Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rev. Ron's Realities: Happy Death Day

It’s been a while—or a minute (to use the cool kids’ slang)—since I’ve written one of my Rev. Ron’s Realities.  Inspiration can come on like lightning but sometimes it can be as infrequent as a…as a…infrequent thing?  Like a comet or a first date that doesn’t end in tears (other people cry like I do on first dates right?).  For those new to my blog, a Rev. Ron Reality is a short story I write based on the movies I watch and review.  Sometimes these stories are inspired by extras or background characters or they involve some elaborating on minor plot or story points I want to see more of or they are just brand new characters I made up and inserted into the universe of a movie.

Today’s Reality comes from the film Happy Death Day; a dark comedy that is essentially a horror version of Groundhog Day and ended up proving to be a lot better than I thought it was going to be.  (You can read my review right here.)  Inspiration hit me with a random extra in the background of a scene at a diner, a place where the main character Tree is lamenting her curse of reliving and dying on the same day over and over again.  The man in question isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary beyond having some coffee and doing what appears to be some newspaper reading.  However, it turns out that this man is being tormenting all the same…

That's our guy.

The light of a new day beams through the blinds of a window and piercing the eyelids of middle-aged Roland.  Slowly his eyes open as he reaches for his glasses.  With a deep breath, he sits up in his bed and stretches before he makes his way to the bathroom to do his usual morning routine.  When he’s finally dressed for work, he saunters into the kitchen for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, frozen sausage patties and toast.  Before leaving, he fills up his travel mug with some warm coffee from the pot and takes off in his modest sedan, ready to complete the work day.

Nothing spectacular happens as he fills quote after quote at his desk, files paperwork and processes various purchase orders.  Everything is normal.  Lunch comes and goes without as much as a spill on his dress shirt and tie.  The afternoon clicks by at a moderate pace and, as he responds to one of the dozens and dozens of emails he gets during the day, it’s 5 o’clock and it’s quitting time.  

Living the dream.

Very few thoughts went through Roland’s head as he commuted home.  The only one of any real consequence was what he was going to do for dinner.  The day wasn’t too stressful or strenuous but he didn’t feel like cooking.  “Maybe I’ll go out to eat,” he said out loud to himself.  He started to pass by a small family restaurant not far from the college and it struck him that this was the best option.  Flipping on his turn signal, he eased into the parking lot, took a spot and entered the establishment.  He was seated immediately and the coffee was quick to follow.

Seems to be missing a neon "Eats" sign.

The rest of his time in the restaurant passed without any memorable moments.  He drank his coffee, ate the meatloaf he ordered, read the paper he brought with him and tipped the twenty percent he usually gives.  The only matter of note afterwards was the fact he ended up hitting all the red lights on his way home.  Normally this would frustrate him but Roland just took it in stride.  Once he got to his house, he kicked his shoes off, grabbed some ice cream from the fridge and settled into his recliner to watch some television.  By the time a second show started up, the ice cream was gone and he was fast asleep in his chair.

Cold, creamy goodness.

The light of a new day started beaming through the blinds of the bedroom window and piercing Roland’s eyelids.  Slowly he opened them and reached for his glasses.  Releasing a deep breath, he sat up in his bed and stretched before he makes his way to the bathroom to do his usual morning routine.  Stopping before he got to the door, a moment of confusion hit him as he had a fuzzy memory of falling asleep on his recliner last night.  Shaking the idea from his head, he entered his master bathroom where he shaved, brushed his teeth and showered.  When he was finally dressed for work, he sauntered into the kitchen for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, frozen sausage patties and toast.  As he opened the freezer to grab the sausage, he spotted the small carton of ice cream that he swore he finished off last night.  Tempted, he was going to open it and see if there was any left and that maybe he just put it away in his half-asleep state but disregarded the idea and just grabbed the meat so he could finish cooking his morning meal.  Before leaving the house, he filled up his travel mug with some warm coffee from the pot and left in his modest sedan, ready to complete the work day but bothered by a nagging sense of doubt in the back of his brain.

