|Refuge (standard:other, 2551 words)|
|Author: Anonymous||Added: Dec 17 2004||Views/Reads: 1592/1063||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Ward Allen is a successful businessman with a troubled personal life. This story chronicles his search for refuge from his unhappiness and weariness with life.|
Gargantuan buildings crowded the busy New York skyline on a dreary November morning, completely blocking out the feeble rays of sunlight that struggled to find their way to the city below. It had rained heavily the night before, and gray puddles collected in every gutter, alley, and crevice in the cracked sidewalk. Dull, drab figures clothed in unoriginal hues of blue and navyhurried past each other on the way to work, emotionless faces blank and unseeing eyes trained on the ground. A ragged homeless man with a long, grizzled beard and a dirty tie-dyed shirt ambled slowly through the masses, mumbling incoherently to himself- a spark of originality among the conventional crowds. People instinctively avoided this strange individual and continues on their way, clutching their briefcases tighter and pressing their cell phones even closer to their ears. A brightly colored songbird cheerfully warbled a lovely tune from his perch on a nearby tree, but no one heard it. And when the sun finally gathered up the courage to shine for a brief second from behind the cement-colored clouds, no one even noticed or would have cared if they had. Ward Allen jostled his way through the dense mass of bodies, oblivious to the people around him with whom he competed for space. He trudged wearily along the chipped cement, his steely gray eyes downcast as they followed the monotonous movement of his black patent leather shoes. HIs regimented footsteps brought him to the subway entrance as they did every morning, and he gave an involuntary shudder as his legs took him down the familiar steps. He had always despised traveling underground, and whenever he entered the cold, cemented chamber of the station, he felt as if he had descended into the first level of Dante's hell. He waited emotionlessly as the next precisely punctual subway car came to a smooth halt, and he climbed aboard the coldly impersonal machine. He glanced at his Rolex watch out of habit without noticing the time, and settled into his ritualistic stupor as he waited for the subway to reach its predestined location. *** Ward ascended the steep flight of granite stairs and methodically pulled out his identification card from the pocket of his charcoal suit eith a robotic gesture. Swiping the card through the security device, he paused for a second to hear the recognizable click before swinging the wide glass doors open. His footsteps echoed hollowly on the marble floor as he strode through the richly furnished lobby and entered the elevator, completely ignoring the insincere greeting of the security guard at the front desk. Without hesitation, Ward mechanically punched in the number 14 and the polished bronze doors glided shut in front of him as the elevator ascended slowly to the designated office floor. Ward gazed into the reflection of his own eyes on the elevator door, which eventually refocused to encompass his entire figure. In spite of the fact that he was approaching forty, Ward still thought of himself as an attractive man. His salt and pepper hair was kept neatly trimmed, and his jawline, which he always kept cleanly shaven, was angular but not too severe. He had thin lips which revealed a nice set of straight teeth on the rare occasions when he smiled. His body was tall and muscular, and his slightly protruding belly was the he was a man past the prime days of his collegiate athletic glory. He showed his age most of all in the deep lines which gouged his broad forehead, and the creases at the corners of his eyes which extended nearly to his temples were further accentuated by a pair of high, angular eyebrows. What Ward enjoyed most about his appearance, however, was his steel-gray eyes, Many people were intimidated by his intense, piercing stare, and his icy gaze contributed to his reputation for coldness. Ward snapped out of his self-reflective reverie when his mirrored image was split in half with the opening of the elevator doors. Running his hands through his silver hair, he briskly strode to his office and unlocked the heavy oak door, pausing to read with satisfaction the newly installed engraving proclaiming his name in gilded letters. Ward glanced around his office and immediately noted the steaming cup of coffee placed puntually at his desk by a particularly ambitious young intern Striding over to the table, he placed his briefcase on the desk and sank into the high-backed leater chair with a deep sigh. He stirred his coffee slowly and looked meditatively around the room, his eyes finally coming to rest on the far wood-paneled wall. Gilded frames with autographed portraits of former company presidents hung in perfectly symmetrical order. Ward gazed at the familiar faces with Click here to read the rest of this story (213 more lines)
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