Sunday, February 22, 2009


Albert now had a pretty good understanding as to why curiosity killed the cat. The single item he discovered was quite possibly the reason the inventor of the bed made a dark, dusty underside. Albert had done a multitude of stupid things in his life, but stumbling upon his parent’s photo album suddenly vaulted to the forefront. A multi-colored flower on the cover seemed innocuous enough, but quickly Albert learned that dark tumultuous things can lurk under the cover of sparkling wrap.

His palms grew sweaty, his right eye began to twitch, and briefly he considered gouging it out as his painful heritage lay before him in the unlikely form of a gaudy collage. All of his friends and co-workers came from Hoboken, Queens, and the Bronx, but it seems as though Albert Eugene Finster had deep roots in Woodstock.

Unabashed, his father flashed the peace sign while sporting a pale blue captain’s hat and nothing else. His mother rode a wave of hands, seemingly a covert way to invite strangers to cop a feel. Albert knew little of Woodstock, but it soon became obvious that those seeking freedom traveled in hand-painted buses. The pictures themselves were shocking enough, but the captions written beneath opened Albert’s mind to an entirely different level of disgust.

Under the watchful eye of many things, karma and illicit substances being most prominent, with foresight and discretion missing completely; his parents chose the van in the lower left hand corner as the romantic den where they would unleash their animalistic passion. Albert could only image that between bouts of passing the bong and grotesque displays of unthinkable things, in the haze that became Woodstock, a ‘flower child’ was conceived.

The photo in the lower right captured several acquaintances made along the journey to find themselves. Names like moon-flower and free-dog were scribbled beneath. He had no idea if even a single one of them ever found what they were looking for, but Albert was now convinced he had found some of the answers he sought.

Albert hadn’t asked to be a freak, but perhaps his inception in a rocking V.W. van spoke volumes. His mind worked on a different level than most, even his computer-geek peers at the office considered him odd. Instead of counting sheep at night, hexadecimal conversions of I.P. addresses swirled in his head.

Although the sales personnel laughed at the water cooler they recognized a good thing when they stumbled upon it. Hovering over him they spewed out their newest proposal and he would fire back accurate details so quickly they barely had time to record them. He could take an entire map of a network and within seconds could estimate the throughput between devices with a margin of error of less than a megabyte, and really, what’s a million bytes per minute between friends.

Not even his boss could appreciate the vastness of his knowledge, evidenced by the lack of a raise for the third consecutive year. Albert almost wished he hadn’t overheard Mr. Liu’s words, but you can’t unring a bell. There had been a long tirade of Chinese words he could not decipher, but the final blow came in English and rang much too clear. “Round-eye already take too many of my dollar!”

The smell of technology sickened him; he reeked of it. Virtual servers, paged memory; everything he dealt with was fake and birthed from a concept in some dope-smoking programmers mind. When did a Blackberry cease to be something sweet and left seeds stuck between your teeth?

Today he would walk away, but not before he deleted the entire SAN, each and every file of extended storage. Albert removed the log entries indicating he had changed the rights on Mr. Liu’s account. Anyone hired to investigate the dreadful loss would be left scratching their heads, wondering why Mr. Liu had deleted his own critical data.

Albert stared past the computer monitor to the other side of the street. The new high-rise had begun to take shape and the work zone buzzed with activity. Foul-mouthed foremen barked out their orders. As barbaric as it seemed the bosses knew what it took to get things done. In the construction world, pussy-footing around only resulted in missed deadlines, and getting those stanchions poured was all that mattered on this particular today. Loading a pile of bricks into a wheelbarrow and transporting them from one location to another held a strange simplistic appeal. The ashes from a half-smoked cigarette drooped while the operator’s muscles involuntarily contracted with the predictable pulsing of the jackhammer. The trowel of a mason performed as a paintbrush in the hands of a skilled artist.

Albert Eugene Finster was not a hippie, but labeled by the world as a freak; one that had not yet found himself. He spellchecked his resignation e-mail, added his electronic signature, and pressed send.

Tossing his leather binder in the nearest trash can he walked across the street. With confidence he approached the man wearing a white hardhat. His presence was greeted with a scowl, barely visible behind a stub of a cigar protruding from the foreman’s square jaw. The man ripped another chunk from the soggy mess and with the precision of a laser bounced it off Albert’s right shoe. “What can I help you with, pretty boy?”

Albert smiled, “I’m looking for work, and before you ask, minimum wage is fine.”


Shirley said...

What better way to convey that money ain't everything dude...Peace! :)

Jo Janoski said...

Far out! Moon-flower and free-dog would be so proud of him, casting off the 'establishment'--free to groove and set his spirit free. Who needs all those plastic people, man! And who needs to debauch themselves for bread? I mean it, far out!!!

Dan said...

Now you have me wanting to zoom in on the bus picture to see if I can recognize either of you.

punatik said...

I loved this one Dan. I remember quiting a fine dining waiter position in Anchorage because I was tired of pssing homeless people on my way to serve over priced food and hearing our clients complain about the homeless seeking warmth from heat coming out of the grate in front of the hotel. I walked down the block to a construction site and took a job as a laborer picking up trash left from the new fixtures. The Homeless folks would ask me for the carboard I was throwing away to keep warm. I enjoyed giving it to them more than I enjoyed receiving tips.

Jo A. T.B. said...

The carefree days of woodstock pretty much defined an erra which carried on into my generation as your character Albert!

I love the fact he had one over on the boss by overpowering the computer system. His total non caring attitude to resign, and desire to be a part of the working class! Great story Dan!

Anonymous said...

That's what I like about your work - it always makes me think. If only there were more Alberts in the world, we might not be in such a mess today. You've got me quoting John Lennon now:' Power to the people. Right on.' Inspiring story!!

Angel C. said...

Yes, if there were only more non-greedy people in the world like him. Our family decided a long time ago that money isn't everything; you have to enjoy life when you're young. Sometimes a care-free (but somewhat responsible) life is the best to have.