Tim Collins was twenty-eight, but looked like a middle-aged man. No one would ever say as much to his face. He worked in construction as an electrician and referred to himself as being as old as he felt, trying to get rid of the stigma. He hung out at the neighborhood bar on Friday and Saturday night with the iron workers and the foremen who lived in the same area, telling crude jokes and flirting with the two waitresses. He had long decided on never to act as old as he looked.
His hair was gray with hints of white, the result of once having pure black hair. His eyes shown as brilliant slate metal. In earlier years, his frame was solid and large. Though the bulk of him hadn’t changed, his beer belly hid more than half of his belt since approximately four years before. Despite all the time he’d spent in the sun, his skin was fair, becoming slightly ruddy in the warmer months, declaring he was an Irishman without a word coming from his mouth.
He was about to kick off on his twenty-ninth year, and profoundly alone. His one love died in a negligent accident eight years ago. Although no one could see it outwardly, he pined for her every day. The crew he shared beer and shots with figured him to be a happy bachelor, not having an inkling of the suffering within him. He kept his emotions held tight within the walls of his blackening heart.
His longtime friend, Doug, one of the foremen who worked for C & M Construction, had noticed the change in his friend in recent years. Although Tim joined the gang at Schmitt’s for drinks and gab, he often sat alone at another table. When his friend asked him what was up, his reply was, “Have some things on my mind, is all.” He’d move in close to the other construction workers and join in the chit-chat.
Tim’s melancholy and petulance were painfully getting the best of him. At the onset, he had recognized the drops in his mood and made efforts to alleviate it. As time went on, and the symptoms grew in intensity, he paid less attention to how the moods were affecting him. Thoughts of death crept in during the evening and nighttime hours. At first he just pondered on the abstract of the subject. Soon, he was thinking about fingers severed and heads in weaved baskets.
He forced the images out of his mind as he rose in the predawn to trudge through another day at the construction site. He stood under the scalding hot water with his head turned up. The blistering heat didn’t work as well as it used to as a way to banish those horrendous perceptions haunting his thoughts. I’m going to have to get some leather strapping.
He made mental notes about his duties of the day as he cruised down Charlton Avenue. Doug wanted the third floor finished so his men could start putting up the drywall. Amos wanted wires moved on the first floor to appease a couple of the tenants moving their businesses into the structure. Visions of electrocuting these leasers accidentally on purpose floated into his head.
Screech! He slammed on the brakes. His daydream almost caused him to plow into the truck in front of him. He combed his short silver mane before grabbing the wheel again.
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“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”