The key

old-faucetDrip, drip, drip, drip. The rhythmic sound of water hitting the porcelain sink was not soothing – not now. Damon was seated on his bed, laptop open, headset secured over his right ear, awaiting the quarterly communications meeting that never seemed to occur at a convenient time for east coast employees.

Damon had made this small northeastern seaside town his new home less than a year ago. He would have been perfectly happy to remain in the one bedroom apartment he had taken residence in since his cross country relocation. As was the case for most of his life, however, he gave in to the desires of others too easily.

The one constant in Damon’s life for the past ten years had been Gryffin, the golden retriever now curled up beside him on the bed. Apartment policy had dictated that pets would no longer be permitted in the complex without an exorbitant surcharge imposed on the monthly rent payment. Instead of opposing the injustice injected into his life, Damon cowered to pay the additional amount until it became too much for him to afford.

That’s how he found himself in this drafty abode with creaky floorboards, dripping sinks, and a leaky roof. The abandoned house on the edge of town was the epitome of a fixer-upper. The real estate agent had advised him that the house had not been occupied in over fifty years and had many problems. In a moment of unprecedented stubbornness, however, Damon ignored the warnings and purchased the property – as much an attempt at portraying a resolute personality as it was the need for a place to live. The fact that his monthly mortgage payment would be less than his rent payment, it was easy to rationalize the decision.

“Welcome to the third quarter communications meeting,” came the voice through the monotone speaker secured over his head. As the voice lagged behind the slides displayed on his laptop, just enough to annoy him, Damon sighed and double checked that his microphone was muted. The company had registered a banner quarter with revenues increasing in a way that had Wall Street advising investment in his company much more aggressively.

If only the company would invest in their employees the same way, thought Damon. Over the course of the next fifty minutes, the buzzwords were casually tossed into every other sentence – alignment, sustainability, exit strategy, paradigm shift, and organic growth. If he had been playing buzzword bingo, Damon would have won five times over, the prize being an invitation to yet another quarterly meeting three months from now – another six paychecks in his checking account, another twelve weeks of his life lost to the aspirations of others.

golden-retrieverAs the meeting concluded, Damon closed the lid of his laptop, and set the headset on top while simultaneously reaching for the brown head of tousled fur next to him. Closing his eyes, Damon slipped into a meditative state – almost. Plop, plop, plop, plop. The cadence of the improvised musical composition had changed. Instead of water meeting porcelain, water was now meeting water.

Walking into the bathroom adjacent to his bedroom, Damon found the leaky faucet now dripping into a puddle accumulating in the basin. He knew there would be work to do. He didn’t expect it to be the day after he moved in. He had only used the sink to shave and brush his teeth in the morning. The leaky faucet was one problem he would have to address later, but the clogged drain could not wait. With the rate that it was filling up, Damon would have an overflowing sink and wet floor by the next morning.

Resigning to the immediate task at hand, Damon found his way out into the living room. Digging through the unpacked boxes, he located the one labeled “garage” in black marker and ripped it open. The assorted tools inside would become his best friends over the next several months. Right now, he just needed the pipe wrench. Retrieving it from the box along with a few other tools, just in case, he returned to the bathroom with Gryffin following behind, tail wagging.

Placing a bucket beneath the area he would be working on, Damon placed the wrench around the pipe and tightened it. The whole time, Gryffin sat there watching as if he would surely jump in and help if only he had been blessed with opposable thumbs. Damon treated him as he would a father his own son, explaining everything he was doing as if Gryffin might actually be able to help at some point in the future.

