David loosened his tie and ran his fingers through his hair. Looking out the window revealed that night had set in, and the streets were almost empty. He stood with a groan, lifted his briefcase and strolled out the door. He had promised himself that he would stop these late nights, but he still found himself strolling past long empty cubicles.
He descended from his high tower as elevator music played in the background. There was no point in going back to an empty apartment, so looking at his watch he decided that he had time for a quick drink before he hit the sack. The elevator doors opened, revealing a parking garage with a solitary sports car parked near the back. He hopped in and was off into the night.
He swung open the door to the bar and stepped inside. A few others sat inside, also seeking refuge from the night. He ordered a beer, found a secluded spot away from everyone else, and sat down. He stared up at the television in the corner, the sports channel playing silently, taking a sip from his bottle occasionally. When that bottle was empty, he got another, and then another, until eventually he had made a small bottle graveyard and needed to go home.
He settled his tab and walked out into the cold. He looked at his car before deciding against it, turning to walk home. He strolled down empty streets, weaving between buildings. It wasn’t until he was about three quarters of the way home that he heard footsteps behind him. A glance behind him revealed that it was a tall man, head cloaked by a hoodie. David quickened his pace, and so did the man. He felt pressure against his back and immediately stopped walking.
“Give me your wallet,” The other man said.
“Okay, easy man.” David reached slowly for his pocket, producing a leather wallet which he held over his shoulders. His hand was only there for a moment before the wallet was plucked from it. He could feel the pressure on his back retreat and the pop of the button that held his wallet closed.
Hoping the mugger would be distracted as he looked through the contents of his wallet, David turned to face him. He saw the lanky man, bundled up in layers holding the wallet and the knife in one hand, and pulling cash out with the other. Before the mugger could register what was happening, he had taken a punch to the face. He reeled backwards, and threw the wallet to the side, leaving him brandishing the knife.
The knife lunged forward and David ducked right. It still found purchase, sending ribbons of red down his arm from where the knife had sliced. The view of his own blood made David stumble. He began to feel light headed, and couldn’t keep his feet under himself. As he fell, the mugger picked the wallet back up. He ran off down the street, but not before turning to look at David just before he lost consciousness.
“You’re okay, you’re in an ambulance,” a woman staring down at him said. “You aren’t too badly hurt, but we need to make sure you don’t have a concussion from hitting your head as you fell. He sat up and looked at her, and then to the driver up the front. That man out there may have been trying to hurt him, but these two strangers had helped him when he needed it most. For the first time in a long time he felt like he didn’t want to be alone.
David continued to stand perfectly still as the mugger flicked through his wallet. Eventually, he heard the sound of leather hit the pavement and footsteps echoing away from him. The footsteps grew quieter, before becoming completely inaudible before David finally turned around. He lifted his wallet off the ground noticing how light it now felt. He hurried the rest of the way home, finally entering the empty apartment. He slammed the door shut and quickly locked it.
The next day at work, his co-workers noticed he was a little more personable. Where he had eaten alone in his office before, he now sat in the break room surrounded by the chatter of his peers. He may not have spoken up much, but he listened and nodded and laughed at the right times. He surrounded himself with them, like a security blanket.
When he left work that night, he was surrounded by people in the elevator, and when it opened, they fanned out to go their separate ways. He sat in the car, wondering where to go. He pulled out of the garage with a start.
He walked back into the same bar as last night, but this time he sat next to another man, intently watching the screen. He watched the screen also and took a sip of a glass of cranberry juice before turning to the man.