Best to let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Best to let Sleeping Dogs Lie

I always thought that working around people thirty years my senior would yield a good chance of one of them kicking the bucket while I was still just a lowly assistant. I don’t know why I thought of death. Death! The word is scary and it’s kind of sad. I think to most young people, it’s a funny word. Not funny like a sitcom, but funny like nonsensical, like a fantasy. We don’t even grasp that concept until we are of a certain age, that it’s permanent. Other people die. Old people whom I don’t know die. Distant relatives of my acquaintances die; but not my family, not me. I never thought it would be me. I mean, I was nothing special. I was merely a thirty year old with a master’s degree working a job barely above minimum wage and just getting by. Married, no kids yet, but I think we had one on the way. I would have found out, had I lived but one more day; hell, one more hour.

I suppose you want to know how I died. That’s completely understandable. After all, it wouldn’t be fair of me to divulge just part of the story and leave you hanging. In fact, that’s always been a pet peeve of mine. I had a friend who would only tell me half a story, assuming I had a psychic link into his brain and would magically know the other half. Then he would get annoyed with me for asking questions. I desire details just as much as you do! I like details, but in this case, I was merely asking the basics. What a friend. That very friend though, I saw him the morning I died.

You see, I had a job interview. Finally, a chance to move out of the drudgery I was growing tired of. Every day it was just filing, filing and on Fridays, even more filing. This new job would be a bit more exciting. I would finally be able to use my master’s degree in journalism. It was my first job interview in a while and I focused so much on what I would wear, that I was a bit ill prepared in what I should bring. I realized that morning that it’s standard to bring a copy of a resume and perhaps some credentials. But, with my computer out of ink, I was in a bit of a bind when I needed to be at my interview in an hour. My friend, the very friend that gets annoyed with me for asking too many questions, happens to work just around the corner from where I live, or should I say happened to work just around the corner from where I lived. This whole past tense stuff is pretty new to me. Bear with me as I get used to the fact that I am indeed dead.

Luckily, after I called my friend, he reluctantly agreed to print up my resume from work. I ran down to his office to pick it up and started my journey toward my interview. This was the start of something new. I could tell by the chill in the air that it was going to be a different kind of day. Looking back, and thinking about my friend, it’s too bad I didn’t really have some sort of psychic connection, or else I might have seen my death coming and could have made other plans. I couldn’t help but put all my cares aside and maintain a happy vibe. I was in such a good mood that on the way to the interview, I saw a bum asking for change. I decided to give him a buck. What’s the harm in that? I always thought if I was in that position, I would hope someone would help me out. I know a good amount of people fake it, but this guy was in tattered, dirty clothes and hadn’t shaved or bathed in what looked like months. Living downtown, I was somewhat used to the smell, but usually just getting by with my current income, I rarely had extra money to hand out, so this made me feel good.

I had to stray off my path just a few feet when I made the slight detour to make this bum’s day; and in doing so, I inadvertently stepped on some stray dog’s tail. I didn’t even see the fur ball. I think he startled me more than I did him, but he had to have been in a dead sleep. He yelped, I jumped back, he growled at me, and then ran away. A little adrenaline never hurt. Dogs usually like me, but I suppose I got off on the wrong foot, or tail, with this mutt. I gave the bum his buck and walked away post haste.

I made it early for the interview and after a bit of waiting, met with the hiring managers. They couldn’t have been nicer and the interview couldn’t have gone smoother – at least I think so. It’s a shame, but I will never get to find out if I would have even got the job. I told them about my education, my master’s degree, my boring job, my dreams, my aspirations, and yet, I remained humble and appreciative of the opportunity to just be in their presence. They seemed very receptive to me and it felt like a good, solid connection was made.

I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks. I then called my wife. It’s weird to say wife, as we we’ve only been married a month. On the other hand, I wish I could say wife. It’s weirder for me to say, but it’s true, I must call her my widow, now. So, I called my widow. I know she has probably taken this hard. I definitely miss her. That’s probably the worst thing about dying. You never get to see your loved ones again – or so I thought. My best advice for those of you still living, don’t take your loved ones for granted. Appreciate and enjoy them while you’re both around, and let them know it. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. All I have now are memories. Nothing can steal those – as far as I know, but that’s like a picture of a pizza instead of a slice in your hand. The presence, the texture, the smells… that’s all gone.

Walking down the street, I happily gave her a call to tell her the good news. I was a bit optimistic, but the potential increase in my paycheck would mean we could rent a bigger place or maybe even buy a house. So, I was in one of the best moods I had been in a while. The phone call didn’t go exactly as I thought it would, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. She told me that she left work because she was feeling sick. It was then that she hinted at the possibility of being pregnant, but she was definitely not sure. She was on her way to the doctor’s office to find out. I did some quick math in my head about the distance to the hospital, the fact that I was on foot and the timing of how long I thought her appointment would take. Math was never my subject, but I had a knack for being right about timing. So, I took a stab – and don’t worry, there is no pun here because I was not stabbed – and asked if we could meet at a coffee place in about ninety minutes. She was agreeable.

