Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hold your horses

Ok people so as you can see I put up Part 3 yesterday. You're welcome. As for Part 4 I really can't say at this point. Possibly next Sunday, not this coming Sunday (March 20) but the following (March 27). Its my spring break and I look forward to not doing any work and having zero obligations.

Read up and pretty please repost if you like it.

Until next time...


Friday, March 18, 2011

Part 3

James’ apartment was a complete and utter mess. A fourth floor walkup 40 blocks from the Comfort Diner. When Daniel opened the door to apartment 4C one thing was clear in his mind; he wasn’t going to like it here a bit. The carpeting was beige, or at least it was when it was installed. Years of dirty shoes and a distinct lack of vacuuming had allowed the once fuzzy floor covering to diminish to a disgusting shade of brown that reminded Daniel of a muddy river. The walls were covered with floral print wallpaper that one might choose for a the walls of a young girls room. The bathroom, the only one in the whole apartment, was located in the entry hallway across from James’ room. The hallway led from the front door past the bathroom and James’ room and opened up into one larger room that functioned as both the kitchen and the living room. Black and white checkered tiles covered the kitchen floor (the only area of the apartment not infested with dirt beige carpet). The sink was filled with dirty dishes and located under a small window, on the sill of which was a potted orchid. It was white with a small violet band that ran up the middle of the largest petal and vanished into the center of the flower. In the living room there was a small TV and on top of it was an antenna adorned with balls of tin foil. To the right of the TV was the couch. It was a black vinyl couch that pulled out into a full sized bed with a mattress that was about 6 inches too thin.
“And heres the pull out Danny. I cleaned the sheets for you last night. If you need extra blankets there are some over there by the recliner.” James motioned at the corner behind the Lazy-Boy and there laid a few felt blankets with various disney characters on each of them. They looked terribly dirty. Daniel really hoped he didn’t cold that night.
“Ok thanks James, well I am pretty tired so I think I am going to go to bed soon, can I put my toothbrush in your bathroom?”
“Sure thing!”
That night Daniel couldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. The thin mattress bottomed out onto the bed frame and made his back uncomfortable. He had one clean sheet with which he tried desperately to stay warm in order to avoid using the disgusting cartoon blankets in the corner. The only thing that could take his mind off of the fact that he was staying in a 300 square foot apartment, on a pull out sofa, in the living room of a man who he disliked, was the orchid on the window sill. The orange beams of light coming from the street lamps below shone in through the window and turned the white orchid a light peach color and cast an orchid shaped shadow across the kitchen ceiling. Daniel didn’t know why but looking at the orchid calmed him and was responsible for the few precious minutes of sleep he managed to get that night.
Daniel awoke to the sound of the Saturday morning cartoons on the TV.
“Mornin’ roomie!” exclaimed James who was sitting in the Lazy-Boy enjoying a re-run of Ed, Edd n’ Eddy on Nickelodeon. 
“Yah... g’morning to you James. What time is it?”
“5:30” replied James
“Why the heck are you up so early?” said Daniel extremely irritated. “We don’t go to the diner til 8.” 
Daniel had no idea what time it was without his bedside alarm clock which was currently a melted heap of plastic covered in the ashes of his old bedside table.
“Oh I always get up this early. Early to bed, early to get the worm I always say. Besides this is when Nick has all the best stuff on, none of those stupid new shows, these are the classics.”
“Since when is Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy a classic?” questioned Daniel.
“Since like forever ya dummy! Jeez, talk about uncultured.”
“Well hold up a second there pal, you don’t think I know anything about cartoons? How about Tom and Jerry huh? Popeye? I watched cartoons too ya know. I just stopped when I was twelve or thirteen.” 
“You got no idea what you’re talkin’ about, that old stuff is garbage, this is quality television right here! So what if I’m 29 years old, just because you are old doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good cartoon once in a while, it’s not like they are gonna kick you out of the grown-up club.” James said with a smile.
Daniel and James talked for another hour and a half about their favorite cartoons and TV shows before heading to the Comfort Diner for breakfast and Daniel’s shift.
As Daniel and James were walking down the four floors of the apartment complex to the street level Daniel realized that he would not be able to walk to the Comfort Diner from James’ apartment. James didn’t own a car and even if he did there was no way Daniel would want to drive anyway. He would have to take the subway to work every day that he lived with James.
“Hey James?” 
“What’s up Danny?”
“How do you get to the diner every day?” Although he already knew the answer to his own question Daniel was hoping that by some miracle James had another, less stressful way planned to get across town. 
“Well, the subway of course, doofus! How else would you expect?”
“Shit... Well, OK then...” said Daniel with a slight quiver in his voice. And the two of them proceeded down the steps to the entry of the Canal St. Station.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Coming soon

