Complacent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Honestly, I wrote this so long ago all I can remember about it is that a boys mom is dying.

Submitted: February 24, 2008

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Submitted: February 24, 2008

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Complacent

By Landon Gray

He stood at the street corner just outside the convenience store, flicking the ashes of his slowly dying cigarette. He looked down at it, it’s embers were glowing brightly. It rested easily between his fingers as he stood looking at a store across the street.
He wore a black leather coat, with a collared shirt and an old pair of jeans. His head was shaven, and therefore he wore a hat to protect from the chill in the air. It was spring then, and though it was nearing spring, it was still semi-cold outside. But the whole city seemed ready for the warm sun to show it’s power, the trees seemed ready to bud up, and squirrels had already started to play in central park.
One last flick and he was on his way home to a single room apartment. He tossed the spent cigarette into the street as he boarded the bus. He sat down next to an elderly black woman, she to was probably on her way home from work. Quietly he sat, not saying a single word until he reached his stop.
He didn’t talk much, he didn’t show much. He didn’t really have anything to say to anyone, he kept to himself most of the time and therefore no one really had anything to say to him. The doorman tipped his hat and gave a smile as he walked into the building. He had just moved here from his old home, a box on 21st street, and still got goose-bumps every time he felt the heated air rush past his ankles.
Things so simple that meant so much to him. No one in the world seemed to have such a respect for things like this. On his first night he heard the kid across the hall to his mom that it was too hot in the apartment.
“At least there is heat, and at least you have a mom” He thought.
He looked at his leather jacket, it was ragged and faded. It was old and worn out. It was his jacket, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. If that leather and fabric could talk, it would probably tell the tale of the woman he loved. It would probably mention something about when his dad was alive. It might say a thing or two about how much money it used to carry. It might talk about the bags of cocaine and marijuana that passed through it. And most of all, it might tell the story of far too many cold nights spent behind dumpsters and in refrigerator boxes, that its owner would never speak of to anyone.
He had landed a job with a marketing firm. Because he didn’t have a place to live, the potential boss that favored him rented him this apartment for two months. It wasn’t nice, it wasn’t at all pretty. A single pane of glass separated him from the outside world. There was a mini-fridge. There was a TV that was not much bigger than the microwave, and the only channel that was ever on was a NYC current events slide-show channel that only played classical. Because of this he became well acquainted with composers such as Beethoven and Pachelbel.
Dinner was Ramen from the cup complimented with a can of Coke and another cigarette. Leisure time was spent just as it was when he spent six months in a State Penitentiary for shoplifting and possession of marijuana; he worked out. If he couldn’t be rich, he would be strong, he would be feared. And that he was, feared and respected. In fact, that’s the reason he was hired, he had a certain aura of classiness, despite going through hard times. In the employer’s eyes, he was the exact example of ‘speak softly and carry a big stick.’
He didn’t sleep on the bed. It was flea ridden, and seemingly overflowing with mold. He slept on the hardwood floor on the spot he had cleaned with a bottle of floor cleaner. To cut costs for the employer who had been so generous to accommodate him to an apartment, he kept the air conditioning down to a cool 62 degrees.
Showers, heavenly as they were for this man, where only to be ten minutes or less, not that they could be any longer than ten minutes even if he didn’t care about the cost. There were only two heaters for the entire building, so the shower grew very cold very quickly after ten minutes.
Anything other than food, deodorant, toothpaste, and maybe mouthwash was a frivolous expenditure. He only had 25$ to his name, and he had to survive another week and a half for his next pay check. Things would become better, he was confident of this. He just had to hold on, grip life for all its worth and then, maybe in two weeks, he would catch a break.
Two weeks can be a very long time. The digital display on the alarm clock next to his bed displayed 7:38 PM. He had nothing to do for two hours. Nothing at all, except watch the minutes and seconds tick by. He did sometimes find things to do, like washing his clothes in the sink. He did this twice a week, often listening to the classical music playing from the TV and imagining himself back in his childhood days; his brother and sisters playing in the pool, his mom washing plates from breakfast, his father reading the paper, his life in order.
What had happened? He thought back to when they diagnosed his mom with cancer. A cup crashed to the ground; dropped by a surprised father who just heard bad news over the phone. His brother jumping off the couch to hold his sisters. His dad, his rock, his idol, approaching him with tears in his eyes.
The sink started to overflow, he jumped back and withdrew his clothes. He grabbed a towel from the closet and started to clean up the mess that was now spread all over the kitchen floor. As he picked the towel up he saw the bottom of the towel coated in the bile that was all over the floor. He dumped the towel in the trash.
His clothes however where clean. He hung them over the shower and hoped they’d be dry by the morning, although he knew that the pants would still be a little damp. He reached into the cabinet and pulled out a trash bag that held his sleeping bag. He had had this sleeping bag all through his homeless period, and it along with the jacket had saved his life from the brutal winter cold.
He spread his sleeping bag across the floor. He lay down, and turned out the light. His senses expanded, taking in all the sounds around him. He caught a whiff of something being baked next door. He rested his eyes, and he could hear his breathing. He felt his chest rise, then fall, then rise again. He was alive. He was complacent with the way things were. He slowly drifted off to sleep.
When he awoke, he saw his father standing over his bed, beaming.
“Everything’s fine, the surgery went very well, I think your mom will be just fine.” His father was overwhelmed.
His father left the room, undoubtedly to tell his other siblings. He sat up in bed, smiling, looking out the window. He knew everything was going to be fine. Out of the window, he saw a man standing on a street corner, flicking a cigarette into the street, and then started to board a bus. But as the man started up the steps of the bus, he smiled at the kid through the window, and then blew away like dust in the wind, never to be seen again.
The End.


© Copyright 2017 Victor Gray. All rights reserved.

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