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A screeching sound came from the distance. The subway was on its way. Oh God, I thought, nineteen minutes until work. I shuddered at the thought of it. In nineteen minutes well actually eighteen and ah half now, I would commence on an eight-hour voyage through hell. I worked at an insurance company, signing papers, and giving a big stamp of approval to all the people who wanted permission to drive their shiny new cars. I gave them permission to choke and die. But then, thatís not the attitude that is encouraged by my bosses.

I hate my bosses. First of all, there is Jerry. If you were to take a tomato and put greasy hair on it, you would have Jerry. The man has to be a hundred pounds over weight, I donít think he has taken a shower in at least a year, and he has one of those great out-going personalities where you are loud, overbearing, and invade peoples personal space on a regular basis. Also, there is Dan. Big Dan stands at about 6 and a half feet. I live in perpetual fear of the man. When he gets mad, things fly and usually someone ends up getting hurt. Thank god itís never been me. Finally, there is George. George is by all means a lumbering idiot. He jokes around, slaps you on the back with a strong hand, makes cheap jokes about your hygiene and jumps on top of you whenever you make a mistake.

At least when I got home from work everyday a devious, trampy wife greeted me. I am pretty sure she had been cheating on me regularly. I donít really know why we were married; itís probably my fault. She was my first real girlfriend in college and I latched onto her. She didnít respect me and I donít see where the idea even came from now. But it came from somewhere and we ended up with two children. I donít really know them very well, since the only time I ever hear from them is when they coming whining to me, begging for money or a ride to where ever or come sneaking in through an upstairs window trying their best to be stealthy but manage to break something and wake me up. That is the extent to my interaction with them, and they wouldnít have it any other way. I have a sneaking suspicion that this family collaborates to make my home life miserable.

The only real time I that have to myself is on the way to and from work. That is why I was so depressed at the moment with an ETA of nineteen minutes and counting. I could skip work, I thought, just not go and spend the day doing pleasant things. But alas, I was too much of a coward to do any of them and instead got on the subway to go to work. The subway ride was depressing as usual because I could feel the time creeping away from me. I looked around at the people, all of them happy, content little bees and I wished I could lie down and die, or at least quit my day job. I sat down on a corner seat of a bench. I always do. I find that corner seats are the best because you can beat the rush out. After getting off the subway I walked up the two flights of stairs to get to the street, and stopped for a second to catch my breath. Hey, I never claimed to be in the best shape. Then it was two blocks down to make it to the dreaded office building. Four minutes till ETA, oh god.

Three minutes twelve seconds. I could see the building from where I was standing. Then a man stepped in the way, blocking me. Whatís this? Yes, a delay at the least, maybe four or five more minutes; there was no way to get around him. I could push work back for at least that long. We might even enjoy a cup of coffee. Sure it was pushing it, but a man can hope canít he? I didnít even bother to notice that the man was rather suspicious looking and was holding something behind his trench coat at that point.

ďLook, give me your wallet and I wonít take you out.Ē Figures. I thought something had gotten in my way to work a sign from God, but of course it turns out to be a gun. I stood there looking at the man paralyzed with fear because of an event that wasnít even my fault. I felt something growing in the back of my mind but didnít act on it.

ďOh my god, donít shoot me please! Here take it.Ē I handed my wallet, my driverís license, forty-eight dollars and my dignity. He took the wallet and laughed at me. And then something snapped. I saw myself handing the man the wallet, afraid for my life and I realized something. I was such a little coward. There was a pattern in my life. Took crap all day from my wife who turns around and cheats on me. Took crap from those two kids, uh, whatís her name and whatís his name. I took crap from Jerry and Dan and George. And I decided that it was the end, no more would I be a pawn, not from my wife or kids or my bosses, and especially from this guy holding me at gun point for no reason. He didnít even see it coming, the poor guy. A left hook came in first and connected with his face. Three more lefts and a right followed it. The mugger lay on the ground gasping for air. I looked at him for a minute and then the momentary lapse ended. Well great, I thought, look at him, what have I done? He just wanted to jack my money; little did he know what he was getting in to.

The New York City mugger ended up in the hospital and offered me an eighteen thousand dollar settlement for hospital costs. It was that or I would have to go to court. I paid it and begged him not to take me to court. I even sent him flowers over Christmas. I apologized to my wife, who continued to cheat on me, and my kids, who were still brats, and my bosses, and they were still themselves. Life was back to normal.


------
John



Comments

The following comments are for "The New York City Mugger"
by johnsf

Good story
I liked this story. I really felt for the poor protagonist, and I think that this is what most people, if not all, go through at some point, what with the snaky bosses and the sad domestic life. You even put a line in between paragraphs... good job. It made the piece good-looking and easy to read.

My only complaint is that this should have been written entirely in the present tense (except the flashback with the wife, of course.) I think this would have heightened the drama and tension behind the story, especially in the scene where we meet the mugger. Also, it seemed like the story took place over a short time, with no noticeable gaps in time passage - another major plus in present tense stories; this makes it believable. Other than that, good job :>)

( Posted by: davewriter [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

Angry white male
Loved your stream of consciousness and thought here. Great story.

Glad to see you're on this site too! A lot of people from Short Stories Uncut post material at Lit.org.

( Posted by: cher [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

Thanks Guys
I appreciate the feedback.
Dave- thanks, maybe I'll try a present tense version of this and see how it runs. I agree this probably will make it better.

( Posted by: johnsf [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

Penelope?
Hey Penelope, a couple questions. Why do you think he's a jerk? Also, what about the boss neads re-work? I guess it's a good thing I managed to piss you off :-)

( Posted by: johnsf [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

Interesting
This story faintly reminds me of American Beauty in the way that the man has similar views about the workplace and a certain apathy about his family.

I agree with one of the former comments about switching the tense. I think present is much more appropriate and will heighten the interest of the reader because it will feel like it's actually happening.

( Posted by: annoyance_demon [Member] On: January 25, 2004 )





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