The Broken Man In The Rain

The Broken Man In The Rain

A Story by Mark Anthony Santa Cruz
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I could have did better

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I once knew a man a long time ago; he was a very strange man, always filled with bathory in his soul. I remembered once, I was on my way home from work. I was a bellhop at the Hilton. The days were always extremely long, and the people there were always extremely cruel. But yet, I never bothered to leave till I met him.

 

The Hilton I worked for was a beautifully decorated hotel; it was marked as one of the finest in our city, at least that’s what my boss told me. “Only the rich come here,” my manager would always say snobbishly. He never let us forget the importance of how much we were just simply tools, abiding only to the necessity of a job. As far as he was concerned, we weren’t humans, but cold lifeless objects, and if we break, we were replaced, and if we did our jobs wrong, we were thrown away. He’d always remind us to give every ounce of dignity we had left to please the customer and for some of us that’s all we had left.

 

I once asked him at orientation, “What if the people we’re tending to are sometimes incompetent jackasses, who get their thrills on demoralizing us with every syllable they spill from their blacken cups.

 

He looked at me with a malicious smile and replied, “In this job son, pride is merely a word, it means NOTHING here.” He said, “As far as I’m concerned if a customer tells you something, you better except it like you would your paycheck, sad and pissed off!” he’d laugh holding his robust belly, and then turn to the next person who needed him for a few moments.

 

I remember my fifth month working at the Hilton; I was getting ready to get off work. I was placing my coat and hat in the company locker. My face was carefully snug inside the gray locker trying to hook the wool coat on the small brass hook, when I felt a presence enter the room. I found my boss standing in the middle of the hallway, staring at me. His face looked indiscernible for the first few moments, but after carefully searching his tried and overused face, I realized he was angry. He stood there waiting for me to break the silence and ask him “What’s wrong?” but I, being the typically “weird person” as some people would often say, said nothing, pretending that I never even saw him come in.

 

“You know you got a lot of nerve-you know that?” he said stridently. I said nothing, but kept a blank look on my face; my ragged body could not take the exhaustion of a careless argument that I knew would lead to me being fired or hurting an overly confident man’s feelings. But the pupils in his eyes suggested words, not silence. I could feel the obsequious part of my brain suggesting: be the dog you know you are, be loyal to the master who put his hand before you, and willful to his every command. However, I never paid attention much to the baffled opinions of my consciousness but the heightened stupidity I possessed.

 

“What did I do?” I shrugged my shoulders, showing the lack of interest I had in his unappreciated words.

 

“You know what you did!” vehemently he said. The intensity in his eyes was abnormal now, his statue figure was heated with emotion instead of the dull skeptical person he was, and he was now a man with unexplained emotion and flexibility. He then waved his finger heavily in the air. “GODDAMMIT, CHASE!” waving both of his hands angrily in the air, his snowy hair shook violently with each outburst. I kept the air in my lungs, waiting for his anger to flee the air as I wanted to leave the night. “Chase you can’t let every pity remark get to your overly sensitive exterior. You need to know when to keep your voice silent and your tongue motionless!”


”What the hell are you talking about?” sarcastically I said. I put my hands in the air with each hand looking as if they were waiting to receive a high five; it was clear that keeping my childish charade of pretending not to know was over. Everyone who was caught witnessing the exchange of words could not keep away but just kept watching, hoping as if time was no longer the aggressor and the rules we must abide by are no longer the excusable factor when witnessing anything tragic or doomed. I didn’t care at this point what happened to me or anyone.

 

“THAT’S IT!” his voice slamming against the beige plaster walls. “YOU’RE FIRED!” he shouted once more while storming away.

 

I felt not the purgatory of failure, but the shame that came with it. My restless soul could not tolerate the classification of being labeled as a bellhop, but I could not deny the fact of needing the job.  I still had to pay for my apartment that I was sharing with a roommate who had been behind on the rent now for three months. I thrust my typical stained hands against the gray lockers that were beside me; the impact gave sound to a raucous slam that vibrated through the thin beige walls.

 

“DAMM!” I screamed out loud. Everyone had already escaped the room by now, and I being the only one left who did not instinctively leave at the sight of a shark’s kill remained, for how could I, I was the kill. Decomposing the title that was given to me by a selfish man and yet I felt tired of that title, should I though? Could the fallen get back on their feet when the floor is a jagged pavement of prickly knives? Can there really be something to that overly used cliché, “Everything happens for a reason?”