After arriving at the office and swearing all his coworkers were wearing the same clothes as they were yesterday, nothing spectacular happened as he filled quote after quote at his desk, filed paperwork and processed various purchase orders.  Everything is normal.  Lunch came and went without so much as a spill on his dress shirt and tie.  As the afternoon clicks by at a moderate pace and, as he responds to one of the dozens and dozens of emails he gets during the day, his supervisor comes over with a file in his hand.

“Hey, Roland,” Darren Johannsen says with a smile.  The man was slightly older than Roland but had a chubby face that made him look like an adult baby.  It managed to make him look younger.  Even his bright blond hair was able to hide the gray that was starting to show but could barely be seen in the florescent lights.

“Hey, Darren,” Roland replied.  “What’s up?”

Darren had a certain look on his face that was part confusion, part smirk so Roland instantly knew that whatever was going on wasn’t that big of a deal.  “Nothing really except you put tomorrow’s date on all of these purchase orders.  I just need you to correct them, otherwise it’ll mess with our daily goal spreadsheets.”

“Oh,” Roland answered sheepishly.  “Sorry about that.  I don’t know where my mind is today.  I’ll fix that right up.”

“Thanks, Roland!” the boss said as he handed over the file.  “You’re coming to my barbeque this weekend right?  My wife is making that potato salad you love.”

“I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Great,” Darren said as he walked off, sharing friendly greetings with everyone he passed on his way to his office.

Roland immediately opened the file and began reviewing the PO’s.  He didn’t understand.  The date looked fine.  Then he began to take a closer look at the actual paperwork.  It all looked very familiar.  Quickly, he grabbed his phone and looked at the date.  His forehead started to sweat as the numerical sequence seemed to look back at him.  Panic started to take over and he turned towards his computer, frantically looking at his inbox and then checking the corner of his computer screen.  The revelation made his stomach drop.
This can’t be, he thought.  He already did this day.

Roland’s head was racing with thoughts as he commuted home.  Something wasn’t right.  Was he dreaming?  Did he just mistake yesterday for today?  The day and this issue were taking its toll on him and he didn’t feel like cooking when he got home.  “Maybe I should go out to eat,” he said out loud to himself.  He started to pass by a small family restaurant not far from the college.  He remembered eating here already.  It happened, he swore it did.  Flipping on his turn signal, he flew into the parking lot, took a spot and thought to himself that maybe coming here again will help him clear his mind and, with that, he entered the establishment.  He was seated immediately and the coffee was quick to follow.

The rest of his time in the restaurant passed restlessly.  He drank his coffee nervously, ate the meatloaf he ordered too quickly, and tried to read the paper he brought with him but couldn’t concentrate on any article he chose.  He got up to leave and barely remembered to leave money for the bill and almost forgot the twenty percent tip he usually gives.  As he drove home, he found himself hitting all the red lights—exactly the thing that already happened to him.  This frustrated him to the point he nearly started to scream.  Once he got home, he grabbed some ice cream from the fridge and settled into his recliner, turning the TV on in hopes of a distraction.  The hours started to tick by and his stomach started to hurt from eating the ice cream too fast.  Distraught, he took a sleeping aid as he entered his bedroom and passed out on the bed, still wearing his work clothes.

The new day’s light shot through the blinds of the bedroom window and stabbed at Roland’s eyelids.  Quickly, his eyes shot open and he scrambled for his glasses on the nightstand. With a shaky breath, he pushed himself off the bed and stumbled towards the bathroom, patting his clothes wildly to find his phone.  He remembered falling asleep in his work suit but was horrified to see he was wearing his pajamas.  Did he change in the middle of the night while he was in the haze of the sleeping pill?  He must have, he convinced himself as he showered and tried to wash away his unease.  After getting dressed for work, he lumbered into the kitchen for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, frozen sausage patties and toast.  The corner of his eye caught the glimpse of the ice cream in the freezer but he just told himself that he must have bought more than he thought he did.  Before leaving, he filled up his travel mug with some warm coffee from the pot.  As he walked out towards his car in the driveway, he pulled his phone out from his pocket to check the time.  The date that took its place underneath the clock hit him like a bullet to the chest and he dropped his coffee.

Jeez, Roland.  Defrost your freezer sometimes.

