Untitled, Part OneOct 26, 2002 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Auto Parts and AccessoriesThe Bottom Line Unlike the other stories I've given you, this one is BRAND NEW, and has no title. (I'm horrendous with titles, maybe you have an idea.)
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5 pm, before suppertime. The crowded main street was clogged with cars, their drivers anticipating the rest of the evening away from their soul-scarring employments. Being a small town, Charlottetown was not known for being able to handle a myriad amount of vehicles, so even this main street was a narrow, two-lane road. This despite the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of cars, used this stretch of pavement each day......
The child was facing the path of oncoming vehicles. He was only feet away from certain disaster. Yet in his mind, things were normal.
He was only three years old. He was pedaling with ease on his tricycle, and pain was for him limited to the bumps and bruises encountered in play. All those wounds had shaped his mind; he learned that touching the hot kettle would burn the hand; that tripping while running would cause nasty bruises or scrapes. He carried no information about impacts with motor vehicles.
A tricycle ride on the edge of University Avenue wasnt considered an act of a miniature, and stupid, daredevil to him. It was just something to do. His parents werent around to tell him to come back home.... so he just kept going, away from their voices. Nobody said anything, nobody came outside to call him in, nobody told him where to go. So here he is.........
She worked at a department store, one of only many cashiers.
Pauline was nineteen, tall, skinny, perhaps too much so, and was by most accounts, a fairly mainstream sort of teenager, in that she thought she was far removed from the mainstream.
She went to work with a nosering, the hoop sort that was quite apparent to an unsuspecting eye. Her image was probably not the sort that aggreed with the image of the department store as a whole, but, while numerous shareholders in the company were more concerned with profits over quality, the people who oversaw this one particular small-town affiliate were willing to overlook the cosmetic eccentricities of one employee for the sake of both staff stability and loyalty to the locals.
As if this moment, she was quitting work for the day. She was to go to the cigar and magazine shop to get her weekly lottery tickets, and then go home. She was closing her cash register for the afternoon, scanning her ID card over the security lock. The cash from the till was in a sack, which was to be given to the manager.
She walked away from the register and into the womens clothing section. The area was moderately active -- a scattering of people. Among those people was Nancy, Paulines friend, who worked at this particular section. She was busy arranging the racks, picking up loose articles of clothing, basically doing everything to ensure that she would at least present the appearance of prosperous activity.
Nancy had been gone for a number of weeks, due to an unforeseen family crisis back in her old home of Ontario. But luckily, her absence had not dulled her skills in the world of retail.
Hi., Pauline waved, with her shiny grin.
Nancy responded with her own noticeably cooler, subdued gesture.
Pauline noticed her friends less eager demeanor. Nancy had to deal with her parents impending divorce. Her trip started out as a mere vacation, but was soon revealed to be a psychological attack. She had to deal with the fact that her parents relationship had been disintegrating for a lengthy amount of time. There was nothing necessarily overt, or aggressive about this tension that resulted in this rupture. It was merely the presence of a quietly lingering parasite, chewing and gnashing at the fragile threads of the marriage until they were irreversibly severed.
Pauline went into the staff room, passing her retail bounty to the accountant, before returning to the blinding lights of the store, and to the sight of her friend. Nancy was clearly waiting to speak to her, when Pauline approached.
Hey, Nancy, how was your day?
Ah, the usual. The same assortment of oddballs and regular people.
Ive not spoken to you much lately.
No, rough times. Its pretty bad when even your own parents, the people who gave you life, cant get along. Pause. It makes me... doubt.... relationships. Anyway, lets not sour things. Hows you and Jeff?
Oh, the same, the same. Its hard, you know, to really have some real fun together. I work a lot... and someone has to baby-sit my son, Aaron. and were not exactly rich, you know?
Still hasnt found a job, hasnt he?, she questioned, abruptly.
Ah..., tense giggle. No, no, no, unless you count baby-sitting as a job, but the pays lousy.
Certainly!, she smiled. But surely, he could find anything. I mean, retails pretty degrading, and look at you.
Yea, well, he seems to find employments that are troublesome. The bosses dont like him. They... theyre so unfair, you know....., her voice softening.
Nancy grins slyly.
Whats that supposed to mean..., Pauline asked, on the defensive.
Oh, nothing, nothing., she smiled.
Pauline lost her train of thought, wondering about Nancys enigmatic expression.
Ahhh... well, umm, .... Jeff.. you know, hes a very unique personality., Pauline said.
Nancy nodded her head, confirming the previous statement. True. Hes... well, very insistent on tossing about his rights to anyone who will listen.
If somethings unfair... hes going to express himself.
Even if it kills him, right -- or drives the three of you into poverty.
Pause. Fidgeting of the hair. Oh, hes not the most sober person around, but his last job sucked. They b-tched at him for showing up late all the time... Christ, they ought to be pleased that he showed up.
