Stranger, part 1

Joseph Mitchell sat in his office and stared at the papers on his desk. Well, he liked to call it his office, but anyone else would probably call it a closet with a chair and an end table inside. Regardless of what you call it, the papers he was looking at still meant the same thing. After only three years of running his small restaurant he was bankrupt. Joe sat back in his chair and sighed. He had, of course, known this was coming, but he thought he had more time.

In the nearby kitchen the phone rang. Joe slowly stood up and walked over to it. He figured it was probably his wife, she knew he would be going over the month’s business tonight, and was probably anxious to know how they had faired. He stood above the ringing phone for a moment, listening to it. He then picked up his keys, walked out the front door and locked it behind him.

Joe was an honest man, and he had no intention of hiding their troubles from his wife, but he wasn’t ready to tell her yet. He needed time to come to terms with it himself before he could stand to say it out loud. And so he started walking. It was late, and the streets were quiet.  Joe smiled and took a deep breath. He enjoyed the solitude of the city late at night. As long as he stayed in residential areas, and away from the bars, he could feel like he had the city all to himself, alone except for the odd passing car. It was a warm summer night, and the breeze felt pleasant and inviting.

Joe wandered for a long time, lost in thought. His mind wandered from memories of his restaurant to wonderings of what he might have done to avoid his fate to how he would tell his wife, and what they would do next.

After a great deal of wandering and thinking, and a few hours, it occurred to Joe that his wife was probably worried about him. For the first time since he began his walk he looked around and he discovered that he didn’t recognize the houses or the names of the streets around him. Annoyed, but not worried, he turned around and began walking back the way he had come, figuring he’d see something familiar soon enough. It wasn’t long before he could make out the silhouette if the city skyline above the trees. He turned towards the city, figuring that the closer to it he was the more likely he was to find himself on familiar ground.

 

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