The POV challenge continues! Details on this week’s goal here.
The phone dinged relentlessly in my pocket. I had been away from the office for five minutes. Clients, associates, the dry cleaner reminding me for the fifth time this week my suits were done. I hadn’t changed out of the one I was wearing in three days. Hell, I hadn’t left the office in three days. Ding, ding, ding.
Knuckling my temples, I stepped into the only empty pocket of the revolving door. It bumped me from behind, the worn rubber seals squelching across the marble floor in a lego-sized tidal wave of rain water. It spit me out under the protection of the bronzed awning.
“Afternoon, Mr. Angelo. They let you out of the cage for a bit?” Bruce tipped his hat and pulled an umbrella out of the bin. He shook it once and rain flicked off the black nylon. The umbrella popped open and Bruce held it out to me.
“Jailbreak. Keep the suits of my trail?” The glossy rosewood handle met my skin like an ice cube. I left my gloves on my desk. Again. I wasn’t going back up.
Bruce chuckled and clasped his hands behind his back, the sleeves of his rain gear bunching up at his elbow and making him look twice his size. “I never saw you, sir.”
I nodded my thanks and tucked myself under the umbrella. Once around the block. Ten minutes of fresh air. My feet sloshed through standing pools of water on the sidewalk. I didn’t try to avoid them. Every calculated detour around added a fraction of a second to the time I had already stolen. My cell phone still dinged and buzzed in my pocket. I could turn it off. Drop it down a gutter maybe? They would have a new one on my desk in an hour if I did. The effort would be a waste.
Gains, Gains and Andrews occupied an entire city block on the edge of Central Park, a cosmetic marvel on the shoulder of a tamed wilderness. Anymore, the city seemed the wild thing – unyielding, unforgiving. A spreading virus of discontent bred by suits, greed, and bitterness.
My fingers clenched around the umbrella handle as I trudged on. I had been gaining on the hunched trench coat in front of me for half a block. We had the sidewalk to ourselves, apparently the only two people in the city who hadn’t opted out of the rain. The man had seen better days. A frayed shoelace trailed behind him. The oatmeal tan of his coat barely showed through the spattered stains and the rain had soaked through. He had flipped the collar of the coat up around his ears, and with the cap pulled down to meet it, he looked not to have a head at all.
I jogged to catch up to the man and water spattered up my legs, soaking my socks. “Excuse me. Sir?” He kept walking, either ignoring me or oblivious. I reached out and tapped his shoulder and the man jerked away. “I don’t mean to bother you, sir. I just wanted you to have this.” I held out the umbrella.
He stared at me for a moment, cool grey eyes narrowed beneath heavy eyebrows dripping water onto his cheeks.
Rain dripped down the back of my neck, pooling above the collar of my shirt where the tie cinched it tight against my throat. I pushed the umbrella at the man, hoping he didn’t notice the shiver in my jaw. “Please, take it.”
He reached forward hesitantly and I slid my hand up from the handle so he could grab it. Rain raced up my jacket sleeve and I shook it out as the man took the umbrella.
“Thank you.” A flicker a smile ticked the corner of the man’s lips and I nodded.
Rounding the corner to the front of the building, I smoothed out my sodden suit jacket, readjusting it on my shoulders in a half-assed attempt to make it presentable. I would have to send Julie to pick up my dry cleaning.
“Ah. Back already, Mr. Angelo?” Bruce cocked his head to the side as I approached. “Your umbrella, sir?”
I smiled and shrugged. “Wind turned it inside out half way around the block. Dropped it in a bin.”
“You have terrible luck with the wind, Mr. Angelo.”