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Fiction Sad Friendship

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

Another day another dollar or penny I should say commented Barry to himself as he walked yet again in the rain to his office. For over a year Barry suffered from writer’s block. He wanted to quit and just find another job, but he knew that his father would throw it in his face about his choice of flushing his money down the toilet when he graduated with a degree in writing. 

“Why’d you need a degree in writing? Just write you damn loser,” said his father the last time he spoke to him.

Things spiraled out of control as his mother tried calming his dad, making Barry decide never to visit again. The vase was thrown by his father and landing on his head also inspired his decision. 

He walked quickly through the streets trying to avoid puddles and other pedestrians with their umbrellas. Barry reached his office soaking wet, his attempts at staying dry failed once his umbrella was blown away by a gust of wind. Everything seemed to be going wrong lately. 

Once seated comfortably in his chair, he turned on a small heater to dry and warm his wet feet. Barry was feeling the brunt of Spring’s anger and vengeance. Barry’s boss was early and stomping around the office dictating nonsense to employees to make matters worse. 

“Barry,” started Frank, the boss, “I want you to go down and get us some coffee. We can’t be productive if we don’t have our morning drug,” he chuckled and walked away.

Barry put his socks back on and shoes and proceeded to walk towards the elevators when Ellen the secretary stopped him.

“Can you bring me a Danish as well? I didn’t eat breakfast and with this growing bundle I need to stay energized,” she touched her belly as she spoke. All along Barry thought that she was fat. He didn’t care much about fraternizing with employees he just wanted to write. On his way down he figured he’d describe things he saw and write them on his notepad to see if his writer’s block eased up a bit. Gray doors, swoosh, and the doors opened slowly revealing annoying HR and her troop of misfits. “Not good, let me try again,” said Barry under his breath. He squeezed in next to HR placing his notepad back into his pocket. The cramped space made Barry claustrophobic, he yearned for a day when he didn’t have to be next to his loser co-workers.

The combination of urine and coffee hit Barry’s nose once the doors of the elevator opened. He covered his nose while walking quickly to the coffee shop. At its entrance, he found a homeless man in the rain. Barry couldn’t believe why security hadn’t thrown out the smelly homeless man.

“Can you spare change for a story?” asked the homeless man.

In the world? thought Barry.

“Sure, bruh,” said Barry.

He dug into his pocket and pulled out a five and a fifty. He dug into his other pockets trying to find a one, but to no avail. He gave the homeless the five and the story started.

On a starry moonless night, while the final song of the blue jay echoed through the night Marigold hurried to get home in time to see the birth of her sister Zinnia. Now, Marigold, was the princess next in line for the throne and Zinnia would be her advisor. But this year was very special, it was the year of the turning of tides where things would not be as once were. Nonetheless, Marigold ran unaware of the future.

Although Marigold was born with golden locks and a gentle spirit, Zinnia was born with fiery red hair as straight as a pond on an evening breeze and a troubled soul.

On went the homeless man until he just walked away murmuring to himself about getting crumpets for his hungry soul. 

Barry couldn’t believe his ears, he quickly went into the coffee shop, got the coffees and the Danish then rushed back to his office. He wrote continuously through the day and into the night, writing the entire story that the homeless man had said. Near midnight he was done, he submitted the story for a review and then headed home.

The rain had subsided leaving the city streets with puddles scattered about. Barry strolled looking at every detail of the city with new eyes. The city smelled clean after the rain. The warm breeze hugged Barry while he strolled avoiding droplets from the trees that lined the street. As he hummed a tune from his favorite musical he noticed an all-night diner and entered to grab a bite to eat. The service was magnificent and the food splendid. He noticed that the night crowd was less rowdy. To one side sat a prostitute, in for the moment getting a bite to eat. Barry noticed the bruises on her thighs and a barely visible blackeye badly covered by makeup. At the other end sat two police officers chatting about a man they had arrested. The decor reminded him of an old movie he had seen where the couple ran into a diner to hide from a killer. 

The waitress arrived carrying a menu and utensils. She placed everything on the table and then proceeded to ask if Barry wanted something to drink.

“I’ll take a Sprite and a glass of water.”

“Do you know what you want or do you need more time?”

Barry thought about just asking for some time, but it was very late and he wanted to get home.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

“The candied scrambled eggs with French toast is very popular, topped with pecans and syrup,” said Sally, the waitress, as she looked around at a new customer walking in.

The food was amazing, thought Barry. He ate heartily, left an unusually big tip considering he was not big on tipping, then headed home. 

