Life for Benjamin Klatch up until July.29th/2050 had been one uneventful day and night after another; every morning consisted of putting on the same black dress shoes, white buttoned dress shirt, black pants, and walking several blocks from his modest one-bedroom apartment to his father’s mattress sales company.
Benjamin’s long and slender limbs swung joyfully by his sides as he hummed an old rock tune, gripping his brown-paper bagged lunch tightly in his right hand. He wasn’t exactly happy, but the sun was shining and he couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful, spandex clad joggers bouncing along the wooded trail that lead him right onto the parking lot of the strip mall where his father’s business resided.
Breaking free from the shade of a thousand towering trees, the hot summer sun beamed down on his black, short hair and fair, white skin while he almost leaped across the slightly empty parking lot that consisted of many well-known consumer driven corporations: Wal-Mart, Jysk, Micheals, and a few food spots.
Benjamin didn’t pay many of these places any mind, but he did frequently visit the book store on his work breaks. He dreamed of becoming a well-renowned author since he could remember, but at twenty-three years old, he felt this vision becoming blurrier each and everyday he walked through the door of Sleep Haven. But today, on July.29th/2050, he was determined to finally write and finish an entire short story after his shift. It was a start he thought.
His day trudged on with each and every second that passed by. “Smile Ben! Who do you think will be taking over this business when I pass on? It sure as hell isn’t that beached llama Troy over there”, Benjamin’s large bellied and balding father barked at him from the other side of a pillow-top mattress, pointing his sausage sized thumb behind him towards Benjamin’s brother. He chuckled and asked “beached llama?”
“Yes, cause he’s dumb as shit and does nothing but sit there” Ben’s father laughed back. Behind the top of his father’s head, sat a chubby, muscly bodied and curly, long, blonde haired former high school football player. During high school Ben’s father praised Troy as the one to go on and make a legacy for the family; but trading in gripping the pig-skin for gripping ecstasy every night would surely erase any future for Troy in sports. He was everything Benjamin was afraid of becoming, however, his father’s life didn’t seem much to marvel at either. But at least he stuck around to keep them together, unlike their mother.
Benjamin idolized his father for his work ethic, leadership, loyalty to him and his brother, and the ability to have a sense of humour as a single father all these years. But going on to run Sleep Haven felt like one more nail in the coffin on his dreams. So, in expert fashion, Ben avoided the topic by implementing humour. Something that always distracted his dad long enough for another customer too walk-in.
Behind Ben entered a dirty, average sized and bearded man with a tattered trench coat and combat boots. His eyes were a piercing sky blue. “Yo merchant man! I can smell your fucking ass from here!” Troy hollered over the sea of display beds while leaning on the front counter like a drunken goon. Their dad immediately shot his head around and glared at Troy as if to say, “shut up! or die!”.
Turning back around with an ear-to-ear smile, he began to waddle towards the eccentric man with his hand out, apologizing for his son’s ignorant comment. “I’m sorry for my son’s uneducated outburst. He’s been tested for Tourette’s syndrome but we found out he’s actually legally retarded”.
The man stared blankly into the eyes of their dad, and then grabbed his shoulder and shoved him slightly making him trip a couple steps to the side. Benjamin looked onward with worry as the mysterious man approached him. His gaze made Ben feel stiff and stuck; like he had complete control over his every move.
Stopping inches away from Benjamin’s face, all he said was one sentence: “every tale brings forth a new surprise” in an enchanting whisper. This meant nothing to Benjamin. But before he could ask questions, the man turned around and left while harnessing the power to silence the room with nothing but his presence. The front door bell rang and the man was never seen in the flesh again. However, his words and impact would never be forgotten by Benjamin.
Shaking his head in disbelief, their dad called the guy “a crack head”, and left the front floor for Benjamin for the rest of his shift while heading to his office too finish some paper work. But Ben couldn’t stop thinking about his personalized message. Why him? What did it mean? None of it made sense.
Walking home he began to mull over short story ideas as he still felt obligated to stick to this mornings promise he gave himself: write and finish a complete short story. But inspiration was escaping him. What was he to write about when he felt he had no valuable experiences to pull from ?
Hours went by without any productivity, until it dawned upon him: “why not write about what I want to experience? And who I want to be through fiction?”. And that’s when everything began to change around Benjamin; the story he wrote began altercating his life in ways he couldn’t imagine. He named his story New Money, Old Money and based it on a character that was born into a family of no financial privilege that goes on to become the world’s best boxer, writer, and actor. Although most would call Benjamin a “wimp” or “skin n bones” throughout his life, Benjamin’s physique changed dramatically within a week of exercise. He outsized Troy now.
Also, his writing got extraordinarily better, and he felt as if the perspectives of all walks of life were easily understood through his eyes. Benjamin felt on top of the world. Nothing could take away this strange gift that that odd smelling man in the trench coat told Benjamin he had. But he wondered if it came at a price? Was the energy of his stories stealing from others so he could fulfill his most sought after goals? Or was it pure luck or magic? All Benjamin wanted to do now though was make another story to keep himself from ever ending up as the owner of Sleep Haven. But as the saying goes: “careful what you wish for”.
This time his story was called A Long, Lost Haven; it was about two sons and a father that owned a clothing company that burns down while they deal with the passing of their mother and wife. But everyday Benjamin woke up he still had to go to work, and his father still talked about Ben owning the company.
Weeks went by until one morning as he emerged from the woods he saw a sky full of red, hot flames blazing from the store he once worked at. He felt terrible now. His father’s business he had worked so hard for was gone, and he wished it. But this wasn’t what he wanted. He just wanted an out from the business.
Firefighters, police officers, and bystanders all surrounded the smoking pile of debris and ash. Benjamin, Troy, and their father stood behind the yellow tape with the rest of the people to hear the cause of the fire.
Eventually what the emergency response team would find just behind the burnt business was the remains of the culprit that donned a pair of combat boots and a trench coat. Benjamin swallowed hard and stared horrified as they lifted the charred body from the blackened pieces of wood. Nothing felt real anymore.