Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tragedy at Rainbow River

The dark purple bags beneath Elliott's eyes betrayed his present alertness. Never before had he been so awake and aware of the world around him, even after having last opened his eyes 23 hours ago. The entirety of the Victorian's residents stood around in their grimy lobby sharing rumors and speculating as to what had happened to Rory Langley, a longtime resident.
Elliott had said hi to Rory before. They crossed paths every month or so in the aging corridors of the Victorian, but never had they spoken more than a few words to each other. Yet he felt surprisingly devastated after such an seemingly insignificant character had left his life. Every time he passed Rory, she seemed motivated. She was happy. She spent her times with friends and family. Rory had never lived in the nicest apartment, she obviously didn't make the most money, and she worked long hours at a Vietnamese restaurant. For what reason was her short time on this earth infinitely preferable to Elliott than what he himself had lived? She had friends. She had people that she cared about, and people that cared about her.
Elliott needed to change this. He had long gone through life alone, only with himself to rely on, to provide comfort in trying times, and to celebrate with.
Several days later, Elliott got a phone call from a childhood friend of his. He said that another long-lost friend of his, Munny Pang, had gotten into a bad accident and was now at the hospital on the outskirts of the city. Elliott hung up and sprang into action. He went to the florist and bought a huge bouquet of flowers, put together an assortment of chocolates and truffles, and baked the best garlic breadsticks he had ever made. Arms bursting with gifts, he trundled down the steps towards his car with an anxious smile of reigniting an old friendship.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Moonlight Sonata

Since his meltdown, Elliott had returned to his apartment in disarray. He lay sprawled on smelly bedsheets in a light slumber, turning over every minute and with sweat beading on his forehead. But as the clock struck 11:51 PM, Elliott jerked upright in his bed, apparently deciding that sleep would not be coming. This realization had evidently made its way to most other citizens, as when Elliott opened his blinds, his irises collapsed on contact with the bright lights of hundreds of still-lit kitchens, the showing of "The Little Mermaid," and the flashlights of hundreds of people relaxing in the night-air at the local park. Elliott had no desire to sleep, and with his inevitable departure from the Olive Garden franchise firmly in his manager's sights, he decided to go out and enjoy the night with the rest of the town's population.
Elliott's anger and frustrations with himself immediately began shrinking when he walked into the cool, cleansed air. Sure, his life hadn't gone anywhere for the past five years, and if anything, he was worse off than he used to be. He had proven to his parents that he, at the ripe age of 27, could not commit to a goal for longer than two months, he had put on 25 pounds, and had begun to bald from the stress of it all. But for some odd reason, stress no longer plagued his thoughts every time he let his mind wander. Elliott decided that he was going to enjoy himself for once. Maybe he would have an epiphany about what to do with his life, maybe he wouldn't, but Elliott definitely was going to have one unforgettable night.
However, as Elliott would later find out, eight shots of Johnnie Walker have a tendency to make someone completely forget their night. And Elliott did in fact come to this realization as he awoke with a bone-dry mouth and a throbbing headache on a single pew where St. Cecilia's Church once stood.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Storm

Rain was pouring down for the third consecutive day in the city. Every passing hour seemed to bring stronger winds, more rain, and brighter lightning. The storms began as innocuous showers midday on Sunday, but they had since grown. It was now three in the afternoon on a Tuesday, but the sky didn't appear much different from at midnight the previous day.
Elliott sat at his desk, shaking his leg nervously. He had no customers today; the entire town had decided to hunker down and wait for the storms to pass, but there was no end in sight. He was $10,000 short of his monthly goal, and he had two days to make it up. He couldn't cut it, he thought. Elliott kept glancing around the room, there was nothing he could do other than wait, and it was driving him mad. Outside, hardly a car passed on the streets with all of the torrential rain. No one was going to come, nobody had the money that he needed, these were going to be his last few days on the job. Elliott sat back in his chair and tried to suppress his emotions. He breathed in and breathed out, breathed in and breathed out, breathed in and breathed out, but Elliott still could not shake the feeling that the world was closing in on him and he had no escape. He felt so large and his barely furnished office so small. In fact, he then realized, it was small – even smaller than it should have been. He looked up to see that the ceiling had sunk a good two feet and was completely saturated with water, and it was about to start coming down. Elliott couldn't take it any more. He stood up, walked out the back door, and ran as fast as he could down any street that took him away from the Olive Garden.
Rain soaked Elliott from his hair to his insoles, bolts of lightning streaked across the sky and claps of thunder came sooner and sooner after. He turned left, he turned right, he turned left again, and then another left. Elliott didn't care where he was going, he wanted to get lost.
Elliot had run for hour. It must have been very late into the evening, but the sky had brightened as the storm seemingly had moved on. Now, only raindrops from the leaves on the trees fell down from the sky. The air was fresh and almost completely clean; only a hint of something garlic-y and bread-y seemed to hang in the air. Elliott looked up and began to take in his surroundings for the first time since he started running. He stood on a deserted, residential street, and in the distance, his very own Olive Garden not 100 yards away.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Darker Life

