38 Minutes

By K. Maag

A man with a newsboy hat that looked like something out of The Grapes of Wrath decided to get off the bus. The city sidewalk was wet and it shined with twilight on its face. Traffic passed him going the opposite of directions on both sides in a glut of bright lights and noises coming from abused steering wheels. The only thing separating him from the cars on his left side was a metal fence. The only thing separating him from the bustle on his right side was… well, nothing. The first number was on the bus he saw when he looked up from his stupor. It was the number 38 that had decided his fate.

He trudged between the streets paved with old rain. City lights barely made out his face. He was not an ugly man, and he had knowing dark eyes. His name was Todd Smith. He worked at a water treatment facility in this city, and it had been so long since he had seen the light of day that he rarely actually remembered that he lived in Chicago, great city that it was. He got up in the wee hours of the morning, and it was winter, so it was dark. He got home after the sun had gone down every night, except this one, in which he never got home. Every night until this one, he wanted to weep, especially the night before.

Todd Smith was eager to please. He never really thought to make decisions to achieve outcomes. It was always about what other people thought of him. That's why he didn't go home that night. He wouldn't upset his boss when he didn't come to work the next day, because he wasn't scheduled to work the next day. They wouldn't be able to miss him. He was despondent tonight because the previous night had proven a long-standing guess that he was charming, but incapable. The reason that the night before was so miserable for him was because he wanted to please her, and he upset her in the process. Her name was Lauren, and at that point, she was not significant enough in his life to merit exclusivity, but it was the first time that they were going to have sex. He brought her home at nine at night hoping she'd stay. Lauren was a petite young woman with a slim figure. She was beautiful, with very glamorous facial features, dark, red lips, and sleek black hair running past her shoulder blades. She was light, but not pale. She looked Russian, although her name was conspicuously average: Lauren Wilson. She even had a faint accent. However, she always said that her father was involved in "several business operations across the country" and that her mother "entertained important people". He had his doubts, but he wanted to pound her on his bed. It would make up for several grievances in his life. However, there was a problem.

Todd had a premature ejaculation problem. He came too early every time, and he was planning on fixing that tonight. He was going to think about a certain time when he had an accident at work. He had pulled the wrong lever, and steam flew into the ceiling and set off the smoke alarm. The utter terror of the scene prevented him from coming when he masturbated, but what would it do when he was actually trying to have sex? He had to find out.

Todd brought her to his vermin-filled apartment and when she entered, he took her charcoal grey woolen coat with golden buttons and a high neck off and hung it on a metal rack. He took off his plain black jacket that was enough for his purposes and hung it alongside her coat. She smiled as she kicked off her red heels and said, "For a charming man, you are so eager." She was correct, since he had never really thought to hide that he was excited to have her. "Your working-class charm overpowers your willingness, however."

"And you seem rather experienced, but your beauty overpowers that," he said with a frank grin. She laughed, and took his hand. They went to the bedroom.

His bed had powder blue sheets, and she sat on them with playful movement. "Todd, take off my dress." He wasn't used to instruction such as this, but it gave him time to prepare. The machine in his head became confusing and he was thinking about pulling all the wrong levers. He thought about the possibility of a fire burning down his building. Where would he go? What would he do? All the while, he took off her little black dress with a ringed neckline with ruffles and buttons down the bodice. It had an elastic waist, so it was easy enough to pull off and throw onto the floor.

Then he saw what really required control. Her black and lacy bra with the red ribbon woven through the edges and the matching thong were all that kept him from proving his self worth. His sexuality came out of his nose in the form of hot air. Breathing heavily, he said, "Now it's your turn."

Lauren smiled, pulled him by the collar of his Kelly green shirt to the bed, and unbuttoned his shirt. His chest was defined to a point, and she licked his pectorals. She threw the shirt on the floor, and started on his brown pants. While this was going on, Todd kept thinking about those machines. It was so exciting. He really thought it was going to work. The fire that scared him kept his progeny from escaping.

She had removed his pants and thrown them onto the floor with his shirt. He was wearing nothing but white briefs. She rolled them down his legs to reveal a hardened joystick to play games with. Oh my God, this is it. It's going to work! I haven't spilled on her body yet! I am on a roll! She's lying down on the bed, waiting for me to finish undressing her…

He was about to bend down when the power went out. His penis spurted all over her beautiful bra and her lovely navel. Cum that looked like bad pudding seeped down into her underpants as she sat up slowly with her mouth open and her hands in an astonished pose. Todd's mouth was open and he clutched his junk. "S…"

"Your penis is a coward," she said shortly as she got up, picked his shirt up off the floor, cleaned herself of cum with it, threw it down in classy frustration, and walked out of the room, her silky hair insulting his every action. She put her coat on over her lingerie, put her shoes back on, and left. Todd knew then that he would never see her again, so he took that dress and flung it out the more receptive window.

Todd was to walk for 38 minutes, and he had accomplished all but two. He knew this because he had timed his cell phone to go off after 38 minutes. He kept walking along the same sidewalk, and vehicles for pleasure, work, and rest passed him on both sides. The barriers between the cars and whatever was beyond them were buildings. Tall, shining structures watched him walk somberly. Wires in the sky looked at him with disdain as they transferred messages to people who knew how to please others. Todd felt like an utter failure, walking the dark sidewalk alone at this hour. He was outside an older building he hadn't seen in recent memory, and cars still passed. An old man sat on the steps. He was dressed well. "Do you know the word?" he shouted after Todd.

Todd stopped. "What word?"

"The word that will save you," replied the man with a smile.

"I'm not sure I want to know unless it has to do with how to save my composure," Todd shouted, as if others could hear and respond.

"You won't need composure once you know who you are."

"I know who I am, just not who I need."

"You only need one thing to succeed."

"Do you know what it is to succeed?" asked Todd.

"To know the way, the truth, and the life is to succeed," replied the man after a slow pause.

Todd thought. "I don't have any of those things, and frankly, I only want them in one area."

"You don't even know what that area is, my friend," said the man. He pulled a book out of his pocket, walked up to Todd, and offered it to him. "Read this."

"I don't have time," said Todd as he started to leave.

"It's now or never," said the man.

Todd's cell phone went off as a bus approached. "You're right," he said. "It is." He took a deep breath and jumped into the street on his right side. His hat tasted the filth of old rain.