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Old 02-24-2009, 01:44 PM
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Default Fiction - Going Gray - Short Story



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Fiction - Going Gray - Short Story
By Josiah

Craig Rodrick sat at his desk finishing up the day’s receipts. Craig thought to himself, “A manager’s work is never done.”

In truth, Craig wasn’t the manager. He was the Assistant Manager. He had worked at the job for only 8 months, but was continuing to like the work. Finally he had a job that wasn’t too much politics, hustle or thinking and was a halfway decent pay check. The Movie Stand was a franchise store for a small group of movie rental stores throughout the southeast. Business was slacking off, but was still making a small profit.

All he really had to do was run the store at night by himself. However, tonight he was training the “new girl” Sandy. She wasn’t really a “girl” of course being an early thirty something, but she was new to the movie rental service. She was pleasant and halfway good looking, but she didn’t finish college earlier in life and wasn’t prepared for the divorce that flipped her world upside down. No job, didn’t finish college and more importantly no plan other than betting on her marriage. That didn’t work out to well. This was the only work that she could find that would let her work at night and finish attending college during the day. This was her 4th day on the job and she was running the front with ease.

Craig straightened the receipts up and filed them in their proper expense files for the boss to see and sign off on in the morning. The boss would then be returned from her sick day. It seemed that Mrs. Moore had been using more and more sick days lately, but it was none of his business. Sick days were there to be used when needed and SHE was the boss even if she was spending the days down at the beach as Craig had expected.

He placed his briefcase on the desk and opened the unremarkable black briefcase to fish out his dinner. Reaching around a small bag of supplies in his briefcase he placed his thermos on the table along with his insulated lunch bag. The thermos was actually a “briefcase thermos”, made by the company Thermos and was called a THERMOCafe’, but you could not tell this with normal examination for the logo had been scratched off. It was a stainless steel double walled thermos that would keep a liquid cool or warm for hours.

The dinner was lowly but filling. Tonight it was sweet tea, a banana sandwich, chips, an apple and a half of a cup of gorp all in Lock & Lock plastic containers. Craig despised plastic Ziplock-style bags because they were hard to reuse. He much preferred plastic containers for their reusability and ease of cleanup. Function always over form.

He ate quickly. Then washed out his thermos at the sink in the small break area and refilled his thermos with water just in case. He then cleaned up the containers using a small one ounce bottle of dishwashing liquid he carried in his case and put the dishes back into the briefcase.

He walked to the door of the small office area where a small mirror hung on the back and straightened his tie for a moment. Craig was really nondescript. I mean REALLY nondescript. Not in the way of being ugly or unpleasant looking, but that of just plain being unnoticed. If he was to be described like someone would describe a thief to a policeman, it would basically be a man with a black tie, white shirt and black pants. That is it. No more, no less.

The tie that he straightened was a black tie, but that was really all that you could tell about it. No patterns, not really silk looking and even the manufacturer’s tag was removed. The white long sleeved dress shirt that he wore was just a white long sleeved dress shirt. There was nothing remarkable about it. The black slacks looked like just that even though they were really 5.11 tactical pants with hidden pockets for added storage. Even his shoes looked like plain black lace up dress shoes, but even they had money hidden under the soles of the shoes.

No brand names were seen and no remarkable quality was seen about them. The only thing that stood out at all about the man’s attire was the corporatized name tag on the front that said “Movie Stand - Craig - Assistant Manager.”

Craig’s mind drifted back when he wore other clothes. He was straight out of the military and college when the prettiest girl in town started to talk to him. He loved being a bachelor, but she started to change him. The Armani suit he had worn was her idea, hers are her Dad’s. Craig hated the “family business” as she put it, but this is what you sometimes put up with when marrying a wealthy family. Five car dealerships in the county bore their family name and everyone knew it.

What were you wearing? What brand did you buy? How much was it? Where did you get it? It was all about how much and who knew. Impress the neighbors. Keep up with the Joneses.

