Imagine having to look forward to over 25 pages of writing due in 2 weeks' time...and tell me if you enjoy the thought.
Honestly, as much as i love writing, all of this 'schedule' stuff and the rush to pump out papers kind of takes away from the enjoyment, doesn't it?
ANYWAY. Time for a big post.
Smoke and Ash, Part 3
Perhaps the walk to the bus stop and consequent wait had been worth it, because once Michael was on it headed to the nearest fast food restaurant, he felt totally fine. The entire night there had been this shadow over everything; the doubt sewed into Hunter's expressions, the anger in Kate's eyes, even the complacency in Jack's hands. They had all been caricatures, like little marionettes on a string all reaffirming to himself who he was and who he should be.
The sunlight on the bus had been a bit blinding at first, his eyes trying to cope with the combined assault from lack of sleep and the urge to close, and the rising sun. The people sitting around him were odd too, some carrying too many bags, some standing when a seat was available next to them. More than one person had forgotten their change and not been allowed on the bus, and at least one had paid in a large bill because it was urgent. Michael sat in his preferred seat, at the back end of the lower section, in a corner that allowed him to lean back and rest his head as he watched the cars and power lines fly by. He didn't even know where he was going, just that he was hungry and would get off as soon as he saw somewhere he wanted to eat breakfast, brunch, or hell, even a dinner at.
He was just that hungry.
The bus took a fairly sharp turn, too sharp in fact, and nearly hit a kid riding a bicycle as it weaved it's way through the crass streets leading to the city. Michael felt bad for the kid, knowing he'd be terrified of buses for a while, probably staying back several more feet from the curb just out of habit after some time; maybe for the rest of his life. Would Michael always be afraid of whatever nightmarish creations his mind dreamt up? No, he decided, and pulled the cord when he saw a burger joint down the road.
For Michael, food was something he could always come back to for pleasure. No matter how bad life got, he could always sit down and have a nice bite to eat of some fatty, greasy delicious food and remember that life was better not too long ago. Today was one of those days for him, as he shuffled his way inside past the ringing door and the cars in the drive thru.
The meal was delicious...in fact, you could say scintillating. With so much hunger from the extended hours he'd been awake, the fries and burger seemed like the best meal he'd ever had. It was always moments like these that he cherished, where the simplest things cheered him up. Thinking back, Michael had to consider that maybe he was making too much of it all. There'd been days before, too, where stuff just seemed too coincidental. Where the complex way it was lined up could have come from a movie. Was there an audience out there, he thought, one that could watch us and inquire as to what would happen next? The only answer Michael got was the soft crunch of french fries, the cool taste of soda, and the warm entrails of smoke coming from his freshly made burger.
Today was going to be a good day, Michael thought.
Sure enough, it was uneventful. After getting his fill and taking the return route home (nearly falling asleep on it and missing his stop), he shambled through his door. His roommates were gone, and Michael went to his room right away, tossing his weary body onto the bed. He fell asleep almost immediately, his loss of the dream the night before allowing him some solace.
Hunter wasn't happy with Kate. In fact, he was kinda pissed off. Sure, it was her right to be unhappy or uncomfortable that Michael's fits in bed had led to him spitting in her face; he could even understand her disbelief that he had been fully asleep. But even he knew that you couldn't stay mad at Michael. He was a nice guy, and he'd already apologized, and shit, they all lived together and arguing over this crap was pointless. Michael was passed out. He was in his bed, and had been sleeping when Hunter woke up at around 3:30 in the afternoon. It was a Saturday, so none of them had anything to do but drink and go out, and yet Kate and Jack hadn't been home all day. Now it was after 10, and while Hunter wasn't worried, he had the sinking feeling they were out joy-riding or complaining about the night before.
Maybe he was just a bit paranoid.
“Dammit, Kate.” He said aloud, as he thought to himself about what the hell kind of mischief she must be up to. Are you mad at Michael? Mad at me? Just trying to forget? Hunter's thoughts were scrambled and he couldn't stop thinking about it. It was annoying him more than anything else that he didn't know what they were doing.
Hunter picked up the phone and ordered a pizza, then sat down with a nice, quiet book and read. He gave the driver a big tip even though he delivered it after he was supposed to, and continued to read. It was some bullshit book about witchcraft and the protagonist was just some seedy teen with cling issues. But Hunter had to get his mind off of things and this was the only book he hadn't read in the house, and their TV hadn't worked in ages. The big box for it sat in the corner under some dirty plates and the TV itself was dark and dusty.
He was bored out of his good for nothing mind, and he could have none of that.
