The Life of Jack

June 5, 2012
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Jack was alright. He had a moderately good life, he ate well, and he had a steady job that did not require too much effort on his part.
Jack had a fairly good life, and he knew it. He was completely aware that if he persisted in his steady pattern of work and salary he would grow old and eventually die. He knew that he would die, and no one would remember his melancholy, depressing little life. Jack woke up every morning with the same strange feeling in his chest, like something dreadfully important was eroding inside of him. Like some vital piece of him was disappearing, and he didn't know how to stop it. This morning was no different. 
Jack got up and began his usual routine. He got out of bed, took a shower, and got dressed in a tacky business suit that the receptionist at in his office building said looked good on him, though it didn't. This had happened only once, many years ago, but Jack remembered it, just as he remembered everything. He ate his usual two bowls of cold cereal, and drank orange juice instead of coffee, because his boss said it was bad for him, and he had never bothered to look it up. He picked up the same hat that he wore to the interview that got him his current job and walked out of his room, locking the door behind him.
As Jack walked out of his apartment building, he hailed a cab. It looked just like any other taxi, and almost no one but Jack would have bothered to remember the license plate number. However, Jack did remember it. As he stepped into the car, the code "lea-831" appeared in Jack's mind just as it had on the license plate. He even included the graphic of the Empire State Building in the upper right corner of the image in his mind's eye. He didn't need to worry about stifling the picture with other useless information, for once he remembered something he barely ever forgot it. The cab ride across New York City was not short, but Jack did not notice the time passing. When he saw the enormous skyscraper in which he worked looming ahead of him, he pulled out his wallet in preparation to pay his driver. After paying, he stepped fluidly from the vehicle and walked into the gigantic office building. Though he didn't really listen to the music that played in the elevator that took him up to his floor, he could have recited its melody if he was asked.
Before sitting down to another day of floundering in the unknowing fog that seemed to be his life, Jack ratified with the receptionist that he was leaving an hour and a half early in order to make it to a dentist appointment. The woman said that she didn't have this on record, but since Jack had been working at the company for the good part of ten years, she said that she trusted him enough to let him go a bit early, and she felt there was no reason to quibble about or canvass his request. Jack sat down in his puny cubical and began to work, and his mind slid out of focus and into the strange void that filled most of his days. Though his hands continued to type out words on his outdated laptop, his mind was far away.
 Time flew by, and eventually Jack realized that he was parched. He stood up and checked the clock that hung from the wall across a sea of desks and cubicles and saw that he hadn't moved; spare his hands, for hours. He hurried to the cooler to get a drink of water, barely having to open his eyes as he weaved through the masses of people, downtrodden by their monotonous jobs. These people, like Jack, barely move, and so he knew where they all were. As Jack drank cool water from a waxy cup, he glanced over to the most regal part of the room. It was his boss's office. Jack remembered how he felt the first time he saw it so many years ago, and how he had truly believed that he would be working within it by now. Everything had enticed him back then, and everything was a challenge.
Jack left the building a few minutes later, not exactly in a hurry to get to his check-up with the dentist, but not wanting to be late. The dentist's office was nearby, and so he decided to take a bus rather than pay a heinous fee for a taxi. As he walked to a nearby bus stop, Jack's mind was as dull as ever. He arrived at the station, and took in all he saw.
There were a few people there already, though the bus was not scheduled to arrive for five more minutes. No one really stood out to Jack, but he did notice one man about his age. The man had the same worn, scornful look upon his face that Jack witnessed when he looked in a mirror. Jack gazed, mesmerized, at the man. "That could be me", he thought. "He probably feels the same way I do." Jack continued to look at the bystander, but now his attention was spread all around his field of vision. He saw cars, a woman walking her dog in casual clothing, a few drops of rain falling from the sky, the license lea-831 on a taxi...And then he saw it was the same taxi he had taken to work that day, and he saw that it was accelerating.
The driver was looking out the window, not paying attention to anything in particular. He was narrowly running a red light, coming toward Jack. The cab reached the middle of the intersection...and then Jack's life changed as a pickup truck slammed into the side of the oncoming taxi. The cab spun out of control, trailing flames and heading toward Jack and the bus stop. Along with the people who just moments before had been anticipating getting on a bus, Jack leaped out of the way as the car spun toward them. Only one man had not moved. It was the man who looked so much like Jack.
He was standing, looking at the sky, and thinking. And then he wasn't. The taxi slammed through him, and all Jack saw was himself dying as the man who he didn't even know fell to the ground. A thousand times in that one moment, Jack saw himself being killed by such an accident, and he saw his life, and he knew he could never let it happen.
By the time the paramedics arrived, the man was long dead. No one knew his name, or where he came from, or why he had not moved. Everyone who had witnessed the gruesome ordeal was in shock for weeks. They were all interviewed about the horrific event. All of them, that is, except for one. Jack never returned to his job. He never returned to New York City, or to anything close to his old life. Where he went is not important. The important thing is that he went. A man unknowingly gave his life to save Jack's own, and Jack will always be grateful for that. He owes everything he now has to the anonymous man. Jack is now quite forgetful. He left his suit in New York City, along with the hat that he wore to his first interview, and all of his memories of the place. He no longer has any use for them.





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