IN THIS TWILIGHT
The Mask Collector
Sunday June 15th 2003
The roads around the apartment complex were twisted little cul-de-sacs, free of stop signs and sidewalks but heavy with road kill. The low rising red sun glared into Darren’s eyes as he jogged. The workout regimen was, like his new mustache, still in its formative stages but Darren was sure that it would all pay off eventually.
The first few days of jogging had been rough, with stitches in side and a charley horse or two but now he had the hang of it – you had to stretch and warm up beforehand.
Darren kept his mind off the ache in his lungs by running over the list of things he needed to do on Monday in his head. He needed to make sure his project supervisor got wind of the problems with the Malaysian account, something about some local customs being disturbed. Then he needed to make sure his home and cell phone number got changed, he was getting tired of Marnie’s voicemails clogging up the system. Couldn’t she get it in her head that it was all over? He didn’t need any second or third chances. And lastly he needed to speak to the building super about the noise in his bedroom. It had been getting louder and louder; and Darren was sure he was hearing mocking laughter mixed in with it all. What was Chad doing with his nights?
That reminds me, Darren thought as he reached an intersection and turned left. Maybe I should just do a salad for lunch today. This road was still under development, all the houses on either side of the street were half-built and skeletal, the lawns just square patches of dirt and gravel. It was a nice place to jog because the chance of encountering traffic and hecklers was minimal.
Maybe I'm hearing noise from downstairs, I think they have a teen-ager. Darren was already thinking about moving on when his lease expired. The place just wasn't working out like he had expected - his ratio of encounters with crazy half -clothed aged neighbors compared with his encounters with cute half-clothed college girls was damn depressing.
The black Trans Am careened around the corner, its horn blaring. Darren turned to get out of the way but the car still clipped him. He tumbled backwards into a ditch. Dizzy with pain Darren tried to raise himself back up but his leg was twisted beneath him at a sickening angle. The black Trans Am slowed as it passed him and then sped off. Darren glimpsed the license plate AHTU 0291 and then his senses left him.