Nancy laughed, arousing more suspicion in Paulines heart. They ought to have low expectations, then?, Nancy asked.
In any case..... things are so dull. Im such a goddamn homebody. Why is that? I suppose its the lack of cash. Jeff doesnt seem to want to take me anywhere, and all of my cash goes to the necessities. He goes out sometimes with his drinking buddies... tends to p-ss me off , you know, but..... have to repress it, eh?, she jibed. Boys will be boys, thats just natural. I cant get upset over that, no matter how much I feel that way. Envy is one of the deadly sins, you know... you get bombarded with that stuff in private school.
Well... at least you guys are together. youve not killed each other yet. I suppose thats a plus.
Oh, dont beat yourself up over it. Things have a way of turning out for the best.....
Full of clichés today, arent you?, she smiled.
Ah, you got to rush away all those thoughts. How can you live with yourself if you keep focusing on the negative?
She looked at her watch, it was slightly after five......
Well, sorry, I better get out of here!, Pauline finally said. Hope to see you next week with a million dollars!
Youve been saying that for the last two years every Friday., Nancy answered, shaking her head in amusement. Try to forego saying it for one week and your fortunes may change....
Pauline could only smile before saying goodbye.
She went across the corridor that separated the opposing sides of the mall, and went into the cigar shop. The cigar shop had its share of cheap and expensive cigars, but much of the store also offered magazines and lottery tickets. All other items were blurry to Paulines sleepy retinas; all that kept her weary body going was the prospect of buying this Fridays lottery ticket.
One Lotto 649, please...., she said immediately upon receiving the cashiers attention. Pauline wondered in her private room of thought, whether this particular counter girl had ever thought of sneaking in on a few winning tickets -- perhaps thats why Pauline has never been a winner. This damned trollop stole all the good numbers.
....... well, perhaps not. There was something about that counter girl that amused Pauline to no end. Pauline wasnt entirely a defender of her own sex. She considered this counter girl to be the stereotypical blonde, the sort who wasnt very bright. Pauline deduced this due to the blondes speaking voice. The voice was light, airy, distanced, in the sort of way that suggested a monotonous, shallow personality. This counter girl could very well have been an intelligent woman, but Pauline wasnt into the idea of fair play, and believed that this gal was very limited in any respect.......
The lotto machine spat out the numbers, making its loud, shrill, metallic sound as it did. The counter girl then gave the piece of paper to her.
Pauline was about to exit the shop, as she noticed the missing children poster on the window. The poster never seemed to have been updated in years, as it included the same faces that were exposed what seemed like years, before Pauline was even a teenager.
Geez, why do they even bother with these things? I bet that even their parents have forgotten much about their own kids., she said, sardonically.
Oooo, thats not nice., the clerk said, slowly.
Its true. Look at this guy... , pointing to a faded, blurry photo of a teenage boy, wearing glasses. .... he was, what, 16 or 17, perhaps. He lived here in Charlottetown, a city in which you could drive from front to back in about five to ten minutes, a city in a province whose population is smaller than most medium-sized cities in Canada... and yet he disappeared! About, I dont know, 10 years ago! And nobody can find him. Now, I dont normally believe in supernatural phenomenon, bu that is just too bizarre. There must be some force that makes people disappear around here.... how else could a guy vanish in a tiny sandbar like this!
Oooooo!, panted the clerk, obviously buying into this preposterous scenario.
Pauline gave a wry grin upon observing her skill at toying with this persons small, gullible mind. Watch out when you walk home tonight! See you later!, she waved grandly before walking out.
Pauline studied the numbers carefully as she walked out into the mass of shoppers.
20, 4, 58, 3, 13, 1, 17
Christ, wasnt 13 supposed to be an unlucky number? What was it doing here? Like it made a difference, really, she never won. She was always one or two numbers short, always grasping for the jackpot, her wrists hurting from the vain reaching.
But, maybe the unlucky number would have an inverse effect on the heart of Fortune.
He lived with his parents , in a modest locale. It was at a lower-middle-class zone, with numerous duplexes, small corner stores, and lowly family-owned businesses rarely frequented except for those who lived on that particular street.
His parents weren't married, yet still managed to reside together. Why the didnt marry, hed not know, nor would it have crossed his mind that this lack of marriage was unusual.
He knew that his parents tended to be fun-loving people, the kind who wanted to be with their friends. He knew this because theyd often take him along for the fun. He had met a number of people, in many different houses. He saw them frequently possessing drinks. They werent the type of drinks he was normally accustomed to, and would, naturally, try to acquaint himself with them.
.....put that bottle down, son...... said her frustrated voice
...... laughter from her friends, already enraptured by the drink ......... hey, hes learning fast, in the next ten years hell be just like the rest of us. Let him taste a little bit, there will be more where that came from in the next few years......
