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'Great view,' he said to no one in particular. He was waiting for his dry cleaning, staring at the 'Relax in the Bahamas!' advertisement. Now that's life. The girls lying down on the beach wore little black bikinis. The sixty something lady in front of him coughed loudly; she didn't cover her mouth. 'Number fifty one! Your suit is ready! Number fifty one!' He walked to the counter and smiled, his hands were sweaty. 'Hi Gary, how are you doing?' she said so effortlessly. Her hair was always tied up like that, like the girls in the Bahamas. 'I'm um'' Her blonde hair looked really yellow today, sort of like a banana. He wondered if anyone ever called her banana head, or if he should tell her that she should have a banana tree in her backyard. That way if she's ever in trouble she can hide behind it and blend right in; boom, camouflage right there. 'I'm doing well,' he finally mustered out. He stared at the revolving clothes, sweat seeping out between his fingers. There were always the same three gray suits that have been there forever; and those red pants. Gary always wanted to wear red pants. 'What about you?' he said. Yes! This is farther than they had ever gone; before today he could hardly cough up a proper hello. Maybe that green tea confidence boost shot with a hint of peppermint really does work! 'I'm okay. Here is your suit and your pants, cash or credit?' he stared at her and smiled, 'Cash.' Smooth. The store bell rang as he walked out.

He stood in his room across from the mirror, examining the perfect fit. She accidentally gave him the pants! He couldn't believe it. His thinning brown hair looked good, even though he lost his comb that was made in Thailand. He wasn't particularly attractive, the girls in high school made that clear, but he wasn't all that bad. Wasn't his pale white skin proof of the responsible, conscientious, sunscreen-er he was? His face was a little scruffy today, he should probably shave. The door bell rang. Finally, China's best has arrived.
He looked through the hole in the door and saw that it was Celia. He put on some cologne. 'Hi Gary, how are you today?' She lost weight since the last time he saw her, and she had on red lipstick. 'I'm doing okay,' he took the white paper bag, his stomach growled. 'I see I came right on time,' she said laughing, 'that's gonna be $10.58.' He told her to hold on while he went to grab some cash. Should he change into his nicer shirt? Would she notice? He wondered what Celia would look like with a tan from the Bahamas. Pretty damn good. He took the money out of his winter boots and hurried back to the door. 'You can keep the change,' he said, as she counted the money. The beauty mark above her lip moved up and down as she spoke. Her hair was a curly dark brown. He wondered if she put gel in her hair. Gary tried that once, it made him feel like there was melted gum all over his scalp. He didn't like it. 'Thanks Gary! I see that you changed a couple things in this place,' her head was peering into his apartment. Did she notice the shirt? 'Oh, yeah I took down the band posters. I bought a couple photographs off this guy on the street. You know' trying to make this place a little nicer'' She nodded her head in approval, studying his white walls. She glanced over his wooden kitchen, and eyed the black leather sofa in the living room. What she couldn't see was his super cool post card collection. He bought post cards from all over the world! He didn't actually go to the places himself, he bought them from Fred at the convenience store, but someone must have gone there before. He should probably put his collection in a scrapbook or something so he could show it to everyone. He had to admit' it was pretty awesome.
Gary's place was relatively small; he bought the furniture that he could afford. He had one bedroom and a bed with Christmas blankets' nothing special. Anyways, Celia seemed pretty interested in his modest habitat. He invited her to come over some time. 'Yeah that would be nice,' she smiled at him. He was sweating through his shirt, swearing to himself that he's going to switch deodorants after this. Celia wanted to come to his apartment. He didn't know how to act anymore. This changes the whole dynamics of their relationship! Maybe next time she'll come in for a drink. He made a mental note to buy new glasses. 'I'll see you later Gary!' she said, turning away. He smiled as he closed the door. Gary would never change this shirt. The sweat on it was summoned by Celia Strauss, Chinese Cuisine delivery girl. It's sacred. He heard Keira Polen on in the television room and he ran to catch her before it was over.
Gary watched Keira Polen everyday as she reported the local news. He always wanted to meet her. He wondered if she would want to meet a guy like him, if she had kids' Did she even like kids? He tried to imagine a baby Keira Polen slurring her words, instead of having the perfect even voice she had now. Did she carry around her mother's hairspray as a microphone, pretending to be the newscaster? Did all the plants and kitchen appliances in the house get interviewed? Was this job her dream come true? The phone rang. 'This is Gary,' he said into the phone, turning down the volume of Keira's voice. 'Hello, this is Karen from Drugs'R'Us, your Xanax prescription is now ready for pickup.' She said it so fast, he almost asked her to repeat it. 'Thank you, I'll be right over.'
He finished the Lo Mein and started walking to the pharmacy two blocks away from his apartment. He walked past the newspaper stands, filled with headlines of people who did something important; Or crazy. A dog barked at the leash pulling on his neck. If Gary had a dog he would never make him wear a leash. He was waiting by the pole for the little man to light up green so he could cross the street. The wind felt good against his face. He noticed a mother and daughter waiting on the opposite side of the street to cross. The girl wore a white dress. Would she go to the Bahamas? Wear red lipstick? Be a doctor? The girl stared at Gary with a questioning face then quickly turned her head to the dog biting his leash. Her eyebrows were unsure lines of brown on her face and then she started to laugh. She tilted her head towards the sky and stretched her arms out to her sides; and when she ran across the street it was the most liberating thing he ever saw. Gary's eyes widened at the speeding car from down the street; she wasn't going to make it. He saw something like this in an episode of Cops. Gary knew what he had to do. The glare of headlights illuminated the girl's skin, her hair floated around her face; he never saw something this beautiful. Gary ran, his heart pounded faster than when he was late for work, faster than when Celia smiled, faster than when the nurse told him his brother died at four years old. And suddenly, Gary was airborne.
He felt his head leaking, his eyes giving out. The little girl ran over to him, her mom screamed after her. There were a bunch of other voices, some sirens. Everything was fading. Gary heard a man cough and hoped he covered his mouth. Was one of the cars playing Caribbean music? He felt himself being pulled up; which was strange because he could have sworn that he was still touching concrete. There was a weak magnetic pull that held him and his corporeal form together, that finally let out. He was dead.

