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Grey. Luminous clouds, shades of black umbrellas swirled through the window’s glass. Dark, bland, repetitive, he noticed the people maintaining their composure while they maneuvered through traffic
heading in the opposite direction. Sitting in the backseat of a metallic black compact Navigator he sat staring out the right side window. The dark tint reflected a faint reflection of himself.
Staring at himself he sat there. Well kept light brown hair, green eyes, short jaw, and a white polo shirt, he looked average.
The driver, a dark haired short man with freckles, tapped his skull every time the car was not in motion, changing lanes back and fourth to occupy himself. On the right side of the driver’s shirt was a name tag, it read : Brad. Brad was his driver’s name. He and Brad had not exchanged much words since the start of the trip. Come to think of it, Brad didn’t say much after their short introduction besides, “Another day, another dollar.” Great, well at least Brad seemed determined to arrive to the location.
Stopping at a red light he noticed a pair of individuals shaking hands out of a local tools and utilities store. He noticed the similarities between both men, blue jeans, black sweatshirts and two toned gray baseball caps with the same logo. Repetition, it was everywhere.
The drive wasn’t that long after the first 12 minutes of heavy traffic in the busy metropolitan area of the city. They approached a freeway entrance soon after leaving the downtown area and had reached the destination in what appeared to be five minutes. Brad circled the compact and seemingly full parking lot while he viewed the surroundings of the location he had reached.
The car came to a complete stop, to the left of it a blue mitsubishi and to the right a grey Ford f-150. Brad placed a cigarette behind his ear and said, “All right then, we are here.” Brad handed him a lightweight medium envelope, it read : Mephisto’s Sculpture. Brad fixed his bow tie as he closed the door and walked out. “Meet you back here in two hours.”
He grabbed the envelope and placed it in the seat next to his. Red laces, red stitching, cement grey tongue his shoes snug fitly on his feet. Shoes tied, levi’s 511 wrapped around his waist, white bow tie placed above his white checkered shirt he brushed a finger along his hair. Opened the door placing one foot on the ground he noticed an extensive ray of warmth hit him directly.
Green. Blue. Yellow. Gray. He took steps along the concrete heading in the direction of the market in the opposite direction of the sand. Kids ran and yelled, girlfriends tugged on the shoulders of their significant others and old people slowly strolled by, absorbing a rejuvenating mist. Occasionally an exhilarating push of wind would come along brushing amongst his ears manipulating his posture. He walked smiling at his casual encounters with strangers, lifeguards and law officials.
He entered the market and he noticed two employees and 4-5 other customers in the store. The people in the store looked to the door as soon as the bell rang as he opened the door. He exchanged an empty stare with the curious room who continued to inspect him as if he was a strange specimen to their community. He took a step forward and immediately the store had resumed to carry on its transactions and item gathering. He continued to approach the register staring at open space never looking down. The cashier noticed him and asked, “May, I help you?.”
He pointed at a pair of black flip flops with a dark rubber padding on the bottom. As the cashier retrieved the item he placed a tube of sunscreen on the counter. “That will be 12.24.” Located within his charcoal armadillo skin wallet he placed a ten and five dollar bill in the cashiers hands. Upon receiving his change back he left behind the currency given to him in coin. He walked out where he noticed two of the women who had conducted their purchases before him talking amongst each other. Blonde, one had a darker blonde that resembled rays off light bouncing off desert sand while the other’s version of blonde seemed more synthetic as if highlighted by a coat of yellow.
The woman stopped their conversation as he walked by them as if terrified he would learn what they were talking about. One of the blondes bit her lip as he looked into her eyes, indifferent he continued to walk towards the bench. Removing his sneakers and socks he wore his new sandals. He picked up his belongings and walked towards a green bin with a large circular sign notifying it of its waste use. He threw the socks away in the bin. As he took his first step in sand he felt the small bristles of damp soil hit his toes. Refreshing, cool he brushed his hair out of place and strolled along the imprints left by today’s current visitors. Women in swimsuits, topless men in shorts, the crowd was young and active as he saw participants involved in recreational activities such as volleyball, surfing or even plain old Marco Polo. He pictured the women’s hair as if they were floating paintbrushes, thin and wavy.
Still in jeans he found a pleasant, slightly less populated area to stand and draw a point of view sketch of the area he had just walked by. He removed his jeans to reveal a pair of dark basketball shorts worn under his jeans. Red and white stripes playing it cool with Traditional American Apparel. He sat down and took a moment to take in the environment. He felt the cold breeze caress his cheeks, while the wind tumbled through his hair. The sand rested among his foot slowly insulating his body. Cautiously looking around his surroundings he marks on his small sketchbook. Opening the envelope he had received earlier he read : “Reach the cliff on the East, and notify Brad upon arrival.”
After covering a couple pages with graphite, he stood up gazing at a cliff approximately a few hundred feet away. He put his sketchbook in his back pocket and started trotting towards the mountain terrain. A group of teenagers swapped turns on a boogie board riding the nearest waves crashing against the sand slowly, retracting even slower. He saw as the shortest one took his turn and fell off the board loosing his balance. His friends circled around him and taunted him for his goof.
In the distance he saw what could be a a boogie board, maybe a fire pit or just trash left behind by beach visitors. A faint breeze pushed past him, the item did not budge. It was grey almost a fading black as if slowly sinking into the dry, compact sand. It caught his attention briefly but payed no mind to it gazing further beyond it unto the cliff. He took short strides at a continuous paces until the dark object was but 20 ft away.
