Read Along With The Author
[no_dropcaps type="normal" color="#010000" font_family="Merriweather" font_size="58" line_height="66" width="" font_weight="400" font_style="normal" text_align="" border_color="" background_color="" margin="0px 5px 5px 0px"]I[/no_dropcaps] sighed as I rolled over in bed. Drool gathered around my mouth, and I felt the moisture around my face. My chest burned. Probably
from my poor diet and the stresses of building and providing a life for everyone that I care for. The black world of slumber was begin- ning to brighten to white. I just lay motionless, breathed deeply, and let out another sigh in serenity as the day was about to begin.
I live in a modest house, with modest possessions, a modest wife, two modest kids, and even a modest dog. If you were to de- scribe my family you would say that we were the run of the mill, humble family that lived at 937 Sheffield Drive with one SUV, one sedan and a swimming pool in the backyard. We don’t draw much attention to ourselves. My house is painted brown, my wife, Joanna, wears little make-up. My daughter, Samantha, and my son, Donald, are B-students at the public high school. Though, Joanna was, I was never one for parties, not even in college. When my friends were at the bar or football game, I was working, trying to build a stable future before I even knew what that was. It was something that I could rely on. I have that stability now, and you would think that makes me feel comfortable. In all honesty it did. But now, it’s like a blade of grass, just this little insignificant blade in a field where all other blades blow in the wind without much caution or care for where they flow.
My name is Dan Lemon. I work in retail sales. I had a com- fortable life. Samantha, or Sammy as I usually liked to call her, was going to go to college. Donny was trying out for baseball. Jo would have liked to get her nails done. I would have liked to make a sale.
I awoke on Monday at 5:14 am. I hit the snooze button and re- awoke at 5:23 am. My wife was in the shower when I stumbled to the bathroom to relieve the tea from the night before. Struggling with my morning surprise, which is in fact surprising at this stage in my life, I relieved myself and was quickly scolded from my wife when I flushed the toilet. I paid no attention, removed my under- wear and slipped in the shower behind her.
My wife was an attractive woman. The freckles of her youth kept her face in a seemingly permanent state of childhood, but the crow’s feet of her eyes added a silent wisdom. Her green eyes still had the hope of the 20-year-old co-ed that I fell in love with. Two children and time gave her a comfortable mid-section, but she still had remarkably perky breasts. She must have caught me ogling her because she returned the glance at my morning surprise, which was quickly fading and shot me a glare.
After drying off, I went to my closet and selected a shirt and a tie from the rack and put them on with an unduly routine. Satisfied with the knot in my tie I headed downstairs to enjoy my bowl of cereal, my decaffeinated coffee (only because my wife believes the caffeine will give her breast cancer), my small glass of orange juice
with my morning fix of news programs. As always, is in the kitch-en by 6:03 am, griping about the decaffeinated coffee, complain- ing about the decaffeinated Diet Coke, settling on the sugar-free Red Bull that I make sure I buy her from the store that only allows you to buy cans at a time.
She leaves in a stumble, drinking from the can as she walks away. One of my programs comes to a commercial so I change the channel to the other and as always, when I have taken the last bite of cereal around 7:01 am, Donny emerges from his dungeon already dressed without a shower and his head stuffed between two earphones. The music is different each morning. However, each band is loud, I can tell you that. Not Led Zepplin loud, not even Jimi Hendrix loud, but loud. I liken his music to the Sex Pistols, only a lot angrier than they were. He al- ways nods to me, grabs a decaffeinated soda from the fridge and then sits in the front seat of the SUV. And like clockwork, Sammy arrives downstairs dressed as though she were going to attend a speaking appearance from Ronald Reagan. Not the president, the actor. She kisses her mother, my wife, on the cheek and goes to sit in the back seat of the SUV. I then kiss Jo on the forehead, look into her eyes and then try kissing her with an open mouth.
It’s 7:17 in the morning and I’m off to take the kids to school and start on my way to work, leaving my lovely, aging wife at home alone with enough money to get her nails done and buy groceries and treat herself to something if she wants.
The children’s school is not very far from either where I work or where we live. On average I would say that it takes about six and half minutes to get to the front entrance of their school. The only problem is when I need to turn left from the parking lot, back onto the main road. It can take me anywhere from two seconds to 24 minutes to turn. That just means that I have to drop the kids off at school a half an hour before they normally need to be there so I can make it to work exactly 17 minutes before I am expected to start my day. This allows me to drink one or two cups of caffeinated coffee that I require to imbibe to start my day without being cranky to the three other salespeople in my department, not to mention my clients and associates.
