There Are Two Kinds of Want

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
A man struggles to overcome his personal obstacles as he faces a fall from wealth and power.

Submitted: April 11, 2016

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Submitted: April 11, 2016

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There Are Two Kinds of Want

Maxie Flynn

When he was younger, Andrew had always had a taste for the finer things in life. It always started off small; a glass of Chardonnay here, a taste of sorbet there. And then it escalated until his belt was uncomfortably tight and he was staring down the remains of a Salisbury steak or a substantial helping of caviar.

 

The problem was rooted in his childhood. His parents had been well off, wealthy even, and they'd never passed on an opportunity to spoil their little Andy.

 

“Son,” his father had said repeatedly, “our family’s worked hard to get where we are in the world. We deserve a little excess. It would be foolish if we didn't take advantage of our success.”

 

And so Andrew had grown up being spoon-fed delusions that the world revolved with him at the center. Soon the bratty, well-bred child was an entitled, crisply dressed executive with cash to burn.

 

###

 

Now, as he sits on the sidewalk deep in thought, Andrew can see all of his past flaws clearly. They say hindsight is 20-20, he thinks wryly to himself with a dry chuckle. Groaning, he heaves himself up from the concrete, his muscles screaming in protest. Then, limping slightly, he sets off down the side of the road.

 

###

 

In the bathroom of his lavish flat there had been a full body mirror. Andrew's favorite pastime, other than eating, had been standing in front of the glass. He'd worshipped his body, admiring his youthfulness and muscle tone. Andrew, the special, Andrew the magnificent, Andrew the bronzed God.

 

###

 

One of the shops has highly polished front windows and Andrew is able to see himself in the gleaming surface. He is bedraggled, his clothes dusty and rough. The only gleam on his person is the sparkle in his eyes, set deep in a haggard face. The years have been rough.

 

Meandering about, Andrew finally reaches a diner. Fluorescent lights flash dully from smudged panes of glass.  A tinny sounding bell above the door rings as he pushes into the establishment. To the tune of cheesy radio music, he plunks himself down on the  faded pleather of a squeaky bar stool.

 

###

 

As Andrew progressed from his fit and tanned twenties to the stable period that is 30+, he began to notice subtle changes. As the helpings of escargot and fancy cheeses grew, so did his waistline. Feeling slightly betrayed by his old, reflective friend, Andrew found comfort more and more in gorging himself. Pretty soon he was eating out of habit. Gone were the days where he chewed delicacies for the sheer snobbery of it.

 

His mouth didn't discriminate anymore. Chips, burgers, Twinkies. Dollar store candy and fizzy pop. Gobs of whipped cream atop mountains of freezer burned ice cream. He was hooked on the conveyor belt repetition of shoveling food in without looking. Instead of rubbing his wealth in other’s faces, he rubbed fine foods into his own.

 

###

 

Today Andrew is on a budget. He's only managed to garner around five bucks. Standing on the roadside with a cardboard sign doesn't exactly pour in cash, but it sure does make him hungry.

 

An overworked waitress schleps over. She listens as Andrew orders a sandwich and a glass of water, then shuffles away again with a glazed look on her face. Andrew stretches in his seat, tired from a long day. He glances at the clock over the doorway and the glowing red numbers beeping 11:26 back at him.

 

###

 

He only vaguely remembers the first time that his father took him to a fancy restaurant. Candles provided a soft glow that fell on the linen table tops and the perfectly coiffed hair of so many gentlemen, making everything gleam like gold. The entire room screamed money and when they had first wheeled out the entire roast pheasant, Andrew had gaped with an open mouth until his father reprimanded him. It was the beginning of an era of hunger; there was a void deep inside Andrew that called for more and more.

 

###

 

Andrew wolfs half of the ham sandwich down with a ravenous, insatiable hunger, tucking the other half into his coat pocket. He has been roaming the streets for long enough to know that his next meal may be a while. Leaving his mountain of spare change as payment, he heads back into the cold. The bell tinkles once more, announcing his departure.

 

The Old Bridge is a popular spot among the homeless. It’s wide arc provides shelter from the elements and its interior forms a cozy cave. Andrew camps out here most nights and he had grown accustomed to the frantic sounds of traffic passing overhead.

 

Like most nights, he stands for a while, perched on the metal railing of the bridge. The night sky is jet black; all traces of stars are obscured by smog and the bright city fluorescents. Andrew tosses pebbles over the edge, watches them fall to the ground. As usual, he is thinking about an entirely different kind of fall...the fall that brought him here.

 

###

 

Andrew had inherited the family business, something regal and stern faced having to do with large quantities of money. He had never been very good at it, but he had always managed to stay afloat. That week, however, had been a particularly bad one.

 

He had managed to bring the company down into debt and his father (now enjoying a warm, island filled retirement) wasn’t pleased. On a sunny beach somewhere he had still managed to find time to berate his son via telephone.

 

“Well fix it. You’re my son aren’t you?” He shouted, hanging up with a huff. And Andrew, wanting so desperately to live up to the family name, had sat down with some nachos. Determined not to fail by any means necessary, he put money into something not quite legal, botched the whole job, and wound up in a small, cramped prison with not so great food.

 

His father, of course, had disowned him and he was left without a penny to his name. He spent a very sobering year in prison and was released a changed man. Having never worked an actual day in his life, he was hard pressed to find a job, but that didn’t stop him.

 

###

 

Andrew sighs and swings down from the railing. He moves under the shelter of the Old Bridge just as large droplets of rain begin to fall from the sky. There are a few other people curled up under the bridge and he moves closer to one of the  shapeless figures. She sits up when he whispers her name.

 

“Lisa?”

 

Without another word, Andrew hands her the half sandwich. She nods her head in thanks.

Andrew settles down and sighs contentedly. Tomorrow he will wake up and it will be another day. He will apply for jobs, he will hold his cardboard sign, he will call his father from a payphone, looking to re-establish the lost connection.

 

As the cars zoom by overhead and Lisa’s breathing slows, Andrew’s eyes close and he drifts off to sleep, feeling full for the first time in his life.




 


© Copyright 2017 Maxie Flynn. All rights reserved.

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