David liked being a substitute janitor because it allowed him the freedom he craved in his daily routine. One day, while mopping the girl’s bathroom at an elementary school, David Emami smelled smoke coming from the kitchen. In an instant, the fire alarm went off, and David darted for the door.
The kids and staff made their way to the field, as did David. It was bitter cold and raining outside with horrible winds. The blustery day made for a miserable time to be outside, but David had no choice. He was on the clock and couldn’t just abandon his duties. He had forgotten his jacket inside and simply wore his baggy blue jeans, his black rain boots, and a thin, worn and yellowed Who’s the Boss shirt he had purchased when he saw Tony Danza perform at the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall in Portland, Oregon, in 1986.
Firefighters arrived at the scene just minutes after they got outside. Smoke now billowed from the roof and it was clear that this wasn’t just a small ordeal. David shivered as his thin layers quickly got soaked.
“Just a while longer, we hope,” said the Principal. “I know everyone is cold and wet, but we shouldn’t be out here all day.”
But then an hour passed. And then 2 hours passed. David was certain he was going to die. The Principal allowed parents to pick the children up as they huddled together for warmth. David wanted to huddle together with someone because he was nearly frozen, but hated the idea of touching another person. He figured a slow death would be better.
One by one, the children were picked up as the smoke continued to billow. At last, the Principal told his freezing staff, “You can all just go home for the day. I’ll stay with the last few kids until they’re picked up.” David walked back to his car slowly and figured he should get his will in order because he was no doubt going to die soon. He thought about what he would put in his will and decided that it would all go to his cats, Fred and Barbra Streisand. Then a thought hit him: they couldn’t live without him. David found a renewed reason to live and decided today would not be the day to die.
He got into his car, cranked up the heat, and went home to tell his cats about his terrible day.
David Emami is Alone in Portland is a collection of stories that peer into the life of a middle-aged curmudgeon with a fondness for cats and antiques.
Playfully illustrated with Bitmoji characters, his story comes to life as each day brings a new adventure.
He was obsessive compulsive and mad about antiques. The apartment was covered, top to bottom, in decor that would be more aligned with that of an old woman that peaked in the 1960s. david-emami-takes-on-portland.html
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