Trifecta Challenge, Week Sixty: Manual Transmission

This week’s word for the Trifecta Challenge is “idle;” the meaning we are focused on is:

3: a : shiftless, lazy

b : having no evident lawful means of support

Here is my thought, titled “Manual Transmission”

It was the end of morning rush hour. He sat low-slung in the armchair closest to the window, looking despondently out over the city street below his fifth-floor walk-up. Leaning closer to the sill, he could see the tops of the heads of people hastily moving into their day: to the bus, to the subway, to taxi cabs waiting impatiently at curbs, to the bodega for coffee. He seemed to never rush anymore.

Accompanied by the sound of creaking bones, he pulled himself from the bottom of the chair and tightened his sweater against an imaginary chill. With a sigh, he shuffled to the kitchenette in hopes something new had miraculously appeared in the fridge. He only moved in first gear these days. He grunted as he pulled the handle down on the appliance, which he guessed was his elder by at least 50 years; his conjecture was more than a slight exaggeration. The refrigerator compressor shook the machine abruptly—or was it laughing at him again—as he stared at the back of the top shelf, wondering if the dusty eggs had mummified chicks inside them. He swung the door closed with feigned violence, as if the refrigerator was at fault for not being filled with sustenance for his suddenly growling innards. With an indignant final shudder, the door swung slowly closed on rusted hinges while the compressor fell silent, as if to put the period on the end of their conversation.

After deliberation, he decided it was in his interest to venture to the bodega to pick up some food. He put on his crumpled cap, confirmed that his keys were in his sweater pocket, and wandered out. Every trip down the stairs seemed to take longer, but as he finally reached the bottom landing, he firmly decided that today was a new day. No longer would he be idle, allowing the days to pass him without meaning, activity, or purpose. He crossed to the store with a smile.

(38) Comments

    1. 🙂 I was reminded of old people from my childhood who would buy dog food because it was cheaper than people food… life sometimes makes us do things or accept things that we might not, in the good times or good mental places, typically accept…my old bachelor was one of those on the edge, but as you mention, he has a new beginning ahead!

  1. I, too, thought that your descriptions of the city and of the apartment were gritty and very realistic. I could hear the car horns honking as he looked out of that window. I, also, liked lines such as the compressor laughing at him and the bitnabout the mummified chicks. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable story from an, obviously, extremely talented wordsmith.

    1. Right?? It was time for the cans to go to the curb yesterday and there were some science experiments in our fridge. Such is the life of inspiration…it comes from the most interesting places, as you obviously know. 🙂

  2. Everyone already wrote it, but I agree your descriptions are done so well. I like how it went from him watching life go by, to him venturing out to live it.

  3. How immensely enjoyable the small details were. The contrast of the last line connects the story wonderfully. And of course loved the title.

    1. I will have to take a look for Nicholson Baker…the name does not ring any bells, but that doesn’t mean much…I posted somewhere about having a mind like a sieve sometimes… 🙂

  4. I love stories where there’s nothing particularly dignified or shocking about the so-called turning point – and this fits that nicely! The duel with the fridge was well fought ha

  5. Not much to add that others haven’t already said. So I’ll echo the – great description. I can see this guy and his apartment. It brought to mind a book I love – History of Love by Nicole Krauss. The main character is an old man who lives in a newspaper stacked apartment. Phenomenal novel – not at all meant for women alone despite what the title might imply.

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