Sorry for not caring, Marcey.

He scoffed.

Marcey thought he had a problem. A big problem. He agreed with her assessment. Just not her solution.

The coffee warmed his belly and gave him an instant jolt of energy.

“I love you too,” He said to Marcey. “And I understand your concerns.”

He would probably need another cup after his conversation with Marcey, he thought. Another cup would make sense especially since he had a full eight hours of packing old files and office junk into boxes. And checking his official statement of work to see if mover and janitor was included in his job description.

“I just want you to have money,” Marcey said.

He cut his eyes.

There she goes again, he thought. If only she had to deal with what he had to deal with for eight hours a day. On a daily basis.

“They’re gonna fire you,” Marcey said.

“You’re more anxious than I am,” He said.

“And that’s the problem,” Marcel said.

“Sorry, I just don’t care,” He replied. “I can’t anymore. Just too tired to care.”

He was truly sorry. Just being honest with her. He didn’t care nearly as much about his job as she did. Marcey was afraid he would end up broke and unhappy. Funny… He worked a full nine to five gig and he was still broke and unhappy. He was more afraid and sad about the time he was losing working a meaningless job. Photocopying and mailing packages wasn’t exactly worth his precious time on the earth. He thought Marcey  was only concerned over whether he would pay bills and that concerned him the most. It concerned him even more than getting fired for being late. Yet again.

“You’re always late to work,” Marcey said. “If you were my employee I’d fire you.”

“Bet you would,” He replied.

“Try to be on time,” Marcey replied. “Please?”

“Okay,” He said.

“Force yourself to care,” Marcey insisted.

“Fine,” He replied. “I’ll do better next week.”

Doing better at a place -his nine to five- he couldn’t possibly care less about was a lot in which to ask. A insurmountable request to fulfill.

But Marcey was giving him those sad eyes. Not bossy or threatening eyes like when he forgot to clean egg of the stove or refill the water jug. Genuinely sad, concerned, caring eyes. Those eyes were trouble. The most damning of all the eyes.

The eyes he could neither ignore or defy.

He cut his eyes. Again.

That time he cut his eyes at himself for submitting to her sad eyes yet again.

“I’ll set my alarm earlier,” He said.

“Good,” Marcey said.

“Good,” He said.

And he set his alarm at that very moment.

He would set the alarm an hour early before he forgot or lost interest, he thought.

 

 

Hero Complex pt 1: “Rise -and fall- of the Puppy Guardian”

how-to-draw-Pitbull-Puppy-step-0

My hero complex was going to get me killed. Or fired. I knew it would. Death and unemployment would not stop me from being a hero and protecting that puppy.

I stopped traffic. Snatched the lost puppy from the street and carried it to the sidewalk.

“Calm down,” I begged as the baby pitbull tried to wiggle its way out of my grasp. “Chill yo.”

My work clothes were a wreck. I looked like a construction worker covered in many shades of brown. Dirt and god knows what. I didn’t want to to guess what was on that dog’s paw.

And I was already thirty minutes late for my new job. I sent an email from my smartphone. Considered lying to my supervisor. Stomach bug. The runs. Nobody questions loose bowels and I wouldn’t need a doctor’s note or further explanation. Everyone gets diarrhea and nobody questions it.

I put a leash on the puppy’s collar.

I thought the pup was a boy. Couldn’t tell and I didn’t want to lift its leg to check. I thought that would look weird to anybody walking by.

“Who’s your owner?” I asked the pup. “You live around here?”

I tried to recall the dog owners in the neighborhood. There were many. And the puppy’s breed was common in my community.

I walked the pup across the street to my block.

A woman with a dog walked towards me.

“Excuse me,” I said to the woman. “Do you recognize the dog?”

The woman shook her head and kept going.

“Thanks…. for nothing,” I said.

The neighborhood was full of rude and antisocial assholes, I thought. That’s what I get for trying to help an innocent creature, I thought.

I walked to the house. Opened the door.

Considered opening the front gate leading to the backyard but that would required me to tie the dog to the front door and go through the house. Didn’t want to just leave the dog outside. Didn’t want people in the neighborhood to think I was an animal abuser. If I saw a dog tied to a front door I would think it was abuse.

I opened the door. Walked the dog through the house, living room, and basement leading into the backyard.

