent waves of a stormy ocean.
I march back to the laundromat feeling like a lonely, unknown soldier. I pass the pain threshold for my feet 10 blocks from the place, but I don’t stop. I am thirsty, but I won’t stop and drink. I must get this done.
It takes too long to fold the clothes that are dry. I am there for an hour folding my father’s button down shirts. I know he’ll ask the same question he always does when I get home.
“Was it crowded?”
I wonder what I’ll tell him.
I trudge back home, watching the light fade from the sky. I’ve got one more mile to go before I sleep. The pain has stretched from my feet to my knees. Each step makes me want to wince, but I don’t bother. What’s the point of acknowledging pain at this point in the mission? I’m almost home free.
A cold beer and a bowl of food sounds just about perfect. So does a foot rub followed by sex. I’ll only get two of the four tonight. I’m sure you can all guess which two.
I have a full blown headache now. I’ve been on my feet for almost fourteen hours. I want desperately to flirt with the women with the short shorts, but I can’t even muster the strength for a sardonic smile. I settle for a grimace. I get gas pains from hunger. I’m almost home though. I’ll make it all better.
I’ll make it alright again.
I’ll rub my own feet and drink a beer.
I’ll celebrate my productive day. I’ll have another one in a couple of days.
I hope my body doesn’t scream at me then the way it is now.