The Pacific Ocean, with its relative warm temperatures regained its normal influence on the Pacific Northwest. During the overnight hours, the warm coastal air settled over the cold air invasion from the east. There was an occasional period of freezing rain, and then the weather turned to a steady rain. The people here could relate to this weather pattern. Per typical mid-November weather, the winds picked up in earnest and the temperature headed back toward its yearly norm. As did the wind. Not a constant in the Northwest, however in the month of November, it could rear its ugly head. It is an isobar thing. By definition, the wind was relatively warm, because it came in from the south. The winds cooled the accumulated snowpack, which made it feel colder than it actually was. It was an odd conversation in this neighborhood. It was not one seen in years of quite possibly ever before.
Gregor cursed the rain and wind as he walked off the bus. “What is with these morons in the world who claim Global warming? There is no global warming and it seems to me they should call it Global cooling. Sometimes I hate this freethinking town. God dammit it is freezing cold, any moron would understand that.
The unfortunate random stranger sitting next to him got up and took a seat one seat behind Gregor. For some reason, the busses were not full this morning.
A rendom person sat next to him and listened to his vitriolic rant. Gregor felt in charge. He felt that he could change the world. The poor person who sat next to him on the bus gave him a well-intentioned glare while he listened the vitriolic rant. Gregor felt on top of the world. He felt like he could change the world when he was in charge. He knew that was a bit hyperbolic even if he did not know the definition of hyperbolic. At least he felt he could change his fortunes. It was time to show the world he knew how to run a business. As he left the bus the wind aided by the steady rain, blew his developing hair into a less than impressive comb over. He did not care as he entered the key into the back door of the plumbing store. Yes, he would manage this store for a few days. He was sure headquarters would notice even though he had no idea if there was a headquarters. Somebody had to be the boss of his boss.
He walked into the empty store and he saw potential. His boss was away and he was the manager today. He loaded the cash registers with petty cash. He suddenly felt pressure from somewhere he could not put his finger on. He usually acted on instinct and for some reason today his senses were on fire. He thought to himself “What did he know about business. He deserved this chance. He was a loyal hard working white man raised in Portland. His lack of a college education was not a deterrent. I need to lean into my power base.
“He was vitriolic, patriotic, slam. Fight light feeling pretty psyched,”
That was until he realized he was going to be shorthanded. Just yesterday, Gregor arrived five minutes late to work and hung over as hell. He was now pissed off that UNIX had done the exact same thing. “That bitch,” he thought to himself. In retrospect, he probably should not have said it aloud.
Tommy Krueger boldly walked into the store a minute before opening. For an instant, this infuriated Gregor. Then he went back to the same routine they did on days when he was not the manager. In older, wilder days, they might get together and smoke a cigarette of if they had it something else. It was never something they planned but it did happen on occasion. Now that he was in charge, he wanted his direct reports to be ready for duty. He looked Krueger directly in the eye and he seemed lucent. If he was not, Krueger could bring him down as well .
He was perfect management material and this was his chance. He knew there might not be opportunity here still there were other stores in the area. He was once the conniving hired hand and now he had insight into his people.
“Tommy it looks like it may be a hectic morning. Looks like we have a few people lined up outside already. We even have a police officer. I will bet that jackass had his window locks frozen. Damn cops are so stupid. “Gregor snarled into the open space of the sales floor. It echoed louder than he anticipated and he hoped nobody heard. With the wind blowing the way it was it was not likely.
“I’ll bet that UNIX is going to call in sick today. She is not much of a team player.”
Tommy leered at Gregor, for a second, and replied. “Wow would you know that? She is dependable about coming into work. I like having her around and she is adept when this place gets busy. The regular customers like having a woman around.”
“I just have a hunch,” Gregor added as he opened the door to leave in the crowd that had grown to six or seven. He did not even notice it was ten minutes before opening time. This energized Gregor. He did not say a word when he opened the door. Tommy thought this was odd as he should he at least acknowledge their presence. Gregor seemed disheveled to him. He appeared to be out of his element. He let them filter in and roam the aisles of the store as he took his familiar place close to the cash register. The police officer looked like he was about to make a purchase. Then Gregor asked him in a cordial tone.
“How May I Help You?’
“I Need a set of….Never mind I have different business here. I see your nametag says Gregor. I can assume that is your name” The police officer said has he looked him intently in the eyes. He held his stare until Gregor meekly looked away.
