The world had not changed much in its social system; there were still the wealthy class, the average class and the poor class; but in the present world they are called the happy class, the content class and the depressed class. The happy class were set of wealthy folks with thousands of positive memories in their memory chips; the content class were folks living with both negative and positive memories in their chips, their lives was a balanced scale. Lastly, the depressed class were people with more negative memories than positive ones, their lives shitty which they acknowledge and lived according to it.
I was in the content class, slowly moving towards the depressed class. My negative memories from hating my job, being lonely and having to pay rent in a crappy apartment slowly influenced my positive memories. I knew I could get some good memories from selfless acts or helping people as I did in the orphanage, but I was not feeling the urge to help society, after all, it rejected me. I still held resentment against the society, the orphanage, and my parents for not being there to give me a childhood, for forcing me out at eighteen into this world.
“I am heading out first, Mr. Pablo,” I said as I wore my jacket. My lips were pressed into a thin line as I wondered if I should either meet the rich man from earlier or just go home. His business card felt hot against my butt, like a reminder of what had happened earlier and my mind was a muddle. I didn’t know the man, neither have I ever met him, so I wondered why he would find me sufficient for a job. What was the job he needed me for? I am just a high school graduate, and thoughts of going to college were far from my mind. Maybe if I left Area 2 I could reconsider the thoughts and get a degree, but was I smart enough for college? I had good grades back in high school; I only studied so Mr. Fredrick would not feel bad and disappointed in me.
“Sure, I’ll lock up, son. I still have to go over the new recipe for an Americano with double layered milk, it would be nice to see the customers drool over that,” Mr. Pablo said with a laugh. He was always like this when he found a new recipe or was trying out his creation; I always wondered how he always remained so happy with his life.
“I am sure it would be lovely, sir,” I replied out of good grace.
“Michael, I know you are not happy. I see the look in your eyes, it was a look I once had when I was your age,” he commented with a tone that suggested he understood. Maybe he did understand, but he was not in my place, he already had his life going out for him … at least that was what I thought.
“I am fine, Mr. Pablo, really.”
“Okay. Now run along now and don’t stay out too late,” he said waving me out the door. I left the bar and decided to run first, to gather my thoughts together. I zipped up my jacket to ward off the chill from the wind, the moon hung high in the sky, and its full glow was enough to light the path I ran. The streetlights were casting a tall shadow over my physique, my feet hit the pavement, making a rhythmic tapping sound with the swing of my hands. Running helped me arrange my thoughts, it helped anchor me to sanity anytime I felt the walls of my mind closing down on me. Mr. Fredrick usually ran with me, he was a running champion back in his high school days so it was not a surprise that I turned around the corner leading to the orphanage.
My instincts were in full control, and they took me to the one person that could possibly give me an answer to my questions. I skidded to a halt at the gate, and looked around, the street was quiet except for the whistling of the wind. I shivered as I tugged my jacket closer to my body, I checked the time on my phone and frowned; I left the bar at eight-thirty and it was eight-fifty now, I did not have much time to talk with Mr. Fredrick.
I turned away from the gate, from the only place I knew I could always find comfort and headed back to the park to meet my possible future. I arrived at the park at the nick of time, the park was empty and the silence of the night overtook everything. I looked around for the stranger, but there was no one around. I sat on a bench close to the fountain and waited, trying to calm my ragged breath from the run, my legs ached from the stress I had put them through. Then I heard the sound of a pair of shoes hitting the ground, I tensed up as the footsteps grew closer. It was rumored that people were killed frequently around this part, and I really didn’t want to make the rumor true. I picked a stick lying close to me for self-defense if the need came. I relaxed my body not to seem tensed, but held the stick tight to my side.
“Good evening, Mr. Mike Divine,” a voice said. I did not recognize the voice, but he knew my name, and that counted for something. I turned to look at the visitor; he was taller than i was with broad shoulders. The side of his mouth was scarred, his eyes were hard and that terrified me. He had the looks of a hardened criminal, maybe it was because he wore black clothes and the shadows around clinging to him.
“Who are you and how do you know my name?” I asked fearfully, my voice trembled all through and I berated myself for showing weakness.
“That is not important. I was ordered to bring you to my boss,” he said firmly, moving forward to grab me. I raised the stick up to put up a defense against him.
“Who is your boss?”
“This is childish. Now, come with me.” He wrested the stick away from me, gripped both my hands and shook me. I dug my heels into the earth to stop myself from getting thrown around, I doubt that anyone could have heard my heart-wrenching scream as he grabbed my throat.
“Stay still, kid. I ain’t here to hurt you or bicker with a kid.
“I am a kid, so yeah, I can be childish,” I said with sass. I did not know what gave me the courage to talk back, the words just stumbled out.
He suddenly laughed, a booming sound that echoed around the park, it was not a psychopathic one, but a lively one, “You got gut, kid,” he said and I laughed nervously.
I dug the business card from my back pocket and waved it in front of him, “Are you here for this?” I asked.