 

 I put myself on the wooden bench that was near the exits to the outside. I sat and pondered to myself of how I could redeem the title I no longer cared for. I wondered if Mario would take the blame for me this time, after all he still owes after last time, or maybe Naomi, she always seemed nice; maybe she would take the blame for me. I knew she was a sincere person who loved to help me for some odd reason, but to what extent would a person go if they are endangering themselves as well? I sat there contemplating, putting my hands to my head trying to comfort the in-sensational throbs that were beating away on the side of my temple. Great, a headache I thought.

 

I could still hear the voices lingering in the hallways, employees selling their gossip to each other as if their lives weren’t pathetic enough. How could the whole staff already know? I wondered if their minds could feel shame which is considered sin, if they could understand that no person should tarnish another person’s name just for their own amusement. How strange, I thought to myself. I could still hear the footsteps overlapping each other in the distance. Then, just one pair in particular kept growing immensely second after second until they didn’t sound as a casual stride, but a person racing to the finish line.

 

“Chase, where have you been?” his voice sounding breathless, the narrow loss of oxygen that was scarce in the room. He was a timidly, shy fellow, who never longed for the basic necessities that most human beings needed. He was indeed an intellectual genius who strayed from the path that was put before him by his father, whose adolescent’s endowment was particularly too foolish for someone of his fancy, and thus lead him to a path he regretted. Nevertheless, the kindness in his hands was enough to demolish the lingering of regrets. He cuffed his hands on a silver railing that hung on the side of him; placed his head in his arms while gathering the words that were near ready to spill from his patronizing voice.

 

“Mario, what the hell are you doing here?” I said bewilderedly. The concern in his eyes reminded me of a truth that portrayed the lost processions of apathy.

 

“I heard Melvin fired you for cussing out the Penthouse Guest,” he said. He placed his weary eyes upon me and commenced on his way, walking towards me-letting go of the rail that was holding him up.

 

“But how did you find out?” I responded. I was already bemused by his appearance in the room, let alone his discovery too of something that just happened ten minutes ago.

 

“Naomi told me,” he raised his head covering his eyes with his hands.

 

“How did Na—“

 

“Paula in the laundry department texted her after Silvia from banquet had found out from Marla in house keeping and so on and so on which eventually led to Naomi calling me.” He finally made his way beside me sitting on the wooden bench. He slammed his butt hardly against the bench, which slid back creating a loud screech. He placed his arm around my shoulder and put his head back, closing his eyes. “It’s okay. I told Melvin it was my bidding, and that the guest got the names wrong, so you’re not fired.” He paused and opened his eyes. “I’m just suspended!” he chuckled sincerely, letting his gentle smile fill the room with a sense of kindness and admiration. He kept his head on the wall and closed his eyes once more, letting his mind deliberately fall into a daydream of something that may lighten the consequence of his action. Then let out a loud laugh.

 

“Why are you laughing?”

 

“It’s just funny, that’s all.” Still laughing he said.

 

“What’s so funny?” I said with more concern of the confusion he placed in a silvery platter before me.

 

“It’s funny to think that I would have never found out about Melvin firing your a*s if Naomi wasn’t such a love sick dog. It’s hard to believe she still likes you even with you ignoring her most of the time, and yet even with the constant gestures of flirtation that you unknowingly do, she’s still able to find hope in your eyes even though you want nothing to do with her.”

 

“I don’t mean to do it intentionally.” I said reluctantly. “I mean she knows I care for her but—“

 

“But let me guess, just not that way right?” abruptly he interjected. His words were fiercely being used to strike the exterior of my hollow shell self. “You may not do it intentionally, but the point remains is that you still do it. You may not think you’re doing any harm but you are. Keep in mind that a person’s feelings are just as rational as the fact that the sun rises and the sun sets; it’s just a matter of perceiving and acknowledging it.”

 

We remained silent. We stayed listening to the chefs drop their dishes and bang their pots and pans against the steel stoves. We listened to the foot steps roam through the hotel, overstating how much they hated their jobs, or what wrongs were intervening abruptly through their timeline.

 

“Thanks, Mario,” I said placing my hands on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and looked to me, smiling, patting his hand on mine.

 

“It’s the least I can do after the time you saved me from being evicted.” He rose his body staggering to its height and began to walk away. “Sometimes you have to learn to appreciate the arrogance of people, because if we don’t, how will we ever learn to differ ourselves from their stain-filled intentions.” He gazed at the cinnamon vinyl flowers that lay implanted in the ceiling and walked away through the double doors. He was gone.