“That is correct my name is Gregor Mendelsohn.” Gregor said while trying to maintain the upper hand.
“Can I talk to you in private?” The police officer said without reservation and then he showed him his badge. “I am Officer Richard Bagley from the Portland Police Department.”
“You can see that I am shorthanded here. Predictively one of my staff did not show today. Can we do this another day,” Gregor replied as he silently peeled a price tag off an impulse item on the counter.
“It would be in your best interest to talk to us now. I want to ask you a few questions.” The officer replied instantly.
“Hey Tommy could you hold the fort for a while I have to take care of some business.”
“Don’t worry about it I can handle whatever comes my way.” Tommy Krueger said. However, he thought to himself, what hijinks his boss had gotten into. For a second he imagined himself as the new manager. It was not an image he transpired to be. He laughed at himself as he remember this was simply a job. Then he returned to the task. By instinct, he walked the sales floor hoping for a question from a customer. He felt comfortable with that. Yet suddenly, there were no customers in the store. He found this odd as according to his statistics, 77.4 who entered the store bought something. It was odd to him how the six people outside the store with the police officers simply left without buying anything. It was against the facts that he gathered. Then again, he never factored human nature and crowd psychology into his analysis. This was only a job for him. Crueger had bigger inspirations. He wanted to finish his GED first. He knew he was talented and could get his PHD. Life circumstances had happened and he was just finishing his GED. He had become one of Portland Public Schools poster boy for their GED program. This was a program that was helped the school system boost its graduation rate. It also gave misguided angels such as him had a chance.
A-boy Plumbing had the reputation of helping the customer. Given the weather and staff needing to fit in vacation, Krueger was the only option. His boss was bull shitter with a plan. His boss was not one who planned well. It was then he saw his boss whisked out of the store in handcuffs.
Just a block south, a man wearing a tall green striped Doctor Seuss striped hat crashed his two-story bicycle, nearly missing an unlucky person present on the street. A young man and women attended to the quizzical biker on the street. They helped him with their undivided attention. They offered him a warm blanket and he coldly accepted. They elevated his legs and applied compression with care.
Meanwhile, one can gather their judgment as they like, a man sat disheveled on the street. He sat and inhaled a freshly lit cigarette he picked off the street. It was so much warmer than yesterday, yet still uncomfortable when living in the streets.
It had been snowing with vigor for the better part of today.
Sonia approached the scene in front of her with a sense of detachment. She knew she had to be at her Moon and Sixpence job at eleven. She could not remember why she was a block off course. She found the scene in front of her curious as there was a crowd gathered as a homeless man sat in the street unattended. She took out her trusty digital camera and took picture after picture. Then again, she had a pang in her stomach as she witnessed the art of the moment instead of acting on it. The sun made a brief appearance further illuminating the scene. She quickly put the camera in her pocket and proceeded past the scene of people aiding somebody who apparently had crashed their bicycle. in the snow
“Excuse Me,” She said as she accidently nudged the woman attending to the crash victim. The victim was wearing a tall green and white Doctor Seuss hat. She thought to herself, what was somebody doing riding a high-rise unicycle on a slippery slushy day.
Sonia walked over to the homeless man as he sat, with pain on his face, smoking a cigarette. He took one long drag on his cigarette. He sat and stared aimlessly. He occasionally jerked in what appeared to be real pain. It From the look on his face, it seemd like he hurt his ribs.
“How may I help you young lady? He just looked at her as if she was a demon or an angel. She could not really tell.
She approached him and commented on how it is not an everyday event where you have a man in a hat on a unicycle fall on you. “Are you okay; you appear to be in quite a bit of pain?” She extended her hand and pulled him up to a standing position. This was not a clinically the correct thing to do.
“Thanks lady” he said.
“My name is Sonia, I did not catch your name,” she added.
“Wayne is the name and Wayne is in pain.” He laughed louder than the level of humor deserved.
Silently she grabbed him and without making a sound signaled for him to follow her. Wayne did exactly that.
“Wow long have you been on the streets.” She asked almost in a whisper.
“Never been in the streets,” he said as he sidestepped a large puddle in front of the sub shop.
“I am sorry I just assumed. I feel kind of bad.” Her voice trailed off as she realized her forward thinking was sometimes backwards.”
“No don’t mind me, I am going to call my wife and have her pick me up here. Do you have one of those cell phones I can use to make a call.”
