Another morning for Teddy began the same way it had for the past few weeks, as he awoke tonot a sound or smell, but the heat of the day. It was November 1st, the day after Halloween, and heknew it, which was unusual for him to know the date. He lied in his bed for another 30 minutes or so after he woke. It was a perfect day out, maybenot everyone would agree, but to him it was just right; a few clouds, enough to cover the clouds andtake away some of the sting of the sun while outside, but not enough to make the day ‘gloomy’ or cold. “Oh my… I have track. Today.” He had to make it to practice by one o’clock, it was already noon.He didn’t want to be late again, as he had already been once this week; his coach would be furious if hewas. There was no time for a shower, no time for food (not that he ever ate in the morning), no time foranything but getting dressed and leaving. He picked himself up with a slight stumble as he stepped onhis little pug Fozzie and caught himself before he could really hurt him. Despite his hurry he walked intothe bathroom, tilted his head under the faucet and gulped down a few mouthfuls of water. He walkedback into his filthy room, put on his track shorts, his track shorts over his track shorts (he wore two pairsof shorts so he could easily change from his track shorts to pants without having to find a bathroom), awhite tee-shirt and his running shoes. “Bye baby, I’ll be home later” he said to Fozzie, who he took pleasure in constantly talking tohim as if he was a newborn child or a toddler. With that he walked out of his filthy room, through hisempty house, out his front door and to his brand new shiny clean import. Without a thought in his mindother than not making Coach OFarrell angry, whom he respected very much, he jumped in his prettylittle car, turned the radio, dropped his foot onto the gas pedal, and took off towards school. The parking structure at his school was full as it usually was. Teddy drove up and down thestructure, up and down the structure, and up and down again without seeing anything other than a seaof cars, the lucky ones parked and vacant, the unlucky ones occupied and moving, looking for the samething as him; a parking spot. At last a space opened, he could see a car backing up. He drew his footback off the clutch, pressed the gas, and looked past the car pulling out to see another car, clearlyentering the same spot. It had been 15 minutes since he started looking for a spot, and it was alreadyexactly 1 o’clock, he didn’t have the time to be nice and let the other student have it, he gunned it, theother student did the same, until they both were completely trapped by each other. “This parking spot ain’t big nuff fur the two of us” he thought to himself, and it wasn’t. Teddydecided to wait this guy out, no reason to give up. He waited maybe 10 seconds until the other drivergot out of his car. Immediately Teddy got nervous, his feet began to shake against the pedals. The other studentwasn’t very big, in fact Teddy was reasonably sure that if it turned ugly he could take him in a fight, notthat Teddy would let it get to that. Teddy was very fit, an athletic man to begin with and in his prime. Inthis case like so many things, size doesn’t matter. This guy was mean, he had a cold, piercing stare, andthere was no mistaking where it was cast. As the student grew nearer and nearer, Teddy became moreand more nervous. He rolled down his window to greet him.
“Can’t you see I was here first.” The student said plainly. “WWhadda you mean? We got here at the same time” Teddy said as he cleared his throat, notas statement but clearly as a question, as if waiting for a convincing reason for the other student to takethe spot so he could just move on, admitting defeat the second he opened his mouth. “I got here at thesame time.” “The hell you did man, I was in the lane closest to the car, its mine bro, take off.” There wereno rules that even came close to justifying this logic, either written, spoken or unspoken, but it was veryconvincing to Teddy, who shook his head in agreement. “You’re right man, sorry about that.” The student said nothing, stared at Teddy for a minute as akind of gesture Teddy thought, slowly turned around and got in his car. Teddy backed up his car, and in went the other car- into a wide parking space, in a primelocation no less, conveniently situated next to the fields and portables. He recognized his owncowardice during the situation, but didn’t dare let it show for fear of losing face. “My God I’m a pussy…”he thought, and continued his search for a spot. The clouds had since cleared in the short drive and short time to make matters worse, so heknew he would get to run extra under a very hot sun. He sprinted onto the hot, sunny field towards thehuddle of teammates, very quickly; as fast as he could. “Late again Ted, I see.” his coach said the secondhe kneeled down within the huddle. “Sorry coach, it won’t happen again.” Teddy said, almost halfheartedly. “You said that last time and the time before. “ said Coach O’Farrell directly to Teddy, and beforeTeddy could respond, O’Farrell continued his talk to the team. “Like I was saying, we have a track meetTHIS Saturday, be prepared and bring water and enough food to last a day.” Teddy knew this was bad, usually his coach would scorn him and make him run if he screwed up,but this time was different. This time there was nothing other than a few words between his coach andhim, and he had never seen that happen to anyone, he knew he was not getting off easy, he knew thathe was in danger of being kicked of the team. Coach O’Farrell continued his speech about the goings on of the team, where and when the nextfew events were, and then broke the huddle. Ted started jogging, in the middle of his team to avoid anymore attention, but his coach stopped him, rather quietly, or at least more quietly than he usually wouldwhen addressing a single student. “Ted can I have a word.” “Wonderful” Teddy thought, maybe he would be punished after all and it wasn’t as big a deal ashe originally thought. This is one of the few times Ted would be looking forward to punishment.