Check back on Saturday for the next installment. I am gonna have a 5 hour flight on friday to finish up part 3 so provided I don't fall asleep immediately after boarding the flight due to a late thursday night or that I am not in the middle seat of a three seat row sandwiched in by two people who's body type will not permit my elbows to move there will be more Life and Times of Daniel on Saturday/ Friday night.


P.S. If you actually like this stuff you could go ahead and employ those nifty social media skills I know you have and throw out a link to the blog on your facebook, twitter, blog, whatever.

Part 2

Daniel’s watch began to beep, signaling him that it was 4:25 PM. Almost time for him to start to clean off his office desk to make room for Mervin, the night manager, to put his things. At 5:03 Mervin walked in the front door. 
“Sorry I’m a bit late Daniel. Traffic was terrible. There were at least four fire engines heading up 3rd and I had to pull over for each of em’. How’d we make out today?”
 “Really? I wonder where the fire is. Hopefully nothing too extreme. We did alright, not bad for a Tuesday.”
“Great! Well I better get to work. Those damn busboys can’t do anything on their own. See you tomorrow.”
“Catch ya on, the later”
Every time Daniel tried to act cool around Merv it always came out wrong and he sounded like an idiot. He reprimanded himself under his breath.
“Catch ya on the later? What the hell Daniel, just say goodbye. That would do fine.” 
The way back from the diner was always more stressful than the way there. Everyone in the city had just got off work. The sidewalk was swarming with average Joes, all eager to get home or to a bar, anywhere but where they were coming from. Daniel liked his job and the only reason he found it easy to leave at the end of the day was because he had his apartment to return to. It was perfect. Perfect in every way. Well, perfect for Daniel that is. Nothing made him happier than being in his home. 
As he was crossing 50th he saw some smoke coming from the general area of his apartment. Daniel began to sprint, knocking people out of the way without apologizing. When he turned the corner at 57th he just about fainted. The windows of his apartment were spewing dense clouds of pitch black smoke; firefighters were spraying their hoses through the windows trying desperately to extinguish the flames. All Daniel could think about was the toaster. “Fuck! This is all my fault! I forgot to unplug the god damn toaster!”
Daniel sat on the sidewalk destroying himself mentally for an hour before he was allowed to enter what was once his home. Everything was a shade of black or gray. There were no remains of his toaster, or his color coordinated wardrobe, and his wonder bread was definitely gone.
A police officer approached him.
 “Do you have anywhere you can stay, sir?”
Daniel stopped to think for a moment.
“No, I guess I don’t… I suppose I’ll just stay in a hotel until I can figure something out.”
Daniel checked into a Best Western a few hours later. It was the closest hotel he could find to the Comfort Diner. In fact, it was almost twice as close as his apartment was, only six blocks away.
Daniel was appalled as he opened the door to room 114. The air in the room wasn’t fresh and the thermostat was set about 10⁰ too cold. Daniel realized that the windows had been sealed shut, the reasons for which he could not imagine. The bathroom was lit by a fluorescent ceiling fixture that gave the room unnatural greenish tint. The small hair dryer was placed only a few feet away from the combination bathtub shower, just waiting to fall in while he was bathing. And worst of all, the shampoos and conditioners were in tiny, single serving bottles. Before the tragedy, Daniel used buy a half gallon of generic shampoo in a pumptop bottle every Friday. The soap was terrible too, aside from being in bar-form, it was tiny. Daniel couldn’t stop imagining himself dropping the bar and in an attempt to pick it up, slipping and falling on his head, instantly killing him. After inspecting the bathroom Daniel sat down on the end of the queen sized, fifteen year old mattress, with a flower patterned sand paper-esque bedspread and turned on the TV. The remote controls buttons didn’t make sense. The channel buttons were at the top of the remote, just out of reach of his thumb and the mute button was at the bottom. After accidentally muting the hotel welcome channel on and off four times he switched to channel 8, Court TV. Daniel always watched Court TV when he was stressed. It reminded him of his childhood, sitting with his grandma who always talked about how much she wanted to marry Judge Wapner. He was a man of the law, not like Daniel’s “good for nothin’, stealin’, cheatin’, drinkin’ grandfather.” At nine o’clock Daniel peeled back the sandpaper bedspread and folded the sponge pillow in half to get a little more support for his neck.
