It was Jim’s fourth day at his new job
No amount of joy crossed his face
As he walked down the halls
Of a tall office building

Accounting was always something
That would need to be done

So job security was his motivation
For sitting at the grey desk today

As the third hour of his shift loomed
Lunch time, for the girls and boys
He pensively checked his watch
And watched as numbers streamed
Down his flickering computer screen

So then the bell tolled
And they all lifted and moved
To the break room
Already filling with an eager feasting

In the white walls and checkered booths
That wallpapered this quantitative

There sat Jim alone
With a salad and cola
He brought from home

Looking, was he,
At the animus of the fridge
Now “co-workers” raided
A place he had been

Wandering gaze, caught on another
A woman named Martha
Who would discreetly file a sexual harassment report
Moments after Jim’s “awkward stare”

Jim liked her
She smiled at him
Then returned to her “friends”
And Jim looked down
At the cola
Which snapped and fizzed

Drinking it washed the stale air
Of the vented place from his mouth
It degraded his teeth over time,
But for now, the effect was worth it

It made the place bearable
In some capacity, anyways

It was time to stand
And return to the grey desk
Four hours in
Jim didn’t think he could make it

Should he leave early?
Feign sickness?

If he left, would anyone even notice?
He thought this as he looked
At the tax report of a mister
Steven Confident

His hand on his briefcase,
Eyes on the elevator
He waited for an opportunity
Until his boss wanted to chat

Over the wall of Jim’s cubicle
Douglas Uppity leaned
The too-young too-inexperienced
Boss, of this corporate machine

He didn’t say anything mean
But his eyes scrutinized every detail
Jim’s hands returned to the desk
And Douglas finally pieced the scene

“Leaving early?” He mused
In buddy demeanor, anger refused
“Is the mob at your heels?” He said, Jim’s meal not having yet sat

“Not quite,” Jim replied
“My lunch didn’t sit right, you see”
“I’m feeling quite sick and would
Much like to leave.”

Having spun his excuse,
Which quickly became truth

His boss looked satisfied
Not wanting vomit
On all his computers

Jim, neglecting Douglas’s eyes
Reached for his briefcase
And made for the elevator

Funny, it should seem
After all this time in the building
Everything stopped
When Jim reached the street

The people stopped moving
The cars no longer driving
Birds no longer flying
Everything stood as it was

And didn’t change again

Jim wasn’t effected
He breathed and digested the same
But nothing else was

He didn’t exclaim,
He simply walked his way
Back downtown to his apartment
Noticing the elevator wasn’t moving
And taking the stairs

He reached his home
And fell into bed
He couldn’t be bothered
To check his fish weren’t dead

In an afternoon’s morning
Jim woke
His tie strangling him in sleep
A collard shirt untucked as he dreamed

He dreamed everything had stopped
And when he looked outside
The dream continued

As the water of a river
Had ceased to flow

A fisherman had eternally been
Caught in undertow

Jim removed his tie
And watched as
When he threw it to his bed
It stayed suspended in air

Just as it was
When it left his hand

He walked down the stairs
Past people with frozen affairs

And went back to work

Seeing Douglas still there,
Glossing over an empty cubicle
With phone in hand

Jim wondered how it’d feel
To punch the man

Perhaps he should just leave
But then he remembered the cola
Left sitting at his desk

Now he could leave
Eying his boss
And for the last time

Jim went back home

No car to speak of, no where to go
Jim packed a bag and decided
To visit his parents
Who lived on the other coast

Maybe they’d be happy to see him
Maybe they will always be happy now

For months, Jim walked,
Rationed food when he found it
But found that it would never expire

Every ripe berry in the world
Stayed ripe forever, in stasis, for Jim

His white shirt became stained
With flecks of frozen dirt
And dust of rain when he walked
Right through a stood-still storm

A beard grew during the sojourn
Jim didn’t mind it

He walked through snow and
The desert
Flakes had stopped mid-fall
Dust storms had stopped in their tracks, to Jim’s awe