Of course, all of the bought attention backfired on them when Craig walked away from the adulterous woman he called his wife of 7 years not caring who knew about the dirty laundry. They all laughed thinking he would never leave the money or the lifestyle. They laughed right up to the point that he walked away from the commercialistic lifestyle.

Craig then turned back to a more bachelor life. An ear ring in his ear and biker’s jacket was the top of his wardrobe. His ex-wife was attracted to his more rebellious side early on, but she had changed him. The bad taste she left on his life caused him to rebel again against everything and soon ran out of money. Getting and holding a job was all but impossible. Most interviewers would take one look at him and politely bow out of the interview. It was then that he had the real change in his life.

Craig walked out to the main store floor where a half of a dozen customers milled from isle to isle looking at the different DVD and Blueray boxes lining every wall in the place. Sandy waved to him to come to the check out holding receipt paper in her hands. No doubt the credit card machine ran out of paper again. She hadn’t got the knack of that yet and the machine on check out 2 was always a little temperamental.

In just a few moments Craig had showed her the “trick” of getting the paper in the “right way” and the customers in line were taken care of. “You can take your supper break now Sandy. I got it.”

“Are you sure Mr. Rodrick?” Sandy asked looking at the other customers in the store.

“Yes, ma’am. I got it,” he turned to the next customer. “Hi. Welcome to the Movie Stand. Did you find everything that you needed?”

Hours later Craig was locking up and walking Sandy out to her car to make sure she got away alright. Now, Craig was wearing a nondescript black bombers jacket to provide warmth on the unusually cold February evening. The medium sized city at 11:30 at night is no place for a lady to be alone in a parking lot. “Sandy you really need to park you car over by mine. There are security cameras out in the parking lot and one of them is pointed right where my truck is and it is under a light.”

Sandy smiled, “Oh, I didn’t even think. Thanks Mr. Rodrick. Good night.” Sandy got in and closed the door. Craig returned the good night. He waited for her to start up her car and leave before walking to the other side of the parking lot to his 1984 Toyota SR5 with 4 wheel drive. The truck was old, but built tough.

Craig had bought the truck at auction. It appeared that the police had recovered it from the local lake on the outside of town after being stolen and put underwater for about 36 hours. To say the truck was waterlogged was an understatement. The truck went for a whopping $380. Surprisingly enough the truck was running that afternoon after Craig and a friend worked on it in the friend’s garage. He slowly replaced the interior over the next 3 months until it looked halfway decent.

Craig carried his briefcase in one hand and fished for his keys with the other. The key went into place with little noise. Then the oddest sound reached Craig’s ears. “Crunch” it sounded. It was the type of sound that made your ears feel like they grew twice their normal size and the hair on the back of your neck scream out. It was about 3 feet behind Craig as he tried to spin around.

The object made pain explode in his head. Then Craig fell as he cried out. The figure moved to the truck and turned the key in the door. Another second passed and it was in the driver seat. The ignition turned and the engine turned over but did not crank. Again and again the engine turned over, but it would not crank.

Slowly the world came into focus. A small wooden board lay at his head and he heard the truck trying to crank. Craig knew the truck would not start because of the engaged ignition kill switch under the dash. The holster for the Surefire 6PD-BK Defender was always carried on the non-dominate (left) side. The 4 ounce can of Fox Labs OC Pepper Spray was on the right which was right beside his small Maxpedition M-2 Waistpack everyday carry bag. Craig readied himself.

The door flung open as bright light blinded the assailant and stinging biting burning liquid filled the cab of the truck. Craig dropped the pepper spray and reached for the small frame .45 caliber Glock Model 30 in the small of Craig’s back. Keeping the light in the eyes of the assailant Craig brought the gun to bear. The man moaned in pain and rubbed at his eyes. Craig ordered the man out of the truck, “I am armed! You are under arrest. Get out of the truck and lie on the ground on your stomach with your hands stretched out to your side.”

