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Million Dollar Turtle

Demitri thrusted the doomed fly deep into the plant's gaping maw. It shut slowly, releasing an aura of content. Demitri only fed his Venus flytrap on days when he felt like feeding his life to that green oblivion. Today was one such day. Demitri awoke, not really awake but conscious, a few minutes before and felt the tension of such an early day. His dirty blond hair stood up on his right side, the side he slept, and he had grown a bit stubbly seemingly overnight. His plants lay in a window pane on the way to the bathroom, on a normal day he would pay them no mind, but today he felt all but strange as he crept like a zombie to a door that lay bathed in light down a short narrow hall.
While preparing for his day, Demitri tried to recall the occurrences of the night before only to pull up Ritz crackers. How he loved his Ritz crackers. The thought of the crackers he loved so elevated his stance. Now he could reach the sink. He prepared for his day, scraping skin and hair off his face, making a vague attempt at fixing his hair, and hitting the radio. The day held much for him that he knew was inevitable. Demitri felt as if his life became an inevitability. Skipping breakfast and most of the morning, Demitri, who had slept in his work clothes was already off to work.
Demitri drove a hardy and worn Ford Focus, a common sight in his town as there had been a Ford factory in his town for many years. The factory had shut down 6 months ago, 3 whole months after his father's death. Neither event seemed to wholly shake Demitri but he was the kind to throw his worries to the back of his head. East Park, a pleasant town if such a thing existed was small and had a constant homely feel to it. It was constantly dry, but not from heat or weather. This impassive community, was the result of many years of everyone knowing everyone. Every father worked with another father or the like and the Ford Motor Company owned them all.
Demitri's car radio was playing one of his favorite tunes by an artist he only referred to as Ms. Fitzgerald. His mind wandered off as he drove. Into a place where maybe he came, saw and conquered the one he loved, an imaginary woman with long black hair and even longer white legs. Before he knew it, his journey had ended and he was at work. A small office naturally called "Real Estate". He loved where he worked and loved selling homes but lately they had him doing a new matter entirely. Enter Appraisal: a practice of mostly tragedy. It was gruesome to tell someone what their entire life is worth in a dollar amount. None of this really phased Demitri, telling John and Jan Does how much their home was worth was actually a concept that worked better with an obscure amount of anonymity. He picked up his papers and was on to his quest of retail value.
The first two homes were almost clones with each other, bad roofing, bad plumbing, the usual. He passed the details on to the owners and each went their own way. He completed this with machine precision and near machine ruthlessness. What happened to these Does was of little concern to him.
"Hey, there Demmy, if I knew it were you that was a' comin', I would have cleaned up a bit." An aging man, mid 50s stood to greet Demitri in the front porch of his third home.
"Sanders?!" Demitri yelled in both trepidation and excitement.
The two exchanged protocol in a strange way, punching each other in the gut while they spoke about the old times. Sanders was a friend of Demitri's father, his best friend in fact but could not have children of his own. Much of the raising Sanders did was of Demitri and his siblings. Sanders was ready to leave East Park just like so many before him when the factory went defunct. The factory stood there towards the center of town, what was once the heart is now a tumor gathering dust and poison memories. Demitri had worked there for a short time with Sanders and his own father but moved on to real estate when he realized his languor when it came to physical work. Sanders often teased him for leaving for a lower paying job but this baggage has a way of sticking with someone.
It was still his job to check on the house, the memories flooded back to him. Demitri used to box his dad on that wooden stage in the back. His brother used to throw rocks at him from those now dying trees. Demitri's sister would draw pictures on a now decrepit shed. The old home was falling apart. It suddenly struck Demitri, his whole town, his whole life was being torn asunder. His father was gone and it seemed everything he stood for was leaving along with him. The grown man felt as if a young boy standing amidst a sea of memories and a life. The town had changed and little Demmy along with it.
Demitri could not break the news to Sanders, that what was left of his life had no numerical value to it, that 20 odd years of loving memories now accounted for absolutely nothing. He told him a lie about much needed calculations and head on to his fourth house to finish off the day.
Mr. Armstrong was pouring out those blues late this afternoon and like the man Demitri was he drank it all down. Tears filled his weary eyes and made it difficult to drive but none the less he made it to his destination.
Demitri regained some of his composure and tried to talk to the first person to answer the door.
" Que? Uh, Senior no habla ingles!" The elderly woman motioned to him as if confused but like instinct she beckoned to a young boy. " Mijo!" She called to him.
Demitri interrupted, he had been doing this job long enough to know enough Spanish to get by. He made an attempt to speak to the two, explaining why he was here and asking for permission to look at their home. The old woman agreed and the young boy followed him around. Their family was also leaving the town, the old woman's son and grandson both worked at the factory but now had trouble holding a job in this now unforgiving town and it was time to pick up and move on. Demitri saw himself and his family in this house, playing, running, being kids. He took a few steps around the home and realized he would not be able to tell this family either, they were just like him, living a broken life that no longer existed and clinging desperately to what the factory once lovingly supplied. He tried to use the same lie he did with Sanders but the old woman was busy. On his way out of the house the young boy stopped him and handed him a round pocket stuffed with meat and normal Mexican fixings. Demitri smiled at the boy, motioned his happiness and left.
The drive home was an arduous one, what the town had once been haunted Demitri with every turn and with every stop. He wondered if it was all for nothing. He wondered if every fond memory, if all these homes that Ford built really had any value in the long run, if all these lives really meant anything in the long run. His mind was swamped with doomed theories. He parked outside his home and accepted it, we are all nothing. 20 years of his life and the lives of countless others was inevitably nothing. While leaving his car he noticed an object struggling across the road in front of his house. A turtle about a foot in size was trying his luck to get across. There was obviously nothing important on the other side of the road but Demitri noted the turtle's determination. It did not look back once, it just held up its head and wiggled across. As Demitri stared at the turtle he noticed a car heading up from the distance. It stirred him, if his life was worth nothing to him, maybe it could mean salvation to some random turtle. He ran toward the turtle, striding his legs as best he could. He grabbed the turtle and leapt toward his front yard. The car, a Ford explorer narrowly missed the two and honked loudly as it passed. Demitri, still panting gave the turtle a pat and released it onto his yard. He picked himself up and dusted himself off. Dark clouds hung overhead, Demitri smiled at them.
"Looks like rain." Demmy said to himself almost laughing. He walked off into an aura of content, his dirty blond hair moving in the breeze.

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