 

Gathering my things from the almost empty locker of mine, I placed myself in a state of loneliness and depression. Again to the cruelty of the unjust world I thought. I walked slowly towards the exit of the hell I was in to the hell that lay outside. It seemed I was not safe anywhere. I hesitated entering the lobby of the hotel, searching for the lost souls who were tiresome to the awareness of anyone. I walked out the glass doors to the outside world. The sky was getting dark, but the time was still early. I looked at my watch: 4’o clock. “It seems it’s going to rain.” I said aloud. I was standing near the valet parker, trying to make small talk, but it seemed he was lost in the confusion of his own mind.

 

 The wind swooned into the dim shaded gray sky. I placed myself in the comfort of the wind as I walked home. “The rains near,” I thought and me without my umbrella, “how foolish of me.” The thunderous sound of thunder was approaching, and the lightning had begun to fill the air with apathy that was cold and lost.

 

The rain flew into the crowded buildings, smashing the tiny drops against wherever they could find. I felt the rain drop touch against my skin. It was cold, unloved, and mistreated. The moistness of the drops ran along my cinnamon skin, embracing the travelers who were always searching for a home. I could see the distant people running away from the rain, trying not to wet their perfectly curled hair or outfits; I could see the people in the distant finding shelter from the rain, and some had already figured out ways to hinder the rains approaching arrival.

 

Still the rain was at its peak and the waterfall pouring from the sky had begun. I strayed to the sidewalks of the ordinaries; already feeling the coherence of my adaptive instincts comes into play. I felt the calligraphy writing itself on a worn out canvas, and felt the embedment of reliance from society take me. I walked among them, avoiding everyone I possible could, trying not to make myself noticeable to anyone when the actions of a benighted individual caught my attention.

 

It was a man, just an ordinary man but could he be ordinary I wondered to myself. It had seemed he was not so much fleeing the rain but embracing it, as a man would do to a long lost visitor. He placed his hands in the air and faced his broken face towards the sky, watching the clouded heavens shapes form. He never looked to the sky when it was a bright baby blue I thought to myself. I know I’ve seen this man more than once but only when I was on my way home from work, taking the late shifts. He was a suit person, very formal, and very well mannered. But nevertheless he was clearly unique. He had to be unique for finding beauty in the most sorrowful of things I thought to myself.

 

He began running in circles trying to receive as much love as he could from the rain. His body moved gracefully in and out of the drops, disobeying times’ rules as the rain slowly moved to the ground. I could hear him humming a tune from where I was standing; I was engrossed by his presence and had stopped moving for some time. It was Burt Bacharach “What the World Needs Now” I thought. He started out slowly humming the song; it was soft and calming for a short while, until the soft song became a loud cry.

 

He fell to the ground placing his hand on his eyes, yelling to the ground as if he was the unjust victim of a crime that had taken place. He cries grew stronger and stronger letting people know his cries, people turned to stare, but slowly walked away. I walked towards the broken man in the rain approaching him calmly and cautiously. “What if he attacks me?” I thought. “He could have a gun with him and threaten to shoot me and everyone else.” I couldn’t let my fears get the best of me, fear is what drives us to fear the unknowing. “Are you okay mister?” I said. My eyes tried to have a glance at his aged face. I’ve never been this close to an overly hysterical guy I thought. His sobs continued to grow and grow. “Sir, are you okay?” I said persistent to catch his attention.

 

“I’m FINE!” he yelled. He continued to have his hand on his eyes keeping the sight from any person staring into his watery eyes. His sobs were more silent now; I could no longer hear his mourns but just the rain pouncing against the ground. The city sounds seem to lose their sound in his sobs, it was as if the more he sobbed, the more the sounds of cars screeching, people yelling or talking became faint. I could only hear him and the rain who sounded fiercer when shielded from the city sounds. “Sir you just can’t stay here in the rain, you can catch you’re death out here.” He stayed silent pushing himself towards the conformity of the garments that pretest frailty. He began ripping at himself, the shrieks growing stronger from the rumbling that no longer can be submerged through his fake smiles.

 

He let go of himself, talking to himself in a soft but blunt voice. He grew tired of his body and moved to the pavement which was gray and embodied with a large catfish and a small bald eagle in reach with another, showing that they can coexist even when the tables have turned. I knelt before him trying to look into his sorrowful eyes. I tried to keep a nonchalant face but his melancholy continued to grow and I felt it harder and harder to keep myself as tranquil as a peaceful wind, but it was heartbreaking and felt a glimmer of hope start to dwindle away.

 

“What’s wrong sir?” now shouting into his face.