Yet the temperature remained
As it had in the office

Jim found cola where he could
Becoming nostalgic of a world
Now very far gone

It was friday when he had left home
It was still friday when he reached The other coast of the country
Some amount of months later

His parents were at home
Or rather
Still at home

Watching a sitcom on television
Early in the afternoon

Both retired, they had retired to
A nice house in the suburbs
Where they wouldn’t
Be disturbed

But now their son had broken into it
Through a window with a lost alarm
The shards of glass stood in air
Moving when Jim touched them

The two were having lunch
Jim would recognize them always

He wouldn’t have much to do there
He was happy to see his parents
But already lamented at
The new world he lived in

Jim walked to his old room
Which looked to have been
Converted into his parent’s office

A half-empty bottle of cola sat
On the corner of the desk

A futon set as a bed
Covered one wall of the room

So Jim laid down to rest
For the… Day?

When he woke up
It was still friday
The TV was still on
His parents still sat on the couch

Everything still sat

Jim grabbed his bag
And gave his parents one last look
Before nicking all the cola from
Their fridge and leaving

Where to now?
Jim looked at the seaside town
With its red bridges
And afternoon sun

Seagulls stayed in the sky
In formation, among clouds
That could never dissipate

Jim walked on the beach
Where children often played frisbee

When he tried to walk into the ocean
The water didn’t part to his feet

So he walked
Perhaps his next destination
Was Hawaii

Mai Tais on the sands of Maui
Sounded good to him

When he got to paradise
He self consciously shaved his beard
Six months later and it was still

All the women on the beach
He could never ever see
No hotels he had to pay
To stay and see what he had to see

He held onto his cola
And changed into shorts
To walk the beach

He wasn’t far from Australia
Nor the Asia mainland

So to Brisbane, he walked
On the ocean’s waves
That rose and dipped

They never moved
Save for the footprints from
Jim’s shoes

He island hopped
Conquered small shores
When he got to Queensland
It was still friday

But now it was morning, and early
At that, he enjoyed solace in the city
Where not many cars slowed his path
As he walked on freeways and streets downtown

What was there to see?
He didn’t know much of the city
Jim yearned for some mountains
So Tibet was his destination

He crossed the Indian Ocean
To see monasteries
And mythologies

Walked through jungles
And up mountains
Saw tigers hiding
Who refused to pounce

Armed with a torch
Which wouldn’t emit heat
In the arabian nights
He saw wondrous lights

So then to Tibet he walked
Over mountains
And over rivers

His beard was back,
And he was no thinner
When he reached Tibet
He donned monk robes

Eight months later
And it was still friday

He had swapped his backpack
Long ago
For a veteran’s old army sack
That let him carry more
And berries that wouldn’t spoil

His feet didn’t seem to ache much
He felt like he was getting stronger
More resistant to the new world
But he never thought of the old one

Men had stayed praying
In the temple at the summit

Jim knelt, too
And spoke for a moment

Over the days
He had spoken seldom
Cursing aloud
If ever he tripped

But here he prayed
Speaking to a god
He didn’t believe in

Because here he knew
He may never again

Eleven months later
Jim was in France
It was early evening there
And it was still friday

At the top of the mythic
Parisian tower
Sat a refined man
In unrefined garb

The wayward journeyman
Was out of place
Among young couples
Frozen on first dates

Yet he enjoyed wine all the same
Drinks poured almost a year ago
And at the tower’s peak
He had the luxury to fall asleep

Some time later
Jim was in the English Channel
Trekking to London
To see the old country

In the clock tower
Walking down Abbey Road
At the recording studio
And looking at streetlights downtown

A month after that
Jim was in the Atlantic

A year after leaving

And it was still friday

Published by Jake Thomas Shaw

Concerned with memory, currency, and destiny, I strive to capture each one as they happen. Join me and consume reality! Radio Reality. City!

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