Daniel knew he could not stay at the Best Western for long. Aside from all of the defects of the room, it was also $130 a night. Daniel actually had enough money to stay at the hotel for some time but he always tried his best not to spend more than $80 on any one thing.
While Daniel was still in shock over the loss of his apartment, he couldn’t help but notice that his walk to work that morning was unusually pleasant. He was 6 blocks closer to his work, exactly 50% shorter. Daniel did not have to walk past the homeless man and there were far fewer streets to cross. He entered the diner a few minutes ahead of time, setup his desk and went out to the dining room as usual. Once again, the operation of the restaurant calmed Daniel. At least something in his life was still in order.
“Hey Geoff, How are yah?”
“Daniel! Guess what?! You know that big case I’ve been workin’ lately?”
“Oh yah, the one with the plastic surgeon and the woman with the messed up...”
“Yah that one. Well we won. Lady’s getting a HUGE settlement and guess who’s getting 10% of that pie?”
“Wow Geoff! That’s great”
“Yah I’m pretty happy with it, anyway how are you doin’ Daniel?
“Actually I’ve got a crazy story for you, you’re not gonna believe this but”
“You know what Daniel hold that thought, my car just got out of the detailers and if I let it sit out in the sun like that its gonna dull the paint. I’ll see you tomorrow.
“Yah, tomorrow. Congratulations again!”
Geoff only motioned goodbye with his right hand as he stuffed the remains of his jelly filled donut in his mouth on his way out the door.
“Bob’s not here today” said James “he told me they were pouring concrete this morning and he had to be there earlier than usual.”
“Oh that’s too bad, how are the pancakes this morning?”
“Absolutely perfect, there aren’t any berries within an inch of another. Bravo.”
“Glad you like em’”
“How are you today Danny?”
“Well, it’s funny you should ask James. The last thirteen and a half hours have been rough.”
“How So?”
“Well, I returned home after work yesterday to find my apartment on fire.”
“Oh my goodness Danny that’s terrible! What happened?”
“The fire department hasn’t finished the investigation yet but I know what started it.”
“What was it? Why don’t you tell the fire department?”
“I forgot to unplug my toaster before I left my apartment and they will think I’m a total doofus if I tell them it was my fault all along.”
“Danny that sounds a little ridiculous, I mean, what are the odds that your toaster malfunctioned and actually started a fire.”
“James did you know that last year alone there were 13 fires in America that were traced back to a toaster malfunction?”
“Jeez that’s a lot; I’m sorry Danny I didn’t mean to belittle your problems. Where are you going to stay?”
“Right now I’m staying at the best western up on 51st but the place is disgusting and way overpriced, I’m gonna have to find somewhere else to stay.”
“Well do you have any relatives in the city you could stay with?
“Not in the city, the closest is my Aunt Audrey and she lives up in Buffalo.”
“Hey! You should stay at my apartment! I have a sofa-bed in my living room and extra sheets and a pillow and you can take the bus to the diner with me every morning when you come to work!”
“Oh no James I really don’t think…”
“Come on, what else are you gonna do, I know what all the hotels around here are like and they aren’t much different from that Best Western up the street.”
As much as Daniel hated the idea of living with James, he was right. He really had nowhere else to go. He would just have to put up with his craziness until his insurance policy came through.
“You should come by after you get off work and bring your stuff. Its been forever since I’ve had guests. Ill try to clean the place up a little bit. This is gonna be so fun!”

