The looks that Dan got at the store convinced him. There was only four customers who were getting their morning coffee at the ‘TIMEOUT’ convenience store, but He could tell by their expressions that they all knew his story. A tale of recent events that had pulled Dan down. Family members of his who were struggling with personal challenges. Bills in his mail that never stopped coming in from places he never knew existed. Friends moving on in their careers while he remained stagnant in his. There was no joy currently in his life and his face displayed it for the world to see. His proof was in the faces of those people in the store who stared at him in concern.
Even the cashier, an older woman named ‘Bev’ gave him a look of apparent sympathy. He had seen Bev every morning for the last six months since he moved to this town, trying to start over. She always had a smile for him and pleasant demeanor. He had never gotten any kind of negative vibe off of Bev. He paid her for his coffee and left the store, his head down feeling judged. When he got outside the store, a police officer was walking up to the front door. He gave Dan a confused look and then entered the store. Dan thought that even a “trained law enforcement officer” felt some small margin of sympathy about him.
Dan got in his car. He sat there for moment staring out his front windshield and contemplated the messes in his world. There was a time when he looked at all things in life as challenges that he looked forward to conquering. He was a Zen warrior looking for peace and prosperity in his accomplishments. Those days were ancient history. Now, he was a broken man having been crushed by difficult fates and perhaps even the consequences of his actions. His face could no longer hide it. This morning showed him that people are beginning to see him as someone who was simply put, defeated. He planned to go home and lay in his bed under a blanket in total encompassing darkness.
He put his key in the car’s ignition and checked the rearview mirror. Behind his right ear was a glob of shaving cream that he missed washing off after this morning’s shave. It had a small point to it. The glob looked liked some kind of “alien horn” protruding from his neck. Almost as if Dan had been infected by some crazy alien species made entirely of marshmallow. He looked utterly ridiculous.
That’s when it started. Dan laughed out loud for what felt like forever. He thought of those old cartoons, when a character’s head would turn into a donkey’s head with the word “JACKASS” written on it. Ron grabbed some napkins that he had taken from the store and wiped away the cream. He then started his car still laughing and backed out of the lot. The day was now being seen with a new, slightly better viewpoint. Dan was now a man who knew he could handle whatever was thrown at him, with or without shaving cream behind his ear.