 

“I can’t do this. I have to get out of here. I have, I have to go…” his words now rambling. He peered into the street with the illusion of something real waiting there for him. “Barbra…” he faintly spoke. His eyes spewing the warm salty tears that began to bleed from him and he spoke once more. “Barbra…Sammy…I’m so sorry” pounding back at the ground. Shrieking with the contingency to have something come to him, something unreal. He rose slowly as if seeing something in the distance of the rain and traffic. He kept repeating the two names to himself, reaching his hand to open a door that was not there and began walking towards the traffic.

 

“Sir, what do you think you’re doing?” I rushed to him trying to grab his shoulder. He instinctively grabbed me and started into my eyes. Immediately I felt full of shame and sorrow so much so that my soul felt benighted. I have never seen the eyes of a man who weeps proudly and somehow I could feel his pain as if it was mine, imbued into my psyche. “It was tragedy who knocked at your door, wasn’t it? Barbra and Sam,” his eyes widened in despair. “they were close weren’t they? Why don’t you tell me what happened, okay?” I could see the infliction that each question put on him, it was demoralizing him, but he had finally let go.

 

“My family,” he was uttering the words. “They’re gone…” his eyes widened once more. “Love and family.” He mumbled. “I should have been there with them, I…I SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!” he started running towards the traffic, the headlights were flaring with each car that passed. “I’m coming home! Don’t worry!”

 

“You can’t do that!” I grabbed the tan trench coat. He punched me on the side of my temple. I felt lightheaded, and I couldn’t see my vision. It was suddenly blurry.

 

“Find a person you can love instead and that’s all you’ll ever need in this world is love, but without love, your life is empty and there’s no point living if you don’t have it.” I thought I heard him say as my body was disobeying time. Everything was so slow, and everything dimming itself into a colorful daze. I can see him, he was still running towards the traffic, and then the darkness heavily fell upon my eye lids. Then just the sounds of cars screeching and the sounds of metal colliding with one another, and then there was nothing.

 

I was awakened by a man in a black trench coat with four oval buttons that ran parallel along each other, his face was still not too clear to me yet. My vision was still shunned by the man who had hit me. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I lied to him; I was trying to keep myself from worrying about the pain that was throbbing away at my temple, but regaining my strength was going to be a little harder than I thought. I wondered if he was still alive. I could see the light from the ambulance flashing in the horizon. It was still dark, but the gray clouds were no more, gone.

 

“I’ve been trying to wake you for awhile now, but it seemed you were out cold.” He reached his hand out and I grabbed it lifting me to his side. I felt the weariness of the wind touch against me; it was cold and bitter instead of calm.

 

“The man? Is he okay?”

 

“I’m afraid not.” He looked to the side, trying not to stare into my eyes while he told me the horrid news. “He ran into the traffic and was hit by a truck. The truck then swerved and slammed into another car, flipping a car which landed on him. I’m sorry.” His voiced now cracked. He began to slowly retreat away from me.

 

The pain bantered its way to the heart, and I was in pain.  Should I walk or stand? How can this be?  What choice should bring us to take away what has been bestowed upon us? I looked to the plain vividness of the surroundings. I could a newspaper lying atop of a stand. The headline had caught my eye.

 

Woman and child are killed by an escape convict.

 

What is this world coming to? I studied the paper more carefully now, there was a self portrait of the family that was taken a few weeks before the tragic event. There were three of them, a young beautiful woman with a flowery purple dress; she wore a beautifully decorated necklace with her hand holding her chin showing a silver charm bracelet, then a young child, probably the age of five, who was wearing a pink dress with ruffles that hung at the end. Then there was a man. It was him, the broken man in the rain. He looked as if he had a strong jaw; he was wearing a Havana dress shirt with a pair of slacks. And there in the picture read:

 

The Wallace family on their way to Phantom of the Opera. Picture was taken by Brother Jonathon Wallace three weeks before the incident. Barbra Wallace in the purple dress, four year old Samantha in the pink dress, and Timothy Wallace in the white shirt.

 

Love? Is it really that powerful; is it as moving as the beauty that revolves around the world? He died for it and I can see why. I can see why now. I looked at the paper once more and looked to the ambulance that was still in the middle of the street, blockading the other cars from the accident, and could see the man, Timothy, and his family waving at me, smiling. I shook my head to see if I can shake the effects of that last slugger he threw at me, but he was still standing, and then slowly vanishing away. “Love,” I repeated in my mind, “love is worth dying for.”

 

© 2008 Mark Anthony Santa Cruz


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Added on April 26, 2008

Author

Mark Anthony Santa Cruz
Mark Anthony Santa Cruz

san antonio, TX



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