“OF COURSE,” Kurt yelled to the cosmos, not really expecting a response.
There was no acknowledgment after he cursed the universe for the power surge that disabled his alarm clock, or the bus that scuttled past as he ran towards the stop, or the umbrella that jammed as the skies opened up.
Kurt gave up on the polyester shield and sprinted three blocks to the sanctity of his regular coffee shop. He flung himself in the building and wiped his shoes before noticing the line of caffeine addicts that guaranteed he’d be late for work. He made peace with his impending tardiness and passed the time by trying to understand what he’d done to deserve such bad luck.
Until today, Kurt was always sitting at his desk by 9 AM. He stayed late most nights to avoid frantic commuters. He purchased wrapping paper from his coworkers’ kids and ran 5Ks to cure pancreatic cancer. His bad karma remained a mystery by the time he reached the counter.
“Well you’re here later than normal,” the barista acknowledged. “The usual?”
“Yesplease,” he quickly responded, saving seconds wherever he could.
The barista noted his accelerated speech and sidestepped to the espresso machine. Kurt reached in his back pocket for his wallet. Nothing. He tried both of his hip pockets. Nothing. He patted his breast pocket, feeling his heart drop to his feet when he pictured it on his nightstand. The steam roared from the frother in the same way it would’ve escaped Kurt’s ears if life were more like a cartoon.
“WAIT,” he called out to the barista. “Don’t make that. I forgot my wallet.”
The barista put the finishing touches on her foam four-leaf clover and sashayed the latte over to the register.
“I didn’t spend five minutes making this drink just to pour it down the sink” she said, capping the beverage and sliding it in his direction.
“Are you sure?”
“Sure am. You’re one of my best tippers. I can’t risk scaring you off.”
The universe had spoken.
“THANK YOU,” Kurt responded, startling the struggling writers and wedding planners conducting business at the surrounding tables. “I’ll pay double tomorrow.”
“I know you’re good for it. Now get to work so you can keep the generosity coming.”
Kurt turned to see people casually walking along the sidewalk, umbrellas clasped and tucked beneath their arms. He took a deep breath, resolving to forgive life for its previous mistreatment. The acquittal was short lived.
The rain returned as soon as Kurt reentered the street, proving God’s fondness for practical jokes. The cold raindrops mixed with the hot latte dribbling down his chest as he began round 2 with the umbrella.
“OF COURSE,” Kurt yelled once he noticed the stain.
“YOU NEED A RIDE?” yelled a cab driver witnessing the pathetic scene.
Kurt latched onto the door handle before even giving a nod of acknowledgement.
“Where to?” the cabbie asked as Kurt struggled to get in the taxi.
“9th and AHHHHHH,” Kurt screamed as the steel door and frame crushed his ankle like a vice. “THEHOSPITALTHEHOSPITAL!”
Kurt managed to lift his paralyzed foot into the cab and close the door. In the midst of his agonizing pain, he remembered he had no means of paying his cab driver.
“Listen,” Kurt hissed through his teeth. “I don’t have any money.”
“What do you mean you don’t have any money?” the cabbie interrogated. “I just saw you come out of a coffee shop.”
“I know! I had to tell them the same thing. I’m so sorry. PLEASE, just help me. I’ll take down your name and pay you double later.” Kurt bargained.
The cabbie scoffed and stopped the car in front of the ambulance entrance. Medical personnel berated him until Kurt flung the back door open.
“HELP,” he called out, unable to put enough weight on his foot to climb out of the vehicle.
A pair of nurses retrieved him from the back seat and helped him into a wheelchair. Kurt glanced over his shoulder and spotted the cab number before they rolled him through the automatic doors. He pulled out his phone and jotted it down before it slipped from his short-term memory.
“I’ll bring you your paperwork,” said the nurse not pushing the wheelchair.
Kurt dialed “2” on his phone and waited for the tone.
“Hello? Kurt?” his wife answered.
“I was just about to call you. I found your wallet on the nightstand.”
“Did you happen to see my common sense there too?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t go into it now, but long story short, I slammed my foot in a taxi door. I’m at the hospital.”
“Oh my God!”
“It’s fine, sort of, but will you PLEASE bring me my wallet? I need my insurance card and stuff.”
“Of course! I’m so sorry, Dear!”
“I know, just hurry.”
“K. Leaving now. Love you.”
“I love you too.”
Kurt replaced the soothing sound of his wife’s voice with a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush.
“God damn mother fucking alarm clock. Stupid shit-eating bus driver. Fucking rain storm. Fucking cab. Fucking ankle. Fucking...”
Kurt’s flow of foul language was interrupted by a stampede of EMTs and MDs pushing a gurney through the ER like an Olympic bobsled team. They disappeared behind a pair of double-hinged doors before he could clearly see the occupant of the stretcher, but the blood-spattered woman being restrained by a pair of nurses painted a grim picture of the unfortunate soul. She thrashed and screamed and cried hysterically as the nurses struggled to keep her out of the operating room.
Kurt reverted his gaze back to his phone and allowed the stinging sensation in his ankle to consume his entire body. He felt it rush from his foot to every hair follicle on his head. He felt his phone vibrate with a text from his wife announcing her arrival. And at that moment, he felt like the luckiest man alive.