It was hard enough to breath, let alone to do it calmly and with a degree of regulation. Yet that’s what was being demanded of Charles. Charles who had never raised his voice once in the course of his 30 years at the bank. Charles who had never slammed, threw, broke, or disrupted the quiet of the bank. Charles who was now hyperventilating, while throwing items off of his desk was having a breakdown. Like most breakdowns, it was over the silliest, most innocuous thing imaginable making the whole ordeal inappropriately humorous. When the story would be told from branch to branch it would be that Charles lost his mind over a muffin. Specifically one chocolate chip muffin, that had too few chocolate chips and one random blueberry baked to perfection ruining the rest of Charles’ muffin.

Had anyone cared enough to ruin the gossip of what, for certain, would be Charles’ banking career highlight they might have learned that catalyst of the breakdown was the chocolate chip muffin. The one that had too few chocolate chips and one random blueberry baked to perfection ruining the rest of Charles’ muffin. They would have known that earlier that morning Charles had actually wanted a blueberry muffin for breakfast. He had been trying desperately to do more – eat better, walk and maybe run daily, workout or take a weekly class – to get in better shape. After all, Charles was in his fifties. His girlfriend, her mid thirties. She loved yoga and taking walking tours,and while Charles wasn’t morbidly unfit, his six pack had turned into a beer belly. His muscles, which had been toned in his hayday were now encase with a what he and his old sports buddies called, “protective fat.” The truth was Charles wasn’t in the same great shape that he had been in most of his life. But he was still fun, or at least he had thought so. He wasn’t out late night partying like he used to, but he and his friends got together twice a month or so. It was great to see them, even made seeing the inside of the toilet bowl the next day as close to worth it as something that like could get.

Charles had wanted the blueberry muffin. But when he was told by the woman at the counter that the last blueberry muffin had been sold to the woman ahead of him, he took it as a sign that maybe he should treat himself. He and Lana had gotten into a huge fight the night before, and while he wasn’t one to eat his feelings, perhaps a small change in muffin flavor would be good for him. At least that’s what he had thought, until sitting at his desk waiting to hear from Lana (desperately hoping that she accepted his apology and that they could continue to work through their ever growing problems), waiting to hear from the upper crust regarding whether or not they could approve his client’s loan (accepting it would put him up and over his numbers for the past three years opening up the possibility to rank highest for his region), waiting to see more physical progress for all of his hard work, just waiting. Waiting for any of the hard work, the long hours, the countless sacrifices and compromises, just waiting to see if any of it was worth a fucking damn. He had been waiting, until he took the best bite of his muffin that morning. The bite that had one random blueberry baked to perfection, no overdone chocolate chips, just pure deliciousness ruining the rest of Charles’ muffin. It was so good that for a whole moment Charles had more peace than the previous six weeks of his life.

In the next moment he received a text from Lana. She and Mandfred, yes Manfred, had finished their ceremony of peace and were leaving for San Fran to open up their own yoga studio with pet day care options. Apparently, she had really wanted a dog after all. Looking up from his phone, staring with disbelief into his computer screen he saw the email. The email from his supervisor’s supervisor. The email congratulating his boss on landing the big client, the big fish, the big fucking deal douchebag that Charles had spent months getting to know, weeks getting to coax, days of nonstop work and attention (including a steak dinner!) to land. In a matter of moments Charles had gone from stressing over gaining a pound or so over the weekend, drafting the perfect apologetic compromising text message for his girlfriend, and waiting for his ship to come in to nothing.

Charles looked down at his muffin. The perfect bite taunting him from his stomach. It wasn’t a sign or a reward, the blueberry had been an omen. A mockery of his life and his efforts. Of course Charles can’t eat healthy when there is chocolate muffins to be had. Of course a younger, thinner, flexible girlfriend won’t stay Charles, he eats all those muffins. Of course the bank won’t give a big fish account to a guppy like Charles, he says he’s on a diet, makes a big show of bringing his gym bag in once a week only to eat things like chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. Guy can’t even get a healthier option. Without warning a scream so loud and so violent erupted causing patrons and workers to look at the emergency exits to check for flashing lights. Charles himself looked up before realizing the sound came from him. It had felt good. It had burned a little piece of that rotten, vile blueberry away. Maybe if Charles could burn the rest of that cursed berry his life would return, leaving all of this to be a cruel joke of the universe. With a renewed and somewhat hateful passion Charles pushed papers from his desk. He shoved his computer and phone of as well. He threw his phone into the glass partition separating his office space from the public portion of the bank.

He ravaged with violent furry. He destroyed his desk, his equipment, and literally lost torn pieces of his shirt. Then he burped. A small burp, not obnoxious or gross. Just a small burp. One that tasted like blueberry. Charles was wrong. There would be no going back. No getting rid of the poison the blueberry had injected into his life. Reaching under his desk Charles removed a baseball bat. The cops who had arrived moments ago on scene were making their way into the bank. Charles let out a laugh as he raised his bat, the muscles that had once hid under a blanket of fat were coursing through the veins with adrenaline making them pulsate to any onlooker. Before the bat could strike against his forehead a shot rang out through the silenced bank. Office Holder was relatively new to the force. He had never experienced a situation like this outside of training. His training had taught him if the prep is going to hurt someone in a life altering way, shoot. Whether it was an unfortunate mistake or a blissful miracle Charles could decide when, if, he woke up from the coma.

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