Sleep would not come easy for Ted. Nothing ever did. He tossed and turned. His brain offered up a plethora of socially awkward situations for him to sift through in astonishing detail. How could he remember each faux pas so well? Each transgression was followed by something even worse. First there was the replay of the time he’d called his first grade teacher Mom. Not a big deal by today’s standards, but when you are six years old, your friends will talk about it every time they see you for at least the rest of the year. If Ted had more supportive friends during that time in his life, he cold have been a completely different person. Alas, you can’t change the past.
Next came the time he was involved in a staring contest with the first female friend he could remember. Seeing a good opportunity for a prank, another student pushed Ted’s head into hers causing them to inadvertently kiss. What could have been a Hallmark movie moment turned into a pre-teen girl throwing up directly into twelve year old Ted’s mouth. To make matters worse, Ted naturally swallowed out of fear.
Mercifully, Ted’s autobiographical film of horrors was interrupted in the post-midnight hours by the faint sound of his apartment door being unlocked. Ted was not successful in any stretch of the imagination. However, his hearing was very good.
I imagine you are reading this thinking, it’s nothing, just Ted’s roommate coming back from a night on the town. This would be great. Someone to displace the mental agony Ted was feeling. The problem is, Ted does not have a roommate, which makes this a very bad situation indeed.
Ted could hear the door close softly, followed by equally soft foot falls as the intruder made his way across the living room. A thud as the intruder tripped over an unknown object conceiled by the dark of the night. A sharp curse word, which identified the intruder as a man, by the tambour of his voice. Fortunately for Ted, the one thing he had going for him in this situation was that it was never totally dark in his room. Through the faint light provided by the pollution outside, Ted could see and hear his bedroom doorknob being turned. Ted immediately wished that he hadn’t given up baseball. Perhaps he should have taken up fencing after all. At least he would have had some skills to defend himself. Unfortunately, Ted was completely pathetic. He got out of bed to face what was sure to be his final moment.
Or so he thought.
“Hello Ted, It’s Lars, your building manager.”
“What are you doing here at this time of night?” Screamed Ted. He enjoyed screaming.
“I sent you notice in the mail that I would be paying you a visit.” Stated Lars.
“Why don’t you pay my rent instead?” Ted retorted.
Lars was a short, blonde haired, balding man. Everything a Scandinavian did not want to be. Ted assumed Lars to be disappointed in his physical appearance, making up for it with power trips like this one.
“How is this not breaking and entering?” asked Ted.
“I work for the owner. Technically, we are allowed in here whenever we want. You just happen to be borrowing the place.”
“I pay rent!” Screamed Ted.
“You’re late.” Lars deadpanned. “If you don’t come up with the money by the end of the day, you are out of here.”
“How can you be so heartless when you’re from one of the happiest countries in the world?” Ted asked.
“You shouldn’t believe stereotypes.” Lars said. “Until recently, I had you pegged as a smart person. I do not think that way any more. You need to give me two thousand dollars by the end of the day, or prepare for your life to change in a very big way.”
Lars turned on his heal and left immediately. Leaving Ted to wonder how he was going to get through this impossible situation. Was there any possibility of a positive outcome on the other side? He knew the first person who showed up at the Temporary Work Agency received a small bonus. It might be enough if he skipped a few meals. Ted’s anxiety spiked at the thought of how serious this situation was. Try as he might, he could not fully get back to sleep.