Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Sickness

Gerald searched his house from top to bottom but couldn’t find his gloves or winter hat anywhere. He had put them somewhere in the spring he was sure he’d remember when winter returned. Now he had gone through every drawer and closet shelf without locating them. The clock was ticking and he had to leave to make his train, so it was either be late and warm or on time and cold.

He had no choice but to throw on his coat and hat, sans gloves and ear goggles. He called them ear goggles because they sort of were. He felt weird about calling them ear muffs because they just weren’t, they were ear goggles.  He hurried down his front steps and hustled to the corner. The cold fall winds had given way to the early winter chills and his head was cold instantly.

Gerald stopped to look for the morning paper but it wasn’t there. It seemed the paperboy decided it was too cold to deliver papers. Although in the city it seemed they tossed the papers onto the porch from a moving car. He could hear it every so often rumbling down the street at four o’clock in the morning. He imagined it was a later model car, all rusted and Bondo covered, belching out exhaust into the early morning quiet. It probably didn’t start on this frosty morning and that’s why there was no paper.

The light at the corner went red right as Gerald reached the curb forcing him to stop his rapid pace. He had about seven minutes to make his train, which was plenty of time to make the four minute walk, but he still hated having to stop at the light. It was a very long light and waiting for it to change in the cold was just miserable. Gerald’s nose was all ready feeling runny and his eyes were tearing from the cold breeze.

Gerald started walking across the street in his classic double time pace; hoping to make up the time the red light had cost him. He got to the newspaper box on the opposite corner and hoped to get a paper from it, but it was also empty. He cursed.  Now he would just have to sit there on the train, staring out the window instead of reading.

The ramp to the train platform was already salted by the diligent train staff. They were usually on top of their game when it came to the cold weather. Gerald realized that this ramp would be quite a challenge once ice did actually form on it. He would probably need new and better winter shoes.

On the platform, Gerald did the usual commuter thing and looked down the tracks for the light of the oncoming train. He jammed his hands in his pockets and realized he’d be doing this every day, for the rest of his life. The thought hit him like a cartoon anvil from the sky and his shoulders sagged. He no longer felt chilly. He no longer felt rushed. He no longer felt human. The train approached and stopped. The doors opened and the other commuters rushed onboard. Gerald just stood, staring down at the tracks, trapped in his shoes, unable to move. The train doors closed and the train pulled away. Gerald couldn’t escape the rest of his days. His heart, broken by the news, pulsed once and stopped. Gerald heard birds chirping and he dropped to the platform. The cold wouldn’t bother him anymore.

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