Redleg – part 2

A rumpled green t-shirt was next. he pulled it over his head, then stuck his arms through the sleeves. He looked down at the car-toon on the front. It was a coffin with a raised back, with two large tires on the rear and two small ones up front. The cab was black except for two yellow eyes and a toothy smile from inside the cab. A cigar clamped between the teeth, and the words ‘Coughin’ Coffin’ were spelled out in smoke behind it. Standing up, he clumped awkardly to the small storage drawers that served as his dresser. Next to it were his ankle-high sneakers.

The black Converse were made of canvas, so they wore a little better around the fake foot, with just enough cushion to make walking feel like semi-natural. He laced up the sneakers, grabbed the belt off the top of the left stack of drawers, then finished sliding it through the loops. He finished up by grabbing the pack of cigarillos off the top right set, and sliding one out of the top. He grabbed the lighter, and lit the brown tube of tobacco. That first inhale centered him, and got him ready to face the day. He slid the pack in his back pocket, the lighter in the front left, and plucked his wallet off the drawer and shoved it into the left rear pocket. Another long inhale and exhale soothed the nicotine jitters and he was ready for breakfast.

Archie clumped into the cramped kitchen, and threw a pair of toaster strudels in the toaster. He grabbed them when they popped up, juggling them from hand to hand as he grabbed his keys, hat, and cane before walking out the door. He locked it, then carefully trundled down the steps to the security door, and out onto the sidewalk bounding Bleeker street.

There was a crisp taste of Autumn in the air, one that penetrated the exhaust fumes and damp, musty smog of the city. It spoke of the wilds, open meadows and dense old growth trees that blotted out the sun even on a cloudless day. Baton Rouge was hardly ever this pleasant. Usually it was a sweaty, muggy day that bred mosquitoes. Their constant whine near his ears had him waving his hands from the first moment out the door, to the last moment in line to get a bowl of soup or stew at the local homeless kitchen. He often stayed after hours to help clean up, just to avoid those ravenous bloodsuckers before heading back to his small rathole apartment.

The days melted together like overheated plastic. All the stimuli were depressingly, and comfortingly, unchanging. He could set a watch to them. This sense of familiarity gave him comfort in his meaningless life. He could stumble through the day, without surprises, without changes that so upset his sense of stability.

Sadly, this would be the last stable day in his new life. Causality, and chance had rolled boxcars for Archie, and he was going to start a whole new life in a whole new world that he never imagined. One of magic, of terror, of hope. The last he would find most upsetting. There is a comfort not having hope. It’s not ever going to get better, and won’t ever change. Hope makes a person believe in the future, in a world that actually cared about what happened to people. Archie didn’t want hope.

He grimaced as he took his first shot of cheap gin, just to wake up, he told himself not very convincingly. 

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