The girl. She stood down over him, peering at his corpse with a curious face. A man driving a Toyota was trying to get him to breathe as the dog walker called 911. Gary stared at himself, in the center of all this commotion. Too much too handle, he needed a break from the attention. He started walking down the street and made a right onto the sidewalk; no one noticed. Everyone saw right through him. He heard the mom and daughter in front of him, heading down to the police station. The girl's hands were turning white from her mother's firm grip. She turned back and waved. Had she seen him? Her mother walked into the police station, telling the girl to wait outside. 'Laila, I'm serious. Don't you move from this door.' The mother was scared. The girl was not. 'Ok.' Her mother ran into the station, as Laila walked towards him. 'You like dogs too?' she sat on the curb of the sidewalk next to Gary. She was petting the dog that was formerly on a leash. She waved the leash in front of him. 'These things are stupid.' He couldn't agree more. 'I'm glad you finally got rid of yours,' she said nodding towards the ambulance. Her mom came out and hugged her tighter than she ever has.
Gary saw a bunch of people around the area where his body used to be. What's going on? He saw a video camera recording a lady in a suit, she looked familiar. 'Good afternoon, this is Keira Polen; I'm at Bryce Street at the scene of a fatal accident. A man named Gary Paladin saved the life of a six year old girl as he pushed her out of the way of a speeding Toyota. The town could not be more grateful to Mr. Paladin who sadly, did not make it, but will always be this town's hero. This is Keira Polen, Bob what do you have for us in traffic and transit?'





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