One hour earlier…
It was the middle of the night, about 2:30am. Brian was walking his dog through the deserted Boston streets, aside from a few drunk twenty-something’s, homeless beggars and the odd junkie. He continued on, unhindered, looking straight ahead, only averting his gaze from directly in front of him to check on his dog, George. Brian took George for a walk most nights now as he had little else to be doing since losing his job a few weeks ago. The forty-seven year old had been made redundant by the new owners who took over ‘ValuStore’ a few months previously. He’d basically prepared himself for it as there had been news of lay-offs ever since the new owners had bought the company. And it’s not like he was an important asset, he had worked in the stock room for the past eight years, never even being promoted to front of house staff. That basically summed up his life he thought; no wife, no children, no family, he just faded into the background and continued on quietly. That was exactly what he was trying to do now, not draw any unwanted attention from those around him. He was far from a threatening character though, which made him more confident walking through these streets. He thought no one would think to bother or harass a forty-seven year old, greying, quiet guy, as opposed to someone, perhaps, more sure of them self. They continued walking, George, a small, grey, scruffy looking Jack Russell, presumably mixed with something else, though he wasn’t sure what. In many ways, George wasn’t all that different from Brian; getting old, going grey, scruffy and not many people gave him much attention. George was relatively short for a man, about 5’7”. He had a gained bit of paunch forming ever since he was sacked. His hair was going from a dark brown to a light grey and was receding to boot. His beard obviously hadn’t been trimmed in a few days. ‘What’s the point in shaving?’ he often thought in the mornings, or late afternoons it usually was when he would get up now.
He was turning the corner to get back to his apartment. There was a light dusting of rain in the air now, his old brown, stained coat getting a little darker in shade every few seconds. He took the keys from his pocket and got them ready to insert into the lock of the fast approaching door. He had it well timed now; he knew exactly when to retrieve his keys from his pocket to have them ready at the exact moment he approached the door. It was something of an art he thought, being able to have your routine and timing so perfect. Though, the fact that he’d all of this time to perfect the routine saddened him slightly. George, however, was no doubt happier that Brian had lost his job. He saw him a lot more now, and got taken far more walks, even if they were in the middle of the night. George put the key in the lock and turned it. He pushed the door open and made sure George and his lead were inside before he gently pushed it closed. Inside the dingy hallway were two wooden doors to the left and one to the right. On the ceiling were two hanging light bulbs, only one of which that worked however. The walls were covered in a dark green and brown wallpaper, most of which was either peeling off, had been pulled off or had graffiti sprayed over it. Brian proceeded past the door to his right and ascended the stairs just after it. His apartment was on the second floor. He made his way up the first flight of stairs and onto the first landing. He then climbed the second flight of stairs, this time a little more out of breath, which in fairness, was allowed considering he had just walked about three miles in the middle of the night. As he approached the top of the second flight of stairs he could detect a burning smell. It was only feint but it was definitely there. He wasn’t too worried though, ‘Probably just someone having a late night snack,’ he thought to himself. But when he opened his front door he took in a sudden breath of smoke. He could see a feint wall of smoke in front of him. He let go of the dog’s lead and began searching for the source. The living room, which was the first room that met him as we entered the apartment, seemed to be devoid of any flames, the kitchen, which was to the left of the living room through an archway was also clear. He jogged from the kitchen to his bedroom, accessible at the other end of the living room. In there was smoke coming from a socket beside the bed, into which a lamp was plugged in. The lamp was off so he was unsure what had caused it, unless he had left the lamp on and something had happened to it. Regardless, there were no flames, only smoke emanating from the socket. He took his mobile phone from his left pocket and dialled 911. He kept a close eye on the socket while the fire brigade were on their way. He spotted them arrive through the window. He rushed out of the apartment and down stairs to tell them where the smoke was coming from. Within a few minutes they had sorted the problem, despite the fact a section of Brian’s wall had been hacked away. The fire brigade couldn’t explain what had happened, saying it was probably a problem with wiring and to have it looked at by an electrician. The fire brigade were only there a few minutes but had certainly stopped the problem becoming any bigger. Meanwhile, Brian was left with a hole in his wall and an apartment which stank of smoke. He thought he should claim on his insurance sooner rather than later, as being out of work he couldn’t afford to delay. He got himself a glass of water from the kitchen and retrieved his insurance documents from the wardrobe in his bedroom. He sat on the couch in his living room, which was now rife with the smell of smoke. He called the number on the top of the policy, and after waiting on the line for a few minutes was redirected to a call centre in London, what with it being the middle of the night in London. After more waiting he was transferred to a gentle sounding English woman. “Hello, Kate speaking, may I have your name please?” the voice on the end of the phone said. Brian went on to explain his situation.
Brian was told someone would be visiting him that day to assess his claim. For now, he would have in an ideal work checked into a hotel, but considering his financial situation he would have to stay in his smoke-rife apartment. He made his way into the bedroom, which aside from having a hole about two feet in diameter cut in the wall was covered in dirt and plaster from said wall. His bed was pushed into the middle of the already quite small room. He took off his clothes, looking at the window as he did so, a forlorn expression etched onto his face. It would seem anyone else would have either turned to drink or smashed another, hole in wall at this stage, but not Brian. He was cool and calm. He had been his whole life, he was used to disappointments and let downs. He saw his whole life as a disappointment and couldn’t really think of any ‘highlights.’ He, for all intents and purposes, was about as close to broken man as you could get, without actually being ‘broken.’ This experience was merely another let down in a life already filled with them. It was almost an ordinary day to him. He pulled his remaining sock off his left foot and dropped it onto the plaster covered carpet. He pushed back the covers in his bed and climbed in. He pulled the covers over himself and just lay staring at the ceiling. After about twenty minutes he finally nodded off to sleep. Usually he wouldn’t rise again until well after midday, but he would awaken tomorrow as the assessor was arriving at 10am. Once he was asleep George, who had been lying on the ground by the side of the bed staring at Brian, jumped up onto the bed now that the coast was clear. He made camp at the foot of the bed. Brian was awoken, opened his eye and noticed George at the foot of the bed. He let George carry on, and went back to sleep, realising have the dog at the bottom of his bed was hardly the worst thing that could happen to him that day.
CHAPTER THREE COMING IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS – LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK SO FAR! THANKS.
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