joegoda: (chethead)
[personal profile] joegoda
Okay... so I was too tired when I got home last night to write, and yesterday was taken up with painting. So, here it is day 6. Word says I have 9760 word done. says this:

He pulled into his parking space, easy to find and almost always vacant, as it was near the far corner of the building. Business traffic was non-existent at nine in the morning; mostly because the store wasn't open until then and there were larger stores that carried more stock that opened at seven or even eight.

For all the places that he frequented – grocery stores, and convenient stores, and thrift stores, dentists and doctors, John tended to park in one spot regardless of where he went. It was a spot near the door, but not too near. Somewhere he could locate his car, should he forget where he parked it, which did happen. Somewhere in the open, but not too open, in case the Watchers came looking for him. When he got out of his car, no matter where he was, he would always look for landmarks to guide him back to where he parked.

It could be a sign that said 'Hollyhock Lane', or a post with a dash of yellow paint on it, or that railed in area where shopping carts are parked, waiting to be picked up. The shopping cart corral was one of his favorite landmarks, because it was easy to spot. In a large grocery parking lot, he would find a place near a corral and count the number of rows to the front door. Easy-peasy, he would find his way back.

If there were no landmarks, or if John forgot to pick a landmark, once he was done with his business, whatever that might be, a moment of panic would set in, immediately followed by John laughing at his own foolishness, thinking to himself, "There I go again." He would then wander the lot, up and down the rows of cars, looking for his little crappy car. It never took him long, and it always gave him a remembrance of just how odd his brain was.

It wasn't that he was proud of his memory oddities, or that he thought he was part of an experiment perpetrated by persons or agency unknown, it was just the way things were. Well, okay. Maybe he was a little proud, but when pressed, he would tell you right out that he would trade his brain for a normal brain any day. His brain had not made his life easy, by any means.

Even though his troubles, not that he called them that, started only a decade or so ago, he could trace the beginnings back to his childhood. Back to the times he would sit on the hardwood floor in the dining room, while mom and dad would be off fighting or loving, or mom would be drinking and dad would be more than likely out playing with a band somewhere or just be gone. He would sit on the hardwood dining floor and count the slats that it was made of or count the grooves between the slats and admire the polish of the varnish on the floor. He would sit there until his mind began to wander, until he made his mind wander, down, down, deep into himself, to escape the world outside of his eyes.

John found out, when he was thirteen or fourteen that this was called meditation. When he was seven, he thought it was just a thing, something that he did because it gave him a place to go where he could think, alone and undisturbed.

His parents, when they noticed him, figured he was just a bit retarded. Not that they ever said those words out loud. Dad was a major class genius with Master's degree in Science and Chemistry and a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. Mom was a housewife, graduated high school, could cook to feed an army and had catatonia. To admit that their son had something wrong with his brain would be a blow to both egos and an argument would ensue because mom would feel guilty as if she had infected the boy.

Besides, they had three other sons to focus on, when they did, one of whom was already displaying signs of hooliganism, being in trouble with the law since he was eight and had an attitude to boot. There were underlying reasons for this attitude, of course. One was that this son, the eldest of the four boys, did NOT want to be here, did NOT want his mother to be married to this man who was not his father, and wanted to be back on his grandparent's farm, where he was king of the roost and pretty much could do whatever he wanted.

Another reason was that he resented having siblings. He was four years older than John, who was the next in line and was born three months after his parent's marriage. The eldest hoodlum was no longer the 'Boy' and instead was just another son. He does not take place in this story, except here.

Nor do the other two sons exist in this story, both of whom were younger than John, but because they existed in John's life, they needed to be mentioned, if only to point out that all four boys were very bright to the point of being precocious, curious, and tended toward the experimental side of childhood, such as flying off the roof of the garage because there was no good reason, except gravity, why they shouldn't.

Other than his trips in meditation and his problem with the 'r' sound'- a problem that John would later describe as Elmer Fudd disease – as a child, John was inquisitive, bright, curious and a voracious reader. He wanted to know everything there was to know about everything, and so he would spend hours at the library, picking up as many books as he could carry. At school, John was an above average student until fifth grade.

Fifth grade was where John learned about book reports and that he was required to write them. His belief was that he had no reason to write book reports because A: the teacher could see that he was reading a book, and B: it was stupid. And so, he didn't do them.

