Until his mid thirties he'd always had hope. When life did something he couldn't quite navigate without getting smashed against the rocks hope always seemed to patch him up and let him sail on.
Now he seemed to be aground. Wrecked really. Slowly taking on water and didn't have a bucket. Sometimes, those rare good days it felt like he was just becalmed and hope was wind that just didn't blow today. Those were the good days.
Preston wanted other. He'd ended up in this dead water slowly running through his supplies and had no hope he'd get out. A lagoon called "a job" with no way of growing. Money always tight and getting tighter and after all this no one in his life to laugh with.
With all this Preston knew he was in a blessed position. Every day he heard of people starving, dying of disease, crippled in accidents. And reinforced by those ass holes who shamed with terms like "First world Problems". So he knew that looking at the guy in the coffee shop who was working diligently on his whatever and nearly seething with envy was silly. But he still wanted.
He got up yesterday and did all the same boring and time pressing crap he had to do. At the same time listened to the last of six days worth of Sandersen novel. He knew he shouldn't the noise ditracted him a little too much at times. When he needed to file or sort he should turn it off but most of his job didn't require that part of his brain. So he could just drift in the land of Sandersen's Spryn (Sprin? Audio didn't give spelling) or Butcher's Wizard Detective. And he fretted about what he should do for lunch. What would best serve him?
He talked sports with the guys who actually cared about such stupid stuff. How could so many people not see how they were being played? He wanted it though. That insecurity that led to an odd certenty. He even bought two squares in some give money and play some sort of Bingo game.
It left him even more empty to try.
Why does it matter to be more like those he didn't understand. Hope might help him with the aswer but he knew that he didn't have the woody-woo-woo or whatever to make real frieds.
He did it because it was a salve. A tiny thing that for moments allowed him to be in the other of things.
The day was almost over and out the window he saw a sad… thing. It was about four feet less because of the hunch, it's baggy clothes looked like they were made of blanket. It walked through the bushes picking up wrappers and licking them.
Preston had eaten half of his 6" meatball, — food the only time joy broke through the cloud that hope used to burn off — and realized that he could do without the tiny bit of joy today. He cut the bite bits off wrapped it up and walked out.
The thing was nearly invisible in the bushes. He almost gave up looking for it/him…/it. He found the thing licking an old soda can. The guys on the third floor were pretty persistant in not using the trashcan.
"Excuse me, but are you hungry?”
The look. Preston didn't like this look. It was a look of bitter condescension. How dare he seek to help the thing. there was shame. Shame in sharing his sandwich.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend.”
The thing nearly leaped at the sandwich and ran back into the bushes. There were sounds. Very uncomfortable sounds. The half sandwich Preston had eaten wanted to make a reappearance.
A thing dressed in clothes — a robe Preston could now see — that looked like they were made from a blanket, came from behind the bushes. A little less hunched and licking a hole in the paper.
Apparently it had forgotten about how it had come in to such wealth, because it looked surprised to see Preston standing there. It looked at him. Grayish skin like a rhinoceros, thick looking and speckled with thick grey hairs. It’s eyes were big and it’s nose and lips merged like a soft beak. It blinked twice then held out the hand with out the wrapper.
“Sorry I don’t have anything else.” Preston said.
The thing thrust its out reached hand further.
Preston shook his head and held his hands palm out. “Sorry, no more.”
The thing crushed the paper in its left hand and let out a “humph”.
Preston was a bit taken aback by the “humph”. “I can give you money.” he said and pulled out some bills from his pocket. He had a one and two fives. One can’t buy anything but five can get enough to fill you at a fast food place. He separated a five and handed it to the thing.
It practically ripped it, it pulled it from his hand so fast. It looked at it confused for a moment, sniffed it and wrinkled its face before letting the bill go.
Preston quickly grabbed bill and said, “No you buy food with it.” Maybe it was more animal. It seemed smart enough.
It grabbed the bill again and took off.
Last week it was a floaty green-blue thing that, as best as he could figure, wanted to give him a blow-job. That didn’t happen.
Preston watched the grey thing zoom around the corner and just shook his head. He went back to the office and found a book in his library he hadn’t listened to for a long time and settled in to his routine. A little after, Johansen walked in to tell everyone about his new all-wheel hybrid sport utility and Winchell went on about his child’s first joke.
Preston Reginald Craig got off work, sad. He didn’t have much. Money was always tight. Johansen’s wife pulled in almost twice what he did and they did all sorts of neat things. His check was for fun. Granted his old car was rear ended but this was an brand new vehicle. Winchell always complained about his doting wife and excitingly normal children. Their lives just seemed to good. He worked at a place that bored him to tears but what else could he do?