Casey gasped for breath. He felt himself choking as he tried to regain his sense of place and direction. It was happening again- the shift
Everything around him went dark again. He was returning home after the usual stressful routine of each day. The atmosphere matched his emotions and state of mind. The night was dreary and had a mournful feeling to it. Casey trudged along the path, dragging his tired derriere behind him. His body was drenched in a mixture of sweat and the rain that refused to let up. It was all so great! (He thought sarcastically). He should go home, but he would only go and drown himself in sorrow. He was afraid to be by himself during this time. He didn’t trust what he could do.
Casey wasn’t only tired; he was very angry. Left to his weary bones, he would have packed it up and ended everything, but his anger fueled his motions. He walked on familiar terrain, so, his legs carried out an automated function, while his brain focused on the grey areas in his life. Speaking of the grey areas, he had many of them. He found it hard to understand why people chose to be heartless and difficult. He had done a cleaning service, which wasn’t unusual, but the client had done him a great disservice. He had gotten only a stipend compared to the enormous job he had executed.
Casey eventually stopped in front of a rickety building that was his destination. His usual clique was there, each man with his problem. They hardly talked about such depressing things when they were sober. However, once alcohol took its course, their tongues loosened up. He drew out a stool and requested for a bottle of beer with a glass. He didn’t have money, but he could show some class. Using the glass, instead of drinking from the bottle, was a way of depicting that he wasn’t a low-life many assumed he was. He was only unfortunate to have the shorter end of the stick in life. There was no rush as each man cradled his bottle or glass, as the case may be, like a baby.
In for a little fun or insult, depending on how the guy took it, Casey placed his legs on the table. Those legs needed to stretch. Almost as he had guessed, his motions didn’t sit well with the bartender who ordered him to take his filthy legs away from the table. As if that wasn’t enough, he followed his statement with ear-deafening expletives and insults. Casey only grinned at him. He that is on the ground needs not to fear any fall.
The night soon wore away with Casey taking his time with his precious bottles. He tackled them one after the other, but he wasn’t drunk. It would take more than a few green bottles to get him knocked. When he was satisfied, he paid for his drinks, followed by curses and insults as the bartender graciously reminded him of his debt. He would sort those ones out once he had the cash. They knew he was going nowhere, at least, not anytime soon.
He trekked the distance to his house, covering it in no time even though he was only partly functional. He didn’t stay anywhere fancy. A mirthless laugh formed in his throat as the thought of what fancy meant crossed his mind. People like him were not cut out for anything fanciful in life. They only managed with whatever was available, which at times, was nothing. His apartment consisted of a tiny room with an adjoining kitchen. He was glad to be unmarried. At least, he didn’t have to share the small room with a wife and some tiny urchins who never remained small for a long time. He kept a chair and table somewhere for reading, which wasn’t often. During those times, he found a convenient way to fold his bed to provide the necessary space. Once he was done, and it was sleep-time, the chair and table would go back to their original positions.
Casey wasn’t a man with many regrets. Of course, he could have made some better choices in his life, but he had no regrets. His philosophy was that whatever would be, would be. However, starting from this day, he had a regret. He must have lost his mind for not taking those wads of money. He wasn’t only a poor bloke; he was a coward as well. Now, he had to live with the punishment of not taking the money. His punishment was remaining in penury. The one day that his cleaning job had fetched him a great fortune, he had blown it all by leaving the treasure behind. Who on earth made such gullible decisions if not him? He could have rewritten his life’s history and left the pauper category for life, but here he was, entering his apartment like a spy.
Sure enough, the source for his misery and anguish waited at the top of his steps. He was the reason why he crept inside like a robber on a plantation farm. His landlord couldn’t have chosen another time to conduct whatever business he had with him. The morning was there for Pete’s sake, but the other man looked unfazed. He stood against the railing. Casey knew that the relaxed position was only a decoy. His landlord was always tensed about everything, especially when it had to do with his rent. And dealing with someone like him, the man would be double-tensed. Casey couldn’t remember the last time he paid. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to pay, he simply didn’t have the means. He felt a rush of anger again as he thought about the money he had seen. What a waste!
Casey anticipated the man’s move. Sure enough, the landlord pulled him aside to remind him of his gross irresponsibility and his growing bills. He promised to do something about it by the end of the month. Of course, the other man didn’t believe him.