Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hearts of Darkness, Part III

The next morning he spent on the phone, calling local engineering firms in the city, explaining that he had a dual degree in civil planning and engineering, and was looking for work. Two of the places sounded interested until he explained where his degree was from, and how reputable it was, despite the fact that they had never heard of it. He changed his story to looking for a paid internship. Hunger forced him downstairs, to the hotel bar.

A dozen different people were discussing all sorts of things. David ate fish, and eavesdropped. He heard the woman coming, and smelled her before that.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked.

David turned to see a woman about his age, slim and pretty. How she looked did not match how she smelled at all.
Her perfume was pleasant enough, but beneath it, she smelled like one of the dockside hotels. “No,” he said, because it wasn’t.

She sat, and they began to talk. The topic of the weather folded into commentary on the city beneath it, which segued into David’s earlier failures at securing work. The conversation swerved strangely around David’s residence in the hotel despite his joblessness, and he could feel her tugging, pulling at something. Eventually, she remembered she had some place to be, an important business meeting she had been waiting for. The man behind the bar smirked. He looked like he would say something, and then an older man down the bar from David cursed while shaking his head at the television screen.

David scanned the flat panel and squinted. The sound wasn’t muted, just very, very low. A body had been discovered, and police believed it was an animal attack.

“Third this season,” the older man said.

David paid stiffly, then quickly went back to his phonebook upstairs.  His distracted efforts were even less successful than his focused ones from earlier. Laying in his bed, looking up at the ceiling, he did math in his head, and thought about his need for proper interview clothes, a resume, a briefcase, a firm handshake and gel for his hair.

By the time night fell, he was in the cage again. For every year of his life, he had a memory of his mother, and the men guarding them. His father. He even lived at home when he went off to school. Just because he couldn’t see the island, didn’t mean that the island couldn’t see him.

The next morning he checked out of the expensive hotel. He walked to the nearest bank, and investigated the fullest qualities of the plastic cards his father had given him. The teller looked perplexed. He had questions, but didn’t ask any of them. David didn’t help the man’s curiosity, only accepted the windfall and absconded.

With a new number in mind, he walked and contemplated. What if he couldn’t find work? He needed to find a more efficient way to live for the time being. What if he couldn’t find work? With a new daily allowance, he could extend his situation for a substantial amount of time. What if he couldn’t find work.

David walked into an alley and put his hands to a brick wall. He pushed, dissipating some of the stress in his shoulders and back. He grit his teeth and breathed. He wasn’t going back.

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