Daily Detritus: Day Twelve

Sal was late. Very late. And he could not have picked a worse morning to be late, even if he had sat down and given deep thought to options for a worst morning to be late. “This is bad, so bad.”

He was race walking, dodging others on the sidewalk, pirouetting, wishing for teleportation powers, cursing all of humanity that stood between him and the interview. “Excuse me.... sorry... excuse me...” So many people, all of them obstacles. This city had way too many occupants. “Excuse me..”

“Three more blocks, three more blocks...” Counting down the distance did not help, at least that he could tell—his mind didn’t really need something else to dwell on—but he kept repeating his progress, unable to stop. The apologies to his fellow citizens were rolling out unconsciously with no meaning attached. “Sorry... pardon me...”

“Two more blocks, two more blocks, two more blocks...” He was not sure how he was going to explain his tardiness but he had a few things going for him in the interview. He knew someone in the firm and they had provided a generous reference to Human Resources. That had helped him get the coveted face-to-face with the managing partner. The other chit in his favor was he looked good. His suit was impeccable, his shoes shined and his hair had come together that morning as never before. The cool morning was working in his favor, keeping the sweat to a minimum and his do in place.

“One block to go, one block to go...” And he was there, standing at the front door, taking a moment to gather himself mentally and check his reflection in the mirrored door before stepping into the lobby. “You can do this,” he informed himself. “Deep breath. Clear head.”

It was a little sound, a short “pop” that normally would not have penetrated his conscious, but for some reason it did. He turned, a confused look on his face, trying to figure out why he had gotten distracted. There was no one behind him, at least no one standing still, and there was nothing out of the ordinary that should have caused the interference in his psyche. As he turned to enter the building he glanced down. And he stopped. And he almost cried.

A jagged line of red goo was splashed across his left pants leg. He quickly looked back and saw the ketchup packet on the sidewalk, empty, dirty and mocking. “You’re late,” it said. “One door to go, one door to go...”

{This story isn't complete! Continue the narrative in the comments by adding on to the previous comment. Come back as often as you want and see where the story has traveled. Go! It’s your turn...}


Ron Nieto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Nieto said...

Quickly his mind raced with thoughts of turning this fortunate accident into a reason for his tardiness. A daring rescue of a child or coming to the aid a a little old lady during a mugging. Surely no one would question either of these.

Jon said...

"Think, you idiot, think!" He turned around in a circle a time-and-a-half, like a dog chasing its tail. "Ok, why am I here? They called me, so that's gotta mean something. What does a little... ok, a lot of bright red ketchup splattered over my leg matter? Screw it."

Sal jogged to the elevators and squeezed through the door into an already packed car. "Twelve please."

He was panting by this point, his mind pinged with one idea after the next. A leaky red pen. A bird with a serious intestinal problem. A busted stitch from a recent surgery.

The ding of the elevator filled the place of the lightbulb appearing above his head.

Sal reached into his inner coat pocket and fingered the pen that was always waiting there. It was the one from his former employer, the design shop he had helped start before getting laid off. He palmed it, then slid the pointed tip between his thumb and index finger before plunging it into his thigh.

"What the hell?" He jumped out of the car, the pen sticking from his leg. The blood was already starting to make its way to the ketchup splotch. "Somebody just stabbed me!"

Ron Nieto said...

With every step he took the pain got worse. "What the hell have I just done?" he muttered in a low groan. Thoughts of infection, hospitalization and amputation started going thru his mind. He could here his mother yelling "This has to be the stupidest thing you have ever done!" and then oh wait there was that time at Spring break.

Jon said...

"You just stabbed yourself. Why did you stab yourself, man?" The voice came from within the elevator. It was a gaunt, awkward looking fellow who was straining to see over the people standing in front of him. "I saw you do it."

The man pushed his way out and Sal recognized him right away. He had seen the man's photo on LinkedIn when researching the company. It was the managing partner. "Great. The guy who saw me stab my own leg with a pen is the guy who's going to decide my future." Sal thought to himself.

"I think I should probably go to the hospital." Sal spoke slowly and deliberately. He was trying to think of way out, but nothing was coming to mind. "I probably have tetanus now, or... something."

"You've got a screw loose is what you have."