Rex Jenkins – A Modern Day Hero

Part 3/10 of the first BTSB collaboration story. Ten creative minds have been chosen to bring Rex Jenkins’ story to life. Sissi Penttilä brings you the third installment. Rex Jenkins woke up that day in the very same way that millions of other people wake up too - unwillingly. He cursed at the alarm clock, which resolutely sounded the wake-up call. He got out of bed, walked into his living room, drew the curtains and looked outside. It was raining. He stretched his naked body luxuriously, until he saw two old women just outside the window in the progress of feeding pigeons. Now they were looking at him with horrified expressions on their faces. He quickly withdrew from the window and made a mental note that he should really start working out again. He was just about to step into the bathroom when the doorbell rang angrily. He was so put off by the constant ringing of the doorbell (why do some people have to push it a hundred times when just once is usually sufficient?) that he forgot his nakedness. He opened the door preparing to give the ringer a sound reproach, but when he saw who stood at the door the words were lost in his mouth. (Simo Ahava)

"For cryin' out loud Rex, in all the time it took you to answer the damn door you couldn't find five seconds to throw some pants on?" the woman groaned, as she strode past him into the apartment, tossed her handbag onto the sofa and headed straight for the fridge. "Sh-Sheila, wh-what are you doing here? And where have you been all this time? It's been six years!" "Six years? Nah, can't have been that long. Four, five tops. I've been around" Sheila replied airily, resting her elbow on the fridge door as she popped the top of a beer and took a long swig, glancing disdainfully around the apartment as she did so. The sight of his (wife, ex-wife, who knew?) casually drinking his beer in his kitchen as though it were nothing out of the ordinary, finally allowed Rex to overcome his initial shock at the suddenness of her appearance. "HOW DARE YOU..." he began angrily, before Sheila's raised eyebrow stopped him dead in his tracks. Rex swallowed hard. "Is she, is she here with you now?" he asked meekly. "No she's not. In fact I dunno where the hell she is. She skipped out over two weeks ago and I've been looking for her ever since. I figure it's now time you pulled your weight - God knows you could use the exercise" she remarked - the tone of disgust in her voice unmistakable. "Here's a recent photo. I'll be staying with Bev 'til the end of the week, after that I gotta split. Let me know what you turn up." She then drained the can, tossed it in the sink, grabbed her handbag and walked out as suddenly as she had come in. Rex was left standing naked in his living room, photograph still in hand. He stared at the open doorway for a long time after she had gone. (Kristian Banfield)

When Rex's nerve system finally recovered and started signalling that his body was cold in its current bare state, he managed to wander back into the bathroom, take a shower and throw on a bathrobe (once a gift from the woman whose perfume still floated around the apartment). He didn't notice the time ticking away ominously, or else he would have picked up a coffee on his way to work – something he'd lately done mostly to see if the barista's cleavage could go any lower. Instead his mind was desperately preoccupied with Sheila's reappearance, and the photograph now lying innocently on the table, so he made coffee and sat down with the only unchipped cup he owned. Whatever the reader's opinion of Rex Jenkins at this point may be, he was not a stupid man. However, he was not one of action either. The matter needed thinking through, and he scanned the photograph of Alex for clues. For clues about her, but also about Sheila, and the years he'd missed, almost forgetting the reason he'd gotten the picture in the first place. Lost somewhere between the finger Alex was giving the camera, and the slightly blurred smile of a Japanese tourist at the background, Rex spilled his coffee at the schizophrenic "Boss calling" –tune chirped by his mobile. (Sissi Penttilä)

Next writer: Thomas Mook [tags]collaboration, story[/tags]

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