As the dark liquid splashed and cascaded around his feet and the front tire of his car, he was terrified to find that it was once again the same day.  “No no no no.  This isn’t right,” he muttered.  “I’m seeing things.  No, my phone is just wrong,” he whispered to himself as he picked up his now empty coffee mug and got into the car.

“This can’t be happening,” Roland kept repeating to himself as he drove to work.  “If this is happening—if I am repeating the same day—why is this happening?  What did I do?” he asked himself.  “There was that old woman I almost hit with my car last week.  I tried to apologize but she kept saying she’s going to put a curse on me.  Did she?  Oh, and then there was that vegan Wiccan girl outside the butcher shop this last weekend.  She kept yelling at me for buying that pork shoulder.  Said I was a ‘monster.’  Maybe she used her Wiccan magic to force me to live like this?”

Roland found no answers as he pulled into his office and got to his desk.  His mind was cloudy with paranoia and torment as he filled quote after quote at his desk, filed paperwork and processed various purchase orders.  He made sure to put the date that his computer and phone was telling him it was just to make sure that everything looked normal.  Lunch came and went and the afternoon provided no respite from his mental anguish as the clock slowly ticked by to quitting time.

The drive home was a stressful one as his mind was too preoccupied to concentrate on anything else.  He nearly crashed into another car at a red light because he was too busy thinking about the hell he now found himself in.  He was too shook to cook so he decided to eat at the restaurant near the college…again.  He was seated immediately, the waitress gave him coffee, he ordered his meatloaf and tried to read the paper but it all felt like torture at this point. Barely finishing his meal, he paid his bill and left, forgetting to tip.

Speeding to avoid getting caught by the red lights, the first thing Roland did when he entered the house was throw out the ice cream in his freezer.  In fact, he pulled everything out of the ice box, shoved it into a garbage bag and immediately marched it outside and put the bag in the can.  At this point, Roland was physically shaking from what the day has done to him and he couldn’t take much more.  He grabbed his bottle of sleeping pills, swallowed as many as he could and chased it with an entire bottle of whiskey.

*Pills not shown.

The morning sun ripped its way through the window and the blinds, assaulting Roland’s eyelids.  His eyes flew open and he immediately knew that nothing had changed, the day had reset.  He leapt up and screamed an expletive that his neighbor’s neighbors heard.  Defeated, he made his way to the bathroom, barely dressed himself and didn’t even bother to tighten his tie.  He slummed down to the kitchen to make his eggs, sausage and toast and cast a deadly eye at the ice cream that was mocking him in the freezer.  Finally, instead of filling his travel mug, Roland just grabbed his pot of coffee, added his sugar and cream, and left the house for work with the entire pot.  

He left the cup.

At the office, Roland barely paid attention to his work as he found himself mentally arguing with the old woman or the Wiccan girl who did this to him.  His quotes were quoted, his files filed, and his purchase orders processed but all he could think about was escaping this day.  He was frazzled and his cubicle neighbor; Allison could tell.  In fairness, he was barely dressed today as his tie wasn’t tight, his shirt was untucked in places, his hair was a mess and his fly might have been down.

“Psst,” she whispered.  “Roland, are you okay?”

He looked at her, his eyes practically maniacal, “Have you ever felt like you were going insane?”

“I’m a mother of three,” she laughed.

Roland didn’t laugh.  “What you would do if you found yourself living the same day over and over again.”

“Am I in my 20s?” she laughed again.

“I’m serious,” Roland spat, making Allison go quiet.  

“Well…,” Allison began unsurely, “I’d wonder why this was happening.”


“And then figure out what was I missing that was forcing me to do this all over again.”

“That’s it?” Roland said with annoyance.  He turned away from her with a scoff.

“Oh, Roland?” Allison meekly added. “You’ve been ending all your inter-office emails with ‘thanks you’ today?”

“What?” Roland said as he turned back in her direction.

“All your emails you’ve sent about next week’s meeting have ended with ‘thanks you’ instead of ‘thank you,’” she stated.  “I just thought you’d like to know.”

Roland stared at her with a furrowed brow for a long moment before he quickly spun back around towards his computer.  Scrolling through his outbox he was embarrassed to learn that not only did he end every inter-office email with “thanks you” but all his emails and correspondence with his customers.  He sighed loudly and lowered his head towards his desk, “I need some meatloaf.

