Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bob and Larry

Don't even ask me what Bob's problem is. He started out as arrogant
and rude, and ended up something else. And I have no idea about Larry either. I'm as interested as you are! Oh, here's the assignment:

Up to 600 words in any genre, in which a character's actions reveal their nature.

The panhandler rattled a few coins in the ratty old Big Gulp cup as
Bob walked past. Bob didn’t slow his pace even slightly, and his gaze
never turned aside. He walked straight past the man as if he was
invisible, and paused only to wait for the revolving door to present
him with an empty compartment before he entered.

Inside, he hurried to the bank of elevators, and watched three of them
open and close before he found one that was empty. He got on and
impatiently pushed the close button before anyone else could enter.
When he was alone in the elevator, he breathed a sigh of relief and
pushed the button for his floor. There was always the chance that
someone would come on partway up, but there was nothing Bob could do
about that so he just crossed his fingers and watched the floors go by
on the digital display above the doors.

When the doors opened on his floor, he walked quickly out of the
elevator and down the hall to his office. His eyes remained tightly
focused on a spot on the floor about six feet ahead. He didn’t make
eye contact with any of the people he passed; none of them even tried
to acknowledge him. They all knew the futility of speaking to Bob
unless Bob had first spoken to you. Except Larry.

Whether to harass Bob, or because he really was that friendly was a
common topic of debate around the water cooler. Larry was a friendly
guy, and was generally liked by everyone. Still, there were other
friendly people in the office who had learned to leave Bob alone after
only a single freezing glare in response to their greetings. Since
nobody could come up with another feasibly reason why Larry persisted
in trying to talk to Bob, the debate usually leaned towards
harassment. Then, it always turned to speculation on how long it would
take for Larry’s daily greeting to result in an explosion from Bob.

“Good Morning Bob!” Larry’s deep voice rang out over the cubicle
walls. The only recognition Bob made in return was a slight quickening
of his pace and an almost imperceptible reddening of his cheeks. Larry
hurried around the cubicle dividers just in time to intercept Bob at
his office door. Bob stood there, his office key in one hand and his
briefcase in the other and Larry stood resolutely between him and his
“Did you catch the Caps last night? Pity about that call in the third
period huh? I was hoping they could sweep the series until then!”
Larry tried to catch Bob’s eye as he spoke, leaning over so that he
was sure that he was in his range of vision. Bob continued to stare
straight through him, his face turning redder by the second and the
key in his hand beginning to shake.
“No matter Bob, that just means that we are guaranteed at least a game
five, and that means they will be playing at least one more home game.
I am going to try and wrangle some free tickets out of my buddy again;
you want me to see if I can get you one?” Larry’s smile was broad and
genuine, but Bob continued to stare right through him. Finally, Bob
managed a slight shake of his head, and a weak gesture with the key
towards his door.
“Yeah, you’re right Bob, back to the ole’ grindstone! Have a great
day!” Larry aimed a friendly slap at Bob’s shoulder as he stepped
aside to let him unlock his door but Bob deftly dodged it as he
quickly opened the door and slid inside, slamming it behind him and
leaning his back against it. Taking a deep breath, he slid down the
door to the floor, where he sat for few minutes with his head between
his knees.

© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

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