Henry attempted to push open the door but something on the other side prevented him from doing so.
"If those fucking binmen have left shit in front of this door again, I swear I'll ..."
He hadn't finished the sentence when the door gave way partially and he shunted through the gap. He squeezed his now rather ample frame through the opening, noticing he had to suck in his gut in the process. The thing blocking the door wasn't a thing at all, but a person. They were dressed in a thick, padded coat and a woolen hat that covered most of their face. Henry couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. He scanned his proximity and noticed an old broom handle missing the head and prodded the unidentified person in the side. When there was no response he feared the worst. He poked again, harder this time and added the sentence, "are you alive?".
The figure jumped up. Henry's heart froze for a second and then sped up with increasing alarm in the few seconds that followed, as millions of adrenaline hormones burst through his body,and the only reaction was to use the broom shaft to cover his body and cower quite pathetically.
"What's your problem, man?" came the high-pitched but rattled voice from the stranger. "You only had to ask, creepo."
"Me a creep?" Henry snorted back. "You're the one "creeping" up the place. Go on, get lost!"
After she hacked up a nasty cough, the stranger replied, "My pleasure." She moved her matted brown hair out from her eyes, gave Henry a scornful gaze and shuffled off, round the corner.
"Scum, the lot of 'em", he muttered under his breath, as he slammed the front door shut and locked it with his key.
Henry's mind wandered as he made the now all too familiar route to work. It was the only thing he felt he had left, that was his and no-one could take from him and no-one could charge him to do. His mind wandered from the nuisance vagrant, that he was still cursing under his breath, to last week's Christmas party. He giggled to himself as he recalled fat Allison from accounts almost choking on that mince pie. 'Serves her fat self right', he remembers thinking at the time. 'Serves her right for blowing off my advances on her'. Part of him wishes she'd died. At least then he wouldn't get ribbed by his work colleagues today for making a pass at her. What had he been thinking trying to cop off with fat Allison from accounts? Jesus Christ, his life was sad and he was pathetic. 'I should just fucking end it now', he was thinking at the bus pulled past. 'Jump under that bus and end it all'. But, of course, he didn't. He was too much of a coward for that. No, he would continue on his forced march, up the hill past the dilapidated orphanage, past the bank and through the fruit market to his building, hoping to get a quick glance at the blonde girl's ample bosom as she dished out her apples and watermelons on the way, before the languid shuffle up to the security guard, flashing his corporate badge with the firm's hexagonal logo, exchanging some meaningless banter with which ever sad bastard was on desk that day as he waits for the elevator, before he sneeks, hopefully unnoticed, to his work cubicle, where he will proceed to switch on the corporate interface machine, and sell his soul for the next 9 and a half hours, breaking occasionally for a crafty cigarette out the back with...fuck. With fat Allison from accounts. Oh shit, why did he have to have so much to drink that night? Maybe everyone was pissed and won't remember. Oh, who was he kidding? Of course they will. They're like gossip vultures, picking the bones clean of the inflicted. Hell, he should know, he is one of them too. Waiting patiently, stalking their prey, one misdemeanor, one flinch away from the supposed "norm", he'd be one of the first. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, my ass' he thought. He wished, with every fiber of his being, calling out to any God that might potentially be ear-wigging, making pacts with false idols and demonic entities, anything he could think of just so that he wouldn't have to face the humiliation of that mistake.
"FUCK!" He knew he was losing it again. He looked down at his feet, hoping to see nice, shiny black boots, but he secretly knew. He knew what he was going to find, and with predictable regret, he saw he was still wearing his Monsters Inc slippers. The same slippers given to him for Christmas by his senile nan, who still believed he was 13, not the fat, old, slightly receding 33 he was. The anxiety was unbearable now. He stopped dead in his tracks. How could this happen? He glanced at his watch - a quarter to. He still had time to change them if he hurried. The over-worked heart pumping that adrenaline through his body, dampened slightly, as he slowed his breathing. But then increased again as he saw where he was standing- right in front of the fruit stall with the buxom blonde.
"Nice shoes," she giggled. She was holding a punnet of raspberries, but could easily have been holding an icy dagger that she had just plunged into his heart. Killed with a compliment and a seductive smile.
A whimpered "ha...", was the only response he managed. He tried to smile back at her, but by the time he's mustered the thought, her attention was distracted by a plump, elderly man inquiring about leeks.
"Next stall along, my love, this is fruit only". The blonde fruit-seller looked back to where Henry had been standing, but he was gone. Unbeknownst to her, Henry was not just gone from the local vicinity, but gone completely. Henry's wish had been granted after all. Well, to be more precise, it had and it hadn't...