The man was screaming and continued to wipe his eyes, but did as he was told. Craig holstered the flashlight and reached into the outer pocket of his EDC for his cell phone. Keeping several feet of distance between the attacker and him, Craig called the police. He made sure to tell the dispatcher that he had the attacker at gun point and was armed. Craig also asked for an ambulance to be dispatched because he had sprayed the attacked with pepper spray.

When the police arrived they found Craig still holding the gun on the attacker and pulled their guns on Craig. He explained clearly that he was the assistant manager of the store and that this man had attacked him. Craig also said that he would also follow any instructions the officers had. Craig knew that because the police did not witness anything they were going to treat them both with scrutiny until what exactly happened could be determined. Craig was ordered to disarm himself and they actually put Craig in handcuffs for a few minutes.

After things had calmed down and Craig gave his statement, Craig was seen by the Emergency Medical Technicians briefly because of the blow to the head. He filled out a release that said that he refused treatment for the wound, but would go to the hospital himself if he needed. After a call to his manager, Craig then volunteered to show the officers the video tape of the security camera from the store.

Hours later he sat at his home in his bed with an ice pack on his head thinking he had the best of both worlds now. He looked like all of the rest without being like all of the rest. Function was always preferred over form. Tags and labels were removed because even unconsciously people used it to size you up. If you could afford this brand, then you were this type of person and so on. Craig didn’t want that. He didn’t want them know anymore about him than he could let on. If he bought a brand name then it was because the function of the item was best.

And no matter what, be prepared for the bad things in life. There is also something to be said about being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Craig smiled as turned of the lamp beside the bed.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:34 PM
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Your story, as usual, left me wanting more. You're turning into a regular Jerry D. Young! Is there anything you CAN'T do?

Kudos to you, sir.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:25 AM
backwoods50 backwoods50 is offline
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Great one, thank you. I'm always waiting for the next one too.
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:12 PM
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A nice read. More?
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:26 PM
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Great Read.. thank you.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:23 PM
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Really enjoyed the story and the message.

HuskerBill
South Texas
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Old 08-06-2011, 02:27 PM
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Thanks
All your stories are really good wish you would do a few longer ones
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:35 PM
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Gray is a good thing
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:32 PM
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Default Gray has its place,

But I would rather have people notice me and leave me alone. But when its time to blend in and disapear, easy enough. Good read, alittle short but none the less, a good read. Thanks, IWL.
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:34 PM
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I wonder of grey is even possible I keep a low profile and hope.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:54 PM
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Another good short story....

Texican....
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Old 08-04-2019, 01:16 PM
Targe Targe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josiah922 View Post
Fiction - Going Gray - Short Story
By Josiah
Not really sure what the sordid details and minutiae of Craig's former life and wife had to do with the story; how did Craig's failed marriage prepare him to deal with his lapse in situational awareness?

Although Craig was full of advice for Sandy, he let a mugger walk right up behind him and whack him in the head. Craig should be more aware of his surroundings. Instead, he was day dreaming about his skanky ex-wife (or maybe his "halfway good-looking coworker Sandy"), and feeling smug that his gun, pepper spray and flashlight would keep him safe.

A mugger with a small piece of wood almost won out over all of Craig's great stuff. If the mugger had used a metal pipe or a hammer to knock him in the head, Craig would probably have wound up in the hospital with a fractured skull or even dead.

Then Craig would never have gotten to use his:

- Surefire 6PD-BK Defender,
- small frame .45 Caliber Glock Model 30,
- 4 ounce can of Fox Labs OC Pepper Spray,
- small Maxpedition M-2 Waistpack everyday carry bag.

(Whew!)

The mugger only had a small piece of wood...but the mugger was the true "GRAY MAN" because Craig never even saw him coming.

Perhaps THAT is the message of the story: all the nice gear in the world doesn't help if you walk around "being gray" but unaware of your surroundings.

At the end of the story, instead of smiling and congratulating himself for being a gray "wolf in sheeps clothing", Craig should be thinking:

"I was careless. Next time I may not be so lucky."

Dead men turn gray, too
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