“Boss is waiting for you and you better don’t keep him waiting.” He smirked, his scar twisting in awkward angle which gave him a psychopathic look. He pointed to a Mercedes waiting outside the park and walked towards it, expecting me to follow him.
I kept up the pace with him, my brows knotted together in concentration. I still wondered what the job could possibly be that would need me. I looked at the big guy beside me and envied him, his suit was a tailored to suit his frame, and they looked expensive. His shoes were also the latest model of expensive Italian shoes; I knew this because I saw them on the Web and had googled about them. I wanted his life and if it meant accepting this job, so be it.
We got closer to the Mercedes, the big guy opened the door and ushered me in. I looked in and saw the man who came to the café earlier today, but he was dressed differently and not in the suit he wore when he came to the bar. He was dressed in a turtleneck black top and a denim jean with a black combat boot, all very expensive. He smiled and urged me in with his head. I stepped in, taking in the grand interior of the car; I have never been in a carpool with anyone, but this car smelt brand new.
I folded my hands on my knee and waited for him to talk; he took a cigarette, lit it and took the first puff. I have tried smoking at a friend’s party, but never liked it, it made my stomach burn and my throat constrict with pain, my friends told me I was a mess. But he did it effortlessly, drawing each puff like the cigarette was made for him.
“We meet again,” he said with a raspy voice, not looking at me.
“Yes, sir, you asked me to meet you at the park tonight,” I said.
“That’s true. I am glad you showed up, shows you have ambition.”
“I suppose you can say that. If you don’t mind me asking, what is the job you have for me?” I asked. I was done beating around the bush, my heart pounding each second we spent together. He had this aura of authority around him that felt sour, it made my tongue numb and the hairs on my skin rise.
“A direct person, I like that. I will pay you twice the amount you are receiving now if you work for me.”
I stilled. Twice the amount I was receiving was enough to get me more than one plane ticket; it could also pay my rent and get me some new clothes. My head went over the calculation of the amount, but registered that he did not give any hint of the job he wanted me to do.
“That is tempting, but what does it entail?”
“Just some random errands, you would know when you get the job. Now, do you want it?” He turned to me and asked, his eyes staring me down, urging me to turn down such a beautiful proposal.
Should I accept a job I had no idea of its origin, but with a fat income or should I continue to work at bar with so little pay? I would be out of Area 2 in no time and living the luxury life I have always wanted. “Hell yeah, I am down,” I replied excitedly.
“Good. Derek would keep in touch,” he said, pointing to the big guy outside, who smiled wickedly in return. That was my cue to leave and I took it, I got out of the car and faced Derek.
“Welcome to hell, kid,” he said lightly, but his tone was serious. He handed me a burner phone and said, “Don’t lose it. I’ll keep in touch with that. You got great guts, kid,” he added, got into the car and started the engine.
I moved back and watched the car drive away. I stood there for a while, processing everything that happened. I just got a new job, and was given my first job equipment, a burner phone. I thought about Derek, he seemed like a nice person except for his scary face, I could learn to like him. But my boss was different, he seemed aloof and I did not even know his name, although I doubted he would have told me.
The chilly wind brushed against me, reminding me I was still out and it was getting really late, the moon was almost at the middle of the sky. I turned and headed the way to my apartment, my footsteps the only sound in the silent night.
I got home by 11:00 PM, I was lucky to find the front door unlocked. I walked in and found Mr. Pablo waiting for me in front of his apartment. He invited me in for a bottle of cold beer and the sound of that was really appealing, I needed something chilled. I have never been into Mr. Pablo’s apartment, it was comfy and warm. He brought out two beers from the fridge, cracked it open and gave me one.
“I noticed you were not home, so I waited for you,” he said, opening the conversation as he took a swing of his beer.
“Yeah, I went for a run and decided to rest at the park,” I replied, giving out half the truth as I played with the head of my beer.
“Is everything okay, boy?” Mr. Pablo asked, turning his full attention on me. I looked at him in the eyes, my body giving nothing away as I told another lied.
“I am fine, sir.”
Mr. Pablo did not say anything, but studied me in silence; finally he broke the suffocating air. “Okay. But you can always come to tell me anything, Michael. I have been at your age once and have done things, things that would make a criminal cringe,” he said lightly to ease the tension. I knew Mr. Pablo could not do anything bad; he was just like Mr. Fredrick, nice and easy to talk to.
“You say that to everyone, sir, but we all know you can’t hurt a fly.”
“Don’t think me weak, boy,” he said, rolling up his top to show me his biceps. For an older man, Mr. Pablo kept fit and still looked appealing in his own way.
“I wouldn’t dare do so, sir.”
“You are cheeky, boy,” he said with a laugh, “Off you go. We still got work tomorrow.”
I stood up and went for the door, “Good night, sir,” I said before closing it behind me. I headed straight to my apartment, took a shower to wash off the grime of the day and went to bed drained from head to toe.
I looked to where my pants sat, the burner phone peeking out from the back pocket, it taunted me and I allowed it. I stood up, picked it up and turned it on; the only number there was Derek’s. I guessed he was the one who was my direct boss, I turned it back off, put it under my pillow and resigned myself to getting a good night’s rest.