part 1 of a short story?

On Friday night I stayed at the river house with my parents and drank a lot. Here’s what was on my computer when I woke up:
(Oh, and I have no idea where the title came from. Thats just what the document was titled)

Cold Pizza

Raymond was unhappy and frustrated. Well, he was only frustrated because he had no idea why he was so unhappy. He had a fine job, a few good friends from high school, and a decent apartment. If he had been asked what would make him happy back in college, he probably would have only mentioned those three things. But still, Raymond was unhappy.

He lay awake so many nights, not sure as to how he could be happy again. “What happened?” he would ask himself, not even close to the verge of sleep. “Should I watch sports? Do I need to exercise more? Go back to school? Join a religion? Get into philosophy?” Raymond tried all of these and felt the same. He still found baseball boring, running still made him feel tired, math still didn’t make sense to him, he still didn’t have faith, and existentialism still just seemed depressing.

For two months, Raymond was, as his friends said, in a rut. He thought to himself, “Its not that I’m in a rut, I’ve just realized that life is a rut.” That was probably the existentialism talking, but Raymond felt that he was in need of a dramatic change. Its living in the big city, he thought, “I need to get away”. The next day, he told his boss that he was taking a week vacation with his girlfriend, and told his girlfriend that he was going on a work trip for a week.

Raymond loaded up a backpack with a toothbrush, a pair of jeans, a few shirts, and a few socks and jumped into his car. He had no idea where he wanted to go, or what he wanted to do. He wasn’t even sure if he would come back after the week. He stopped at the bank and took out a thousand dollars. “This should be enough”, he thought. “this can buy a lot of gas.” Raymond filled up his tank and headed south, excited about the possibilities in front of him.

The giddiness of exploration soon left him, and Raymond simply felt relaxed and free. For the first few days, he drove from dusk till dawn, stopping at noon for a cheap sandwich at nondescript truck stops. He’d make polite conversation with the waitresses, talk about her kids, but she’d soon realize that he preferred to be on his lonesome. After his quick lunch, he would fill up his car and buy his upcoming dinner and breakfast. He liked it on the road, with long stretches of potential to either side of him. But mostly, he liked sleeping in the backseat of the car, all the stars laid out in the sky for him to see.

One afternoon in a diner, Raymond looked into his wallet and saw that he was down to his last two hundred dollars. Realizing that gas was more expensive than he reckoned, he decided that he’d like working at a quiet place like this to refresh his funds. He asked the waitress if she could help him out.

“Well dear, theres no open positions here, but you could check ’round Buxton. Its a nice town ’bout 10 miles west of here. I’m sure theres some business there that needs a young guy like you.” she said helpfully. He thanked her and hurriedly finished his meal.

Raymond instantly liked Buxton. Population: 253, the sign read while he entered the town. There was one main street, with buildings that hadn’t been remodeled since the 50’s, he figured. Raymond parked his car in the town’s single gas station and introduced himself to the elderly attendant inside.

“Hi there Ray” bellowed the jovial man. “The name’s Bo. What can I do you for?”

“I’m looking for work somewhere in town. Do you know anyone thats hiring?”

“Well, you just may be in luck. My friend Bill, his son just went off to college last month and he’s been telling me he needs another hand on the farm. Would that interest you?”

“Oh really?” Raymond’s eyes lit up in excitement. He had never done real outdoor work before; just waiting tables in college and his desk job back in the city. He’d always secretly wanted to do some sort of labor for a living. Always in the back of his head, he had figured that that would be so much more satisfying than working with needy customers all day.

Less than a half hour later, Raymond was speaking to Bill at the farm. He was a pleasant enough man, but stern.

“I’m looking for someone who can put in an honest days work for an honest days pay. Can you manage that?”

“Yes sir, of course” Raymond said. “But um… what is it that you need me to do?”

“We’re doubling our beef cattle next year, and we need to fence their grazing area so they can’t wander off. Thats two weeks of pounding in fenceposts, and then a week of throwing up the barbed wire. I’ll need you from 7 in the morning till 7 at night. A hundred dollars a day plus lunch and dinner. Well, and the sabbath off, of course. Does that sound alright?”

It sounded more than alright to Raymond. He gladly accepted the job and drove back into town. After a trip to the local laundromat and then the general store to pick up an alarm clock, Raymond parked his car in the woods outside the farm. He finished off the last of his beef jerky and lay on the roof of his car, glad that the mosquitos didn’t seem to want to bother him. Raymond was one relaxed breath away from from sleep when he heard a voice.

“Hey kid, you still awake?”

“Huh? Yeah. Where are you?” Raymond asked the darkness surrounding him. He heard a soft patter on the ground to his left.

“Right here kid. Don’t freak out, but I should let you know: I am a talking squirrel.”

Raymond looked around in disbelief. Sure enough, a squirrel walked slowly into the moonlight beside the car. Raymond lay there dumbstruck and the squirrel opened its mouth.

“Sorry, its got to be pretty startling for you.” the squirrel shrugged its shoulders and said with mock excitement, “Here I am. Look, talking and stuff.”

Raymond was unsure how to react. “Oh, hello there.”

“Alright, you’re with me now. I just stopped by to offer you a place to crash for the night.” The squirrel continued to speak and Raymond suddenly realized that it spoke with a Boston accent.

“There’s a cabin just a quarter mile deep into the woods where I’ve been staying for a while. Want to come along?” Raymond shrugged his shoulders and leapt off the car.

The squirrel bounded off into the woods and Raymond did his best to follow the voice which belted out “this way” every minute or so. Soon enough, Raymond saw a small wooden cabin with smoke billowing from its chimney. The squirrel jumped through the open window and Raymond walked through the door.


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