Tommy came home for lunch break every Monday through Friday at 12:00PM. The meat packing plant was a 13 minute bike ride from his house, and if he pedaled really hard he could make it in 11. This left Tommy with 28 minutes to enjoy his lunch. Today was Wednesday and he was running several minutes behind his normal schedule. His shoelace had come untied while riding his bicycle and it tangled up in the gears. It had taken Tommy approximately 3 minutes and 30 seconds to untangle the lace and another minute to tie his shoe. He tied it in a double knot. By the time he arrived at home he was very hungry and was looking forward to the meatloaf sandwich his mother had promised him at breakfast. He would only have 22 minutes and to enjoy it.
A lot of people might find it strange that at the age of 44 Tommy was still living at home, but he didn’t care what other people thought. When his father passed away 27 years earlier, Tommy didn’t have the heart to leave her. When anyone asked, he would always reply, “Why would I move out? I have free rent and the best roommate in the whole world.” When Tommy put it like this, no one asked any more questions.
Tommy locked his bike to the banister along the front steps of his mother’s house as he did every day. He took the 6 stairs leading up to the porch 2 at a time. After all, he had to make up for the 3 minutes and 30 seconds he had spent untangling and tying his shoe. When he arrived at the front door he noticed that the white paint had started to peel. On Saturday, after sleeping in to 9:45 AM, he would repaint the door .
Tommy fished the old skeleton key out of the front pocket of his size 42 slacks and inserted it quickly into the lock. As he turned it to the left and heard that satisfying clack that doors make when their locking mechanism is working just perfectly, he smiled to himself. Even if he was running behind schedule, life was pretty darn good.
“Mom, I’m home!” he shouted. “Sorry I’m late. You’re not going to believe what happened!”
He walked into the kitchen expecting to see his mother standing at the counter, just finishing up his meatloaf sandwich, but she was nowhere in site.
“Mom!” He yelled again. “Where are you?”
There was no response.
Tommy walked into the living room, starting to get irritated as he already only had 22 minutes to enjoy his lunch and that time was rapidly decreasing. Then he saw her. She was face down in the center of the living room. Not moving. Not breathing. He rushed to her side and rolled her over on her back. Her cold dead eyes stared up at him. He took a deep breath in and out before speaking.
“Mom,” he said, “I thought you were going to make me a meatloaf sandwich for lunch today. You said so at breakfast. I would appreciate it if you hurried. I only have 19 minutes to eat now and then I have to get back to work.”
The corpse lay still in the center of the living room and Tommy stood back up and began to pace back and forth trying to figure out what he was going to do. He had never made a sandwich before, but it couldn’t be that difficult. He had watched his mother make thousands of sandwiches in the past.
Tommy went back into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Sure enough, he found the meatloaf wrapped in cellophane and the bread was where it always was, in the bread box on the counter. He opened the drawer next to the stove and found a butter knife. He took 2 pieces of bead out of the bag and set them on the counter. He unwrapped the meatloaf from the cellophane and cut off a big piece. He smiled as he did this, thinking to himself, ‘Mom would never let me have a piece this big.’ He put the giant piece of meatloaf on a plate and then put the plate into the microwave. He rotated the dial on the microwave to 2 minutes. As the microwave hummed, be began to smell the delicious meatloaf. Tommy sure was hungry. He spread mayonnaise on the bread and then added a liberal amount of ketchup. More ketchup than his mother would have allowed. He then took the steaming piece of meatloaf out of the microwave slapped it between the two pieces of bread and took a big bite.
Tommy looked at the clock on the wall. He would have to eat quickly if he was going to make it back to work in time. After all, he only had 13 minutes now before he had to get back on his bike or he would be late. He finished the meatloaf sandwich and opened the refrigerator for something to drink.
Tommy grabbed the gallon jug of milk and twisted off the blue cap. He drank directly out of the carton. The cold milk tasted better than he ever could have imagined. It tasted way better than it tasted out of a glass. ‘From now on,’ Tommy thought to himself, ‘I’m always going to drink out of the carton.’
Tommy had finished his lunch in record time and was out the door with 3 minutes to spare. He skipped down the steps and unlocked his bike. With a full belly, and a smile on his face, he road leisurely back to work.
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