His report cards would read: "John is a very good student but needs improvement with finishing assignments." He never had a report card that read: "John is a very good student that shows great improvement in finishing assignments." His parents would shake their heads and tell him that he knew he could do better. There were never any punishments; there were never any great recriminations. There was only, "you know you can do better, John" and then they would go off to do whatever it was they were doing.

This taught the young John that he didn't have to work, because there would be nothing at the end except for "you know you can do better". He didn't realize until much, much later that this was called 'non-motivational' and would create no end of difficulties in his life due to his lack of preparation and motivation at a young age.

His entire school career, and let's be honest.. school is a career for as many years as one goes, only the pay-out is dependent on the amount of work invested. Not that the work has to be studies and reports and cleaning the blackboards or whiteboards or whatever they use now. But the work has to be directed towards a goal. Some goal, any goal. To be goal-less is to be adrift in the world and to drift in the world means that where you end up is partly due to luck, partly due to dumb luck, and partly due to lucky luck. There are no fair winds in life. There is only the rudder of your decisions, for good or ill.

So, John's entire school career was based upon the concept of doing only as much as would get him through. He would read a chapter that was required for testing, and when the test came, he would remember the answers by looking them up in his mind.

It was a trick he learned at an early age and it still served him well. He could look at an image, text or a map or something like that, and the image would place itself into his mind and he could recall the pertinent parts at will, within a reasonable amount of time. The test answers would appear, in his inner vision, on the page that he had read a week or so ago. Granted, his memory wasn't that remarkable, and the image would fade as soon as it was no longer needed. At fifty, John's mind could no more pull up the answers to a test he took when he was fifteen than he could lift his crappy car.

He could, however, look at a route on a map and duplicate it time and time again. Once he had seen it, it was there, twists and turns and dead ends and landmarks, it was all there for John to call up whenever he wanted to.

John had become a slacker in school. Doing only what was required to get by, and doing it well. His grades were consistently at the C or a bit better, but not by much. His teachers liked him, for the most part, because he asked interesting and intelligent questions and would participate in class. He was a good kid, just a lackluster student, and they would note this on his report cards, which would always be met with "you know you can do better".

In the real world, the work world, John was a hard worker, industrious and creative. Regardless of being a janitor, a burger flipper, a parking lot attendant; regardless of the job, John was there, on time, doing the work and sometimes going above it to produce excellent results. His bosses praised him, gave him consistent raises and his coworkers looked up to him as an example of what they could be. Nobody disliked John, because he could be whatever they wanted or needed him to be.

This set the tone for John's entire early life. He was a hardworking, lackluster, under motivated, well read, meditative, genius level intellect, who just studied hard enough to get by, and did whatever job he was assigned, and had developed the chameleon ability to be the sort of person he was required to be at the time he was required to be that sort of person.

All of this changed, when he became old enough to realize that he had drifted onto rocky shoals of the real world.

John crawled out of his crappy car, rather than stepping out of it. His car was set low to the ground and needed a bit of athletic ability to navigate from car seat to solid earth. He moved his left foot until it was firmly placed and then would grab the door frame and swing around until his right foot could almost touch the earth, and then he would pull himself out, doing a sort of hop until he had freed himself from the confines of his automotive trap.

He stood and stretched, pulling the kinks out of his lower back, what his wife called his lumbar region. He was not as young as he once was, and his body reminded him of the fact more than anything else. While he stretched, standing as tall as he could, he examined his surroundings.

All was as it should be. The parking lot, though not as huge as some, was a good size, serving three major retailers, seven smaller ones and one liquor store as well as a hair salon. There were only a handful of vehicles in the lot at this time. His crappy car, of course, the manager's sedan, brown and large and imposing, a couple of cars that were owned by other workers at other locations, and a few brightly colored vans, owned by a pizza place on the corner. There was a Volkswagen Beetle, one of those newer ones, sunny yellow and decorated with pink and blue flowers, as if it was remembering the 70's, a time before it was even made.

There was also a vehicle that struck John as an oddity. A black van, with blackout windows, was motoring through the lot slowly, as if the driver wasn't sure where he was going. John had seen a lot of cars and vans moving slowly, as there were a lot of stores that had small signs and were not well advertised. Drivers or passengers have to move slow and scan each tiny sign to see if the place they are looking for is there or somewhere else.

This van, though… something just didn't feel right about it.
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