The "Daily Doodle" concept is intended to warm up my creative engines, and is essentially free writing, poetry or prose, usually accomplished in under an hour with a minimum of corrections. From time to time, I will post the results here.
Readers can still custom order their own quick short-short stories: details here.
Jared had spent the last five days housesitting for a friend, and when he got home, he discovered that his own apartment had been robbed.
It was a textbook definition of irony. While he had stayed over at someone else’s place to make sure no one broke in, there was no one to do the same for him, and his home had gotten ransacked. Everything had been upended. His kitchen table, such as it was, had been flipped upside down and the contents spilled on the tile floor. Cups had been pulled out of the cabinets, books had been knocked off the shelves. For a minute Jared hoped it had just been some kind of joyriding prank and some teenagers had gotten in here and tossed the place with the intent of freaking him out.
Because the cruelest cut of all was that there was really nothing in Jared’s apartment that was worth taking. To be crooks at this level, you had to be sinking pretty low. Yet, as he started taking stock, it was clear they had taken anything that could maybe earn them a buck.
This meant the out-of-date widescreen TV with the warped top corner that gave every movie and show a rainbow edge was gone. With it went the $60 DVD player and the hand-me-down stereo system that, though it possessed four speakers, was only capable of two sound channels. Correction, actually: of simulating two-channel surround. Wires hung over the entertainment center like chaff after a harvest. The only solid object that remained was the clunky old VCR that Jared hung onto because he had convinced himself he’d watch those couple of movies he still had on tape. The layer of dust on the battered previously rented copies of Last of the Mohican and Moulin Rouge begged to differ.
In his bedroom, the robbers took a similar selective approach. They had taken the bed frame, but they had left his ratty old mattress. It had a hole in the center where a spring had poked through, and Jared had sliced his leg on it three times before he finally took wire cutters and removed most of the coil. This was Jared’s lot in life: he had to lose three times before any defeat really took hold. He’d been mugged outside this apartment building, and now he’d been ripped off inside it. One more theft and he would probably move.
But tonight he was thankful that the thieves had left that ratty old mattress, because even without the frame, he could lay it on the floor and go to sleep. He also had his laptop with him when he was away, and though a four-year-old Macbook was maybe not state of the art, it was his and he had something that glowed and showed him entertaining things while he drifted off to sleep.
Jared didn’t call the cops. He didn’t see the point. He didn’t have renter’s insurance and noting was really valuable and while he was sure they’d be polite about it and no one would confirm it out loud, they weren’t going to put any effort into finding the guys who did this. Nor did Jared think they should.
On the scales of Justice, Jared’s predicament was merely a speck of fool’s good, tipping the bowls neither this way nor that. If something heavy landed on the other side, his would probably be the first thing catapulted off in the resulting jerk.
When he woke up in the morning, Jared put some of the place back together. He fixed up the kitchen enough so he could eat a bagel and have some juice, though the discovery that they had taken his toaster oven meant that he ate the bagel cold. He was surprised he hadn’t noticed that was gone when he had seen they had taken his microwave. The bathroom was the only room in the house that the thugs left untouched. Jared showered, shaved, and went to work, and for his time in that little room, at least, life seemed normal and without disruption.
Work passed without incident. Jared returned home. He cleaned up the rest of the flat. He went to bed on his mattress on the floor.
By the next morning, except for not being able to once again heat his bagel or watch the news while he ate it cold, things were basically right back in the same place as they had been, as if nothing of great shocking import had ever really happened.
Or so it seemed.
When Jared went to leave that day, he found an eleven-year-old boy outside his door. The boy wore a stocking cap, and his jacket and pants were too big. He had Jared’s DVD player in his hand.
“This isn’t Blu-Ray,” the kid said, by way of “hello.”
“No, it isn’t.” Jared answered out of some politeness reflex, he hadn’t really considered the depth of this question.
“I was supposed to get Blu-Ray,” the kid said.
“I don’t have Blu-Ray.”
“You saw my apartment. I don’t have anything. Literally, now that you’ve been here.”
“But I was supposed to get Blu-Ray.”
“Then you robbed the wrong house.” Jared was starting to really consider the situation now. “In fact, can you tell me why you picked this apartment? Why me?”
“There were no lights on.”
“That’s it? That’s the science behind your criminal enterprise?”
The kid got irritated. He shoved the DVD player into Jared’s stomach. Hard. It knocked the wind out of Jared, and when the kid let go of the machine, Jared was unable to scramble fast enough to catch the silver metal box. He fumbled for it, and it tipped back and forth in the air, one hand to the other, but ultimately hit the floor and cracked.
“Get me a Blu-Ray,” the kid said. “I’ll be back.”
He walked away, but he never took his eyes off Jared. His head was turned in the older man’s direction even when he rounded the corner.
Current Soundtrack: The Daily Show
e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon
All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich