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He shifted in his seat, scrunched up his nose, and hoped the radio would distract him from the putrid smell. Derek, beside him, wasn’t having any trouble; maybe the smell of rotting trash is something you get used to. But combined with the constant stops and starts, Jacob was beginning to feel nauseous. He wasn’t getting paid to drive a garbage truck. Unemployment didn’t pay at all. He had run out of distractions in the winter months, and today he was tagging along with the closest friend he had. “So,” Derek tapped his hands against the wheel, “aren’t you supposed to be, like, swimming with the fishes or something?” “I don’t ‘swim with the fishes.’ I study ocean life.” “And ocean life includes?” “…Fishes.” “There you have it.” They lapsed into silence as the truck stopped. Deep shouts came from the rear of the vehicle, where bundled figures dumped cans into the crusher. Gray snow lined the road, and Jacob felt a surge of gratitude towards the cab’s tired heater. “You know what your problem is?” Derek started again. Jacob rolled his eyes and put his feet up on the green dashboard. The entire inner cab was green, from the seats to the worn steering wheel, but a plague of rust was encroaching on the exterior. Soon, he assumed, it would be a dark red pile of parts that would always smell vile. “Tell me Derek, what is my problem?” “Cut the sarcasm,” he glared, “I was talking about opportunities.” Jacob leaned his head back against the seat. He was fired six months ago after a year of coordinating events for an environmental group. They had told him that he was just being “let go,” and that this office “wasn’t for him.” Jacob really just felt they sensed his irritation, his disagreement with their “endangered species” f... ... middle of paper ... ...ng, and the room was filled with the scent of stale tuna. Their fish eyes were bulging, and the gills were pressed close to their sides in suffocation. Jacob screamed. He ran back to his apartment. He picked up the phone and dialed. “What’s up?” answered Derek. Jacob could hear the truck in the background. “I’ve got a problem.” “What kinda problem?” “I-I killed something. And I need your help to clean it up.” Derek was silent on the other line. “Killed what?” His voice was higher, just as it did when he was surprised. “Some fish,” answered Jacob quietly. He heard Derek laughing. “Aren’t you supposed to be good with that kind of stuff?” “Just come over,” he grumbled. Derek assured him that he’d be there soon, and then they both hung up. Jacob stayed in his own apartment until his friend arrived, the sound of suffocation still ringing in his ears.

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