The Tunnel

For Ralph the day started out like any other, minus having a wife around to nag him from the second he got out of bed to the moment he fell asleep, and even then she would find him in his dreams. For the first time in thirty-odd years it was quiet, peaceful like. With a smile on his face he began his morning routine; getting up, and getting dressed for work, wandering down the stairs and into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast and later his lunch. He took his seat at the old kitchen table with the faded and worn with age blue and white checkered table-cloth with the vase of artificial daisies that had started to collect dust, making them appear more gray than white. The table wobbled in response as he set down his meal. He paused for a moment and decided to reflect on how he had gotten to this particular place in his life.
Ralph Biggs was a quiet man in his early fifties. he had been married to Emma; his highschool sweetheart at the age of twenty-three and was divorced from her just after thirty something years. The reason for the divorce if any remained unknown to him. Upon file for divorce, he lost his relationship with his children, the youngest of the two he had visitation rights on weekends but didn’t bother to make an effort anymore because the situation never changed. He believed that from his children’s actions that they believed the reason for the divorce was his fault.

Ralph shifted his view back down to his meal of reheated oatmeal and a glass of milk. The oatmeal turning cold and lumpy with each passing second. After a long pause of contemplation about whether or not he wanted to eat the bowl of stuff that apparently lowered his cholesterol levels according to the label on the package of Quaker Rolled Oats, he began to shovel the stuff into his mouth.

The day passed by at a moderate speed. He’d been to work and was now pulling into his driveway at six o’clock pm on the dot. His car made an unattractive noise as he shifted her into park. A noise that would have worried him if it had only been the first time it happened, but since it had been happening on a regular occurrence for the last twenty years, he solemnly shrugged his shoulders, turned off the vehicle, peeled his body out of the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut. The car in response shuttered and a chunk of rusted metal from the bottom of the door broke free and landed on the cracked tarmac of his driveway.

Ralph sat in front of the television in his pajamas, with his glass of milk and TV dinner that had been put into the oven to cook thirty minutes ago. The evening news was on, but Ralph paid barely any attention to the TV. He focused on solving the crossword puzzle that had been in this mornings newspaper, solving a word between each mouthful.
“This just in…” Dave the news reporter stated. Ralph looked up at the television. The screen had switched from the news room to a live report. A fire blazed in the background while fire fighters fought to put out the blaze. He tried to listen to the annoying female voice of Erica Marsh.
“…the tunnel that the man had dug, that his wife never wanted saved the man and his family’s life…” Erica reported. A tunnel, Ralph had wanted to build a tunnel, but that had been a long time ago. He wanted to dig it to the neighbours basement. He and Fred his neighbour had drawn up the plans after they became friends, shortly after Ralph and his family moved in. Of course Emma wouldn’t allow it even after Ralph had laid down plenty of reasons why it was a good idea. Why would Emma who spent the day keeping their house clean, want a tunnel leading from her basement to her neighbours. Especially when she hated Fred and his wife. It had irritated her that Ralph had been friends with them. Ralph knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to dig his tunnel. And he was going to start tonight.
Ralph already had most of the tools he needed in the basement. He hadn’t moved his tools to the garage yet. Emma had always insisted that he park the car in the garage and of course there hadn’t been enough room for both, so his tools ended up in the basement. The only thing that wasn’t in the basement was the shovel, which was stored in the garden shed. He did find the shovel, but it was hidden in the back of the shed in pieces, broken beyond repair.

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