Jake’s Day

The dawn was just starting to break. Even though it was a cloudy day, the sunlight was beginning to filter through the curtains when the alarm went off. Jake Meyers thought the buzzer was too harsh, so it was set to some easy listening station that played the same music you heard on elevators. It didn’t make him want to get out of bed, but since the alarm was on the opposite side, he had no choice but to at least roll over and turn off the annoyance. He wasn’t even sure why he set the alarm anymore. He didn’t have to be anywhere and rarely went anywhere, but waking up at least stopped the dreams.

It had been a rough night of fitful sleep, full of dreams that wouldn’t go away, but wouldn’t bring back reality, either. He tried to clear the sleep from his eyes and the cobwebs from his head, but it was a struggle. He finally got his feet over the side of the bed and stumbled to the kitchen. He passed by the microwave on the way to the coffee maker. The face that stared back at him from the reflective door resembled someone he used to know, but was now mostly a stranger.

He poured a large cup of coffee, black, and headed to the computer to check the day’s news. The two things he was most thankful for were now in front of him, Kona coffee, which reminded him of a happier time, and the internet, which connected him to news from all over the world without the need for hundreds of different magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

He sipped the coffee and perused the news of the world. Among the doom and gloom, he noticed that his investments were at least doing well – the fracking revolution had really boosted his energy stocks, along with the mineral rights on the 300 acres his grandparents left him in Southeast Frio County. Money didn’t really interest him anymore, though. He had a small apartment in a building he owned, an old truck, and few recurring expenses. He lived the frugal lifestyle of a hermit. The modest furnishings, white walls, and lack of wall art made the place seem more Spartan than a hospital room. The one indulgence was the cleaning service that came by weekly. It kept him from living in squalor and kept his place presentable for the visitors he didn’t have.

All of his personal matters were handled by an assistant that he rarely corresponded with and even more rarely saw. The assistant paid the bills, handled building maintenance, grocery deliveries, doctor appointments, and anything else he needed. Having an assistant simplified his life and let him go about without having to think or worry.

He finished the half pot of coffee, a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles, and the news. He shaved, showered, threw on faded sweat pants, an old, mismatched sweatshirt, scuffed running shoes, and convinced himself that today was the day. He was going out; he was going to talk to people, he was going to do more than just exist, he was going to live again. The past two years had been an existence of Kona coffee, Cocoa Pebbles, and occasional burger from across the street, the internet, and a dreary non-life. He’d accomplished not much more than processing oxygen into carbon dioxide.

The cleaning service was due in fifteen minutes, so it was time to leave. They’d been known to be early, and he wanted to avoid any accidental communication. He headed down the backstairs, coming out in the alley and headed south toward Alabama. Other than a few stray cats, the alley was deserted. Alabama was busy, but mostly with cars. He was able to run unfettered, his sunglasses, despite the cloudy weather allowed him to avoid eye contact with the few other pedestrians on the street. The exercise at least tired him physically, and relieved some of the mental stress.

His MP3 player let him block out most of the noise and avoid conversation. He didn’t change the songs around much. Currently he had the full works of Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, Johnny Cash, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on it. He was deep into Shine on You Crazy Diamond, parts 6 – 9 when a large, goofy dog bumped into him and started begging for his attention.

It was a black Lab, one of two dogs being walked by a dark haired woman who obviously had her hands full. The other dog was a light coated Golden Retriever and both dogs looked ready to run and explore. His breath caught in his throat for a moment as he remembered a different dark haired lady and a pair of similar dogs from another time. As the lady was apologizing, he patted the dogs on the head, mumbled something, and moved on.

That was one of the last things he needed to see. He couldn’t have any reminders of his past if he was going to keep his emotions buried. Being outside for some exercise was much harder mentally than physically, but until he had a different place with its own exercise equipment, it had to be this way. He wondered if secretly, he was dragging his feet on the new place because he really did crave human contact, despite what he told himself.

After three brisk miles, he made it to his destination. Seemingly the most ridiculous name for a park that he had ever heard of, but it felt like his kind of place. He was morphing into a non-person and this was a non-park. It did have a balance beam that he used to practice Tae Kwon Do on and a set of parallel bars to work the upper body. Coupled with the six mile run, it burned off much of his stress and negative energy, making it possible to get through one more day. He had impressed himself with how fit he’d become, and even considered a marathon, but that was too much of a crowd at this point. For now, he’d be content with the park, healing himself, and looking to what tomorrow would bring.

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