'Wake-up Call' by Sheri L. Wright
The box springs groan, resentful of his weight as he reaches for a sock wadded on the
floor to blow his nose on. It's closer than his shirt. He isn't ready to get out of bed yet,
unwilling to give into the nag of his bladder swelled with last night's beer, beer that filled
his glass until his roll of cash shriveled down to next week's gas money. But that was all
right, he thought. What else is he going to do on a Friday night in a dumpy town that
cheats him out of thrills, this town with its best corner dive entombing disappointment
in cinder-block walls, cigarette smoke stale as a promise, pool tables scorched along the
edges with aspirations forgotten, the embers left to fade like eyes weighed shut with neglect.
The morning feels too numb for waking into. So he lays there, drifting like motes of dust
floating across blinds, light bleeding through in strips, vanishing into shafts too dark to
regard the sun, then re-appearing into the next smudge of light. This is how I live, he thinks
to himself, to the fly buzzing the window; one long repetition of day and night, awake,
asleep, till one day, I stop waking up. Then someone schleps my stuff into the trash and that's that.
He wipes his nose, tosses the sock across the room and uncrumples himself from the
bedsheets, lingers at the window, the blind's light slashed across his body. For a moment,
he believes he will slip apart, section by section, bunched onto the floor like last night's
bluejeans. Is this all I am? A wad of cloth roughed together, stained and worn at the
knees, too ratty for wearing, cut into rags for swabbing engine grease off the driveway?
He gets himself a clean pair from the closet, fresh shirt, combs Friday night from his
hair, and stuffs the gas money into a pocket, enough to get him to Monday morning on