With the car four hours or so behind him, Mortie was starting to forget things.
He stopped every few seconds to check the pockets in this cargo shorts. It was compensation in a way. He knew the keys weren’t there. The keys were locked inside his rental car. They were on the driver’s seat next to his phone. He had stared at them for 30 minutes or more before deciding to leave on foot. Long ago he had poured the last drop from the small water bottle onto his parched tongue. He felt thirst like he never had before. There was the feeling of gravel in his throat.
On he stumbled in a sad parody of the hike he abruptly decided to take on this, his first visit to Arizona.
If only he had bothered to tell his plans to someone back at the conference golf resort before he left!
When he had awakened that day, he realized he was sick of the restroom fixtures business. Just sick of it all. He didn’t want to hear one more thing about the new Toto Washlet E-200 toilet seat with special new “green” features, much less take handwritten notes about it. He was done with the American Standard Siphon-Jet urinal, no matter how funny the demonstration was the first ten times he saw it. He had collected all the tchotchkes like the commode from Mansfield that was really a coffee mug and the USB drive in the tampon case and the promo condoms from the condom machine maker.
But most of all, he was sick of that smarmy Jenkins and the way he fist-pumped at the podium after getting that stupid award. That no-good with his big goyische smile and the popped collar on his expensive Polo. “What a douchebag–even if he is the top seller of World Air hand dryers for region 6 for the year. Fuck that guy!” Mortie just needed time on his own in the beautiful desert. And he had found it.
He had found it. And then — he had lost it.
He looked up. Everything was swirling around him. He was surrounded by fast stream of confusion. The mountains looked different in some way. He started to wish for home more than ever before–at any time before. When he squinted the mountains looked a bit like the buildings along 5th Avenue. The ringing in his ears sounded like cabbies honking their horns. The hot sagebrush smelled like the exhaust from a diesel bus.
He looked in the far distance above the building-mountains. There was a cloud. That cloud looked like it contained all the comforts that his house in Suffolk County could offer. It was just down the L.I.E. — just a few miles away out on the Island. Just ride the L.I.E. to get there. Everything waiting for him. His TV, his barcalounger, his refrigerator, everything in his freezer.
A voice rang out. “Sir! Sir!” It was too direct — too urgent to really be friendly.
They were trying to take it from him.
Mortie shuddered, then ran. “NO! THIS IS MY ICE CREAM! GET YOUR OWN! LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE IN MY OWN HOME, JENKINS!” he shouted. He started running towards the cloud.
“Sir! Sir! Stop! Watch out!” He turned. He could see it out of the corner of his eye: A little white car was behind him with some sort of emblem on it. He glanced behind the wheel. He thought he saw Jenkins. The car made whirring and clicking noises. He was here. He had come. He was some sort of spy. He worked for the government!
He was here to take his ice cream. Jenkins couldn’t let it rest. That asshole. Mortie kept running.
“Sir! Sir! Look out!”
Mortie ran off the golf course and into the highway and was killed instantly by a passing truck.
It was a truck hauling the latest shipment of World Air hand-dryers to region 6.
©2014 Bill LaBrie