“I’ll find your owner after work,” I said to the pup. “Gotta go to work.”

I shut the basement door.

Dog whimpering. Scratching the door.

There was nothing I can do then. I was already an hour late to work on my third day. Or… was it my second? Could have been my fourth, I thought. Didn’t matter. There was nothing I could do other than keep him safe in my yard. If I let it go it’ll wander.

I ran upstairs. Changed out of my sweaty, dirty button-up shirt and replaced it with a fresh short sleeve polo. Put on a second coat of deodorant. And I was out of the house and on the way to the Metro rail within five minutes of changing.

My phone vibrated. Marcey was calling again.

I sighed. Reluctantly answered.

“Yes?” I said.

“Where’s the dog?” Marcey asked.

“The yard,”  I replied.

“Which yard?” Marcey asked.

“Our yard,” I replied.

“What?” Marcey shrieked. “How’d he get there?”

“Through the house,” I replied.

“You walked a strange dog through our living room?” Marcey said.

“He’s not strange,” I shot back. “He’s a puppy.”

Marcey laughed.

“What’s funny?” I asked, feeling a bit offended.

“Nothing, yeesh,” Marcey replied. “I was talking to my coworker a-”

“Why tell your coworkers?” I asked.

“Oh come on,” Marcey said whilst laughing.

I didn’t understand what she found so damn funny about the situation. I just rescued a puppy from being flattened by multiple cars. I just preserved precious life! She should be praising not mocking him. She should be begging to give me a back massage for all the heroic work I put in that day. Asking how I would like my eggs prepared for my heroes breakfast. And what made it worse was she brought her stupid coworkers in on the joke. I was the joke, I guessed. She didn’t appreciate my heroism. No surprise.

“Don’t leave him in the yard,” Marcey said. “Let him go. He’ll find his way home.”

“And let him get run over?” I said.

“That’s not your problem,” Marcey said. “Someone could be looking for him.”

I sighed.

Stupid dog. Stupid girlfriend making fun of me for wanting to be a hero. Stupid me with the hero complex that will one day get me killed by a dog owner. Or a speeding car. Or a stray dog. Stupid situation, I thought.

I returned to the house and to backyard.

The pup was waiting for me on the backyard balcony. The pup sprinted down the stairs and immediately jumped into my arms. Left dirty paw prints on my fresh shirt.

“Come on little guy,” I said as I hooked the leash to the pup’s collar and lead him out of my yard.

I took him a block away to a small park away from the main avenue.

I was going to let him go. But I didn’t want to let him go onto Main Street where he could get flattened by a speeding car. I couldn’t sleep comfortably knowing I contributed to the death of a puppy. Maybe Marcey could. But I couldn’t.

“Good luck, little guy,” I said as I released the puppy onto the side street.

Maybe its owner will find it. Maybe someone else from the neighborhood will discover the pup and give it a new home. I tried. Lord knows I tried.

The dog ran to the nearby playground, sniffed around the grass before lifting its leg to pee.

Oh, its a male, I realized.

I wished him -the puppy- well before sprinting home. Quickly changed into a fresh shirt and rushed out of my house and towards the bus stop.

I hope I could catch a bus. I was more than an hour late to my new job. But I saved a life so it was worth it.

The puppy -the same one I spent an hour rescuing– narrowly avoided two cars as it darted across the street.

“Shit,” I said to myself. “Are you kidding?”

The puppy disappeared into an alley.

“Damn,” I cursed myself.

My phone vibrated.

At first I thought it was my job reaching out to see whether I had returned the lost dog. Whether or when I would be reporting to work since nobody else among the pool of PhD’s and Masters degrees know how to make photocopies or pivot tables. Part of me hoped it wasn’t the job. I didn’t much feel like lying over the phone. Not while I was in a heroic mood. Also I was a terrible liar.

It wasn’t the job.

“Yes, dear,” I answered.

“What happened to the dog?” Marcey asked.

I couldn’t tell Marcey what happened. I already felt like an idiot. Didn’t feel like being the butt of her and her coworkers jokes.

“Nothing,” I replied. “On my way to work.”

It was time I hung up my cape, I thought. Well past time I gave up being the hero. And considered villainy instead.

