Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Worlds Apart - Excerpt 2: Introducing Alex

Previously on Worlds Apart...

Maverick is a muscle-bound, type-A macho guy working for someone called Chief Grady in an unnamed law enforcement department. In training for his latest re-assignment, he hopes to employ hand blasters, rifle beamers, stun grenades or good old fashioned hand-to-hand combat to discharge his duties. Unfortunately, his trainer Eric informs him that his latest assignment is to write parking tickets. Undaunted, Maverick roars off in his super cool private vehicle, eschewing the standard issue golf-cart-type vehicle covered in a plastic bubble.

Worlds apart

by kyle crocco*


“… no one does this to me on my day of all days …”

When Alex woke up alone in his queen-size bed, on this, the thirtieth anniversary of his life on Earth, he knew it was going to be a good day, even though he woke up alone and even though the dark clouds outside spoke of rain. But, to be honest, Alex was always waking up alone in his queen size bed and the skies were always speaking of rain because he lived in the city of Seattle. And Alex wasn’t going to let a little thing like early morning loneliness, or a little extra moisture, get him down on this day of all days. For this day was his birthday. And while the average thirty-year-old male often took this birthday as his time to panic and question life’s progress, this thirty-year-old male was going to party like there was no tomorrow.

Okay, not party exactly, because Alex didn’t do things like ‘partying.’ You needed friends and to stay up a few hours past nine pm to do that. But he would certainly celebrate. Not like there was no tomorrow, of course, because there was a tomorrow, but more likely in some perfectly dignified and simple way befitting his style. And the fact that he had no friends. But that fact wasn’t going to get him down on this day of all days. No. Not Alex. Because not only did this birthday mark the end of his third decade on the planet but it also marked the day he was going to be named partner in the World Wide Homes real estate firm that his father owned, operated and created many years before Alex was even an afterthought in his mind. Yes, today was the day when he would cash in on all the rewards due to him for his steady virtues of patience, planning and hard work.

Because for a long time it seemed like the world—or at least those people in his world represented by his father, his cousin and fate—had all been conspiring against him. Not that he was paranoid. Far from it. Okay, maybe not far from it, but fairly far from it. Basically he trusted people. But no matter how much research he did, how much he thought things through, or how much he planned ahead, unexpected things kept happening that caused him difficulties at work—and in life. His father would suddenly move up a date on some paperwork, or Clark would not do any paperwork at all and then blame it on Alex, or he would be asked his opinion on some action that needed immediate action without being given an adequate time to research the subject. He was always being forced to act when he wasn’t ready.

Like that driver at the last intersection. The driver of that car had obviously wanted him to go straight through the intersection as soon as the traffic light had turned green because she kept honking long after it was polite. But Alex knew from his defensive driving course, and from various traffic statistic reports, that to avoid accidents you had to carefully look right, then left, then right again, even if the traffic light was green, because if you didn’t wait …

At that point, the impatient driver had stopped honking, and suddenly passed by him on the shoulder, flinging up a hail of gravel bits and mud onto his windshield as she gave him a one-fingered salute.

Screw this, Alex thought. No one does this to me on my day of all days, my birthday. His face turned to a dark scowl, he gunned his car down the road, and he forced the offending SUV into a nearby concrete abutment where the vehicle quickly exploded into a ball of flames. Alex returned the driver’s one-fingered salute, laughing manically. “You see,” Alex yelled. “You see what happens when you mess with me on my day of all days, beeyatch!”

Or so he had daydreamed. Instead, he just drove away, squinting through the mud on his windshield and considered how one might run an offending car into a concrete abutment, as if one were ever so bold to do such a violent thing. Not that he was so bold, but he knew others were, and these were impulsive, violent people, who were filled with road rage.

As he drove the last mile to work, he thought about the rude incident and considered for a second that maybe, just maybe, that incident might by a sign it wasn’t going to be his day of all days. Maybe his luck wasn’t turning around after. Maybe that rude driver was a sign of bad things to come, or just to continue. And then, just as he was about to be overwhelmed by his negative thinking, he turned in to the parking lot of the World Wide Homes real estate firm where he worked and saw it. It. The spot. The space. Right in front of him. Like a sign, but even better because it was an open parking space, close to the front entrance, on a rainy day no less. Yes, this was going to be his day of days after all. Screw that driver. His luck was really turning round.

Alex positioned his car at the perfectly prescribed angle to park in the space, the angle that he had practiced many times before, at home, in the driveway, practicing mentally the way he had read that professional athletes did in order to perform well. Not when they were parking cars, of course, but when they were imagining themselves doing something wonderful in sports. He wasn’t sure which sport exactly, because he didn’t follow sports, but he knew they were successful because the magazine had said so, and showed them in a photo sitting in a nice car, next to a beautiful girl.

As usual, he was also careful to leave plenty of room on either side to be considerate of other drivers, but with still enough room to squeeze through on the driver’s side without the possibility of scratching the paintjob on someone else’s car. But, just as he was opening the driver side door of his ever reliable, fuel-efficient, bright yellow Honda Civic, there was a rapid honk, honk. And a loud, hair raising, goose-bump inducing screech. Alex yanked his door closed, just in time to avoid the dark blue BMW of his cousin Clark as he slipped into the spot right next to him. Not only had Clark almost taken off his driver side door with his antics, but he had also thoughtlessly pulled in so close that he could no longer open his door. Not even a smidgen.

Oh well, Alex thought. I’m not going to let this get me down on this day of all days. I had planned for this, he reasoned. I’ll just exit from the passenger side door. But as he turned to climb over the gearshift to go out the passenger door, a furniture delivery van backed in to the spot right next to him on that side, so close that he could inspect the paint job in detail. Two beefy men in caps and overalls quickly opened the back of the truck and began unloading a plastic-wrapped desk from the back.

Alex honked his horn to get Clark’s attention and signal for him to pull back out.

Clark jumped out of his BMW, holding a folded copy of the Wall Street journal above his head to ward off the rain and then pulled off a pair of dark glasses. He looked straight past Alex and gestured to the two men unloading the plastic-wrapped desk.

“Follow me to my office,” Clark said.

What did Clark need a new desk for, Alex wondered? That can’t be a good sign on this day of all days.

Alex tried both doors again, but it was no use.

His luck had turned around. Unfortunately, it had turned around a complete 360 degrees.

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