....... she would forgive him the next two mouthfuls or so........
He also noticed that many of the friends liked to stick things into their mouths, in which smoke would cast out into the air. Some of these things that they smoked came in cartons, and looked like little cylindrical tubes, while others were more crudely designed, but all were enjoyed equally.
Occasionally, they had mushrooms with them. The child often ate mushrooms with his dinner, and used to ask if he could have a mushroom with her mommy and daddys friends, but they would not let him. Usually, one would laugh and say that there wasnt enough to go around.
Gosh, they must have been hungry.......
Pauline exited from the mall property and onto the major street of the city.
University Avenue was the main strip, so to speak. It was the enterance-way to the capital of this diminutive province. The street was clogged with cars, trucks, pedestrians.....
Pauline past by all the numerous fast food joints that littered this main street. Las Vegas had the casinos, Charlottetown had McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway. All of the insignias were embedded into her brain from repeated visual exposure over the last 19 years of her life. Constant contact with these images assisted in drawing her into the mundane lifestyle that the rest of the population engaged in. After seeing so many fast food joints, youll begin to experience them yourself. After seeing so many bars, clubs, and taverns, youll begin to experience them yourself. And the list goes on.
For one, brief, shining moment, however, Pauline loosened herself from the islands grip. When she was fifteen, she lived in the United States for almost a year, with her aunt and uncle. She even went to a private school, which, like most private schools in the United States, was religiously oriented. The teachers were nuns, priests, and lay people whose only education was at the hands of those same nuns and priests.
Pauline walked through the corridors and sat through the classes tainted with the experience of the secular world, and of public school, and her new teachers were a constant source of hardship for her. Every day, her spine was burdened due to her backpack, its seams bursting from the weight of textbooks. Her eyes, her wrist, and her brain were equally overtaxed, with two or three hours of homework an evening.
Her homework was generally much like the homework she experienced in her previous life, but much more extensive. What was novel was the spiritual aspect. Her literature dealt not just with the Bible, but with many derivatives that handled Christian matters. Even her grammar texts were covered with examples that expressed moral absolutes as much as they expressed sentence structure.
Pauline wasnt terribly upset, as she knew that this was a short-lived experience, and the next year would be back in the comfort of public school, with its comparative lack of discipline. After some of the things she had heard, she felt lucky to be subjected to the rigors of religious school only for that brief time.........
She knew, casually, of one girl who had a lot of problems. This girl wasnt a well-adjusted individual; she frequently got in trouble for her acting out, which included numerous acts of verbal and emotional violence whenever the slightest event irked her. It was entirely possible that this girl was manic-depressive, or had some kind of illness that prevented her from fitting in this environment. The girl herself, however, had her own theory......
.......... those stupid nuns dont understand me, they dont understand people, thats what their problem is. They just give me all this sh-t about acting properly in the presence of Gods assistants, and all this crap about sins of the flesh, and saying that petty emotions are just as much sinful as all the stuff about sex and drugs, since it comes from the fleshy parts of our bodies, not the spiritual. What, cant I feel anything???? Theyre just too busy leading my life for me, telling me what I can and can not do, feel or say!....
Pauline sympathized, but did not agree. Things could be worse, than having some uptight nun give you the third degree..........
Endless, was how the street appeared in his eyes
He had never been this far from home before, by himself. Usually, hs mother would drive him to places, inhibiting him from gaining a real sense of the hugeness of the world. In this case, however, he was noticing just how many things truly exist in this world.
Many cars passed by, and the child noticed casually that every single one of the people inside looked at him. He was too young to consciously guess at their thoughts as they drove by, but he thought it funny that everyone stared at him.
He gave a peculiar whining sound as he smiled at the passersby. He thought it funny that he was at the center of attention.
He noticed a car, parked on a driveway, its windows down. His ears could pick up the voices inside.
...... look at that., said one voice. Hes almost right on the road. What if he gets smacked by a big truck? What a nasty thing that would be.....
Whos watching him?, said a second voice. Probably some stupid lazy welfare mother, passed out on the couch.
Somebody ought to do something about this......
The voices paused momentarily.
Anyway..... we should hurry before the bookstore closes.....I need to buy that book right away. Maybe by that time, the kid will be gone........
The voices never said anything that the child considered for any length of time. He was not in the business of understanding adults speech..........
.......... soon, he passed a motel. The motel was very bland in its appearance, and contained only a number of automobiles. The child noticed that their was a larger amount of pavement surrounding the motel. He gradually veered to the left, thereby avoiding any possibility for disaster.
He began to circle around the painted lines. He thought that it was really intriguing to follow the patterns painted on the pavement, as if they were designed just for him and his tricycle.