A faint gasp similar to a murmur escaped from the grey body. He stared at the object in disbelief. He froze, not sure of what to do next. Was he imagining, he looked around to see no other beach goers near by. It was low tide, a tranquil harmonious sound flowed through the air only to be interrupted by the occasional squaw of a seagull. He took a step closer and the sound bounced off his eardrum clearer. Instantaneously after picking up the disturbed noise, he jumped to the object and turned it around.
A young seal remained on its side motionless along the moist floor. Near its lower right leg fresh skin was visible resembling a chewed up piece of bubble gum.Dried up liquid ran down the animal’s lower body and tail. He assumed the blood on the floor had been soaked by the sand or washed away by the reoccurring waves splashing amongst the ground. Jagged edges shaped the wound, it appeared to be an attack most likely from a shark . A couple droplets of crimson colored blood slowly oozed out of the wound like mucus clinging to the end of a nostril on a sick child with flu. He looked around again to realize no one was near by.
Cliff. He took 5 steps away from the seal in the direction of the cliff but stopped and kicked his feet on the sand. He looked at the waves, the clouds, his cellphone; he had no reception. Chills trembled along his body escaping out of his ear drums. Petrified like an iceberg he slowly melted on the beach sand while staring at the clouds for an answer. The crying seal’s heavy breaths ringed and echoed in his ears.
He took a seat on the sand next to the seal. The creature moved his flipper arm towards him, he stared silently at it. When he made an attempt to grasp the animal, the animal fidgeted around making it impossible to hold. Taking a moment to examine the creature he removed his clothing rendering him topless. He grabbed the A-shirt he was previously wearing a few seconds ago and lunged toward the creature. He applied his arm and upper body weight preventing the seal from squirming around. The seal let out a low constant moan that resembled a low pitch on the trombone. Quickly he applied his A-shirt on the bleeding wound dyeing the cotton threads a dark pomegranate red. Wrapping the shirt around the wound he quickly seals and covers the open injury. The seal moved its limbs besides the injured one and continued to cry in agony.
The continuing fading shriek bouncing off the sea mammal’s mouth pestered him leaving him with a disgruntled expression. Tarter sauce. The day he decides to care nothing works for him, what must he do to accomplish a good deed. He rubs the creatures paw on the injured leg, the animal remains unaffected by his touch numbed to his exposure. Grunting he relocates his hand near the animal’s torso. Upon doing so he is noticed and swatted away by the creature.
Leaving the animal unattended he directs his attention towards the pants laying on the ground next to him. He stretches forward placing his hand in the pockets of the pants. He jiggles around and removes his hand out of the jeans revealing a bagged item in his left hand. His spine curled back straight as he fixed his sitting posture, sand sliding off his shirt like steel head trout flowing down river. The item he had just grabbed was a bag of precut apples. He opens the bag and inspects a slice of apple. He offers the animal the slice who at first inspects is wary of the piece of fruit. The animal pecks at it with its nose eventually placing the fruit in its mouth. The animal gnawed at the fruit loudly like a lawn mower on a saturday morning. After a few heavy snaps and bites the seal let out a cry while flopping around in the same spot like a fish recently out of water.
Aggravated he let out a sigh, what to do next. He grabbed the seal and placed it across his arm. After standing up, he walked towards the large body of water. Upon getting close he kneels keeping the animal in his knees. He makes a cup with his hands filled of water and brings it close to the animal. The animal shows no reaction nor interest, so he splashes the animal with water. The seal frantically shakes its head at the touch of the cold water hitting its skin. The seal hollers slightly louder than before shocking him. He grabs the seal and places it in the water. The seal instantly reacts to the dangerous situation by barking like a dog alerting its master the mail man is here. The seal is not swimming as a quarter of its body lays motionless in the ocean reflecting ripples created somewhere else. The seal bounces on its belly flopping out of water to reach dry land safely. It continues to relentlessly cry without taking a break.
Clenching his fists and biting down on his lips he lets out his frustration by punching the soft sand on the ground. He looks at the current, the people, the clouds, the cliff and finally the seal. Turning his back on the creature he shrugs and walks toward the cliff. The seal changes its tone making low sounds seeking attention. As he keeps on creating distance between the animal the creature’s hollers morph into desperate chatter. Taking a deep breath, he turns around and stomps toward the animal. He pets the seal’s head who invitingly encourages him to be more friendly. Enough. He reaches into his utility pocket located on his pants. He pulls out a metallic shinny object of about 4 inches long. He swings his wrist like as if he were maneuvering a tennis racket doubling the object’s size. It is a outdoor knife with a silver skeleton frame and a dark, black blade. He holds the animals left paw and squeezes it tightly all while placing the tip of the blade on the upper left torso on the animal. The ocean rocks back and fourth as he gazes at the vast abundance of mass in the large pool of liquid. The blade disappears as it is swallowed by the creature’s skin. A hum leaks out of the seal’s mouth until it fades into the ocean’s current. The animal no longer cries as it lays motionless on the ground.
He picks himself off the ground along with his belongings. He looks at the time to realize he has to regroup with Brad shortly. He had failed in accomplishing the task given to him. Slouched, head bent down, he starts walking towards the parking lot.
He notices Brad in the parking lot biting his apple.“Two hours have passed, it’s break time,” Brad says.
He shakes his head while collecting his composure.
“It’s fine, don’t sweat it”, Brad says motioning towards the envelope, “Got a call from the boss, he wants us at a more important job site.”
He looked to the sky smirking while placing his jeans and sneakers in the Navigator. Repetitive. Today, he encountered a creature in need of help. He felt wholehearted over the relief he provided the creature. Well, back to work, tomorrow he is sure to wake up and work again. He grinned, he was able to break the cycle of conformed labor life, for once it was his decision. He had held life within his own hands.
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