Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Late One Tuesday Morning - III

Dark thoughts rolled through Bill's mind as he stared at the insides of his eyelids.  People passed through his mind.  Miss Boyle featured prominently as Bill tried in vain to conjure a fantasy about her to fight against his feeling that she'd betrayed him.  He could escape neither his anger nor his desire for her.  His wife also made an appearance, causing him to practically growl out loud in frustration.  This whole thing could've been avoid if she'd been more . . . something.  No, that was nonsense.  He knew down deep this had nothing to do with her, but he'd still have to deal with her.   God almighty.

He watched the swirls and little dots of color run through the blackness as he rubbed his eyes hard with the heels of his hands, and realized he ought to return to the world and get out into the air.  He opened his eyes and looked up to find Jay's face staring at him from the half open door with a look of concern.

"You alright, Boss?"  He was munching on something . . . again.  Jay was always munching on something which annoyed Bill.  He never gained an ounce.  It was like having Brad Pitt from Ocean's Eleven as his secretary,  and Bill hated Brad Pitt. 

"Yeah, fine.  Nothin' serious.  Look, get all my active files together and get 'em up to Jill for Allan to look at.  I'm taking a couple of weeks off.  Got it?"

"Got it."  Jay's head disappeared back through the door.

Bill turned back to stare out the window and brood.  He tapped a pencil on his desk and mumbled to himself and thought some more about his wife, which made him angrier.  He thought about grudge sex with Miss Boyle then shook that off, still with just enough sense to remember that those kinds of thoughts were what got him in trouble in the first place.  He thought briefly about stopping by Personnel on the way out and giving her an earful, but decided keeping his job would be more important.  He thought about what would happen to his standing in the business if this got out, then lashed himself brutally, for the umpteenth time for being a hopeless old fool. 

Just then, Jay poked his head in the door to quickly say, "All set, Boss!" and get out again.  Didn't the little bastard ever learn to use an intercom?

Bill decided it was time to go.  He reached into the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out the unopened liter of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey he'd been saving for a special occasion and stowed it in his leather briefcase, put on his aviators and his suit coat, and left the office without a word to Jay, who watched him go and wondered if he'd see him again.  Bill left the building without a word to anyone.  He was sure everyone knew what had happened by now, and he practically walked through people in his haste to leave.  He avoided Personnel and stepped briskly out onto Beale Street  and walked up to Mission to head for the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building market place.  He'd get a sandwich and a bottle of water and go sit out on that bench at the end of the pier and stare at the bay and ponder his next move.  The whiskey would help settle him down, he thought, and he went on his way.

As Bill had hoped, the pier was nearly empty.  There were three older men in greasy well worn jackets and baseball caps fishing and chatting while sipping from their thermoses.  They quietly talked and ignored their fishing poles.  Bill caught references to the Giants latest mid-season call up who had been inserted in left field and was tearing up NL pitching.  He envied them the freedom their advanced years gave them from the tyranny of testosterone and the decrease thereof.  None of this would have happened if not for those damned hormones and his damned ego.

He strode on toward the empty bench.  Off to his right he caught sight of a teenage couple bent double with laughter over something they were watching on a phone.  Suddenly, they stopped laughing and just smiled shyly at each other, then kissed in a most tender fashion.  He couldn't see the boy's face, but the girl, a beautiful brown-haired lass with enormous dark eyes seemed consumed with happiness and as she locked her arms around her boyfriend's neck she looked at Bill briefly, with tears welling in her eyes just before she buried her face in her boyfriend's neck.  Bill was seized with the overwhelming realization that he had no one in his life whom he could kiss like that; no one who would weep with joy at being with him.  He felt older than hell and used up.  Miss Boyle had been his last throw and now he was done.  His heart became a bolus of painful self pity infused with hate for nearly everything. 

He kicked savagely at a gull that waddled across his path.  The filthy thing simply uttered it's nerve piercing call and easily avoided his foot by levitating briefly and flying sideways a little.  Bill, never considering how silly it would look, yelled a string of foul insults as the bird landed a few feet away.  Then he realized he'd reached the bench.  He dropped his briefcase on it and stared across the water at Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands.  He sat heavily and opened the sandwich, taking a bite he didn't taste.  He munched at it without pleasure, leaning his elbows on his knees and staring at the deck.  Remembering the water he took a sip to wash down the sandwich, which reminded him that ol' George Dickel was there to save the day.  Acting on the impulse that all hope was lost, he drank off half the water and refilled the plastic bottle with the whiskey, then drank deeply.  The pleasure he hoped for was absent, but he knew that patience was required.  He'd feel it eventually.  All he wanted was one last good drunk, and then the cops could come take him away, or Allan could fire him, or he could even just throw himself into the bay.  Nothing really mattered after all. 

He drank another long pull and finally felt the warmth, then a voice so deep it seemed to come from beneath the Ferry Building bellowed at him,

"Yer in my spot, bro', but if you buy me a drink I'll let you stay!"

Bill nearly dropped the bottle in shock as he sat up and turned around.  Two small, intense blue eyes peered down at him from the heavily bearded face of the largest human being he'd ever seen in person.