The alarm clock beside Ann’s bed stabbed her dozing ears with electronic needles for a third time. Unlike the three previous times, she didn’t jerk awake, slam her hand on the snooze button, or grumble while trying to go back to sleep. This time, she was awake, much to her chagrin. Her green eyes slowly opened. They were dull and glazed from sleeplessness and tedium. She stared straight up at the cracked, water-stained ceiling. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, Roy Orbison serenaded her, telling her that she was working for the man, as he often did recently.
Moments later, water from the rusted shower head coated her head, her chest, and slicked back her dirty blonde hair. Although she was grateful for the water, her gentle, angular features didn’t show it. A metallic groan rumbled up through the wall behind the shower head. The water sputtered, turned yellow, and stopped. Ann uttered a near silent sigh before rising her fist and pounding on the wall beside the shower head. Another metallic groan was heard, followed by more yellow water that eventually turned clear.
After drying herself off, Ann stood in the two foot space between her bed and the full-length mirror that hung on her closet door. Her simple grey blazer over a white blouse was satisfactory. The black skirt that, over repeated washes, had gone from knee-length professional to slutty short, wasn’t as satisfactory. She reached down and pulled on the bottom of her skirt again. No matter how often she pulled, it would not return to its store-bought length.
Grumbling, she opened the closet door and bent over to pick up the runners she usually wore to work. The sound of material ripping made her freeze her in place, just as she grabbed her runners.
“Ah sh–.” She began to curse, when some creepy crawly bug crawled out of her runners and onto her hand.
“Whaaaaa!” she screamed, jerking her hand back, as well as her body. She stumbled backwards, tripped over the corner of her bed and landed on her shoulders, her legs splayed open in the air. One of her panty-clad butt cheeks peeked through the tear in her skirt.
“You mother fuckin’ little buggers!” She yelled as she clumsily scrambled to her feet. “I’m gonna stomp you through the floor!” She charged the closet and stomped around in it like she was making grapes in a vat. She grabbed her runners, dropped to her knees in front of the closet, and slammed them repeatedly on the floor, turning any critters inside into paste.
From the apartment below, someone pounded on their ceiling, their muffled curses sounding like a dinosaur with laryngitis in heat.
Ann stood and began to rummage through her closet, looking for anything office-worthy. Nothing. She walked around the end of her bed, towards the clothes’ hamper and pulled out a black skirt from a few days ago. She held up to her nose. The smell wasn’t terrible. She reached into the bathroom, grabbed the room deodorizer, hosed-down the skirt, and put it on. It was a little longer than the slut-o-rama she had ripped, but not by much.
All the while, the banging continued from the apartment below, like a Morse-code being sent by someone you don’t want to hear from. When it did stop, it was replaced by the opening rant of some trashy TV talk show.
Ann recognized the opening rant, and the theme song of the trashy talk show, but she usually heard it as she was leaving. She glanced at the clock beside her bed. “Shit! I’m late! They better not leave without me!”
She tossed the deodorizer, tied her hair back into a ponytail, slipped her feet into her runners, and snagged her purse as she raced out the door.
She sped down the stairs to the lobby. Through the lobby’s glass doors, she could see her car-pool ride outside. As she rushed towards the doors, they began to drive off without her.
“Wait!” she yelled as she burst through the doors, waving her hands above her head, oblivious to the pedestrian that crossed her path. She bowls him over, sending both crashing to the sidewalk in a heap.
“Oh my god. I’m so…” Ann started to say, but her words trailed off as she recognized the face of the man she just tackled. They’ve been running into each other off and on for a few weeks now. It started with just a nod and smile, building up to a quick chat, until finally, a sit down and with coffee. He reminded her of the actor from Home and Away who played Kim Hyde, except hunkier, and prettier, if that was possible.
At this moment, he didn’t look hunky, or pretty.
He brought his hand up to a large scratch across his cheek. His face and hair are covered in some sweet-smelling, and most likely sticky, specialty coffee that he was carrying. But that was only two-thirds of the cup. The rest had splashed all over her blouse.
He got to his feet, glancing at a couple of teens laughing at his misfortune. “Stupid cow.” He muttered as he stomped off.
Ann sat for a moment, watching him go, then glanced down at her coffee-soaked chest. The laughing teens walked off, texting everyone about what happened. An older gentleman with pervy eyes helped Ann up. She trudged to the nearby bus stop and waited for the long ride to work. When the bus arrived, she got on, plopped herself down, and tried to look as invisible as possible to the other riders. Fortunately, everyone else was either reading, playing on their phones, watching the world outside, or just dozing. No one noticed Ann, which suited her just fine. She just wondered how much worse this day could get.
Tales from the Infinatum: The Job Copyrighted © 2013 Mark James MacKinnon.
Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.