IT Was Absent

It was an average day and to be expected. Unspeakable sags loomed beneath his eyelids while the brain simply protested its position amongst its grossly alcohol ridden fuel. This was normal. The feeling of worthlessness wasn’t ever mentioned as it was assumed. Each day’s routine bore on to the next; it was an average life. The weekends were generally the worst, and with it being a Thursday, it was as if the worst had already come. Exposed to the elements of the cruel human world, Jacob Cunningham slouched from his bed to his dresser, forced to clothe himself for yet another relentless period of life. He didn’t consciously dwell in a place of misery, but he also didn’t consciously make the world around him to be just that. He didn’t complain and lived comfortably according to economic standards, but something was absent. And unfortunately for him, that something might as well have been nothing. It festered until it could rot no more, then it was rejuvenated by the oddest occurrences in Jacobs life. And it was ambiguous and vigilant. Each time he woke, it was there. Waiting for him like a loyal companion, it couldn’t be abandoned negligently. There was a proper way to find where it came from, but Jacob never once questioned it’s authenticity. So he lived for quite sometime with it, almost like an unwanted appendage.
Thursday’s were  meeting days. This meant that a bunch of hopeless saps had prepared mundane and apparent  presentations in order to give their positions a feeling of use. He worked at the corporate office that managed production of the fragrant disks one finds at the bottom of a urinal. “I’ve got a piss job” he’d say to acquaintances when he had an urge to be funny. He found his way to such an occupation via a small circuit of connections that had stemmed from his passionate college years. With a focus on waste management, Jacob had spent four years of his life learning about environmental degradation and how to coax women to his dorm room. Often he’d look back to reiterate to himself that those were the good times. His professional position marked the degradation of himself. Maybe he thought that was it, but it wasn’t it. Although his job had dampened what used to be, change and age was inevitable, and he knew this all to well.
And so the day rolled onwards without looking forward. Upon his arrival at work, Jacob received a large bundle wrapped in brown paper, tied delicately with a rough string. Inside were numerous pink pellets with a sloppy note that read “new prototypes, review and select two. On desk by 3.” It had been left by his superior who was supposed to be in that day. But he was the man under the man, who was under thee man. So he did have authority. His choice would dictate the odor of countless restrooms in the tri-county area for months, maybe even a year. He looked forward to seeing his decision at his local watering hole, his favorite Chinese food place, and the DMV. He was often at the DMV as he had received a DUI 7 months prior. Although not being able to drive forced Jacob to use the overcrowded public transit, this still was not even part of it. He knew that it was inevitable. Drinking was apart of his life along with driving. The two were not to be voluntarily separated which left his license at the mercy of luck. The outcome of such a concoction was almost anticipated. So Jacob took the better part of an hour to smell the deodorizers and select the finest of the batch. And in this he took pride.
His boss returned around four thirty in his golf attire to tie off a few ends before the dreary day came to a pause. Jacob, ousted from his day dream, was called into the corner office with authority.

Boss: how are things Jacob?
Jacob: average. (in a dull tone)
Boss: you know this company requires attentive personnel, don’t you?
Jacob: of coarse….
Boss: what did you think of those samples?
Jacob: they’re good, I think they’ll work well
Boss: well those samples I sent to you were a test…
Jacob: a test for what?
Boss: we’re evaluating the work force for keepers
Jacob: keepers?
Boss: yes. we’re overhauling some management positions and there so happens to be a slot
Jacob: hmm, well how did I do?
Boss: do on what?
Jacob: the test..
Boss: oh yes, well you passed. But there’s more to it than just that… Where do you see yourself in a year?

There was a silence. Jacob hadn’t given any thought to such a question. He was in, and assumed he’d crawl up the ladder as it presented itself. Raising his attention from the floor, without inclination, he shyly responded,

Jacob: I figured I’d see where this took me
Boss: so you’d planned on sticking with Sane-Itation Co. for a while to come?
Jacob: yes, I had wanted to
Boss: well your in luck, we’d like you to become the new Quality Advisor on the board
Jacob: (with a raised forehead) oh….. well thank you for the opportunity
Boss: now there is no pay raise yet and your desk remains as is, but this is the first step towards upper management
Jacob: oh, well what exactly do I do?
Boss: well you get to attend committee meetings and oversee quality inspection. Listen, we’ll talk more tomorrow, I’ve got to go, but you come up with some ideas on how you want to rejuvenate your sector
Jacob: my sector? Does anybody work bellow me?
Boss: not as of now, but you are your own sector. Get creative, your almost like your own boss now
Jacob: ok, ill do my best

Jacob hadn’t thought to ask if his pellet selection would stick and was saddened when he thought of its improbability. His hands stank of the sweet musk of the pellets, sort of a candied smell. The thought of this smell lingered on his mind as he took the bus back home. He thought to himself “would this be the normal smell of things from here on out?” After all, he was charged with quality and his business was this smell. Wondering why he’d received the superficial promotion while unlocking his door, the land line rang crudely within his apartment. He quickened his actions as not to let it revert to voicemail, but it was to late.

Friend: Hey man, we’re going to Messy for a few drinks and to watch the game. Be there.

This was usual. Right when he was released from his labors he was allotted new ones. Knowing his schedule, his “friends” would call him, with precision, as he entered his abode. He knew that he would go, but resented himself for it. Tired, he slumped before the television for a while before stirring to his feet once again. Although he didn’t rightly like himself all that much, he was sure he disliked his bar mates even more. Gluttonous, selfish, rude, and ignorant, they all drank their conditions into oblivion. This was routine, and it was still not it. Jacob had a quench that wasn’t satiable with beer. He thought of sharing his promotion with his fellow burn outs, but he knew it was meaningless and that they wouldn’t give a shit anyways. He sat with both hands on a sweating glass wondering when his life had become so drab.
Jacob wasn’t the sort for depression, but an on looker would conclude so. He would let gravity pull his body towards the earth without ever letting it topple him over. He was merely dissatisfied with what his life could be from here on out, how it had taken form. In a job that he would of laughed at ten years earlier, without intimacy, he was lonely. While this might have been part of it, lack of company still was not it.
He got home that night in an agitated drunk. He told himself that change was needed and needed encouragement. It must take on permanency as well. If he could just find a new job, or move somewhere new, he told himself, he would be alright. He would wake in the morning and commit with confidence these self-modifications. When morning did remind him of his promises, he brushed them off as irrationality, damning his self induced headache. On the way to work the rain clogged traffic, causing tardiness. He damned this too. In fact, it was one of those familiar days where he damned it all. And this was it.
What would remain unbeknownst to Jacob was exactly that which could not be shown to him. It was appreciation: for the big and small, beautiful and ugly. Life was a straightforward ordeal for him. He thought in terms of societal demands, playing his insignificant role, and wanted more than the equation offered. He had a grudge towards what he expected and never got. The world turned out to suck, but it was the sole world at hand. It was inescapable and untenable. He would want to cry if he hadn’t thought of emotion as weakness. Instead, he trudged through the days without pleasure. He was a slave, chained to monotony with the key in his hand. It was as simple as thinking outside of his direct cause and effect. All wasn’t right, nor did it have to be. Jacob was lost  where he didn’t need a map.
Mr. Cunningham would eventually climb his ladder, father two kids disconnectedly, and die in twenty some odd years an unhappy example of a human. It was an average life with an average outcome. It remained for the taking and still does.


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