Elliott sat on the edge of his seat in his spartan office. He had only an old metal desk from this Olive Garden's previous manager, a bright fluorescent light in the corner, and a file cabinet filled with alarmingly large expense reports. Profits had not been abundant ever since Elliott took charge of the Olive Garden nearly two months ago, and he was cutting back costs any way he could. He was checking his watch and expectantly glancing toward the door every 20 seconds, waiting on a knock. "Is this really worth it?" What have I come to?" Elliott began realizing his doubts about this dubious plan when a weak knock sounded on the office door. "Come in," responded Elliott. A short man in worn, baggy blue jeans, and a white t-shirt with some stains came in and sat down on a cold aluminum folding chair across from Elliott. "I need your salt shakers." Elliott was blunt; there was no attempt at introductions or formalities. Guillermo was unsure how Elliott had come to know of these, but he had been getting the feeling that the law was not too far off his trail. He felt he had to lose them soon or else face some consequences. "How much" came Guillermo's response after several seconds of silence. "I'll give you 20 for 15 sets. I'll never talk about it again" said Elliott quickly. His blood was pumping.
"That's too low."
"I know you were never in it for the money."
"I need more, you know what would have happened if I'd been caught."
"Fine, 30 for 20 sets. I'm not giving any more."
"I can do that."
The deal was done. Guillermo stood up and walked away quickly. He'd work out the details later, but for now it was time to round up 20 salt and 20 pepper shakers.
Back in his office, Elliott still couldn't believe the lengths that he was going to to save money. Selling the $10 salt and pepper shakers on Ebay and replacing them with cheaper stolen ones? That was pathetic. It might provide an extra $100. But, that very well could end up being the difference between unlimited breadsticks and only a lot of breadsticks.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

