Barbara came out of the office building and made her way immediately to the first garbage can on the left. “Ack!” she announced, with the regularity of a wind-up clock that whistled every day at noon; it was at that appointed hour, the lunch hour, that Barbara threw up as she left the office building. Perhaps it was the smell of too many food vendors lined up on the busy avenue, awaiting the onslaught of hundreds if not thousands of office workers freed from their cubicle mazes between the hours of 11am and 2pm. Perhaps it was the bleeding ulcer she didn’t know she had. Either way, it had become commonplace for Barbara to meet the same can at the same time each weekday.
But today was different. As she wiped her moist brow after leaving the remnants of break time coffee cake on top of used newspapers in the can, she was greeted by haunted eyes in a face that had arrived at almost the exact same moment as she; that face, instead of announcing its arrival with “Ack!” had offered a resounding “Oof!” and left a deposit of similar viscosity next to hers.
“Tim,” said the face as the man to whom it belonged offered a shaky hand to Barbara.
After ensuring the hand had not had contact with any of the viscous contents now in the can, she replied, “Barbara.”
With a shaky smile, Tim asked, “Come here often?”
“Every day at noon, it seems,” Barbara replied lightly and pointed up and behind. “I work in there, and this is the closest garbage can outside the building.”
Tim nodded wisely and nodded toward the other side of the street. “I work there and this is the next closest can to my office. I’m trying to see if I can beat it. I figure if I can get farther away before I, um,” he was embarrassed about the action, “you know, get sick, I can stop it all together.”
Barbara was quite interested, despite the foul odor emanating from the can between them. “How goes it?”
“Right now I have something of a running gag,” Tim replied sadly.
Sorry. It couldn’t be helped; this is what came to mind when I read this week’s prompt. Click below to add your take on the topic…