Projection Reflection


To most unassuming folks, Herman was a quiet, yet friendly guy.

They were down on their luck when Herman’s “Room for Rent” ad showed up at the library bulletin board.

6 month lease allowed. $250 a month all utilities paid?

It wasn’t a penthouse, but better than living another month in the shelter. The smell of piss and cheap tobacco-filled hallways of the shelter made them queasy. It was shelter, but it was miserable. Although it was better than living under the overpass downtown, it was far from the safety of one’s own place.

Other than his poodle-mix, Chauncy, Herman’s house was empty most days due to his various work travels.

As an I.T. guy, I never know where I will be sent do put out the fire. 

Herman did not believe in digital security inside his house. He made that abundantly clear during their interview and showing of the place. He felt this to be a form of trust displayed by landlord to his tenants. Although it was easier to monitor the house from afar, Herman felt “the presence of other bodies, the good-old-fashioned motion detector lights and ferocious poodle bark” were enough to keep any miscreant away.

As they followed Herman down the hallway, guy became overwhelmed with the feeling of being stalked. Other than his future landlord, his landlord’s dog, and his roommate, there were no other bodies present. The woodgrain panels aligning their path were lightly scuffed in spots to the right. The occasional scuff seemed to

The mirror was weird. It was gaudy. It was one of his “mother’s favorite pieces” and he could not part with it. He had it permanently installed. It was “antique,” “some would say priceless”. It wasn’t the run-of-the-mill factory made item.

“It is unique. One of a kind. You will love it if you are into all that antique-y stuff. Mom was such a collector of fine antiques and she didn’t even know it. Well, as a matter of fact, she didn’t really know much of anything by the time she died.” (chuckle) “That joke never really goes over as well as I expect each time I tell it.”

“Lindsey” (started on 9/5/19)

She was too busy to shop during the week. Lindsey’s mom told her how busy most stores were on the weekend. Since most of her shopping was done online, Lindsey’s perception of “busy public space” was distorted over time.

As a child, she loved going to the mall with her parents.

“Crowded spaces were not as scary as they are now,” she would tell people.

It was true to a certain extent.

“People didn’t seem as crazy fucked up as they are these days,” she would continue.

“Don’t you think,” her mother would respond, “people can be as ‘crazy fucked up’ through the mail or delivery services when you order everything online?”


“Why not?”

“Because, MOTHER…robots are probably doing most of that work.”

“Robots? And who programs robots?”

At this point in the conversation, Lindsey would usually change the subject or pout off, mumbling under her breath.

Lindsey worked exactly 3 days at the new job. Although the first two days consisted of small training meetings and online certification testing, the third day was her opportunity to meet co-workers and establish the social grounds upon which she was about to lay claim.

If I don’t go in looking fucking prepared, I’m never going to make it, Lindsey told herself going into the weekend. Although she was not invited out for post-work festivities and possible drunken debauch, she determined that she wasn’t going to join anyway. It allowed extra time to prepare for the week ahead.

Sunday morning, Lindsey began her morning with “breathing technique meditation time,” followed by 30 minutes reading to Mittens (her cat), 45 minutes of “fashion and accessories” research before jumping in for a 15 minute “eucalyptus shower.”

Lindsey was out the door and into the closest Starbucks drive-thru by 9:45 a.m. She knew that most of the stores she would need to hit up were not open until 10. All was well.

The main item on her list was what Lindsey’s had described, in writing, as “the perf travel mug”.

All the girls at the job had them. Various hues, shines, designs, and sizes. Some cutesy while others very sleek and professional. The guys had them too, but they were usually sports- or hobby-related, or they were basic. One could usually determine how much an employee made based on his/her travel mug.


“Geoff” (9/5/19)

He was a loner.

“He’s a bit eccentric,” one of Geoff’s teachers would tell his parents at conferences. “He seems to have big ideas, but no true plans for any of them. And he hates when I try to suggest things he might be good at.”

That was 15 years ago.

“I plan on robbing banks one of these days,” Geoff explained to his counselor. “I know a whole bunch a stuff about banks.”

Geoff proceeded to pull roughly drawn blueprints from his pocket and threw them on the table for his counselor to see.

Outside of his family and employers, Geoff didn’t have any friends.

On his days off, Geoff wore the same clothes repeatedly. His Hawaiian shirt (“…in memory of my goddamn Pa-Pa. You gotta problem with that,” he would tell his “haters”) and shorts / flip-flops in the summertime or jeans / hiking boots in the winter. He never brushes his hair and always looks like he just woke up during these days.

“I don’t need to waste my goddamn money on laundry and clothes,” he would tell his “haters” (aka co-workers). “And I definitely don’t need to explain my shit to any of my haters. Fuck those motherfuckers.”

Geoff thought everyone at work was out to get him for his “mastermind” and “robbing bank planning abilities.”

Although Geoff frequently complains about “money-wasting schemes, like shopping ‘n shit,” he is frequently low on cash due to his excessive cigarette smoking and expensive coffee habit.

Recently, Geoff has made “semi-allies” with a co-worker named Alan.

“The motherfucker seems legit as fuck,” Geoff would tell his boxer, Brutus, during Monday Night Raw. “I think I can trust his ass to get in on this heist. Next step is that I get his ass over here for some brewskis and you can sniff him out.”

“Andy” (10/23/19)

“…because received brain messages transcend skin color. Received brain messages — good or bad — transcend emotion. Received brain messages are programmed…ingrained…stamped into the recesses of our psyches, only to manifest themselves at the most vulnerable moments, unrecognized because they have morphed into something bigger, stronger, and more dangerous when compounded with depression, anxiety, mania, or any other “negative” brain behavior.”

Andy had to pee.



 “Melvin” (9/30/19)

“That will be $4.65,” Melvin spoke through the intercom. “Please pull around to the window.”

Melvin started his Starbucks job as the evening janitor. Melvin liked to clean. The first day on the job, Melvin paid attention to his co-workers closely. The manager was even a suspicious character in Melvin’s eye. Although Melvin did not feel his colleagues were doing anything intentionally illegal, he did see their lack of cleanliness impeded upon the speed and accuracy of customer orders.

After 6 months on the job, his manager moved to the morning shift and asked Melvin to join him. Since Melvin’s rise to fame amongst colleagues and customers alike, he was given a small raise (“57 cents per hour, dude”), his own Starbucks travel mug, and keys to the store for weekday morning operations.

Although Melvin was not presented with the title of “assistant manager,” he maintained that his boss was “playing a strategy game that will send me to the money.”

(Melvin / Lindsey cross paths at drive thru window later in story?)

(Draft #1 — 7/13/19)

Published by Mind Stroll

This is a collage. This is old and new. This is mainly new added to old. This is not a test.

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