I clenched my fist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Constr-… Scrutiny pt. 1

He was extremely dissatisfied with the selection of movies on the video-on-demand service. The one for which he pays a forever increasing monthly fee. That service where prices go up while quality steadily declines. Except for a few of their original series which he thought were worth the price.

He settled on a channel. An anime he completed years ago.

Visually stunning art. Audibly pleasing voiceover acting. Even with the subtitles.

Better than nothing, he thought. What else was he going to do with his Friday night. Not like he had friends he could call. Friends that would want to play non–traditional board games and discuss entrepreneurship and the importance of grit and determination. He considered logging into social media. To air his grievances and frustrations with people. And life. But quickly dismissed the thought when he remembered he was on a social media diet. Or boycott. Or whatever he decided to call it when he decided to take a break from The Matrix.

Marcey entered the living room with her tablet and took a seat on the sofa.

“What you doing?” Marcey asked.

“Nothing…. bored,” He replied. “You?”

“Checking email,” Marcey said.

He switched episodes.

He figured since he watched the series and already knew how everything ended he would skip to the best episodes. Or, maybe he could just switch to the best fight scenes.

He fast forwarded the show.

Maybe he should plug in his turntables and work on his beat juggling. Too early to sleep. Couldn’t waste his weekend going to bed early.  Weekends end too fast. He’d be back to work in a blink. The thought of returning to work was starting to ruin his anime watching experience.

“What about your website?” Marcey said. “You said you’d update it last week.”

“I did?” He asked.

“Yes,” She replied.

“I did,” He said.

“You updated your site?” Marcey said.

“No, I mean I did say I would,” He said.

“So you didn’t,” Marcey said.

“No,” He replied.

He switched the channel to live television.

“Update it,” she said.

“Can’t,” He replied.

“Why not?” She asked.

“Well…” He said.

He scanned his mind for justifications. He had good ones. He knew he had good justifications. Why else would he have not met a deadline he set for himself several weeks ago? He needed good justifications for Marcey. The woman never cared for his justifications. She would always dismiss his justifications as excuses. The word itself, excuses, was negative. It implied he didn’t have legit reasoning he wasn’t getting things done. He had plenty…

“This new job has been stressful,” He said. “Very demanding.”

“Nonsense,” She mumbled.

“What?” He asked.

“Nothing,” she replied.

He felt pressure between his eyes. And stuffy.

It wasn’t a cold. It was his annoying allergies.

He sneezed.

“Bless you,” She said.

He nodded.

It irritated the hell out of him not to be able to breath through his nose. He thought it was too late in the year for that allergy bullshit. He needed pills. But there was no sense in wasting thirty bucks for a twenty pack of medicine just to use one or two pills. Pollen count should lower any day soon. Two months left in the year. Tis the season for the dog to stop shedding so much. He hoped.

“Okay,” She said. “You mentioned your job already.”

“And my boss,” He said. “Demanding as hell.”

“And your commute,” She added.

“Commute’s crazy insane,” He said as he switched through channels.

“Okay,” She replied.

“So drained all the time,” He said. “I think something’s wrong. Maybe I need more vitamins.”

“Maybe,” She said.

“And the news…. man,” He said, sighing. “World’s so depressing these days. You hear what the presidents said in the news?”

“No,” Marcey said.

“Crazy stuff,” He said. “Can’t help but wonder what the future holds.”

Marcey sighed.

He leaned his head back in the chair and closed his eyes.

“Mind’s so clouded with thoughts of life… career,” He said. “And of course, thinking about marrying you.”

“That sounds nice,” She said.

“Yeah,” He said. “You want that right?”

Marcey looked up just long enough to nod at him before returning her eyes to her computer screen.

“And just life…. man,” He said. “I’m at a crossroads…. Just so hard to get inspired these days.”

“Okay,” She said.

He left the living room for the kitchen. Opened the fridge and pulled the bottle of wine from the crisper.

The bottle was chilled. And he could still smell the Taquitos and sweet potato fries they baked for dinner just an hour earlier.

That’s what he needed for the night. A numbing agent. And more Taquitos. He would just work his ass off in his Kung Fu class the next morning, he thought. Work off his overindulgence. A good plan.

“So… what about the blog?” Marcey asked.

He pulled six Taquitos from the freezer. Drew a sheet of foil from the drawer.

“Start next Friday,” He said as he set the oven. “Promise….”

“Okay, dear,” Marcey replied.