Loosening the coupling joint, Damon removed the pipe as the trickle of water began to drain into the bucket beneath it. Steadily, the pool of water from the basin above fell into the bucket. The clog had not occurred between the drain and the point where the pipe was disconnected. Reaching into the other side with his index finger, Damon felt something. Unable to pull whatever it was out with his hands, he grabbed the pair of pliers, secured them around the object and pulled it out. With a wet thud, the ball of coiled string fell to the floor, landing on the aging wooden floorboards of his bathroom.

brass-skeleton-keyPerplexed by the appearance of the finely wrapped twine, Damon grabbed the end and began to unravel it. Inches turned into feet, until the final few wraps revealed an object embedded in the coil. The brass skeleton key had two numbers emblazoned on the side. As if to prove canine instincts were sharper than that of humans, Gryffin gave an abbreviated bark. Rising to attention, Gryffin began to wag his tail more animatedly, his panting becoming shallower. As Damon twirled the key in his fingers, he couldn’t help but feel the same way.

Author’s Note: This is the first part of a six part “not-so-short” short story about self-discovery. A new segment will be published each Wednesday in December with the closing chapter being posted on the first Wednesday of 2015. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – best wishes for an inspired day and new year!


17 thoughts on “The key

  1. Writing to Freedom December 3, 2014 / 11:33 am

    The mysteries continue, just like in life. Thanks for sharing your gifts Dave. I can relate to the jab at corporate meetings and lingo. Maybe we need to create a new board game like BuZZword Bingo! Can’t wait to see where Damon and the mystery key take us. 🙂

    • davecenker December 4, 2014 / 9:06 am

      It’s amazing how, like horses with blinders on, so many people keep trudging forward without looking around to appreciate all that is in their peripheral vision. Thanks Brad, I always look forward to your thoughts, and wish you a very happy holiday season 😉

      • Writing to Freedom December 4, 2014 / 10:47 am

        Thanks my friend. I appreciate your kind words. 🙂
        I haven’t gotten in the holiday mode, but all the best to you and yours for the holidays!

  2. heraldmarty December 5, 2014 / 4:06 pm

    Oh my I recall those laptop meetings when I managed a satellite office out of my home … and before that it was sales meetings in the board room and not so subtle reminders of the strict dress codes for us road warriors who spent half our lives on planes. Do not miss those days at all. But this sounds like it’s going to be a great series Dave, I like Damon already – of course the fact he’s a dog person only adds to his charm. 🙂

    • davecenker December 8, 2014 / 8:36 am

      Thank you Marty 😉 I am witness to the meetings in order to set up more meetings in my daily life as well as in the lives of others around me. It helps to break out of routine once in a while (actually, more often than not) to explore the world around us. It’s always nice to have a loyal companion around to encourage us along 🙂

      Thanks again, I always appreciate you taking the time to read and provide your always insightful comments!

  3. Jill Winski December 7, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    I’m drawn in, Dave! Your writing always brings me back to the present moment. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • davecenker December 8, 2014 / 8:40 am

      That is one of the nicest compliments I could receive Jill, so thank you 🙂 I’m happy that you enjoyed the story. I have enjoyed composing it and hope that it continues to accentuate living in the present moment 😉

  4. adrianapridemore December 8, 2014 / 11:49 am

    I love how he bought the house despite how much work it would be. Almost like a subconscious desire to make something more of his own life, to do something really worthwhile.

    • davecenker December 8, 2014 / 2:39 pm

      Very true Adriana, but sometimes (or maybe, most often) more work is required inside us than outside us 😉 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate it!

  5. Dalo 2013 December 11, 2014 / 10:54 pm

    Not sure which bit of writing I enjoyed most, and all of it is so relatable. Working through the mechanizations of business meetings and the impersonal nature of business in general or the simple fact that Damon is aware of a fault so many of us have “he gave in to the desires of others too easily” but in the end it is life and there is always a mystery to be found (and if lucky someone like Gryffin by your side!). Great writing Dave…

    • davecenker December 12, 2014 / 9:31 am

      Thanks Randall, I appreciate your very kind words. I suppose it doesn’t take too far of a leap to state that I can relate to Damon’s struggles. But, as you say, life is in itself a mystery, with many nuggets of wisdom just waiting to be discovered 😉

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and provide your comments. It is very much appreciated!

      • Dalo 2013 December 12, 2014 / 9:50 am

        This reply gets me thinking about the theme of The Alchemist ~ keep moving forward with the best of intentions and good (dreams) will find there way.

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