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For Better or For Worse

2008-04-26 18:47:24 by Twerpo
Updated

I recently won some writing bullshit at my school. Apparently everyone else there sucks at writing short stories so I won the first place 9-12 short story writing shits. I honestly don't think i'm deserving of this honor but whatever. Read the story and give me your feedback, thoughts and jackass comments.

Also, yes, I know there's a ton of typos.

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Eugene Harwood sat on the subway, quietly reading his newspaper and drinking his coffee. There was not a single remarkable thing about this man. He was neither fat nor skinny, weak nor strong. He managed to slip between all distinctions and come out as a dull average. His face lacked any distinction. His eyes were a dreary gray, with his right eye two millimeters above his left. He had measured once while in high school. His mouth was small, but not as small to attract attention to it. His hair was a straight black, cut in a business-like manner not for style, but for function. He suffered from slight balding of the forehead, causing him to look middle aged.

An Eastern European look befit him, however it was as if someone had ground all of the hard angles of his face, diminishing them, and thereby his presence, to something unnoticeable to all but the observant eye.

When he arrived at his desired stop, he stood up to reveal a gray suit and a tie lacking both color and interest. He stepped off the car and proceeded to work, punching in at 9:00 sharp. He then progressed to his small cubicle to carry out his day's work. Eugene's job was what he always dreamed of. Every day he got to file various orders for staplers. The company that he worked for was one of the top producers of office supplies, and filing the orders was a very meaningful job to him. It was so exciting. Would the orders be for red or black staplers? How many staplers could one person need? Hundreds? Thousands? Every order was a little hidden treasure.

After hours of sorting stapler orders, Eugene took his lunch break. He walked to the break room to eat a sandwich he had vigilantly fashioned earlier that day. A piece of white bread, then two layers of cheese, three lettuce leaves, two slices of turkey and another piece of bread. He had been eating the same sandwich every day for twenty years.

Sitting down at one of the tables, he had just begun to eat when he noticed a single dollar bill sitting on a nearby table. He walked over and pocketed the bill. He had never considered taking found money as stealing as some do. He reasoned that if someone was foolish enough to leave their money out in the open they deserved to be parted from it. As he returned to enjoying his sandwich his co-worker, Earl Smarting, walked into the room.

"Hey, who took my money? I left it right there when I went to the bathroom and now it's gone! I thought we had a trust system here."

He continued to complain about his lost money, accusing everyone of taking it. Finally someone tried to reason with him.

"Well, who else was in the break room?"

"Eugene was in there, but that's Eugene. You're just trying to cover up that you took it aren't you."

"Calm down, calm down. He might well have taken it, why don't you ask him about it. It could be an honest mistake."

"Eugene? He sorts stapler orders for god sakes, and enjoys it too. I'd have better luck asking the walls and ceiling if they took it."

Throughout all of this, Eugene was invisible, nothing more than a fly on the wall. Sure, taking found money seemed fine, but once you saw the person to whom it belonged, it changed your perspective on things. He wanted to say something, be he was afraid of what people would think of him. He hadn't meant any harm. Earl was the employee of the month and he golfed with the manager. If he found out it was Eugene who had taken the money, Eugene's dream job would be gone.

Besides, the whole experience was scintillating. Never before had Eugene done something so exciting, unless you counted the one time that he had worn the same tie two days in a row.
Eugene finished his sandwich and calmly walked back to his cubicle. After finishing his work for the day, he took the subway home. Even hours later he still had a rush going through his body. The excitement of it! He had never really liked Earl anyway. He always seemed to abuse his relationship with the floor manager, getting people fired that he didn't like. He had deserved what had happened.

It wasn't until two weeks later that Eugene had another chance to steal, for he had made up his mind that it was stealing after all. He had made up his mind to take a twenty from Earl's wallet three days ago. He merely hadn't had an opportunity until now. It wasn't that he needed the money, quite the opposite. His job provided him with more than an adequate income for the lifestyle he wanted. It was the thrill that compelled him.

So here Earl was, once again being completely careless with his money. He had left his wallet out on his desk as he had gone to the bathroom. He was so careless that he might as well hand his money out. Eugene made a trip to the copier, and grabbed his wallet while walking by.

He opened it to find a multitude of bills. It wasn't just a couple dollars, but a few hundreds. Right then Eugene decided to take the entire wallet. He had never expected such a large amount of money would be so easily obtained. Besides, it would be much harder to replace it. Much easier for him to just pocket it and not look back.

He saw Earl returning from the bathroom and walked back from the copier to his cubicle. Earl went on another tirade. Unlike previously, these were real threats being made. Eugene thought Earl's head going to explode if he didn't stop yelling. A vein on Earl's right temple bulged and pulsed, threatening to pop. Never once was Eugene suspected.

It took a turn for the worse from there. By the end of the day word had gotten to the higher-ups. Those higher-ups wanted to talk with any suspects. Just the thought of catching a man red hand gave Earl a glint in his eye. He stalked through the hallways and cubicles, looking for anyone suspicious. He arrived at Eugene's cubicle.

