Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Arnold Palmer 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

He thanked the custodian again and limped to the front door, for some reason still trying to hide the fact that his toe was broken. Despite all evidence against it, he maintained the idea that this was the best way to handle his situation.

He opened the door and stepped into the dark night.

-begin part 5

Rain. Of course it was raining.

The cold water on his face actually felt good. He could almost hear steam hissing off the top of his head like in an old Looney Toons cartoon. In fact, this entire day had him feeling like Wile E. Coyote.

He continued to limp down the sidewalk, maintaining his balance by keeping his hand against the building. He saw the blue mailbox a few paces away and muttered under his breath:

"Stupid goddamm letter."

He hopped the remaining steps and opened the lid. It screeched open. He lifted the letter to the bin, then hesitated. He had an eerie feeling that something would happen to prevent him from sending this letter.

He looked around. The street was empty. There were no rogue, giant vacuum cleaners or custodians or beautiful brunettes out to sabotage him.

Yet, he could not send the letter.

Maybe he should go to the post office first thing in the morning and get it sent certified. He never really trusted the mail-people he saw around this street anyway. And "mail-people" sounded suspiciously like "mole-people," which was kind of creepy.

Maybe he was being ridiculous. Did Mr. S. say anything about sending it certified? He said it was important, but he didn't say it needed to be sent overnight or express or anything special. And if it was that important, why wouldn't he just use email?

He was being ridiculous. He opened the lid to the mailbox and slid the letter in.

He started to hop away when a thought occurred to him.

Was there postage on the letter?


He leaped to the bin and opened the lid. He looked inside then thrust his arm in up to his elbow. There was no use.

"Ok. It's ok. I'm sure there was a stamp. Definitely."

He took a deep breath and hopped away, trying to forget the entire incident. Trying to forget the entire day.

When he finally reached the company's gated parking lot, he took out his keys and unlocked his car. The chirp of the alarm let him know where the car was, as the events of the day had caused him to forget where he parked. The fact that he still didn't have his own parking spot, even after three years of working for the company, and even though Dana got her own spot despite just starting last year and basically doing the same job he did (he wasn't bitter), didn't help matters.

He opened the door to the grey Corolla and fell in to the front seat. He was exhausted. The long nap in his office just made him more tired. He put the key in the ignition and started the car. His foot was throbbing as he stepped on the brake to shift out of park.

He came to a stop in front of the gate. The attendant/security guard was long gone, and at these hours, you just pressed a button to get a ticket. A fee was then added to your monthly parking bill. The company really knew how to treat its employees.

Steve rolled down his window and pressed the button. He grabbed the ticket and put it in his pocket, then waited for the yellow bar to rise, allowing him to finally go home and get that deliciously sweet, yet perfectly sour Arnold Palmer.

He waited. And waited. The bar did not move. He looked at the machine that gave him the ticket, expecting some noise or lights to go off.

Nothing. He waited. He rolled down his window and pressed the button again.

Nothing happened.

He waited some more.

Still nothing.


He sat for a moment, then slammed both hands on the horn, sending a loud, long honk into the night.


He put the car in park and opened his door. He stepped out onto his undamaged foot. Holding on to his car for balance, he hopped over to the gate.

The yellow bar looked normal; it didn't seem broken and there was no chain holding it down.

He tried to lift it with one hand while holding onto the fence-post with his other hand. It didn't budge. He positioned himself so he could lift with both hands. It required him to put more weight on his bad foot, and the pain caused a wave of nausea to pass over him.

He took a deep breath and lifted. No movement.

He smacked the button again, to no avail.

Maybe this was an elaborate prank. He looked around for hidden cameras, then remembered the single camera overlooking the parking lot. Could it be...

The pain must have been messing with his head. Tammy from HR told him she asked to see video from that camera last year after her car window was smashed, and the security guy told her the camera didn't actually work. It was just there for show. At the time, Steve didn't know what bothered him more: the fact that it didn't work, or the fact that the guard was so quick to point it out.

Steve took out his cell phone to call a cab. He needed to get out of here and down a few drinks.

As he dialed, he thought about what the next few hours would entail if he got a cab. It was a 45 minute drive home, so it wasn't going to be cheap. Then he would have to take another cab tomorrow to get back here for his car. And he figured he should probably go to the hospital at some point to have his toe checked out. And his head.

This was not one of his favorite days.

He stopped dialing and thought about any of his friends who might be able to help. He knew somebody would, but he hated putting his friends out like that. Plus, the closest person lived 30 minutes away (if he was home) and that was 30 minutes of waiting Steve just couldn't handle.

He hopped back towards his car. He slammed the button on the machine again, hoping he could solve the problem by banging on it. The bar didn't move, so he slid back into his car and shifted into drive.

If you asked him later, he wouldn't be able to give you a satisfying answer as to why he did what he did. It's not that he was hiding something; he truly couldn't explain what made him do it. He knew the bar wasn't easily moved because he just tried with his own hands, so what made him think his Toyota would do much better is anybody's guess.

Steve's first attempt to get through the gate involved driving slowly to the bar, inching forward until it touched the hood about halfway up. He thought he would lift the bar as he slowly wedged the car underneath it. He gently pushed on the gas pedal, causing a piercing, shrieking sound of metal on metal.

The bar crawled up the car's hood, leaving a line of yellow scratches.

This wasn't going to work.

He backed up. He stopped, then quickly backed up as far as he could, about 40 feet. He had seen enough movies to know what he had to do.

Soon after he built up the courage to put the car in drive, he lost his courage and only got the car up to 20 miles an hour before slamming on his brakes just as he hit the bar.

It barely moved. And now there was a dent in the hood. The bar was at least taking some damage. The underside was now completely gray, so that was something.

He backed up again. He needed to plow through the thing. Pedal to the medal. All or nothing. Need for speed. Days of Thunder. Dukes of Hazzard. The show not the movie.

He put the car in drive, cranked up the radio (playing Daft Punk "Get Lucky" because it's on literally any radio station in the summer of 2013) and sped towards the gate.

One good thing about the whiplash was that it took his mind off his toe for a little while. Plus, he could get it looked at tomorrow since he was already going to the hospital, so it was a two for one deal!

The car crashed through the bar, bending it and snapping it off the post it was connected to. It shot forward, sparks flying as it skidded completely across to the other side of the street, stopping when it hit the curb.

Steve lurched forward as the car hit the bar, but somehow the airbags were not set off and the car kept going forward. That was probably a good sign for Steve's car, but not a good thing for his neck. The hood was crumpled and pushed back towards the windshield, less of a good sign for his car.

He rolled forward, nearly running over an old couple and their dog.

Steve slammed on the brakes as the old man jumped back, pulling the dog with him. He seemed more concerned about the dog than his wife, but she was able to avoid the car as well.

They stared at him. The small pekingese yapped. Steve looked at the couple, then the dog. They looked at his car, then back at the gate. Then they looked at the yellow bar lying in the street.

Steve stomped on the gas pedal before they turned their gaze back to him. The car screeched off.

Steve headed home.

-end pt. 5

I Love You All... Class Dismissed.

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