When Jake entered the pharmacy, he went to grab every single item he had forgotten to get in the supermarket. Of course, everyone at home was mad at him because he hadn’t gotten every single thing they had been waiting for. Granted, he had been in charge of groceries and so on that week but he was too busy with the presentation of his next book coming so fast. The only thing on his mind was how not to feel overwhelmed again when telling people to buy their book.
As he walked through the dental aisle, he remembered how he had started as a writer. The truth was that he had never really considerer writing as an option to win a living. After school, he had fallen in love with the idea of becoming a news presenter in television. For some strange reason, he had always thought those men and women were always the peak of the journalism profession as the used their faces and knowledge to make people learn about daily events.
So he went to college and outdid himself in order to become a proper journalist. From the first moment, he knew he wanted to do an internship at the end of his career, one in a television channel in order to start climbing steps right there. He would become a sensation and people would discover him there and everything would be perfect for him. Each semester, he convinced himself his path to success had absolutely no floss and that he was in it to win it.
Unfortunately, life is not about what we want but about what we get and do with it. The only internship available when he had to get one was in a editorial company involving books by the most boring authors he had ever heard. They published a lot of self-help books and guides to do things like learning yoga or how to make your dog a nice little cape. It was the only thing he could get and was obliged to stay there for a whole year.
Suffice to say, the experience was a nightmare. Not only did his boss take her job a bit too seriously, the people he worked with were too sensitive about everything. Apparently one of the conditions to properly work there was to believe in all the crap they sold and he certainly did not buy any of that. However, he got his first writing gig there when his boss asked him to write something about anything, as long as they could fill their obligations of that period.
Jake was annoyed by this obligation at first but then he realized he could use it to make something good. He had wanted to make something very focused on journalism but rather ended up writing the story of a disgruntled man who failed once and again when trying to become a real journalist. The small short story was a huge hit.
As they really didn’t publish literature there, his boss was king enough to send his work to other places and he got a call from a company called Walrus Publishing when he was asked to come on board as an editor. Mind you, this was only months after graduating from college. The rest of his classmates had barely had a couple of job interviews. He was very lucky.
He already had a large amount stuff in his basket at the pharmacy when he entered another aisle and laughed so hard some people turned around and looked at him as if he was mad. He had laughed because he had seen all the condoms on display and every time he saw those small packages, he remembered his first book.
Work on it had started about two years after he had started working as an editor on Walrus. People were much nicer there than in his previous job and he really enjoyed everything that he did. However, he realized he wanted to keep writing so he did it on his spare time and planned to show his boss once he finished the whole story.
It was going to be a science fiction dystopian novel about an invasion. He pictured everything in a serious note and had planned every single aspect of it. So much so that he had even made drawings about the protagonist and of the planets he talked about in the story.
However, when time came to show his boss, he really hated it. He thought the story thought too much of itself, it aimed at being too serious and it really wasn’t that much of a deal. Of course, Jake was very upset by this and had a long period of time when he realized he wasn’t really a creative person but rather that guy that gets it right once and that’s it. He then decided not to try again and just deliver himself to everything in life that may help him be less sad.
In other words, he started to drink more, to smoke and to have sec with almost complete strangers. It wasn’t like him to do that but, now that he lived by himself and was so depressed about his talent, it really felt like the moment to lose himself to all of that. So he attended a lot of parties, where he would always be smoking and he would disappear in weird moments at the same time that someone else.
It was in such a state when he got a very awful virus that made him say in bed for two straight weeks. He had a sore throat, his eyes were always bloody and his whole body hurt. He never went to the doctor but this time he was scared the flu wouldn’t leave him. The doctor told him, very alarmingly, that he should get and HIV test, just in case.
If he was pale already, Jake turned into a piece of paper when the doctor said those words. He drank the medication he gave him and he postponed several times going to get the test. But realizing his former crazy life could not go on just like that with that on his mind, he decided to go on a Saturday, as they had consultations every single day.
In the small waiting room there were few people other than him: a young boy and girl couple, a pregnant woman and a guy about his age that couldn’t keep moving his leg. He seemed very agitated and looked at the ground as if he was attempting to make a whole in it with his sight. Jake tried to ignore the people around him to be lees worried but actually the opposite worked better: when the guy stood up, he stepped on himself and almost hit the counter where the nurse that called him waited.
People got up, as to help him, but he stood up fast but instead of grabbing the counter to straighten himself up, he grabbed a big fish bowl full of condoms which made him fall into the ground, showered by a rainbow of colors corresponding to many small packages of condoms that had rained on his head. The worst thing was there were also small packs of lube in the bowl, so when he tried to stand up fast, he just went back down as he had stepped on some of those and the jelly like substance had made him fall over again.
During all of this, Jake tried not to laugh but it had been impossible by the end. As everyone helped the guy, he just laughed. The nurse asked him to walk to his test and he was so relaxed he didn’t even think too much about it. Not until he met the guy again when coming out of his consultation. He was outside, on the phone and hung up at the same time Jake came outside. He seemed very bummed out, about to cry.
Something on his face, his body language, attracted Jake to talk to him and ask what was wrong. The guy, instead of telling him, started crying. And as he cried, Jake could see the guy had a condom pack right on his shoe. He grabbed it, laughed again and that’s how they decided nothing was that bad. They went out for a coffee and got to know each other better.
As Jake went back home after buying everything he had missed in the supermarket, he entered home and found Greg, the condom guy, with little Grace and Mark sleeping on his lap as they watched TV. He kissed him softly on the mouth and, out of nowhere, threw him a pack of condoms. Greg laughed so hard he woke up his son and daughter and the two of them had to carry the kids to bed, as they remembered that one time when a condom had made such a difference, again.