Part 1

Daniel Refero prepares his breakfast the same way he always does. A glass of Tropicana pulp free orange juice, two pieces of Wonder bread (toasted for one minute and ten seconds), and a single fried egg sunny side up. Prior to starting his meal Daniel unplugged his toaster in fear that if he left it plugged in too long, it would start a fire and burn down his home. He began his meal with a small sip of juice and then proceeded to make a sandwich using his two pieces of toast and egg. He ate the sandwich in eleven bites and saved one gulp of juice to wash down the final morsel. After cleaning his plate, glass and fork and placing them back in their respective drawers, Daniel went to his bedroom to get dressed. He picked one of his four short-sleeved collared shirts, each with their own respective matching tie, and a pair of khaki pants. He decided to wear the beige shirt his mother gave him for his 33rd birthday last month. He ironed the shirt, put it on, and grabbed the keys to his home as walked out the front door, locking it behind him. “Shit… the toaster.” he thought to himself and unlocked the door and went back to the kitchen and found that he actually had unplugged the toaster. Back out the front door, locked it, and just as he reached the first step of the stairs to the street he thought “Did I really unplug it? I know I saw it unplugged…” And Daniel proceeded to climb back up the four flights of stairs to check that the toaster was in fact unplugged, and it was. Daniel repeated this process three more times before making down to the street level at 57th and 2nd.
Daniel walked to his job every day where he was the daytime manager for the Comfort Diner, a re-creation of an old style five and dime diner. The walk was short and easy, only twelve blocks away from his home. Just as he was about to cross the street at 56th, a cab ran a red light and nearly hit him, only reminding him how much he hated driving. Daniel hated driving and taking the subway. He could always catch a glimpse of the masses of people crowding into the Lexington Ave subway station as he crossed the street at 53rd. “Who in their right mind would enter a metal tube that travels in underground tunnels at speeds up to forty five miles per hour? Complete idiots that who.”
In between 53rd and 52nd there was a homeless man that, despite Daniels refusal to give any money or even a glance, asked him how he was doing that morning. He didn’t know why this man always said hello to him but the fact that he didn’t ask for change or anything made him uncomfortable.
It took him 14 minutes to get to the Comfort Diner. He entered through the side door and went straight to his office where he organized his desk for the coming day. At 8:15 he walked out to the dining room and watched the waiters, busboys, and customers go about their breakfast. The smooth functioning of the restaurant pleased him. It was like a giant machine; each person doing their part to ensure the proper function of the machine as a whole. Daniel walked around and greeted each of the regulars. He liked the fact that he had regulars.
“Hey Geoff, how’s Mary these days?”
“Spendin’ all my money but what else is new?”
Geoff was a partner of one of the most well known law firms in town. His wife had a thing for expensive jewelry and perfumes.
“How’s that job in Queens going Bob?”
“The fuckin’ hydraulic system in the crane keeps givin’ out. I keep tellin’ my supervisor about it but you know how that goes. That type of shit can take weeks before the head haunchos hear about it.”
Bob worked construction everywhere from Manhattan to Queens to Jersey City. All he ever seemed to do was complain.
“James! How are the pancakes this morning? I had the cook put extra berries in for ya.”
“There are more blue berries on the left half of the top pancake but they taste just fine Danny.”
Daniel disliked James. He thought he was a little bit crazy and he called him Danny. He hated the name Danny; Danny was not his name. His name was Daniel, Daniel Refero, and that was the way it was supposed to be.