Gnats flickered about the man's head like sparks off a crackling, spitting fire. Runnels of sweat escaped his brow. He pawed at the moisture with a dirty rag that blackened the creases of his face.
Around him, fresh-faced tourists squawked. Sipping tea, buying boots, browsing their way throug(more)h life. A svelt, pointedly-attired midday jogger. A pair of sticky children lapping ice-cream from comically over-sized cones. An older white woman wearing wing-tip sunglasses, walking a min-pin bedecked in black studded BDSM leathers.
He liked her best.
The man tried to picture them in their homes, doing mundane things. Eating salad. Fixing a leaky faucet. Going to the bathroom. Pulling kitchen sundries rather violently out of a stuck kitchen drawer. Sitting at the foot of an over-sized bed, crying alone. That sort of thing.
He wondered if any of them saw him the same way. Thought about who the man with the sunburned, sweat-soaked face was, pictured him sans plastic hardhat and hi-vis. Imagined him at his leisure, not taking meter readings, but doodling silly cartoons in the margin of a book, or supporting the local repertory theater.
Then he sighed, and disappeared into the background.(less)
"That's nice of you," she said, almost dismissively as she tapped her fingers on her keyboard waiting impatiently for the reports to load.
"I didn't do it to be _nice_, I did it because it was needed."
"But it was still a favor to them, wasn't it?"(more)
"In a circuitous way, maybe? But I still don't see why it wasn't needed."
She looked up from her laptop. "Look," she said, "they've got their heads so far up their asses on what _we_ do they don't need you making their jobs any easier."
"But nothing. We're busting our asses for them and then you go around, behind our backs, and help _them_ out? No man, that's nice of you, sure, but you're just trying to kiss ass to keep climbing that ladder."
He shook his head, "Whatever, dude. It'll help us out in the long run with your support or no. It'll get done regardless.
She rolled her eyes and went back to her reports. He turned on his heel and walked away.
Her only regret was the open office. This would never get let go.(less)