He took Ted aside, out of earshot of any other teammate and said, “Now Ted, your lateness isbecoming a problem. You and I both know that, it sets a bad example for the team, puts me on thespot, and most importantly interrupts the entire practice. I like you Ted, I do, I think you have potentialto become very good,” which was not the case at that moment, Teddy was definitely not the bestathlete on the team, it was a much different playing field in college, and although he was very good inhigh school, he was just a face in the crowd in college, and Ted knew it. Coach O’Farrell carried on histalk “I really do Ted I think you have potential, not just on the track, but in life. I see good things in youTed, but I can’t allow this to go on. If you are late one more time Ted, I’m going to have to kick you offthe team.” “Ok, I understand coach.” Said Ted, Ted was usually a man of few words, and this was especiallytrue on the field. “Then get to your warm ups.” With that O’Farrell dismissed Ted and Ted ran over to the warmup station. Practice continued as it normally did, except today Ted went to the weight room with the team,which was rare for him as he normally skipped it and used the hour to relax after he was done running.He could get away with this because the coach who ran the weight room was not Coach O’Farrell. After practice he had a much wanted cigarette and headed for his class, which he had to hustleto because he stayed the entire practice that day. He sat down, didn’t take any notes, or contribute tothe discussion, or even speak to anyone in the class (as he usually did not) but paid very close attentionto the lecture, as he rarely did homework and relied on the fact that he was very good at taking tests topass any class, and he knew paying attention to the lecture was his key to a passing grade. Class wasdismissed 20 minutes early and he drove himself home. When he got home he saw his mother standing outside smoking a cigarette. He didn’t want totell her that he was in danger of being kicked off the team, because he didn’t want to disappoint her; heregarded her as his best friend in the world. “Hey mom” he said. “Hey sweetie how was school!” she said, not faking her interest. She cared very deeply aboutTeddy and was genuinely concerned about how his day was. He knew she could tell that something was wrong, and he didn’t want to tell her everything, sohe explained the parking situation to her. He told her that he actually thought he was in the wrong, thateveryone knows the person in the lane closest gets the spot, because he did not want to sound asthough he was just feeble and was intimidated away from the parking spot. “Well parking there is a mess, I know. But you made it to practice on time right?” she said.
The subject was brought up despite his efforts to avoid it. “Ehh I was a little bit late, but itwasn’t a big deal.” “What did your coach say?” she asked. “He was just mad you know.” He hoped that she would drop the subject, and she did. He lit up his own cigarette and talked about this and that, he loved having a discussion or adebate with her, about anything. They agreed on a lot of things, and disagreed on just as many, and thetwo usually focused on what they did not agree on, be it politics or any belief in general really. Theyboth enjoyed arguing- not aggressively or mean spiritedly, but passionately. They both thought that itpolished what they believed in, and once in a while they would sway the other towards their ownthought, although this was only on the rare occasion that they had to admit that other one wascompletely correct on the subject. Teddy’s mother waited for him to finish his cigarette, and they both headed into the emptyhouse. It was always empty anymore if neither the two was in it, as Teddy’s father and sister were bothkilled in a car accident the year before. It weighed on them both, and they never talked about it, but itwas apparent that it troubled them both. Teddy’s mom cooked them both dinner, and it was excellent as it always was. After dinner heput on his security guard uniform, and got prepared for a long, lonely shift at the truck stop, watching anempty lot of trucks and once every 2 or 3 hours greeting a tired trucker, who were always in a hurry topark and leave. When he arrived he was greeted by the previous guard, whose shift he was relieving. “Been really slow today man.” the other security guard said. Neither of the two had ever met,and like everyone there was trying to leave as soon as possible. Teddy grabbed the paper work needed to sign himself and the truckers in and out, drove to oneof the few parking spaces reserved for a car, parked and turned on his radio. He always listened to thesame station, 104.9. It was his only company there, he felt as though he almost had another personwith him when he listened, and as opposed to a cd he felt as though he wasn’t the only person on theplanet when he was at work. He looked forward to the d.j.s talking as much as the music because of theinherit loneliness that accompanied his post. He began listening as the song playing was ending, and Greg the Keg, the late night d.j. came on. “Hello to all the listeners out there, to all you guys working the late shift. I feel you.” Greg said. “Well howdy to you too buddy” he said to himself, almost carrying on a conversation with thed.j. “I’ll play a few songs that will hopefully put you in a good mood, if you’re feeling a little crappy.Here’s a new one.” And with that Greg cut to a song.
