When Brody woke up, the light entering his room was practically nonexistent. The only object illuminating his room was the alarm clock he had always had beside the bed. He sat on his bed for a few minutes and just stayed there, fighting the urge to fall asleep. But finally he put his two feet out of bed and walked towards the bathroom. There, he woke up even more due to the light, which was very bright. He had thought of buying another light bulb for the bathroom but he always forgot. He removed his boxers and let the water run in the shower. When it was warm, he entered half asleep, almost leaning too much against one of the shower’s walls. He didn’t really want to go to work. He just wanted to fall asleep for several hours and only wake up when he was fully rested.
But that wasn’t happening. He got in front of the water, in order to wake up properly and spend the following five minutes trying to wake up the rest of his body. When he got back to his room, towel around his body, there was still no light outside. The world was submerged in the darkness and he was one of those unfortunate souls that had to wander through the lack of light in order to earn a living. Or something like that, anyway. He let the towel fall to the ground and then spent some minutes looking for clothes. The proof that he was still asleep was that he dressed up in the weirdest way: he put on a t-shirt first, and then the socks followed by a jacket. Then he got to his boxers and finally some pants. He almost forgot to put on underwear but he realized it in time.
When he was finally ready, he came out of his room and into a small room outside where the kitchen was. The apartment was not very big but it was just the size he needed it to be. He could bring friends and have some beers but it wasn’t the best place for a party, even if he had already tried (often), to have some of those in there. He drank orange juice straight from the bottle and then grabbed the milk and poured some into a cup. He had it with cereal, eating standing up and closing his eyes from time to time. He so wanted to sleep. And it wasn’t only because he was tired but because he remembered bits and pieces of a great dream he had been having and he knew it was one of the good ones.
When he finished eating, he went back to his bathroom and brushed his teeth. As he did, he looked at his face and did funny faces in order to make himself laugh or at least attempting to make his eyes look a little bit more open. But it was to no avail. He finally took a backpack from the floor of his bedroom and then just went out the door. He went down the stairs rather fast and at the bottom he received a powerful gust of wind right in his face. It was very cold and already blue outside, not yet full of light but in an annoying twilight that could last a couple of hours. He closed his jacket and walked on.
The bus was always on time and that day it wasn’t the exception. People were already making a line to get into it so he almost got to stay because of how filled with people the bus was. He had to take a little space at the back, between the window and an elderly woman that smelled a lot like onions. He was thankful the trip was not that long, or he would have collapsed due to the odor. Maybe she was from a region where they grew a lot of onions because she wasn’t carrying a bag with them or anything. He looked at other people in the bus and there were any like him: head going from side to side, eyes closing for a few seconds, then opening as if nothing had happened. There was a young student already fast asleep. He felt sorry for him, as it was likely he would overshoot his stop.
Finally, the bus arrived at his destination: the market. The place was very active already, even for the hour. Most people were owners of the stands. With the help of their employees, they were filling their areas with fruits and vegetables and many other delicious things to eat like mushrooms and dried fruit. He had to walk past all of that area to get to the next building, where he had to work. It was the place where the meat and fish were sold. The stand he worked at was in an intersection of paths, which was perfect for business, as every single shopper would see their products, no matter the way they were coming from. The owner complained a lot but he was pretty successful.
When Brody arrived, he told him he should have arrived sooner as it was the day they got fresh octopus. And when he said fresh, he meant alive. It was Brody’s job to get those creatures into a tank in order to have them in display like lobsters. He actually didn’t like to do that because it reminded him a lot of those movies that show how everything once when there was slavery. Of course an octopus is not a person but he felt back for the poor fellow anyway. He put on his boots, apron and “mouth cover” and started helping his boss putting everything into display. Fortunately, the boss decided to fight the octopus himself, so he didn’t have to experience that sad episode again.
All fish were in boxes and he just had to put them on the ice over the refrigerator where every single costumer could see how fresh and clean and beautiful everything was. It was a nice thing to do and he was already used to the smell. He sometimes did some changes in the display, forming words with the fish and he always did it without the permission of his boss. For a person that claimed to be in control of everything, he never realized what was going on in his own stand. The truth was he always negotiating and going around asking if other had made more money than him and what new products were being sold.
The morning rush started just as the only octopus of the day was finally inside his enclosure and all the rest of his marine friends were well displayed in the stand. Just then arrive Marcus, a huge man that spoke once every year, which happened to be the one to cut, chop and gut every single fish that was going to be sold. He never helped organize things and he always left before the boss could ask him to help them clean. That was Brody’s job and also cashier and actual salesman. He convinced people to shop there and he gave them the best deals, trying to make them good for the boss too but sometimes just looking to sell something as he knew his salary depended a lot on how many fish got to leave in some old lady’s bags.
It started a bit slow but as natural light grew larger in the outside, the more people came in to buy their rations of seafood for the day. In the stand, they did not only sell fish and octopus but also clams, squid, mussels and many other creatures. As more and more people started to come in, Brody had a nicer time. It was fun to explain to people the differences between some types of fish and others and how they could cook them and make a delicious seafood soup. Many were actually surprised he knew so much about cooking. The thing was he had decided to learn all he could about what he was selling and the natural thing was also to learn how to cook what he was selling. At home, he had already tried every recipe he recommended and it was always a success.
In the afternoon, things began coming to an end. People had already had lunch and very few buyers bought fish for dinner so late. They came for it in the morning. So at four or five in the afternoon, depending of the day, they closed shop, put into boxes everything that had not being sold and began cleaning their stands with hoses as fish guts had to be pushed into a main drain. It was Brody who did all of that because Marcus left and his boss was too busy trying to calculate how much money he had made in one day. The octopus was the last one to be put away. Thankfully for him, no one had wanted to cook him for a meal.
Thirty minutes after closing, Brody cleaned his boots and apron, put them in the backpack and bid farewell to the boss. He hoped for Friday to come soon as he got his paycheck then. He had worked hard all month and, as he walked towards the bus stop ( again in the twilight), he repeated his plans in his head: he wanted to be a chef and had to get the right amount of money to study to be one of the best cooks in the country. Inside the bus, people moved because he still smelled like fish. He didn’t mind, it was an acquired taste. When he got home he enjoyed a warm shower and got into bed early, without eating. He had to save money and he couldn’t afford dining every day.
His dream was the most important thing to him and he was willing to sacrifice a bit of himself in order to get access to it. Before falling asleep, however, his only thought was a clam chowder, nice and warm, with all the proper ingredients.