Brandon

Brandon didn’t want to wake up this morning. He was dreaming about chocolate pudding, great gray vats of it. His wife Jane always told him his dreams were strange. When his alarm sliced the silence, he groaned and turned over. Pushing snooze was only temporary relief, so eventually he slapped the clock and swung his feet to the floor. The rug was crumpled up, and he vaguely remembered tripping over it the night before. Jane needed to come home—she was visiting her parents in Tennessee and wouldn’t be back until Tuesday. Just four more days of living like a bachelor. Brandon had tired of it on the second day. A week ago. He stumbled into the bathroom and groaned at the mirror.
Showering washed some of the drowsiness out of his bones, and after a hasty breakfast Brandon threw his briefcase together and grabbed his umbrella. Last week he’d been caught in the rain. He clutzed his way down the steps, and locked the door. Every morning, Brandon was on his way to work by 6:15. The forty-five minute commute to the heart of the city was not for the faint of heart, but Brandon didn’t mind it. He walked 7 blocks to the el stop, rode for 25 minutes, then walked several more blocks to his building.
This morning, the sky was overcast, and three blocks into his walk it started to rain. As he whipped out his umbrella, the wind picked up and blew his tweed cap off his head. He bent over to get it, and his umbrella turned inside out. It shivered around a bit, then a spindle snapped in the wind. Brandon groaned.
By the time he reached the el-stop, it was pouring and Brandon was drenched. His shoes had filled with water, and his tweed hat was soaked, and his useless umbrella was flopping forlornly. The train was empty when it finally came. Good. I won’t have to touch anyone. By the time he got into the loop, it had stopped raining. Brandon was still wet, but no longer dripping. When he got off at his stop and it was empty, he began to wonder why. Usually the platforms were crawling with activity on Friday mornings, businessmen and students coming and going. Maybe other companies had days off. Mid September, this didn’t seem likely, but anything to explain the queer silence. He walked down the steps, and slowly towards his building. There was a strange lack of traffic, and the homeless people weren’t out yet. Odd.
When he got to his building, Jennifer the desk girl wasn’t there yet. He went up to his cubicle on the 38th floor. No one was there. He sat and looked at his computer screen. His to-do list. His emails. His calendar. Ah.

It was saturday.

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