The light that peaked through the blinds was instantly met with a device of some kind that did no damage to the sun’s rays but smashed the device and cracked the window.  Roland had been up all night, watching his phone and when he saw that the date didn’t change when the clock struck midnight he realized his nightmare still continued.  He wept and screaming into his mattress and pillows for a good two hours before the morning’s light stopped him.  That’s when he threw his phone.

Begrudgingly, he got up, once again did the same routine in the bathroom and repeated his same process of making his breakfast, grabbing his coffee and leaving the house.  He grumbled to himself as he made his way into the office and took a seat at his desk.  He logged into his computer, like he’s already done on this day a couple of times and started to answer the same first email he’s already answered.  He typed his correspondence and started to type “thank you” at the end but stopped short when his finger almost unconsciously hit the “S” key.  The rest of the day, he made sure each and every email said “thank you” instead of “thanks you.”

Roland ended the work day normally enough but with the looming sense of dread that he was going to have to do this all over again.  It defeated him and weighed him down as he slowly shuffled to his car and proceeded to drive home.  His stomach started to rumble and he once again found that he didn’t want to cook at home.  With a resigning sigh, he turned into the parking lot of the restaurant near the college, grabbed his newspaper and slowly trudged his way inside.  As the hostess escorted him to his booth, a sudden feeling of defiance overcame him.  He may have to relive this day forever but that doesn’t mean he has to keep doing the same thing.

The waitress walked up to him and asked him if he was ready to order.  “Yes,” he replied.  “I’m going to have the chicken fajitas.”  He smiled smugly as he metaphorically spat in the face of destiny.  Meanwhile, the waitress just wrote his order down and left to give it to the kitchen staff.

The paper was easier to read this time.

After his meal was done, Roland found the looming sense of darkness was starting to disappear and he was feeling like he could make the most of the situation.  He tipped forty-five percent to the young lady and walked confidently out of the restaurant.  He took a different way home to avoid all the red lights and the minute he walked into his front door, he marched to the freezer, pull out the carton of ice cream and was just about to take a big spoonful of it into his mouth when he stopped.

“Why should I bother?” he said aloud as he threw the spoon, still with ice cream in it, into the sink.  “This is just going to be back when the day resets itself.”

Roland thought long and hard in his empty and silent kitchen.  “Eh, screw it,” he finally said and dropped his pants and defecated into the ice cream carton.  He chuckled to himself as he put the container back in the freezer, “Take that, Universe.”

His little act of rebellion against whatever forces that were taking their toll on him did a lot to lift the man’s spirits.  He laid down in bed with a smile on his face and peacefully drifted off to sleep.  What felt like an almost instantaneous moment, the light of a new day gently drifted through the window and passed the blinds.  As it cascaded onto Roland’s face, he slowly woke up and reached for his phone.  Prepared to see that same date again, he was shocked to discover that the day didn’t reset itself but it was, in fact, tomorrow.

Roland nearly cried with joy as he stared at the digital numbers on the lock screen of his phone.  He doesn’t know what happened—if he was responsible for breaking the curse or if whatever powerful figure decided to have mercy on his pathetic soul—but it was over.  He was freed.  He screamed out with happiness and reverence and vowed to never take any second of the day for granted.  He swore that from here on out he would treasure his existence and live each day like it was his last.  And he would start this morning.

He wasn’t going to have his usual boring scrambled eggs, frozen sausage patties, toast and coffee for breakfast this morning.  He was going to have something fun.  Immediately, he bounced out of bed and ran to the kitchen like a toddler.  He threw open the freezer door and grabbed the carton of ice cream and ate the chocolate-colored contents without thinking twice.

He really should have thought twice.

“Shit!” Roland screamed as the taste set in and he realized that yesterday didn’t reset.

And there ya have it, poor Roland can’t catch a break.  But let’s assume that after eating crap ice cream that his life got substantially better.  Wait, I wrote the damn thing so I’ll just tell you, his life did get substantially better.

Keep checking in here at my blog for more reviews and, hopefully, more inspiration to strike me for more short stories with Rev. Ron’s Realities.

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