He walked out of the warehouse club with a case of bottled water, a large box of granola bars and a $1.50 hot dog with a Dr. Pepper with very little ice. His back hurt and his knees hurt: he was sweating and it was a spring day.
Mike remembered when he was considered handsome. His hair was dark and thick and styled. He had a good job and wore nice clothes and smiled. He smiled a lot back then.
The trunk door popped open and he pushed it slow that it would go faster; not that it would. Hydralics slowed everything down nowadays. Maybe that's what he should blame all this weight on-hydralics. The case of pop was heavy but pleasantly so. It felt good to hoist it open and throw it into the back. Just throwing, the momentum, the angry pleasure of swinging it back and releasing it made him feel human. He didn't take a sip of pop until he had unloaded the cart and put it back in the corral. Even now, Mike could hear his mother prodding him to put it away.
He took a bite out of his hot dog and set it on the seat. It was such a relief to be able to do that without the fear of retribution and nagging. Joanne lived in Indianapolis with her new husband and by all accounts she was having the time of her life. He was happy for her but even more happy to be released. All those years of trying and it was no use. He was never good enough. He never made enough money. That was not an issue with either of them now.
He left everything in the car and checked his messages when he got home.
I'm sorry. We have filled the position. Please feel free to apply online at...
Great. Because it's so easy to find a job these days. He had enough unemployment for a couple of months before things got really bad. That granola bar from the warehouse club was calling him and he answered. And finished his Dr. Pepper.
Garbage day was the next day so he went through the house collecting bags. The kids would be back from school but he just didn't want to argue or wait. They wouldn't do it. Maybe it was the age, but Mike thought of his parents and what he did automatically when he was their age. The hips were bothering him as he ascended the stairs from the basement.
The sun filtered through the trees in his backyard as he walked to the back fence. The silence screamed during the day because no one was home anymore. Only those who had very small children and those who were the losers. The unemployed. The overweight and unemployed. The middle aged, overweight and unemployed.
Maybe it was opening the lock to get to the alley. Maybe it was dumping the garbage and leaving it there. Maybe it was locking the gate again. When he looked up, he saw the house. The house where he raised his kids. The house where he had a family and a wife. A house that has a family who is growing wings and leaving. And then he just saw a house.
Mike didn't have to go back if he didn't want to. That old life was gone and it would be so easy to let despair submerge him in self pity and loathing. The house may have looked the same but all was changed. He squared his shoulders. He was alone and lonely. If that was the it was to be, so be it. In the meantime, his gym bag was in the car and his ipod was charged. The treadmill road was going nowhere fast but it was a different road than he had taken.
And it was still better than the one before.~
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