five

(written on a plane from seattle to baltimore)

Hello. Yes, it’s me. i’ve been dying to talk to you. I know that there is now way you want to hear this. It’s too uncomfortable for you, still.

You may be the crazy pilot in Nevada, Daddy, but remember that I know you better than that.

I’m having some troubles here. Raul left me a year an a half ago. Left me to pursue his own brand ot quiet desperation.

Daddy, i could really use your help here. i’ve got no one. No ohw who knows me. You know how mom is. You know she’d make me feel like hell for being frightened, for making mistakes, for being human.

But see, that’s the thing, Daddy. I’m not sure if I’m quite…human…anymore.

It’s hard to explain, but I can “do” things. Things like right out of a movie. things like Superman can do on TV. Except I’m not feeling very super.

I killed a man, Daddy. i tried to stop him from robbing a diner and I killed him. He was probably drunk, probably high on who knows what. Was probably having ghe worst day of his life, probably hit bottom as they say in AA. He just didn’t plan on it being his last.

Then, Daddy, i ran. i ran and ran so FAST, Daddy. I don’t know why, i just saw Edie (she’s this nice waitress here. I saw Edie LOOK at me and say, RUN, and I did. And I couldn’t stop on my own, I ran so fast, until I hit a bush and a brick wall.

I don’t know what to do, Daddy. I don’t know how to even show up at work tomorrow. How do I go through the motions and help my clients get up, eat, shower, and all the hundrds of little daily things that I can’t even begin to think of doing myself?

Daddy, i’m scared. I don’t know why I can do all this stuff. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t…have a clue, Daddy. Daddy, please help me. Help me?

–Sarah closed the laptop, leaving the email onscreen, her father’s address just waiting in the To: field waiting for a click of the Send button, like a wet puppy waiting to be dried off from the rain.

She grabbed the box of donuts from the coffee table by her feet, and began to eat them, methodically, not even noticing what crap donuts they were. Eating the crummy store-bought donuts as if it were the only sane thing to do. Maybe it was.

—-

Peter knew he was a slacker, but he also knew he meant well. He shoved the 2 new graphic novels into his backpack, grabbed his mp3 player, and headed out the door to the bus stop.

His two roommates were still sleeping, in their room. He was lucky to have found such a cheap room for rent, when he could barely pay the rent from month to month. Working at the coffeeshop wasn’t any way to make a living, but it sure beat going home to his folks. The couple he roomed with were in their 30s and weren’t much better off than him, but somehow the three of them got by.

He had always meant to go to college. He just hadn’t gotten to it, yet. He’d daydream of getting to UAF and studying geology or geophysics or geo something. Something all sciency and shit. He just hadn’t gotten around to it, yet.

Peter Novicki was 25, and worked in a coffe shop. He worked there 5 days a week, from an hour after opening till the end of his shift. He had half an hour for lunch everyday, which he grabbed across the street at the Holiday gas station. He spent all day serving coffee and fucking scones to rich REI liberals with so much money that they could go to work at 9, or 10, or maybe not at all, in the middle of the week. people who’s fancy fleece shirts and deceptively simple wicking layers of clothing cost more than Peter’s rent. People who’d spend $5 on a mid-sized cup of coffee. They could grab a cup twice as large and with just as much caffeine in it across the street for eighty nine cents.

He stood in the 14 degree weather in his thrift shop clothes and his thrift shop boots and his thrift shop coat and mittens and wool cap. Back in high school, he’d have thought he was damn cool, shopping for such amazing retro things. These days, he knew he looked like a loser. He knew he was thin from eating so little, not from being hip or ironically cool.

It was a 25 minute ride in to work from the Fairview stop he walked to. Plus another 10 min walk to the coffee shop, since the bus stops in Anchorage sucked donkey balls as far as their nearness to places you wanted to go went. He usually ended up being a half hour or so early for his shift, but today was an exception, due to the the snowfall the night before and the current drop in temperature. People drove like idiots here in the cold, which was funny (ironic, not haha) because it was fucking Alaska and this cold at least 8 months a year.

It was only Monday, but still he half expected Sarah to walk in and put on her apron and start serving with him. She only worked on weekends and the odd evening shift here and there, but he always looked for her, lately. She barely knew he existed, of course, despite standiays and Sundays.

“Novicki, move.” That would be Jez, his boss.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. He stood away from her while she went to the machine, and he moved in to take her place in the ordering line.

“Can I help you? What can I get for you today, ma’am?” he asked.

“grande half caff, half fat latte with chai spice syrup.” said the woman in the powersuit and power coat that reached to her ankles. He oculdn’ quite see her ankles, but had seen that particular coat on as many women and men coming thorugh the shop so as to know its length by heart.

“That’ll be $5.28, please.” Sucker, he added, silently, as he usually did when his back was up.

“Excuse me?” said an older man standing off to the side. “I can’t get online? Can you help me? They said you were the IT guy.”

“Just one second, sir, I’ll be right with you,” said Peter. He was the unofficial computer guy in here, not that he got any extra pay for knowing how to set up the ridiculously easy airport network they ran in here for the customers. It was free, in the hopes that more people would come in and buy stuff if they knew there was free wifi. Occasionally, it had to be restarted, but more often than not it was user error.

He went over to the old guy’s table and took a look at the screen. It was a Mac, which made Peter chuckle. If this guy couldn’t get a Mac online, he’d have a hard time with pretty much anything else on the computer.

“You need to go here” he said, pointing to the screen. “Click that little icon there…yep that’s the one. Now pick our wifi name…yep there it is. Now restart your browser and you’re all set.”

“Thank you,” said the little guy, and Peter was glad it hadn’t been much more difficult than that already. Sometimes, he’d walk into a real mess. No one else that worked there seemed to know how to run the thing. Not even Jez, who was essentially the boss. She didn’t OWN the place, but she ran it. Funny how that was, yeah?

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