The next morning, Hamden forced himself to return to his unattended office. The building perched on the corner of two bustling streets in the inner-city. It was a short brick building with the look of new rust. Black sticker lettering hung on the front window as lifeless as the bodies about to go into the furnace reading "Hamden & Son Burial Services". Inside, a slight film of dust had gathered over everything.
Hamden walked past the counter to his desk in the back. He swept a stack of yellow forms onto the floor and sat slowly, lowering his sore back gently. But just as he was seated, he heard the dull ring of the bell on the door.
He sprung up, causing a sharp pain in his back. He then limped to the counter clutching his side before painfully straightening out in front of the counter. A woman was standing in front of the counter. She was wearing a fur shawl and black gloves with a large, shiny ring over the glove on the left finger. Under that she was wearing black slacks and a shirt. And tall, shiny, red heels. She was leaning on her hip and drumming her fingers impatiently.
"You're not Jim," she scolded.
"Jim was my father," Hamden stammered to explain. "I'm Joshua. How can I be of service to you today Ma'am?"
"I'll only talk to Jim."
Hamden paused for a minute, taking deep breath as if he were about to dive into water. "Jim passed away two weeks ago. He had lymphoma and the cure came out too late."
"Oh." the woman said, and turned around. "I only trust Jim," she retorted as she strutted away.
Hamden began to limp after her. I'll bury your loved one Ma'am!" he called. "Please!"
But the woman did not turn around. Hamden wailed and heaved the phone onto the floor, where it shattered. The woman, just out the door now, started running, but broke a heel and tripped. Hamden, now weeping, wandered out, stepping over the woman lying on the concrete outside.
He eventually drifted into a 24-hour bar with neon beer signs on the door. He staggered to the counter and took a seat on one of the tall stools covered in green, sticky nylon. He began to sip down a large glass of something strong, and began drunkenly humming an old Beatles song. The Fool on the Hill, he concluded.
Hamden passed the day talking with the bartender between drinks. The bartender was an ambitious twenty-something who was working to pay back college loans. He felt sorry for Hamden, but couldn't understand Hamden's lack of ambition. He was nice, but naïve, Hamden determined. When the shift changed, Hamden fell asleep, head on the bar counter. He woke up to the glaring pre-sunset light.
He saw the profile of a man with a bushy beard walk by against the fading light outside. He leapt up and ran, swaying, to the door, calling "Moses! Moses!" He opened the door and began to stagger towards the man, who turned around. The man had pale skin and wore a yammanka, but Hamden was too drunken and worked up to realize. Before he could latch onto the man's arm, a few men from the bar grabbed his arms and held him back so the man could escape. "Moses!" Hamden shouted at him. "Moses! Whyaryou goina way?" he slurred.
When the men finally let him go, he tried to return to the bar, but the men wouldn't let him go in. He began wandering towards the door stoop where he had stayed the previous night.