The manager glanced both ways before walking toward the center lane of the freeway. This was done out of habit; he wasn’t afraid of being struck. He stood for a moment, using his eyes to trace the parallel lines toward the rising sun. His dark shadow stretched far behind him on the ashen concrete. He scanned the horizon, but the downtown buildings were absent. Before imagination or timidity could take hold, he dropped the pole from under his arm and began the assembly.
He worked in silence and without witness. Once the pole was upright, he gave it a few shakes. Convinced of its integrity, he removed the aquamarine nylon covering from the bag at his feet. He was deliberate, unconcerned with the sweat running into his eyes. Soon, the final aluminum arch was snapped into place, and the pole crowned with its bright canopy.
The manager stepped back from his handiwork and once again surveyed the surrounding emptiness. No wind. No sound. Only sunlight and concrete and rust and heat. He formed a visor with his hand and searched the distance. Perhaps he expected to find a familiar landmark or a floating bird, but instead he found nothing. The shimmering silver of the periphery upset his stomach. He spat over his shoulder and quickly undressed. He then removed a red beach towel from his bag and unrolled it beneath the parasol. Finally, he settled into the shaded towel as one settles into a sarcophagus.
It was patience that had once distinguished this man. It was patience that had secured him the position of manager. He was confident that this patience would not fail him now. Supine and gripped by ambition, the manager waited.