On this morning I had the children to school at the time I needed to have them there. I even caught a break turning left out of the parking lot and was in good shape en route to my required dosage of caffeine. Sometimes when I drive, I listened to the AM news talk stations, much like more morning news programs. This morning a popular couple was talking about a young celebrity who liked to party too much, always out drinking and wearing next to nothing and letting the whole world know about it.
As I mentioned before, I was never much for partying but I did envy that young celebrity. Not showing a care or responsibility in the world. Letting all that God gave them hang out into the air with no abandon. It must be nice to not have a care or responsibility. Not like me. Driving to work in an SUV that ensured that I needed to keep working to pay for the lease and the gasoline to put in the engine, in the same shirt and tie uniform that lets no man set him apart from the next.
The only thing that set me apart from anyone else in a shirt and tie combo was my thinning hair, growing waistline, and groomed mustache. I’m not obese, just your typical forties fat. I was thin for much of my life. I could eat basically anything I wanted to, and nature would take its course, but in the past six or seven years it has started to catch up. I have started to fill out and take on that doughy mien. I’ve gone from a semi-attractive, socially awkward man to a sweaty, doughy older man with slightly thinner hair and a bad mustache. Come to think of it, nothing set me apart. It is like if I walked into a crowded street I could just disappear and never be heard from again. No one would be able to find me. No one would be able to recognize me. I would simply vanish and never be heard from or seen again. That is a very lonely feeling. Not something you really want to think about to start the day. But for some reason my head veers that way when I’m in the car alone. Loneliness. The word alone is depressing. It has that long “o” sound that just eats into the soul and leaves you at its mercy.
I approached the intersection that was near my place of work when I noticed that there was an inordinate amount of police cruisers at the intersection. There were two in the right lane with their flashers on and there were flares set up behind them. In the middle of the intersection, there was one cruiser with its flash- ers on and the officer was directing traffic. In the next lane, there were two more cruisers and an ambulance, each with its lights on and these officers were conversing with a portly gentlemen and his even portlier mate. She was crying, and not knowing the situation at hand I surely thought she was upset because she was thrown from her daily routine. Plucked from the pleasures of the planning process and the delight that the dedication of a routine provides.
As I inched closer, I felt a little guilty for my assessment of the situation. Off to the side of the intersection were two cars, nearly conjoined. A white car, newer, hit a red car, older, in the driver’s side. It was clear that the portly couple were the drivers of the newer white car. I don’t see how it would be possible at all that anyone could have survived that collision. The newer white car was a good foot and a half into the older red car. I couldn’t even see if there was an airbag, however, it looked like the newer white car had taken out the steering wheel. My stomach dropped a bit when I got closer to the scene, and it dropped even more as I passed the scene. Behind the car, almost hidden was a single body bag.
Seeing something like that always reminds me of how pre- cious life really can be. Only minutes before that, I had dropped off my two wonderful children at school and if, for some reason, I was a little early that morning, or my wife had taken the kids to school that could have been me in the body bag. It’s just a horrible thing to think about really.
I don’t like to think about things like that, but sometimes when you see something like that you just can’t help but wonder what if that were you. What would happen to my family? What would happen to the people that killed me? What would happen? What happens when you die? Does it really fade to black or do you ascend to a heaven?
I pulled into the parking lot of my workplace exactly seven minutes before I was expected to start my day. Due to the inconvenience of the traffic mishap I lost about eight minutes of my caffeine. Although normally I would be perturbed, I was okay due to the circumstances.
My building was like any other in this city. A department storefront that was built on a cornfield that used to be land of the Native Americans. My store was oversized, overstocked and over- priced. In comparison, my staff was undertrained, under qualified and understaffed. That may seem normal to most of the cynics out there, but that just meant that I had to carry the workload and receive less commission. Don’t get me wrong, I did very well for myself, but I could have done much better.
I made my way to the coffee maker exactly four minutes be- fore I was expected to begin working. My cup was next to the maker and also beside the maker was Regina Thompson. She was the second leading sales person after me. She was in her mid-thirties but didn’t show it. If anyone guessed they might think that she had been only a couple years removed from college. She wasn’t very tall, but she wasn’t very short. She wasn’t extremely attractive, but she wasn’t ugly either. She did, however, have tremendous God-given assets on top of her African-American frame that she played to, to make a sale.
For men, she would talk to them with her shoulders back, making sure to hold the product in direct site of her assets. For women, she would usually talk with her arms crossed, never picking up a product, rather pointing to it and letting the women pick it up. For couples, she had yet another approach. She would sit with
her shoulders back, but would only talk to the women, making eye contact with them, leaving the husband or boyfriend to glance at her assets whenever possible. With these tactics it was a wonder she wasn’t the leading sales person, but like I said before I had to pick up the slack for the other employees.