She reached in her pocket and found that she had not taken it with her this morning. In this day in age, she metaphorically felt naked. She felt he might think she was lying if she said she did not have a cell phone. Why did she care so much what he thought, then again this was against her true nature.
She handed him the phone and he pointed back at her indicating she could dial the number. He reeled off his number and she dialed and let it ring.
“Put that down” he loudly stated as he stared down the pay phone at the intersection of 41st and Hancock. He dialed the number and spoke into the earpiece indicating he would like to make a collect call. He listened for a while as Emily wondered if collect call existed anymore.
Wayne went through the motions of making a collect call that was less than convincing and he quizzically put a quarter in the phone back before putting the receiver on its resting place. He smiled as he walked away from the phone booth.
Wayne turned slowly toward Sonia and smiled It was a smile that lacked conviction. Emily looked him straight in the eye the eyes for a good long time. “Why did you put a quarter back in the slot?”
“Just paying it forward. It was nice to have met you Tonya.”
Sonia semi-glossed over the fact that he called her Tonya. She wanted to help here; she was dismayed and curious of the fate of the man in a hat on a unicycle. That story now more credible than her trying to save the curious man hit by a unicycle. She walked back toward Sandy Boulevard and was surprised not much had changed. She felt like she had spent forever with Wayne and she had to admit to herself that his was an oddball of sorts.
Back at the tangled mess on Sandy, Gregor fumed as he sat handcuffed in the back of a police car. He had little idea why he was here. He despised the homeless person led from the scene. If he could find a job so could that free loader. He fumed even more at the freak show that was getting so much attention on the street. This god darn town with all of its verve and creativity drives him crazy. He was born here yet he could never feel a part of it. He wanted to exit stage left. He reached for the door handle in the back seat. When would they question him? He was surprised to find the back door open. The officer must have forgotten to lock the door. He looked at the car and it was not even a police car. He had been hand cuffed in the back seat of a van. He was stunned when he resisted arrest earlier and someone had landed an elbow to the roof of his nose. He did not feel good at all.
Gregor, without thinking, approached the four people gathered curbside. It was a curious lot. He watched the police officer take charge. He made sure the carny show misfit could stand. The officer immersed in the scene, forgot about him. Predictably, He forgot Gregor was in the backseat.
Predictably, Gregor simply walked away. He did not head back to A-Boy plumbing even though he wanted to. No Gregor marched over to the Max train and got on the first train that came. The train headed due east toward Gresham, He sat handcuffed and nobody seemed to notice or care. Obviously, he had not paid his fare. He listened to the wheels screech and get louder and louder and get quiet again as it approached the 6oth street station. People got off the train, others entered, and as far as he could tell, he was invisible. That was fine with him. Then he remembered this line had changed and some of the trains went to the airport. He studied the map then realized the train headed east. He also remembered that he had 600 dollars in his pocket. He sat there calmly as the train came to a halt virtually inside the airport.
He was not familiar with the airport, as he had not travelled much in the last six years. Life had been so simple for him and just wanted to get away.
He walked down the newly renovated corridor. Immediately he walked to the Delta booth and wondered how he would get around the handcuff thing. He noticed the lines were ungodly long so he made a quick side trip to the bathroom. He wanted to contort his body so he could slip the cuffs in front of him. At this frenetic point, he decided he would come clean. He would just make up a story that his girlfriend had put him up to it and he had not thought it through. He would simply ask the people at the ticket counter to cut him free. It was not a perfect plan and even though he was not good with math’s he knew the odds were against him. He looked at himself for a long time in the mirror and even to his vane self, he knew he looked horrible. He reached up with his left hand and cleared the hair from his face. Why could he do that? He thought they handcuffed him. The left hand cuff was unsecured. He had been placebo handcuffed for the last half hour. The officer must have been distracted given the carny mishap of sorts. The officers suddenly stopped Gregor for questioning. It was not clear if he was under arrest. Why would he have been? He had not done anything wrong.
As anticipated, the lines were long and slow. The snow had turned to rain and it seemed like many people were trying to manage missed connections. He knew he had to get on a flight and for now, he was safe amongst the chaos. He also knew that any deft individual could open handcuffs with a piece of strong wire or a bobby pin. He slowly got out of line and realized if he were in any trouble, he would be safe here. Safe amongst the chaos. He calmly walked sat down on the floor and tried to blend in. it really was not that hard. He knew he would have to get rid of the tools on his belt before he entered the scanning. Then he realized he had all the tools he needed to get rid of the handcuffs.
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