An Unheeded Prophecy

No sun could be seen. A dense, early morning fog blanketed the entire city. This was Elliott's favorite type of weather. It muffled all the sound; everything was peaceful. That morning, Elliott had decided to take a walk through the park. As he languidly slipped through the masses of condensation, he saw two dark silhouettes in the distance. They just stood there. It seemed strange to Elliott given the temperature, but he had seen far stranger things in the town. He came nearer and nearer and then finally walked past. He walked twenty feet, then thirty, then forty, and still, nothing happened. Then he heard the man shout. "Your great fortune, true, it was your ruin." It penetrated the thick fog and seemed much clearer than it should have been. But this didn't matter to Elliott. He was late to work. Again.
Elliott walked through the back door of the Olive Garden and took his ritual last breath of fresh air. He tried to enter unnoticed, as if he had always been there working. Elliott tried to look as if he was simply returning from a trip to the dumpster, but his supervisor, Derek, stood right next to the doorway. Elliott averted his eyes, but that didn't stop Derek from telling him in his gruff tone, "Be in my office in five minutes." "Ah nuts," Elliott was thinking. Derek warned him multiple times that his tardiness would no longer be tolerated.  "A shift is a shift, you can't say it's only a half shift," he had repeated. What a TJ "Henry" Yoshi his supervisor was. 
Elliott sulked around outside Derek's office. He counted off the seconds that he had to himself before facing certain termination of his job duties. Finally, he had no choice but to enter. Elliott opened the door and took in the sight of the thoroughly unprofessional office. The chairs were from the front that were too ugly too use anymore, papers littered every horizontal surface, and it smelled of spoiled grease. Elliott sat down. Derek spoke first. "I've been looking over your records, and Elliott, you are easily the only choice I have." 
"Just get on with it," Elliott thought to himself.
"I got a call from corporate yesterday, and I won't be working here anymore. I've been offered a job at Olive Garden corporate in Orlando, and I need someone to take over from me. I think you're the best one for the job.
Elliott didn't respond.
"If you don't want to, I understand, but I think you have a real future with Olive Garden. I'd recommend pursuing it as a career," Derek continued.
"Thanks, I'll consider it," responded Elliott finally. His tone did not reflect  his words. He stood up and left. Throughout the remainder of his shift, he did indeed, however, consider the offer. He was on a path to become a meteorologist, yes, but it was not going well. He had failed two classes already and was having no greater luck retaking them. "Maybe this is what I am supposed to do," he thought with resignation. "It would be the easier thing to do, I'd have have job security at least," he thought as he left the back door of the Olive Garden into the misty, afternoon air. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Elliott looked at his coworkers sitting around in the Olive Garden kitchen. Some leaned against walls and closed their eyes, others stared intently at cracks in the tile floor, and a few played with their thumbs. "This is so pointless," Elliott thought. Three days ago, the city's water shut off unexpectedly. Few citizens were working, but Elliott was signed up for a five-hour shift at Olive Garden today. It's not like they were doing anything though–all of the Olive Garden employees were forced to sit around silently waiting for nothing. It  was if their boss believed the water would come on any minute and suddenly flocks of people would come through the front doors demanding their Eggplant Parmigiana and breadsticks.

But five hours later, the faucets still ran dry, and no crowds had gathered at the entrance, so Elliott left. He knew he couldn't complain. Elliott was getting paid for five hours of work and could use the money, but he just felt so useless. He could have been studying, or cleaning, or doing anything else to get his life together, but there he was for five hours doing nothing. Elliott quickened his pace and became madder. He had so much to do, so much to learn, but his time was just being wasted. He heard a high voice call his name and groaned.

Monday, October 10, 2016

#2- This is living?

Elliott had a shakiness in his step as he walked home along a yellow, orange, and red tree-lined Blackbird Boulevard under a cloudless sky. A northward breeze blew the scent of garlic out of his oversized white work uniform. Fall was here. His six-hour shift at Olive Garden had just ended, but his day was only half over. He checked his watch, 4:10. Just under an hour to get there.

The Victorian lay looming 8 stories tall just over a block away. It was his only stop before his first day of class. He soon arrived and dashed up the grimy back stairs to the third floor, where he entered his humble apartment. Elliott walked to his desk and rummaged through drawers full of relics from his student past that he would soon be reliving. He pulled out a half used notebook of lined paper from his attempt at a biochemistry degree. He changed out of his fraying work uniform and put on his nice khaki pants and red polo. He looked down at his watch: 4:35. "Time to go," he thought to himself. Unfortunately for him, his doorbell rang.

Elliott hesitantly opened the door. A well-dressed man with brown hair and glasses held a camera and a professionally dressed woman clutched a legal pad and paper. "We're Rebecca White and John Davis from Southern Living magazine. Tell us about your life here at the Victorian. What makes it special to you?" the woman aggressively began interrogating.
"Sorry, I have somewhere to be," replied Elliott.
"Sir, this will only take a minute of your time," said the man. Elliott slammed his door with a bang and waited. "They'd have to leave soon, wouldn't they? What made him any interesting?" he wondered. He paced around his living room, glancing out of the peephole every minute to see if they were still there. Ten minutes later, they had left. Elliott dashed out of the door and down the back staircase. He fumbled for the keys to his mother's 2005 Toyota Camry and screeched recklessly away from The Victorian. He had to be on time. It was the first day of class, and Elliott wanted to just get one thing right for once.

He pulled into a parking spot outside of the university and dashed inside. He stopped just outside of his climate dynamics class and glanced at his watch: 5:06. "Goddamnit."