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Existential Terror and Breakfast: 28

Malcolm Steadman will be homeless in 56 days.

Malcolm was pretty sure that the Breakfast he had in front of him was stolen And it was amazing. To be clear: the fact that it was stolen was not what made it amazing, it was just a really tasty breakfast that happened to be stolen. Probably. The fact that it was illegally obtained made Malcolm vaguely anxious, but after not being able to afford anything other than rice for the last week the meal’s bold tastes were a welcome change. The breakfast itself was also the healthiest thing he had eaten in a long time. Without hesitation, Malcolm dipped his spoon back into the plain, organic yogurt, making sure to steadily mix the fresh blueberries and granola evenly before scooping it into his mouth. This is not the typical breakfast Malcolm would eat, no, he would have chosen something cheap, bad for his digestive system, and spicy. It also would have been paid for. What he had instead was a guilt free healthy treat that was shoplifted by a suicidal junkie. And. It. Was. Delicious.

Malcolm Steadman’s life was better since Garry moved in, and that was the most confusing thing to think about.

Garry kept the pantries and fridge stocked (though at a very Spartan level) and encouraged Malcolm to eat what was there. This despite the fact that Malcolm was more than sure that all of Garry’s money (wherever that came from) was spent on heroin. This was Garry’s way of “paying rent” while he crashed on Malcolm’s couch. So, Malcolm was eating better.

Malcolm wasn’t just eating better, he was feeling better. His mood was stable, and he had not had a single philosophical freakout in a week. Malcolm contemplated his own finite time on the planet, and he laughed about it. He was drinking less, taking his meds, and seeing his therapist. For the first time in a long time, Malcolm Steadman felt hope.

And there was a junkie on his couch.

Malcolm was also more sociable. The ease at which he was able to blend in with his new coworkers, and not bullshit smalltalk about normal hobbies or interests that he didn’t have (and didn’t respect) was almost startling. This, on top of the fact that he was no longer so isolated in his apartment meant that he was no longer held back by his awkwardness.

And there was a junkie on his couch.

Malcolm was no longer at odds with his identity. The combination of eating real food, having a job, and being a member of society again put a lot of his fears of being an oddity at ease. Sure, he was not normal, that was not uncertain, but at least he was productive again. At least he was more honest with himself than he was at his previous job. Malcolm Steadman could embrace his odd side, and be the everyman he so dearly loved to be. He could be both at the same time.

And there was a junkie on his couch!

So what if there was? What of it?! All of these good things were a side effect of something that, yes, was objectively a bad decision. The tasty and healthy yogurt he was eating? Stolen by Garry. The fact that he was more sociable and less isolated? That was because he had someone to talk to at home: Garry. The fact that his depression was being managed by way of therapy and antidepressants? A knee-jerk reaction to Garry’s own toxic behavior. Some people pick up hobbies to better themselves, others pursue careers or workout. Malcolm just so happened to risk his own lively hood by providing a sanctuary for a junkie he met at a psych ward. You do what works.

The yogurt really was very tasty.

Garry had not really been much of a problem so far anyway. Though Malcolm knew not to believe him, Garry claimed that he was trying to get off of heroin. Garry desperately wanted to prove to his pregnant girlfriend that, despite his fuck ups, he could be a provider. He was trying to act positive and use his misfortune as an opportunity to change. Of course, Malcolm had not witnessed Garry go through any discomfort that would come with withdrawal, and Garry did seem to sleep a lot, but so what? Garry was at least doping out of the apartment. Really the worse part of it was that Garry was almost always on the couch. That was hardly an undue hardship worth mentioning.

Malcolm also liked Garry. He was by no means the type of friend he would make in any normal circumstances. If anything, was antithetical to Malcolm’s own pursuit of normalcy. Yet he was kind, and was very grateful. This could change. It was incredibly likely that Garry was a ticking time bomb. On a long enough timeline, Garry’s allegiance to his opiate was going to be stronger to the one he had to Malcolm. Garry was also a suicidal time bomb. Garry was desperate and in need. What was Malcolm to do?

Those who drown drag their rescuers down with them, but those who stay ashore are no heroes.

Malcolm emptied two pills from his antidepressants into his hand.

The situation made Malcolm nervous. In fact, it should be making him more nervous than he felt. Things were different.

Malcolm took his meds.

Finishing up his stolen breakfast, Malcolm gathered his things for work. Leaving a sleeping junkie on his couch, both friend and time bomb, he pulled open his door to find a note taped to the front of it. In a font that was not large read a single sentence: “Rent is past due, please call or see me ASAP”. The letterhead contained the office hours and phone number of his building’s manager.

Malcolm took a deep breath, and marched to work.

Panic did not come to Malcolm that day.


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