****

Once Barry exited the elevators the applause started. He was confused. What is going on? he said smiling. Frank approached him clapping louder than anyone else, making every clap slower and slower until he reached Barry.

“What you have displayed is magnificence. The sheer genius of the story! This will be the next box office hit! I already have Disney on the phone and Warner Brothers competing for the rights to a movie deal!”

Barry did not know what he was talking about. “What is going on?”

“You are so humble. Don’t play coy with me. Your story. The one you submitted last night.”

“But I submitted for review.”

“Well, my dear friend and best employee, the review department emailed it to me at one-thirty this morning. Once I read it I knew it was special so I emailed it to a friend at Disney and Warner Brothers and they both loved it and wanted the rights to it.”   

Barry’s mind was racing, “Could this be my breakthrough?” 

Everyone was smiling, acknowledging him for the first time. He made his way to his office passing by co-workers and shaking hands as he passed them. Once in his office, he did his happy dance but was interrupted by Frank.

“I emailed you the contract between Disney and Warner. You need to pick one and have it on my desk by this afternoon. That way we can nail over the details and get this moving quickly.”

Barry picked Warner Brothers because he felt that Disney paraded too much around death and he didn’t want his story to have a cryptic message. 

In the meeting with Frank and several other associates, Frank made a comment to Barry that had him worried.

“I need more like this from you. When can you give us another hit?”

“Oh, soon. I’m already working on the next story.”

***

Barry was inundated with contracts and meetings for the next month. He won many awards that he knew didn’t belong to him, but he took them anyway and kept the secret to himself. He loved the attention and he loved, even more, the money coming in. As the story turned into a movie, Barry’s income increased ten folds.

Six months into his newfound fame, Barry was making his way down the street to his apartment, after an extended meeting with executives, when he noticed the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk half asleep. He jogged across the street avoiding traffic to see if the homeless man had any more stories. 

“Hey there. How are you?” asked Barry to the sleepy half-drunk man. Barry could smell the alcohol surrounding the man. To Barry, it seemed as though he had bathed in it.

“Huh,” clears his throat, tries to open his eyes, but only sees a shadow in front of him, mumbles a couple of words then passes out.

In the spur of the moment, Barry picked up the man and dragged him to his own apartment all the while holding his breath. Barry had to extend his head away from the homeless man to take small breaths. He left him on the floor at the entrance of his apartment and went to sleep. Bright and early the next morning Barry awoke with newfound energy. He quickly dressed and then headed to the homeless man. Urine surrounded a spot where the homeless man once lay, now he was feet away from the spot. 

“Hey, wake up,” Barry lightly kicked the homeless man awake until he was sat up.

 He rubbed his eyes squinting at the bright lights coming in from the morning sun as he looked around taking in his environment. 

“Where,” he cleared his throat, “am I? Who are you?”

“I’m Barry from The Writer’s Inc. I was wondering if you could give me another story for money?”

“You couldn’t ask me outside? You had to bring me here.”

“I thought that perhaps you could take a shower, relax a bit, eat something. What’s your name, by the way?”

“I’m Alex.”

***

An avid storyteller, Alex had been born into homelessness. His drug-addicted mother had given birth to him on the streets. From there she entered a homeless shelter leaving Alex with the employees. He was placed in an orphanage where his ordeal of entering and exiting foster homes started. Since he was a crack baby he cried often and needed extra care, something that many families weren’t ready for. 

He bounced around a bit until he, as a teenager, found comfort in just living in the streets. His escape was his stories which he made up to comfort himself.

Barry found Alex’s story intriguing and so he wrote it all down and submitted it for review. Once again the applause, the handshakes, and then the awards. 

Living under Barry’s roof made Alex want more for his life. He started seeking help for his drug addictions and even started writing his stories in a journal. Barry was also changing a bit. The fame had him on cloud nine. He was given a bigger office at work. His salary changed dramatically and he was looking for a new place to live but was thinking of leaving Alex in his apartment to keep the stories flowing.

***

At a party, Barry was offered a bit of cocaine.

“This helps keep the juices flowing if you ever bump into writer's block,” said a new friend that seemed to have the world at his feet. 

This new friend had a bunch of groupies and cars galore. He lived in the upper east side of town, the part where only the rich and extremely famous lived. Barry didn’t know that a little bit of cocaine could solve his problems. He gave it a try and a new world opened up for him. When he awoke from his high he had a trophy of new stories to write. Once he was done writing he tried more drugs. 

As Barry continued on his downward spiral Alex was coming out of a season of drought and was entering a season of growth. Slowly each man switched places until Barry was living in the streets as Alex became the new executive director of The Writer’s Inc.

May 27, 2022 22:03

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