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Chapter 2

Depressed about his recent unemployment, Joe walks to his next destination. He missed the bus after it stopped in front of him and he just stared idly, unable to speak or move. Quietly, he carries his side backpack letting it sway back and forth until he hit the main stoplight; the most hated stop light that he has ever come across. It was one of those four way stops that also had a light strictly for left turns. It took 20 minutes for it to change lights and when it did, Joe was allowed 2 seconds to fully cross the path before the lights would change and he’d be road kill.

“God, I hate this stoplight…” he mumbled. “It’s bad enough that I got fired, but now I have to face this?” he said to himself. “This time, I’m going cross the walkway fully. Nothing’s going to stop me; not the man on the wheel chair next to me, not the pregnant woman in front of me and definitely not the girl scout delivering cookies behind me! It’s go time!”

The light turns yellow…then faster than a bullet the light goes green!

“OUTTA THE WAY PEOPLE!!!” he yells as he spreads his arms wide and rushes to the other side.

Too bad, about 20 other people from the other side was rushing just as fast as he was, leaving him tightly pact in the mesh. As he struggles through getting a clear opening, a woman who was flinging her purse joyfully, accidentally interlocks her purse with Joe’s side backpack. Causing them both to fall on their backs, the straps pull them to the ground. Lights turn red.

“Hey, GET OFF THE STREET!!” yelled an angry driver.

“…oh man my head,” Joe said with a splitting headache.

“…ow, ow, ow…” said the woman.

“Get off the ground, and MOVE IT”, screamed the driver with his honk on full blast.

“Yeesh, hold up a second!” Joe yelled back.

“Sir, you don’t have to scream,” said the woman getting up.

Joe rubs his sore head and tries to put his backpack over his shoulder but some extra weight was keeping him from doing so. The backpack swung from right to left as the strap was only held on from one end.

“Ahem!!!” said the angry woman. “Your backpack tore the strap off my purse!!!”

“Excuse me? Your purse tore the strap off my backpack!!”

“How can this small purse tear that huge backpack?”

“I don’t know, maybe you’re carrying rocks in there!”

“Why would I be carrying rocks?”

“How would I know, it’s YOUR purse! Besides, I’m pretty sure there’s another defenseless animal willing to be butchered to be part of your wardrobe, princess. This is my only backpack.”

“So we agree? Your backpack is worthless whereas my bag is worth more than your entire family’s bank account. Therefore you owe me a new bag.”

“Did you hit your head with your expensive bag of rocks or something?”

“If I did have rocks in my purse, they would STILL be more expensive than that ugly bag or anything else you own!”

“If you had rocks that were more expensive than anything I owned, you’d think that you would have more manners!”

“If I had rocks that were more expensive than anything you owned, you’d think that I would have more respect!!!”

“If you had rocks that were more expensive that anything he owned you’d think that you could MOVE and GET OFF THE STREET!!!!!” screamed the driver, butting in.

“Forget it, it’s just a stupid backpack,” Joe says indifferently.

“Forget it, it’s just a stupid man,” says the woman.

They both go their separate ways and Joe enters a small restaurant called “Mike’s”, named after the founder. Joe was supposed to give Mike the key after he came back from work so Mike wouldn’t be locked out. He had lost his own key a few weeks back and since Joe never trusted him with his own set of keys again, Joe has one specifically for himself and one for them to share.

“HEY!!! J…what’s the matter you look like you like somebody just ran over a kid,” Mike said coming out of the kitchen.

“Stupid driver…” Joe mumbles. He was spacing out again.

“Oh GOD, someone really ran over a kid?!!?!” Mike says in fear.

“Why couldn’t he just wait a couple seconds? I mean we were right there,” Joe says, oblivious to Mike’s question

“You saw the whole thing??? What happened?” Mike asked curiously.

“If only he would have stopped screaming I would have had time to make sense of it all.”

“You could have saved HIM????”

“I blame the girl!” Joe growls pointing his finger at Mike

“It was a girl??”

“She should have watched where she was going!”

“I should have known! ALL WOMEN ARE BAD DRIVERS!!!” Mike screams.

“Stupid purse strap ruined everything…”

“Purse strap?”

Mike, completely confused now, raised his hand up high up in the air and frowned. Snapping out of his own world, Joe looks at Mike’s awkward position.

“What? What is that?” Joe asks

“I have a question!!!!” Mike screams

“What?”

“I am confused,” Mike says frankly, as he drops his arm to his side.

“That’s not a question,” says Joe, indifferently.

“OK…did someone run over a kid or not?”

“…not,” Joe says bewildered.

“Then what the heck are you babbling about!!!”

“Oh…nothing, just something that happened.”

“Doesn’t sound like nothing,” Mike said curiously.

“Go find another mystery, Sherlock Holmes,” Joe says.

“Fine…” Mike says circling Joe with a hand on his chin and another hand supporting that arm.

“Do we have to do this?” Joe says sighing.

“…Joe, it is 9:45 am and yet you are not at work…WHY IS THIS SO???” screams Mike in mocking Joe’s comment of him being Sherlock Holmes.

“…I-I-I…”

“You, you, you…this isn’t a stutter-fest,” Mike said continuing the probing.

“I got fired,” Joe says defeated.

“WHAT???”

“I know after all this time…” Joe tries to explain but is interrupted.

“That’s great!!!”

“I’m glad you’re empathizing with my pain,” Joe says sarcastically.

“Forget about pain, now you can work for me! We can be partners now!” says an overly zealous Mike.

“I don’t know, business partners with a friend?” Joe says cautiously.

“NO! I mean like a co-worker; one of my waiters came down with the flu the other day and I can’t replace him in such short notice. So…” he says walking up to Joe. “Why don’t you cater for me?” Mike says nudging Joe’s shoulder.

“I don’t know…should I cater for some snobby rich folk for half the pay I got as an accountant or should I wallow in self-pity by eating a whole gallon of ice cream on the couch and feel my ass grow?? Tough choices, tough choices…” Joe says walking out of the restaurant.

“HEY!! Are you or are you not my friend!?” Mike screams as Joe nears the exit.

“Don’t start with the speech…” Joe warns.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

“UGH…” Joe sighs giving in to Mike’s request. “I hate it when you use that against me.”

“Thanks pal you’re the best,” Mike says patting Joe on the back.

“When is it?” Joe indifferently asks.

“I’ll tell ya once I get the details. But for now…keys please.”

Joe pulls his set of keys out of his pocket and hands it to Mike, but pulls it away before Mike can touch them.

“Where do you NOT put them??” Joe asks

“In the glass cups…” Mike recites.

“Good boy.”

Joe pulls out his other set of keys and head home.

 

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