Non Attrition

The early afternoon light streamed weakly through the front window, barely illuminating the darkness within. The windows were big enough to provide a clear view of the bank's Roman columns, stately architectural details which, up until this morning, made him think of solidity, stability, permanence.

"Bastards," he muttered, snuffing out his cigarette into the ashtray in front of him. Immediately regretting his impulse, he quickly lit another and drew the smoke in deeply. But the cigarette failed to soothe him, to make him numb, and neither had the beers. He was already on his third, two more than most would recommend on a weekday, as he tried to kill the anger and frustration inside of him.

There were many others like him nearby, at tables and at the bar or just standing, lost, not knowing what to do next, trying vainly to find comfort in their shared shock and misery.

He wanted no part of such bonding, this camaraderie of losers. He was one of them as recently as this morning, a band of brothers striving for the greater good. But no more. It was all taken away, just like that, and now they were strangers, vicious strangers competing in what had already been a tight market.

Conditions could only get worse, he noted gravely.


Copyright 2004, P.J. Anderson