One Picture, One Story
“Dammit! It’s cold as tits out here!”
James rubbed his gloved hands together in an attempt to warm them. He had lost the feeling in the tips of his fingers almost immediately. The white mist of people’s breath rose like the exhaust from a car. He looked quickly down the sidewalk to his destination. It seemed so much further away on days like these where the wind howled and the air was so cold that his eyelids froze shut. He burrowed his head into his jacket and began the short trek to the small coffee shop he met his partner at once a week. His ears were beginning to throb and he’d only been outside for 30 seconds.
“Why the Hell do we live here again?” James asked no one in particular but the nods of agreement told him he was not alone.
He stuck his hands in his pockets and quickened his pace almost knocking over a poor homeless man who spent his days begging on the sidewalk.
“Get a job idiot!” James scowled at the man as he moved along. He hated poor people. They were so lazy and whiny and always after his hard-earned money. There were lots of jobs to be had, why didn’t they get one?
He finally reached the entrance to the coffee shop, nodding at his partner as he walked to the counter.
“Americano. Make sure you leave me more room this time, I couldn’t get enough milk in there.”
The barista patiently rang him through and carefully made his drink. James glared at her as he waited. He had no patience for these minimum wage losers. How people could treat them as anything more than the scum they were infuriated him. She handed him his drink and he immediately dumped some on the counter. “I told you MORE room for milk. How the Hell do you get out of bed in the morning with your lack of skill?”
The barista was a little shaken, but moved on to the next customer seamlessly. James sat himself across from his partner and got down to work. They discussed the percentages of returns and the emerging markets and the money that could be made from breaking into new demographics. The numbers looked good and the potential was limitless for their growing real estate firm. Having ended the meeting they shook hands heartily and James attempted to throw his cup in the garbage as if he were attempting a fade away, but he missed. He left the cup on the floor and exited into the frozen street. He made his way back to his office, knocking the homeless man’s cup of coins over, spilling most of it down a man-hole. James smiled as he entered his building.
His office overlooked the winding, frozen river and the protected “urban forest” that lined it. He hated looking at all that wasted land out there, with they people using it for free to amuse themselves and take pictures of “nature”. It was pure absurdity that anyone would allow this to happen when there was money to be made! He shook his head in disgust as he turned on his computer. He wanted that land and he wanted it bad. He had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the government to sell it to him, but had not convinced enough people to get it. He immediately began drafting another email to try to persuade them to his side. He hated politicians, especially the “do-gooders” who wanted to “preserve” things and control the growth of the city. It was damn communism!
There was a slow knock at his door.
“Come in.” James didn’t look up.
“Yes, that’s my name. What do you want?” He still didn’t look up from his screen.
There was no answer from the person, only the sound of a chair moving and a body filling it. James was deep in concentration and didn’t notice the lapse in time. Finally he looked up to see the homeless man sitting across from him.
“Get out of here! Who let you in?”
The man merely smiled back, exposing a perfect set of teeth. James got up out of his chair, ready to physically remove the man from his office, but stopped short. He pointed at him angrily, “Get the Hell out before I call the police!”
The man simply stood up and walked out, leaving behind his cup of change. James immediately grabbed it and removed the money, placing it in his pocket. He threw the cup in the garbage and locked his office door. He smiled to himself having just profited from the unsavoury situation. He laughed silently at his victory. He hit send on his email and leaned back in his chair, watching people skating on the river. He shook his head at the illogical thought of people being able to skate for free. He couldn’t understand the concept of free, it was foreign and wrong. He knew that if it didn’t turn a profit it was not worth having around, so why was he paying for these parks to be kept up when they could be sold and developed? He got up, gathered his things and decided to call it a day. He exited through the rear entrance and started his car to go home. His phone rang and he answered it. A giant grin filled his face as his offer to buy the land across the river had been accepted. As he hung up he smiled sarcastically at the people using the park and sent the simple text to his partner, “Got it.”
He drove his car around to the street, passing the man’s spot. There was an ambulance and a crowd of people surrounding him. James strained to get a better look to see the EMS pronouncing him dead. He smiled to himself and drove home, knowing he was now even richer than he was an hour ago.