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The Rental

A man solicits his time to those in need. One customer employs his services to have some company in the end.

By Kooper Shagena Published 2 years ago 3 min read
The Rental
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

He was a crier. I get those sometimes- with increasing regularity as the world freefalls through this mutating world. “Mutating” is a peculiar way of describing society, you may be thinking, but consider it.

Science moves at such a pace that any concept’s infancy is short-lived, and accelerated growth rates rarely make for well-developed adults. Just look at the chickens we’ve created in laboratories, whose breasts grow so large so quickly that the animal must be butchered before it reaches maturity, lest its legs snap and it suffocates from the weight.

Some concepts are generalizable, you know.

The man who sits across from me lets out a stifled wail that recalls me from my thoughts of grotesquely big chickens. I was asked to avoid eye contact while remaining within arm's reach of him, so I scooted an inch closer and made eye contact with the rug instead. His shoulders shook in his grimy hoodie and his grease-tipped fingers cradled his head as he cried in front of me. Having told me his story several hours earlier, outlining in gory detail the events that brought him to this trailer and rendered him wife-less, all that was left for him to do was cry.

I watched his face contort in my peripheral vision and tried to send him an embrace in my mind (he stated in his terms that he did not want to be touched) as the rug and I continued our stalemate. I reviewed his story in my mind.


A young man straightens his tie and blows air from his cheeks as he enters the conference room.

“You’ve got to keep up on these projects buddy, the new PR stuff goes out on Monday and you’ve barely finalized the donor page.”

He walked in with his eyes on the floor to save the energy of dropping them at the first chastisement- which came with record speed today being as the soft-close door was still three quarters of the way open behind him. He nodded absently and waited for another castigation. None came, so he shuffled back to his abysmal desk, swallowed an abysmal Adderall, and turned his welling eyes to his computer screen.

He was fired the following day.


Eighty dollars.

That’s all he owed. People didn’t kill each other over eighty dollars. He pointed across the dashboard of the sleek, new Optima.

“There, he said in there. In between the apartments.”

“Jesus Christ. I’ve never even been this south of town. You’re free and clear now, right? After this?”

He dug his nails into the scar tissue that had eaten up the crook of his elbow as his wife eased the car in next to the curb, just before the alleyway that went down away to their right. She put the car in park and didn’t look at him.


He spoke to the side of her face. “After tonight, all of this shit is over.” All he could see of her eyes was the wet glint of the streetlights as she stared ahead. His throat constricted and his eyes burned as misery battled with hope in his weak, drug-ridden body.

She sighed and turned to face him, and hope welled in his gut as their eyes met in the dark. He saw the faintest, defeated smile begin to grace her lips just as the driver side window shattered and her head was punched backwards into the headrest with the force of a high caliber pistol. Several more rounds went off but only the first one mattered.


So. Now there is him and I and the rug. I’ve been a Rental for all types of events and have seen more of human nature than probably God Himself, and these are the types of jobs that never fail to burrow under my skin.

He’s been silent for several minutes now, save for some snivels and a couple weak coughs that usually tend to follow this type of soul-cracking cry. Then, to my surprise, he creaks forward in the ratty recliner and touches my forearm gently.

“Thank you. I couldn’t be alone.”

His hand is clammy and his voice has taken on an abruptly decisive tone; the tone of someone that has accepted their circumstances with grace. With a parting squeeze, he removes his hand from my arm and reaches for the side table. In one fluid motion, he swipes the gun from beside him, pulls the slide back, and fires the shot under his chin.

Short Story

About the Creator

Kooper Shagena

hi :) I write short stories and poetry about emotions, experiences, and interactions with the universe, others, and nature!

Most my stories are fictional, but some are my real life experiences as I remember them.

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