And his car would have to break down today, wouldn’t it.
Richard sighed and kicked his tire yet again, as though the tire was somehow related to the alternator that was undoubtedly causing problems again. “Cutting corners, always ends up in these sorts of messes, but how am I supposed to afford a new … anything if I don’t’ cut some corners?” His monologue continued along these same lines while he wandered in circles around his car, thinking of ways to get it home without calling the overpriced towing business owned by his brother-in-law (who you would think could afford to cut a discount for a family member, being the only towing business in the nearest 50 mile radius but apparently that simply means that maybe you’ll car will make it where you want it at a reasonable time).
His options were few. “I could just leave it here,” he mumbled, examining the tailpipe for some sort of “pull here to make me go” string. “Add a for sale sign to it.” He wandered back around to the driver’s side and reached for the door handle.
And he would have to lock his keys in the car, wouldn’t he.
And his phone would have to be sitting in the passenger seat, wouldn’t it.
“I suppose karma made my decision for me. Thank you Buddha. Or whoever’s responsible for this. Christ. … Though I think this one’s out of your jurisdiction, isn’t it? Sorry.”
Richard began to walk the 14 miles to his parent’s house, which was conveniently located outside of the city limits on a country road off the very busy highway. “Maybe I’ll see a friend,” he commented to the hedges, who were quick to remind him that he did not, in fact, have any friends to speak of. “Gee, thanks guys. This is what I get for pouring out my heart to you.”
Richard was supposed to be hurrying home after work to help his disabled mother with the housework. He made it 3 minutes out of his office building and into the heart of Larcney, Kansas (his hometown, as it were) before his radio began to blink and the lights on his car spazzed out. Just enough warning to pull over in front of the post office before the car sighed its last, jumbling breath and ate his keys and cell phone. Richard considered walking first back to his office building, but he knew he was the last person out, and without his keys he would be attempting to break in through the backdoor. While the alarm had failed to sound when a group of teenagers broke in to steal the Xerox machine, it would immediately begin to buzz as soon as he thought about touching the doorknob, Richard was fairly sure, so he decided to save himself the trip to the police station and just amble his way home.
Richard worked at small accounting firm. He did other people’s taxes (and paid better people to do his own), and helped them balance their checkbooks by appointment. He was thirty years old (plus a few years) and still lived with his parents (they needed someone to help take care of them, and he couldn’t afford to send them to a home… and his sister wouldn’t bother assisting, even though she could). He every bit looked the part he played, a tall, formerly lanky and now a little pudgy around the middle fellow with scraggly red hair and sort of droopy, sleepy looking green eyes. He did not tan, and he burnt easy, and his favorite food was his mother’s meatloaf.
Richard was a character actor who could not act, and he felt every bit the part; he knew his situation was one of those stereotyped ones reserved for Steve Bushimi or some equally awkward looking person. Real people had interesting hobbies (he had none), real people had love interests (he used to have one, in high school), and real people were… more real. Richard had not felt real since middle school, and since puberty. He quickly stopped being that kinda cute little kid who had a slingshot and did the paper route and played baseball to a kinda awkward looking teenager who was covered in acne and suddenly forgot how to walk, talk, and not stare at breasts.
At least he grew out of the last part.
Richard’s downward spiral into a bit part player continued throughout high school and college, and since his graduation from business school he has been in the same place. Unmoving. Unchanging. Well, except for the occasional haircut when his receding hairline just isn’t doing a good enough job of keeping his hair short enough and out of his face enough.
Blah blah blah, I may talk a bit more about Richard’s life here. For the purposes of meeting my word count, some history: Richard’s best friend in high school went on to MIT, because he was just that smart, and now works at some top-secret military base. Richard used to do his taxes for him, and that was how they kept in touch, but he has recently stopped asking and Richard didn’t pester him. His girlfriend (singular, the only one he’s ever had) in high school was of equal ambition – she went on to graduate school in biology and is currently working on her Ph. D. while maintaining a super-fancy internship at a laboratory in Topika.