Masks: Part 1

It was a cold day out, the clouds hung overhead. They looked like widows at a funeral; dark and prepared to burst at any moment. Collins took the brown coat today; they leather was faded, like many things in his life. The bus stop wasn’t far but Collins still walked briskly, he preferred not to be out in the open for too long. Collins took a right at Clarksons Avenue; boycotting the park. It was a longer route but it provided some shade, shade form the ever present eyes.

One of those eyes materialised in front of him in the form of an elderly man; walking cane in hand. The man, as old people often do, was moving at quite a leisurely place; that is to say he would lose a race against a snail. Collins crossed to the other side of the street; he didn’t want to cross paths with the man. Old people were very chatty and Collins feared that if he ventured too near, he too would be a victim of their mundane chit-chat.

As Collins turned the corner he heard a fragile voice behind him; a voice which meant that he was caught.

“Hello? Young man?”

Collins hesitated; should he ignore the old man and proceed onwards? Collins decided to push on but it was too late; the man had caught up.

“Hello there. Would you be so kind as to help an old man in need?”

“No problem,” Collins said as he turned around, hiding the scowl on his face. “It would be my pleasure.”

Collins took a closer look at the elderly man; he was not just your average everyday grandpa. He was wearing plain beige shorts; the quarter-length kind. His sandals were those brown ones made of comfy leather. Though he was wearing knee-high socks, his massive calves were still visible making the word Monday seem longer than it actually was.

Attached to his shorts was a pair of suspenders; classy. The entire get-up was completed with a red and blue checkered shirt which barely hid his well-defined muscles. Of course Collins couldn’t forget about the cane; it was made of wood with a nice lion’s head on top. Collins was bewildered; while the man’s outfit looked like things you could get at a dollar store, the man himself was clearly well built.

The man looked quite young; about 147 years old. His hair was mostly blond with the occasional streaks of old man grey. He was quite tall as well even though his back was bent. Collins imagined that the man would be much taller than him if he stood up straight. It was as if a white Dwayne Johnson suddenly became old and had a poor taste in style. Collins was so busy in analysing the man that he barely heard the question.

“…get to the station? Young man?”

“Sorry sir,” Collins said recovering his senses, “I was so busy appreciating your sense of style that I got lost in the moment.”

The old man laughed. “Don’t tell anyone,” he whispered, “but I got most of these at a sale for only 2 dollars each. Well the cane was 3 but still a bargain.”

Collins smiled, he was slightly off with his prediction.

“Anyways, what did you need help with sir?”

“No need to be so formal, I ain’t that old. Just call me Todd.”

“Well Todd, what can I help you with?”

“I’m trying to get to a nearby bus station but I’ve forgotten the way, old age and stuff like that. So if you’d be so kind as to direct me to Clocksworth, I’ll be much obliged.”

Collins fake smiled disappeared for just an instant. While it wasn’t far from here, Clocksworth was still a complicated place to get to; the old man would get lost if Collins simply gave him the directions, not that he cared. The problem was that Clocksworth was the station that Collins was going to. He thought of giving Todd the directions and going the other way but he didn’t have time; he was about to be late for work.

“What a coincidence; I was on my way to Clocksworth as well. If you don’t mind I would love to walk with you to the bus station.” The words flowed out of his mouth like honey; sweet and pleasant. Though Collins hated his job, he had the ability to sweet talk; that’s how he got his current job after all.

The walk to the station was quite tedious, at least for Collins. He had to put up with tons of questions, facts and “back in my days” that the old man posed all the while giving appropriate feedback when necessary. Collins wished that he was deaf; that way he wouldn’t have to put up with the man’s incessant talking.

When they finally got to the station, Collins took advantage of the large crowd and used it to split up. Within seconds he was at his bus stop waiting; he had five minutes left. Collins hated waiting at the stop; the air was filled with the scent of coffee, smokes and last night’s take out. Not to mention the badly done scrambled eggs and toast; the smell was so thick you could almost taste it.

Collins had considered moving to somewhere far more remote, but they didn’t pay as much. He figured he would just stay here for some years while he climbed the business ladder only to have an early retirement and an eternity of piece. He would probably move to a place with no humans around, like the bottom of the ocean or Australia.

The bus managed to come on time for once; a truly outstanding feat. Collins entered as quickly as possible, he was looking for a seat near the front; if he sat at the back he would be plagued by all sorts of questionable odours. Luckily for him, he found a seat right behind the driver. Hugging his briefcase, Collins sat down and prayed to survive the oncoming travel.

It was a long ten minute drive to Kingston. Many strange creatures boarded the bus on the way. One such creature was an alien covered in ink markings from head to toe, another had some sort of weird head ornament. The most infuriating of all as this creature whose body was so weirdly balanced that he had to wear his trousers where others would put their knee pads. Collins wondered why none of these people were being sent back into space.



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