"Eugene."

"Earl."

"So what have you been up to?"

"I've just been here sorting out these stapler orders. It's quite interesting actually. You see here," he pointed to a document, "someone ordered five hundred black staplers. Yet over here," he gestured to another document, "the same company ordered 5,000 red staplers. I'm trying to figure out if it was a mistake, or if someone could actually use 5,500 red and black staplers."

"I see." Then after a pause. "I'll just leave you to your work then."

The next day at least one familiar face was absent from the workplace. Eugene resolved to keep his head down; stealing was too risky. It wasn't like him to act so oddly. But doing this had gotten him thinking. If someone in a position like Earl was idiotic enough to be rash with his money, there must be many others in the world like him.

It took a month for Eugene to finalize his plans. It was quite ingenious really. Identity theft was so easy these days, especially if you knew how to do it. Tonight would be his first run at it, and if all went well, he might just quit his job. He pulled out the phonebook and looked. Herbert Reynolds? No, not him. Robert Lyons? Definitely not him. Allen J. Shafer. There, that seemed like a decent start.
After about ten minutes it was over. He had called under the pretense of the accountant of an unnamed millionaire. It was too easy, he read some of his spam mail and a few minutes later had the man's account information. He accessed it over the Internet and quickly diverted fifty cents to a small offshore bank account he had created. The genius of the plan was in the patience required. The payoff would not be immediate, but after some time, it would come.

Besides, the money didn't matter. Eugene felt that familiar rush flow through his body. The adrenaline spike and warmness inside was a memorable sensation. It was the feeling that drove him, not the money.

He continued the night after that and the following night as well. He had thought his job was fun, but nothing compared to stealing. He could get three or four different people's account numbers in a single day. Even if they checked their account, he doubted they would even notice the amount he had taken. The warm feeling lasted with him the rest of the evening too. It was the best way to live.
Many months passed with this continuing. By now Eugene had a couple thousand dollars and none were the wiser. Then Eugene had another revelation, if he quit his job he could get even more account numbers, and make even more money. If he stepped it up he could easily match or exceed the salary of his job. The sensation of the game would be with him all day.

He arrived at work the next day in a pair of jeans, a cotton t-shirt and a new haircut. He walked directly into his boss's office and placed his resignation onto his desk. He turned and promptly walked out, leaving the floor to stare at his back. He entered the elevator, smiled at everyone and then let the doors close.

It almost felt as good as his first theft. Not quite, but good. Throughout his time as a thief he had found himself. He had thought he was happy with his previous job, but now everything was different. Every facet of the world seemed dull compared to his newfound "job". Never before had he been so happy.

Before long he had a couple thousand dollars in his bank account. It had changed his life. He now drove the most recent BMW model. He had upgraded to a nicer, more spacious apartment. His wardrobe now contained color. Eugene loved to flaunt his newfound wealth.

Within time, though, he became greedy. Eugene was tired of getting only fifty cents for his time. Sure, the thrill was great at first, but now it was the change that the money brought him to which he desired. He decided to do one last job, bigger than the others and retire from fraud. He'd get another job, not another desk job, no, but he'd get a job.

He looked through the phonebook. The new phonebooks had just been distributed a few days ago and his still had that brand new smell to it. After five minutes he had the account information. The total was $563,428.12, quite a sum. He transferred it all to his offshore account and then relaxed. He poured himself a drink and sat down; drinking had been another he had picked up during this new occupation.

Five minutes hadn't even passed before the police burst through his door. He was handcuffed face down on the ground within seconds.

Today had been his lucky day. That last job he did was part of a sting operation. The police had found a pattern in the way he chose his victims. They had placed a variety of fake numbers in the phonebooks all with names that would appeal to him. His last act had been enough evidence to convict him.

His court date was six months later. He could not post his own bale. All of his money was deemed stolen and evidence of the state. For six months of hell, he lived in a grungy cell with nothing but a criminal for company. He cried for many nights.

He was finally convicted of mass identity theft and fraud. Sentenced to eighty years in prison at the age of thirty five meant that he would most likely be in jail for the rest of his life.

Years passed, and he became accustomed to life in jail. He no longer had control over his life as he was told when to eat, when to exercise and when to shower but it had been much like that with his original job. He was allowed to make handicap signs that people hang on their rear view mirror. It was always a surprise to see what the people's names were. Jerry E. Lamphear, oh wow. Juan L. Archibald, amazing. Every one was like a little hidden treasure.

Eugene Harwood sat in his jail cell, quietly reading his newspaper while sitting on his bunk. There was not a single remarkable thing about this man. Not a single thing.

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So yeah, story. Review and such.


Comments

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Jack-EJack-E

2008-05-11 19:58:51

TL;DR

Tell me if it's a worthwhile way to waste fifteen minutes.


jimmickjimmick

2008-05-22 04:48:43

I agree, TL;DR