The song came on, and it was one of Teddy’s favorites; it was released less than a week ago andhad already made it into Teddy’s heart. “You know me too well, Greg, hah!” Teddy said aloud once more. He listened to the song and itdid put him in a better mood. The song ended and the d.j. came back on the air. “Very good song, gotta love that one” “Yes, yes I do.” said Teddy. “I hear you guys. Well I think we have some bills, or so I heard, so I’m gonna have to play somecommercials.” and then he cut to a commercial. A commercial came on, advertising some product that was supposed to be great at removingwarts. Teddy had a wart on his middle finger and hated it, and was looking for something to get rid of it.Then a commercial came on advertising car exhausts, mentioning his model of car specifically. Teddywanted an exhaust for his car, it was what he was saving up to get. A few more commercials came on,all of which seemed very specific to Teddy. The commercials ended and Teddy said out loud to himself, “God it feels like this guy really doesknow me.” “Alright guys, I know you, I know right about now you’d probably like to hear some hmm… letme guess…” Greg paused for a second. “Wretch!” Teddy exclaimed, naming his favorite band. “how about… Wretch.” said the d.j. Then he cut to Wretch, playing one of Teddy’s favorite songsby the artist. “Woah, weird” Teddy thought to himself. He turned the radio up, as loud as it would play. Thesong was about five minutes long, and when it was over he heard a very long honk. It was a truckerhonking to be let into the truck stop. Teddy had to open the gate for him. He quickly got out of his car and opened the gate. The trucker pulled forward, very close toTeddy and rolled down his window. “What the fuck. I’ve been waiting here for 15 minutes.” said the clearly angry trucker. He had avery scruffy beard and wore a hat with his long hair hanging out. “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear your horn.” Teddy replied. “This damn horn’s loud as all hell! How the hell could you not hear it?!?” said the trucker, nowyelling. “I just didn’t. I’m sorry.”
“Typical rent-a-cop. A fucking retard.” and before Teddy could say anything the trucker rolledup his window and drove down the long line of trucks and around the corner, out of sight of Teddy. Teddy got back into his car and shut the door, his radio was still playing. “What an asshole.”Teddy said to himself as he leaned back in his chair, with the d.j. talking in the background, and theinstant those three words came out of Teddy’s mouth, the d.j. stopped talking. Teddy wondered whatwas the problem was, there was an uneasy silence that was uncommon during his broadcast. “O.k. I got it.” said the d.j., in a tone that Teddy perceived as almost angry. “Here you go.” saidagain almost angrily. Then a song came on, and Teddy’s heart sank as he heard it. The song was called“Asshole” or “A**hole” as it was being played on the radio. Teddy didn’t know what to think, he was suddenly confused. So he shut off the radio. He took afew minutes to think. Greg couldn’t have heard what he said. Teddy was a very logical person; it wasobvious to him that it was impossible. Yet he felt like something did happen; that something was goingon. He decided it was just his imagination and turned the radio back on. When he turned the radio back on the d.j. was still talking, and seemed to be in a better mood.Although Teddy had already decided it was impossible, he couldn’t help but be a little relieved. Thenthe d.j. sniffled a few times and sneezed. Without even thinking Teddy said, “Bless you.” and the d.j.replied, “Thank you.” This added to Teddy’s nervousness towards the whole situation, and again heturned off the radio. “Strange again” Teddy thought. So he decided to test it. “I wanna hear, ‘Lost and Forgotten’.”This was a song that was rarely ever played on the radio; in fact he hadn’t heard it play on the radio in afew years. He knew this was a test that could prove whether or not he was being heard. He turned onthe radio and the song was, to Teddy’s amazement, “Lost and Forgotten”. “MY GOD!” thought Teddy, “he can hear me.” Teddy became very nervous. He shut off theradio again. His mind was racing; he was now convinced that somehow, someway, he was being heard.He began to wonder how, and then came to a frightening realization- he wasn’t being heard, he wasbeing listened to. He shut off the radio, and finished his post, without so much as a single word the restof the night.