2:00 a.m. – continued
And now here he was, two years later and some three hundred miles away with the world ending in less than twenty-four hours. He had no job, no girlfriend, and almost no money.
His parents had been right. The world was no place for non-college grads. He’d had a few decent jobs, but all had been menial for minimum wage. He’d lived with some roommates, none any more brilliant and accomplished than himself. He’d dabbled with a few substances, had a few girlfriends, and had maybe knocked up some of those girls, but none of them had ever come running back to him. He hadn’t been the greatest of boyfriends. But he hadn’t cared. He had been living his life exactly as he’d wanted.
And his parents would never know. They would never know that he knew they were right. Being parents, though, they probably already knew that. But he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of hearing it from him. No, sir, he wasn’t going to say a word.
But now the world was ending. His roommates had all slowly left to be with loved ones. He was the last to leave. Even his last girlfriend had deserted him to find the “one who’d gotten away.” Obviously, that hadn’t been him. After having spent the last couple of days alone, and mostly drunk, he’d decided that just maybe his friends did have the right idea.
And that’s how he’d gotten here, to this payphone sitting next to a closed store, staring at his grimy reflection. He grimaced at himself and scratched at his scruffy cheek. He really should have made more of an effort to clean himself up. But, he figured, his parents would be so overjoyed to see him that they wouldn’t care. Would they? Well, maybe, but he didn’t care that much. He was going to be home for the end of the world, wasn’t he? And, if he remembered correctly, his parents’ house had a shower.
So what was he doing, dithering around this payphone, having dialed no more than the first two numbers? He’d hung up half a dozen times already, dialing one, occasionally two, of his parents’ home phone number. The clock was ticking and it was already twenty past two. He knew a train was leaving at four, so he had time. It was harder than he thought it would be to muster up the courage to dial home.
Who would answer? His mother might be thrilled to hear from him. His father…well, he wasn’t really sure. He just remembered his father shouting for him to get his butt back downstairs and in that chair because he wasn’t done with him. That had been the last thing he’d heard before he’d run away. Jenna might be happy to hear from him. She’d always had a soft spot for him. Abigail probably wasn’t home anymore. Three years older than him, she was twenty-four and probably living her dream as a big city journalist. He’d looked; she was a journalist for the city’s paper. And a pretty damn good writer, too, he’d admitted to himself. Despite all their differences growing up, he’d actually felt pride at his sister’s success. Two years out of college, a dream job, and two front page stories. Yeah, Abigail was the family’s big success story. And now their mother was on national television. He’d watched her a few times, remembered her face, her voice. It was probably that that had kept him from going home right away. He could still see his mother’s face, hear her voice, from eight to eleven at night and now at one in the morning, too.
Cooper took a deep breath and kicked the duffle bag at his feet. Everything he wanted with him at the end of the world was shoved in that duffel and in the backpack slung over one shoulder. They were filled with some clothes, some toiletries, a few gadgets, and all the money to his name: a whopping two hundred dollars and some odd change. And half of that would probably go to the train ticket. At least.
He paced around a few more times before taking up a spot in front of the payphone, wishing he hadn’t given up smoking two months before. What he wouldn’t give for a cigarette now. But after his landlord had yelled at him and his roommates for burning holes in the carpet, they’d sworn off cigarettes so they wouldn’t have to move.