The Protagonist

Getting to work and finding you have a new trainee is like waking up to find some new pain in your toe, getting in your car and realizing a tire has gone flat, or going for leftover a hamburger only to find someone has eaten it.

Essentially, it ruins your damn day.

“Too bad,” Jim says.

“I’m Tony!” Tony says, eagerly.

“George,” I mutter.

“Coolio.” Tony says.

A back-ache, two flat tires; someone only left the soggy lettuce in the moist Styrofoam container.

I sigh. I walk to the security desk. I motion for Tony to go get his credentials checked. Tony does. He chirps away at Brandon. Brandon rolls his eyes at me but, lets him through.

In the elevator down Tony tells me all about his morning for exactly three seconds.

“So, today I decided to go—“

“Shut up.”

He pouts the rest of the way down.

“What do we do here?” Tony tries, once we make it into the office. I open the shade on the window. A man lays in a hospital bed on the other side, unconscious.

“We watch. If he moves, we press that button,” I point to the big red button, “if anyone goes in that room, we push that button, If anything at all happens out of the ordinary, we push that button, got it?”

Tony nods. I sit down and stare out the window at that same sleeping face I’ve been looking at for the past thirty years. Tony bucks up some courage within two minutes.

“Who is he?”

I groan.

An ear infection, the engine is bust, the hamburger has gone south.

“The protagonist.”

Tony frowns, “of what?”

“Our story, whatever that means, The science guys call it our dimension but, who knows.”

“You mean, like in a book.”

I shrug, “I guess. Didn’t they tell you any of this?”

“They said you’d explain,”

I grunt, “pricks, of course they did.”

Tony waits.

“Well?” he asks.

“Well, what?”

“What the heck do you mean protagonist?”

I shrug, “if it’s easier, you could think of him as the center of the universe. Basically, without him, we all stop existing so, you know, eyes open.”

Tony was taking it all pretty well for being so fragile looking.

“So, you think God might just be some guy whose writing about this guy here?”

I think about it, then raise my hands, non-committal. “If that comparison helps, sure.”

“But, what is his story about?”

“Dunno. Above my pay grade. Knowing what’s above your pay grade is as good as anything there is to know,” I say.

Tony eyes me suspiciously, “That sounds like just the kind of nonsense a writer would say,” he pauses, “how do you know he didn’t just write—what, what is his name?”

“Who?”

Tony motions to the unconscious man in the hospital bed.

“Dan? Or David?” I say, unsure.

“Okay, well how do you know the writer didn’t just write all this, like, David slept for one hundred years, Tony and George watched, bored.”

A missing limb, someone stole the car, the burger has been turned into a turd sandwich.

“I’m going to the bathroom,”

I stand up.

“Wait, what does the red button do?” Tony asks.

I look at the red button.

“Above my pay grade,” I tell him, and walk out.

14 comments

  1. Some of your usual genius, flash365. The ailment/car/burger thing particularly. Tony needed a punch as, I think we all (including Brandon (a memorable performance)) agree, the majority of trainee for the day types do. I was slightly saddened he didn’t get one. But that’s my own bitter experiences coming out. This oversight aside, top effort 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      • On first reading I wondered about the ending. Did it match the brilliance of what had come before? On second reading I thought it worked well (obviously not as well as him being punched but that’s just my inability to let things go). It does leave it open for your main character to end up in a coma, the car to be involved in a bank robbery and an outbreak of E. coli in his supper (and a punch up) (Brandon’s itching for it). So yes, I’m looking forward to this world continuing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • On first reading I wondered about the ending. Did it match the brilliance of what had come before? On second reading I thought it worked well (obviously not as well as him being punched but that’s just my inability to let things go). It does leave it open for your main character to end up in a coma, the car to be involved in a bank robbery and an outbreak of E. coli in his supper (and a punch up) (Brandon’s itching for it). So yes, you’ve cleverly left it open and I’m looking forward to this world continuing. 🙂

        Like

  2. Reblogged this on jmwwriting and commented:
    Here is another sarcastic and funny piece from Flash365. Again, the author manages to get present tense to work for me, which is near-miraculous in itself. I love the attitude of the narrator. I have met people like that, grumpy bastards. My only concern is that it doesn’t feel like a full story. What’s the crisis and resolution? Is the problem having to deal with the new guy and is that resolved by the narrator simply walking away? Is that a resolution? Flash365 often writes unconventional pieces that are hard to classify. Maybe that’s part of the appeal. It is definitely to this author’s credit that they can break down my conventional writing barriers so easily.

    Liked by 2 people

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