I picked up my mug and began filling it, and she forced a sleepy smile at me, not looking up from the magazine that she was reading.
“What are you reading?” I asked her.
“Oh, nothing really, just some new products that’ll be out in the fall.” She was always studying and always had work on her mind. Well, I can’t really be sure of that since I’ve never seen her out of the workplace. Well, any work related events, I should say. We’ve been to a couple team building events, but that still always felt like work to me. I always felt that if we had done something after work my wife would take it the wrong way and immediately jump to conclusions, leaving me on the couch for the weekend.
“Oh, cool, if you don’t mind I’d like to see that at lunch.”
“Yeah, no problem.” She went on to read, and I went on to try and get as much caffeine in as I could in the minute or so that I had left before I was expected to start working. After a couple of sips and a moment of awkward silence, I looked at her.
“Did you see that accident in the intersection out there?” I asked her.
“Oh, yeah. That looked like an awful way to begin the day.” “Yeah, it sure did. How long ago did you see it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a half an hour or so ago. I couldn’t see the cars, really. The ambulance was right in the middle of the intersection.”
“Oh, it’s off to the side now.”
“That’s good.” She went back to the magazine.
“Oh, that’s absolutely terrible. Oh, wow.” “Yeah. It made me think a little,” I said.
“For sure.” The lights on the main floor started to flicker on. “Well, I guess us lucky ones have to get to work now.”
“Yeah, I suppose. Good luck today,” I told her. “Yeah, you too.”
I finished my cup of coffee, and Regina put the magazine down and we headed out to the floor to take our positions. As I walked out there, Jonathon David was at his position still wearing sunglasses and rubbing his temples.
Jonathon is in his mid-twenties and still acts as though he is in a fraternity. Morning after morning, he comes into work hung- over. This would usually bother me, but he doesn’t complain about it which makes it a lot better I guess. You meet those people who gripe and moan about how sick they feel or how much their heads hurt. He just keeps to himself and when it comes time to make a sale he makes his best effort and pushes through it. He’s also a nice guy, which helps. He’s always quick to say hello and ask how your day has been going. I walk past him and pat him on the shoulder. He took off his glasses revealing his bloodshot red eyes and smiled.
“Oh, hi, Dan. How’s your day been going?” “It’s been okay, Jon. Same old thing, really.” “Did you see that accident?”
“Pretty fucked up, if you asked me.”
“Yeah, messed up.” That is one thing that did bother me about Jonathon. Well, that and he had two first names. My dad always told me not to trust people with two first names. I’m not really sure why but he just always said that people with two first names
always made him feel uncomfortable. Anyway, I didn’t like the free foul language that Jonathon always used. He’s a very bright guy, but the language always made him seem a little less than, if you know what I mean.
I walked away from Jonathon as soon as the last member of the sales team walked into the store. Josh Lipsky. Josh was a man of my age, weight, and hair. The only thing that set the two of us apart was the fact that he wore glasses. Also that he was absolutely awful at his job. He barely made any sales. The only ones that he did complete were the ones where a man or a woman would come into the store and buy the product because we offered a lower price than the competitor. In all honesty, Judas could have closed the sale. The only reason that he was still employed in our company was the fact that his mother-in-law was the owner of this particular branch. That may seem okay to some people, but when sales slip it comes down to Regina, Jonathon or myself to pick up the slack because there was no way that Lipsky’s wife was going to let her mother fire Josh.
“Hey, Danny,” he called.
Instead of returning the greeting verbally, I just nodded and kept on walking. It didn’t seem to bother him though because he just walked straight to the break room with a smile on his face. All the same I just walked to my area.
I have a routine that I do in my area every morning I set out to work. I have to first arrange the product so that it is very presentable. Everything has to be straightened, and I even keep a feather duster near my computer terminal to make sure everything is nice and clean. After everything is straightened, I boot my terminal and set out four pens. Two for my customers and two for myself. Each of us has a backup just in case one of them runs out of ink or starts acting funny. After I place the pens I check my printer to make sure that the ink levels are appropriate to get through the day and then stock the printer with paper with an extra ream of paper next to the printer. Once that is in order, I adjust the knot in my tie and check my belt-line to make sure my shirt is still tucked in. After I am satisfied I take a deep breath and wait for the customers to pay my mortgage.
Dan Lemon is a man of routine who has unknowingly lost his way. One fateful afternoon at work, he is introduced to three criminals who take him hostage and shake up his schedule.
Dan now only has one choice, to confront his life's fears, failings and wants. Is one day enough to change your life?