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All Work and No Play (standard:drama, 934 words)
Author: bodhisattvaAdded: Jan 23 2002Views/Reads: 2090/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A young man's life is changed by a chance encounter and a dead author.
 



ALL WORK AND NO PLAY 

It seemed as though a thousand fire engines were driving through his
head, a thousand sirens wailing at a thousand decibels each. In 
reality, it was his alarm clock, rudely awakening him from yet another 
dream about some place better than here. 

Here was Rockland, Wisconsin. A town of no consequence, in a cold, God
forsaken state that he liked to call Hell Frozen Over. All of this 
flooded through his mind as he started to get ready for work. He worked 
at a greasy spoon by the name of Margeís. The job title of dishwasher 
did little justice to his actual duties, besides washing dishes, he 
also bussed tables, waited on customers, helped with the bookkeeping, 
and anything else that came up. 

He had been working for Marge for almost three years, and he felt that
heíd be working there for some time to come. Six day weeks were the 
norm for him, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After work on 
the weeknights, he would rush home and in a never ending battle, try 
and wash away the greasy smell, and the overall greasy feeling that the 
diner imparted on him. 

Stumbling into the shower, trying to wash away the grease, wash away his
weariness, trying to remember what class he had to go to tonight and 
what he needed to do for the class. He was also taking night classes at 
a technical school a few miles away, not studying anything in 
particular, just studying anything he could. After class each night, 
sometime around 9 usually, he would go to work at his night job. He 
worked as a bartender at a joint where the jokes about it having a dirt 
floor actually hit close to mark. The dirt floor had been replaced a 
few years earlier, to the dismay of the dogs that had made the bar 
their home. The bar was called The Black Horse, and the last person to 
put any money into the tip jar was killed in World War 2. 

He would usually work from around 9 at night until the last drunk
wandered out the back door, usually somewhere around 2 a.m. After clean 
up and the drive home, he was lucky to be in bed by 3, which explains 
why he had gone through more than a dozen alarm clocks in the past few 
years. Four hours of sleep is not enough to sustain a man, even a young 
man, but somehow he managed to keep this up for the last few years and 
probably for the next few too. 

This was his life, he wasnít overly happy with it, but he didnít have
the time to realize how much better it could be. And that is how it 
went for him, day in and day out, work, school, work, sleep, and 
repeat. 

Pulling into the diner parking lot, he couldnít quite get Cuba out of
his mind for some reason. He knew he had to write a paper about Cubaís 
economic policies or something to that effect, but he couldnít stop 
thinking of the ocean surrounding it. His mind occupied with the 
crashing waves, he almost stepped on the man sitting outside the diner 
reading a book that had seen better days. From the looks of it the man 
had seen better days too. 

He asked the haggard looking man what he was reading and he had heard of
the author before, but not the book. The thing that he remembered most 
about meeting him was that despite his apparent place in the world, he 
seemed to be at peace with himself, almost happy. 

Maybe that was how he rationalized skipping class that night and driving
to the nearest book store. He found the book he was looking for and sat 
down on one of the many couches to see if it was even worth the money. 

Four hours later a fidgety looking man was poking him and saying
something about the store closing and this wasnít a library, so he 
bought the book and drove home. Once home, he picked up his place in 
the book and read late into the night, ignoring the phone calls from 
The Black Horse, wondering where the hell he was. He read on straight 
through the night and into the early hours of the morning, his head 
finally resting on his desk, dozing through the dawn. 

His mother, living on the other side of the state, slammed the phone
down and began to chew on her fingernails. This isnít like him she 
tried to explain to her husband, he isnít at work this morning, he 
didnít work at the bar last night, and thereís no answer at his house. 
His father told her to try his girlfriendís house, thinking maybe he 
had stayed there. 

Neither the bar nor the diner had seen him in two days, and his parentís
and girlfriend were starting to get concerned. They decided to make the 
drive to Rockland, and on arriving at his house they noticed that his 
car was in the driveway, but no lights were on. 

They knocked on the door, but received no answer. So they used the spare
key he had hidden on his porch. Once inside they both called out his 
name, but the house was empty. And then they happened across his latest 
purchase, and the father began to smile. On his sonís desk was a copy 
of a book he had read when he was his age, a copy of On The Road by 
Jack Kerouac.


   


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