After having exhausted the yellow lines of the parking lot, he continued to further navigate the area. The lot was designed in accordance with the natural landscape, which meant that a slight downwards hill existed a few feet away from where the child had previously played. The child took a slight surprise at this hill, once he noticed his tricycle gaining speed, but he soon gurgled out sounds of joy at the roller-coaster nature. He was disappointed when the ground flattened out again, and his tricycle returned to a slower state.
Having fun?, said a light, female voice. Where did that come from?
The child looked about, not seeing anyone. The voice was faint, and he had no idea where it might have originated from.
He slowly traveled the pavement, trampling over more yellow painted lines.
Then, suddenly, that faint voice became stronger.
Having fun?, she said again. He looked toward the sound of the voice. A woman was walking down the stairs from the second floor balcony. She started to approach him.
Hi, little boy., said the woman, stopping about ten feet from him. Wheres your mommy?
The kid was silent. He doesnt remember having seen this woman before.
Are you all by yourself, , she crouched down to become eye-level to the child. Its not good to be out here by yourself even at this time of day.
The kid gave a goofy smile.
Where do you live?
The kid shrugged his shoulders.
Tell you what -- Ill take you to the front desk and say that Ive got a missing child. Come along....
The kid shook his head, slowly.
Come on... weve got to get you home. I cant be your baby-sitter! I have things to do tonight.
The kid would not budge.
Please, I dont want to look like an idiot, yelling to a little squirt. I really dont want to grab you; people might get the wrong impression!. The woman guffawed in frustration. She was conflicted.
Christ... stay... stay right there.
She started to run, constantly looking back as if her glance would nail him to the ground, forbidding escape.
The kid watched her, as he tried to comprehend her behavior. He noticed that her hair was knotty, her clothes were faded and sloppy, her eyes were shadowed, and weak. His mom looked like that when she woke up every morning, but when she went to work, she was all nice and pretty, not like this person.
The woman entered the building, still attempting to keep watch on him as she rang up the front desk.
The kid looked around the lot. He looked along the wall and the balcony of the motel and noticed that it seemed incredibly empty. Nobody else seemed to live here, except this woman. He never saw anybody else who would come out to talk with him. Perhaps she was the only person here.
She was a stranger, in any case. It was unwise to listen to strangers, he was always told. So he continued traversing the lot, and faded more and more from the vision of the strange woman.
Pauline approached the grungy motel, only a few blocks away from her house. She was well aware of its sordid reputation, as she herself was known to frequent this area, unavoidable as it was, as she walked up the street. She knew in passing of some of the drug pushers -- those who sold their products to friends and acquaintances who needed something beyond the approved fixes.
She used to be a frequent customer, until the necessity of raising a child made it increasingly difficult to merely walk around the corner to pick up a potent snack. The mushrooms were tasty. Sure, the chemical was allegedly poisonous, but, for a brief, shining moment, she felt far removed from the flat realities of her life. The work, the child, the boyfriend. Sure, she loved her child, and she couldnt imagine not being with Jeff. But a surreal collage of sensation ad image was a wicked vacation to embark in for a brief time......
........hmmm, maybe if she had the chance, she could have a really good time tonight. It has been a while........
What would I have to tell him? she might ask of herself one day, whenever her child entered adolescence. Hes going t find out sooner or later about the realities of drugs and alcohol, and see them as more than just bottles of liquid and tubes hiding an unknown substance -- so what would I say?
If she thought about this subject deeply, she would probably figure out that any attempt at moralizing would come up short. A person who enjoyed sporadic recreational drug use couldnt sound too convincing discussing the evils of drugs to her child.
.........but at the same time, if she were to ever consider thinking about talking drugs to her child, she would probably be compelled by a force of primal nature to refer to them as harmful, as potentially dangerous. Shed always picture Aaron, even when hes old enough to drive cars and get a job and drink legally, as the little kid that she raised, and, somehow, the image of a three year-old holding a beer bottle in one hand and a joint in the other wouldn't exactly sit well with her.
Her repulsion would be natural. All people like to believe that children are innocent, and that knowledge of this supposed innocence sticks to the memory for years to come.
..........shed have to wait until later, until Aaron went to bed, before she asks Jeff to get something for her.
For a brief moment, Pauline noticed a young, disheveled woman standing in the parking lot, nervously looking about. Pauline tried to guess at what she could be distraught over. Perhaps the woman was lost. Expecting a ride, or a visit from a pal, or a boyfriend, but seemingly forgotten about. Maybe she was drunk. Or high. Perhaps, god forbid, her child was missing... but she didnt look like the mothering type.
Paulines mind merely regurgitated numerous and childish melodramas, the same sort that fueled her obsessive desire to win the lottery.
Pauline could have stopped, gotten out of the car, and helped out. But she didnt want to become involved in someone elses problems.
Pauline didnt want to care. She didnt want to suffer. She wanted to ignore what was unpleasant.
Best be driving on........
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