I got there first and waited, patiently. Several minutes passed and I was feeling a bit awkward being in a dining establishment and not ordering something. I made some witty conversation with the cute little barista and got myself a coffee. I don’t usually drink coffee because of the coffee breath it leaves you with. It’s worse than white wine breath; but today, I didn’t care. I was anxious about the job, I was anxious to see my soon to be widow and my foot would not stop tapping as I sat and waited. Finally, when I was nearly done with my coffee, she appeared. I didn’t know why, but her appearance was so underwhelming. She had such a distant look on her face. I thought maybe something happened. She sat down and held her head. She wouldn’t talk.

I urged her to look at me, and she did. We stared at each other. I tried to understand what she was thinking by gazing deep into her eyes, but she was hiding something. She told me she didn’t want to cry and then her eyes started tearing up. I helped her up and walked her back to her car. As we walked out, I realized I left my coffee behind. I was done with it, but I usually throw food remnants away and felt like an asshole leaving the soiled cup on the table, but I felt worse that my wife wouldn’t talk to me. I promised myself I wouldn’t let that happen again as we made our way to her car. I recall it was somewhat windy out, and that, along with the normal traffic congestion, was causing a lot of noise pollution. We kept our mouths shut until we sat inside the vehicle and closed the doors. Suddenly, it was quiet.

I asked her to tell me what was going on. She sat silently, for several minutes, building the courage to tell me something. My heart only raced faster and faster, but I pretended I was fine. She was scaring me. Typically, she swallowed and took a deep breath. In an almost stoic tone, she told me that she went to the doctor and found out she’s pregnant. I interrupted to tell her that is what I figured, but was confused as to why she was so upset; and it was then she interrupted me to tell me there’s a fifty percent chance I’m not the father. I felt the coffee climb back up my throat, but I kept it down.

If people from the outside of the car were watching, they would have seen me yell vigorously for a total of thirty three seconds. That’s about all I could muster before I suddenly stopped myself and decided it wasn’t counter-productive to the situation. All my screaming produced was more crying from her, and then my throat became sore. I wasn’t used to yelling. I also said more expletives in that thirty three second time frame than I had in the past two months. I could see she felt like shit, but I didn’t care about her at that moment. My eyes started to itch, but I left them alone. Then they filled with tears and I knew today was not such a great day. I wished she had never told me the second part. I wished I never knew. I would have been happy not knowing that I might or might be raising someone else’s biological child and all the while thinking it was mine. In certain situations, ignorance really is bliss, and I think that is one thing we can learn from dogs. Sure, she would have to live with the fact that she was responsible for a potential bastard child, but that’s the price she should have to pay for doing what she did.

I got out and I left her there. She stayed and cried. I fumbled with my wedding ring as I started to walk anywhere but closer to her. The wind turned to rain and I thought that was so typical. Soaked, alone and fiddling with my ring, I finally took it off. I left it in my coat pocket and ran my fingers over where the ring was. I had not taken it off the entire month we were married, and somehow my hand didn’t feel as free as I thought it would.

The rain washed away my tears so no one could tell I was crying. They might think I was sniffling because I had a cold and I was okay with that. I really didn’t want anyone to know. I contemplated going home, and started heading that direction. I walked past the place where I had my job interview and from across the street, I could see the hiring manager running from the building to his car. He didn’t see me, and I kept my head down. He dropped a few papers, but didn’t notice and the wind was kind enough to blow a few of them toward me. One in particular landed right in the street next to me, gently setting itself a top a puddle. I paused to lean over and look at it. It was my resume. A truck drove by, ran over my resume and through the puddle and re-soaked me with dirty water. I still didn’t care.

I made my way back, but decided to keep walking past my house. My wife must have take a few deep breaths and relaxed herself enough to come home and check on me because I saw her pull up when I looked behind my shoulder. She saw me one last time – angry, dirty, wet, and without any possibility of a financially sound future. I was a loser and she knew it, and she rubbed my face in it, but I guess she felt guilty and came back to me. Maybe she was a loser, too. I walked across the street, but it was raining so hard and I was so mad, I didn’t notice that dog from earlier. It darted out in front of me. Some guy, driving a truck, felt the dog’s life was more important than mine at that instant. Or maybe he didn’t and he just panicked. But he panicked the wrong direction. He swerved to avoid the dog and he got me. I was thrown and slid about thirty three feet before I stopped, face down. My shoes were off and my pants, shirt and jacket were shredded almost clean off. I could hear cars skidding, a commotion. Then heard my wife, and she was crying. The last thing I remember thinking to myself was that it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. I somehow felt comfortable with what happened and I smiled as nothingness enveloped the last of my senses.

Note:

This is a short story I've been working on and off for a few weeks. I will likely be doing some more revisions to it, and will update it on here to reflect the new changes. There may also be a few spelling or grammatical errors which I will fix. Any and all comments are appreciated and may help shape the revisions I make. Thanks for reading!

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