The pizza tasted like a gift from god, Hunter thought, as he bit down into it. “Even makes this book better.” He laughed. The girl in the book was crying about her lost cat. She was nearly 20, and the ridiculous nature of it made Hunter scowl. It only reminded him of how he had lost track of his day, sitting around doing nothing but wanking in his room and reading up on some mysterious news. At least that was more entertaining. He pondered for a moment, and threw the book about a witch who'd lost her putty tat in the trash. Turning on the heat for the night and grabbing the pizza box with a lot left over, he went to try and find something fun to do online. Sure enough, when he went to the news page, there'd been more accidents in the city.
There were always accidents.
Sometimes industrial workers had fallen from skyscrapers after being hit by birds; others had been run over by cars or mugged, killed, raped et cetera at gunpoint. The obituaries were by far the most popular section of the paper here. Safety codes hadn't been followed in a while and the twisted individuals that lived in the apartment skyscrapers liked reading them, so the local paper had divided its sections up unevenly. A whole quarter of the news was on death, suicide, bad weather as always, and then the last 10 pages were filled top to bottom with the accounts of these 'passings'. Passing was too nice a word; most of them had died terrible deaths. They were ripped from this world, torn out like the very slices of pizza Hunter was eating, and devoured by the papers for the public's enjoyment. It was all too depressing, but there wasn't any work to do, and Kate had taken the car. So Hunter read it all, read from cover to cover in the online version. He actually started to note a pattern, too. A lot recently had died of seemingly crazy, unlikely deaths. One guy had been pinned by a painters overhang when the ropes snapped and sent the painter tumbling down as well, who hit a car. Thankfully the car was parked and no one was hurt, but Hunter could imagine the fear of the people walking to work who'd see not only a man get crushed by a wooden platform, likely sending blood everywhere, but also the split second freeze in shock as they stood there stunned, only to be splattered with more blood as the painter hit the car parked next to them. It was like they had all been a work of art, freshly made, Hunter thought, and chosen to be painted with blood. This is just morbid as hell, he thought to himself.
The rest were weird, but none as....romantic as the painter and his blood. After a while Hunter heard Michael stir in his room and come out his door. He quickly got up, thankful to have SOMEONE to talk to, because honestly, he was afraid that if he sat here alone reading this shit he might just get killed by the roof collapsing in on itself. “That'd be something...” he murmured, turning off his monitor, standing up and walking back to the dull living room from whence he had come, carrying his deliciously greasy pizza with him.
“Oh, hey Hunter. Didn't know you were home. Figured everyone'd gone out or something.” Michael said.
“Wish I was; Kate took the car and Jack is gone too. I think they went out drinking without me. Dunno what they did earlier tho; they were gone when I woke up.” he replied, straightforward.
“When was that?”
Hunter smirked a bit, and said “Three thirty. You believe that? My sleep cycle's so fucked for Monday.”
“Yeah...mine too. Sorry about, well, all that last night.” A momentary silence, then, “Is that pizza?” He gestured to the box Hunter had carried out of the room with him.
“You want some?” He held it out so Michael could take a piece, and they both sat down.
“I have no idea what you're talking about.” Hunter smiled at this.
“Oh get off it. It's boring as hell in here. Let's drink, or, something.” Michael was having one of his awkward moments.
“Alright, alright. At least now I have a drinking partner. You wanna hit Jimmy's again?” Hunter was careful with this suggestion. He knew Michael didn't like going out to drink, much less come back home again, but seeing the fire in his eyes tonight he knew he'd have to get him out of the house somehow.
“Fuck it, let's go. I can't just sit around on a Saturday night!”
They both laughed, got dressed, and walked outside. It was bitterly cold.
“Is it winter already?” Hunter asked, trying to break the silence. He watched as the heat of his body poured out of him with his words.
“Nope, still fall. It hasn't even been cold enough to snow.” Michael purposefully breathed in deeply and watched the vaporous breath expand and turn to ice in front of his face. It was beautiful.
They kept talking the entire way, walking past houses and apartment complexes full of other people who lived their lives on the edge in one way or another. The windows of the cars were fogged, but not iced. Trees swayed in the biting wind, and they could feel the cold nipping at the openings in their warm clothes. Leaves sat still on the ground despite the breeze, locked in place by moisture, or perhaps, Michael thought, they were simply too cold to move. It wasn't a very long walk, but the cold didn't help, and Michael and Hunter couldn't stop themselves from complaining. About the only thing they had going for the argument of whether to go back already was the sting of boredom, the fact they'd made it over halfway, and the promise of warm alcohol filling their bellies. Maybe even a little action, if they were lucky.
So that's what they focused on, as they made their way to a place of raucous abandon, talking about the girls they'd see, the things they'd drink, and, most importantly, the thought that they'd get out of this damn cold and into someplace warm.