After the morning shift, Josiah was finishing his lunch in the cafeteria at the back of his job, during staff break. There was a fuzz over Rebecca getting engaged soon. Everybody was delighted and energetic. Josiah was leaning both arms on the table, in a tired fashion. Unlike all of his coworkers, he didn’t seem very excited for the news himself.
“Wow, you’re getting engaged, congratulations!”
He kept hearing those kinds of comments from the other coworkers.
‘Another one is getting married, already?’ Josiah thought to himself. ‘And Rebecca too of all people... She was the only one who would ever talk to me outside the job matters... It’s not like I was hoping for anything, but still... Seeing her getting engaged all of a sudden like this...’
Josiah took the last sip of the bitter and now cold coffee of the cafeteria and hammered the empty cup on the table. Then he started getting up.
‘Well... To be fair we talked to each other once or twice...’
Josiah felt a hand on his left shoulder. It was the manager.
“Josiah. Are you free already? We need someone to keep track of the clients coming in, in the entrance...”
Josiah thought to himself: ‘But it was me the other time as well. Does it have to be me yet again? Is the manager picking on me or something? Can’t we just have some rational sort of scheduling here?’
Josiah looked around. Everyone was laughing and causing a commotion in the cafeteria. They all seemed to be happily enjoying their time there sitting together in a big group.
‘I guess the manager won’t disturb one of ‘them’ now, heh?’
“You’re done?” The manager asked looking at the scraps and the empty cup above his table “Good, let’s go.” He patted in Josiah’s back and started moving to the store again.
Unwillingly, Josiah followed the manager and started his working shift again. A long and boring shift of retail working. As an attendant, he had to keep standing for most part. It was a bit early but at least he had actually finished his lunch before restarting the shift this time.
After the dusk came, the shift ended and he finally got to go back home. He lived in a small flat at Dirtswamp Point. The street he lived in was a narrow alley dimmed by some huge rare trees under preservation. The Dirswamp Point was a pretty dangerous neighborhood to come back to during that time of the night. On the lack of a better way of doing things, Josiah used to go back there by foot, anyway.
“Gosh, I’m exhausted.” He muttered to himself when he finally got to the entrance of his flat.
He browsed for the keys in his pocket and already heard the shrill and hoarse voice of his mother.
“Josiah, are you there? Before you enter go to the pharmacy, I want to get those pills exchanged, tell mr. Berns I want the same brand he gave me last time.”
“Oh, come on, mom! You stay in there the whole day and now you ask me to do it?”
“If you’re not moving out of this house soon, you should at least help around!”
Josiah, at the age of 28, still lived with his mom.
Undermined, he embraced the tablet of pills with the prescription and the money from his mother hands and saw himself having to go for a long walk to the pharmacy.
“Hurry, before mr. Berns closes” She advised.
He started in a fast pace, but after his mother was out of sight he switched to a more comfortable, dragged pace.
Josiah found himself contemplating the situation:
‘Damn it. All those years in the university studying chemistry... The trouble to get the degree... The masters... All of that just to work in a sh*tty retail from 9 to 5 and get back to my mom’s house in this dark street every night?’
He kicked some sand out of the unpaved soil of the main street of Dirtswamp Point.
‘All the friends I had got married and vanished from my life. Now the coworkers too... People are getting amazing jobs... Sometimes life feels so unfair. I wish all this wave of bad luck could end somehow...’
A chill gust of wind blew towards Josiah’s face. It was the beginning of the winter, that night was particularly hazy.
Josiah started to make some human shapes out of the mist. They seemed to be walking fast, no: running towards him.
“Oh, sh*t! Not again!”
Before he could react, Josiah was cornered by two guys. One was tall and about his age, the other one seemed to be his younger brother. The young one was carrying a gun.
“What’s up, m*therf*cker! Pass all your stuff!”
“I... I have nothing.”
The guy violently took the small amount of money he had in his hands, letting the tablet of pills fall to the dirt. He pointed the gun towards Josiah’s chest. He was clearly in an altered state. He was holding the gun shaking like a bartender preparing a cocktail.
“Think I believe in your cr*p!? Pass me your stuff, yo!”
Unfortunately, Josiah was used to this kind of thing, having lived in Dirtswamp Point for his whole life. As usual, he didn’t panic and just proceed to show he wasn’t carrying anything valuable:
“I-it’s true, I...” He started trying to turn his pockets inside out but then, all of a sudden, a loud bang echoed on the silent street.
“What’d you do, man? You shouldn’t have shoot the guy!”
“It wasn’t me! The thing just fired on its own!”
“What the hell man? What did I say about the lock?”
“Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Josiah realized only a few moments later what had happened, as his chest started feeling cold inside and warm on the outside. A lot of stuff started occurring to his mind. He pictured his mom on the flat entrance. Then the colleagues at his job. For some reason he even remembered the days at the chemistry school in the university.
‘When I said I wished this all could end, I didn’t mean it literally, dammit...’
Josiah lost the strength on his legs and fell on his knees.
The vision started turning black.
His body fell down, and the consciousness was lost.
However, it was not the end.