Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chapter 13 (19,277 words out of 50,000)

13.

“My division leader – ex-division leader – Jeremy, he always believed in second chances.” This cunt should win an Emmy. She looks right at me, she has to, I guess, I’m the only one here. And she smiles, her eyes a little watery, like she’s actually drawing back to some fond memory. I just play along and smile back, nod my head – I’m just going to be what she wants me to be – what she thinks I am.

“Us ‘straight people’ at the office, we’d make light of his generosity when it came to ex-cons and recovering substance abusers.” It was a good play. She knows what she’s doing - she saw that opening and took it. She’s either faking it because she wants to throw me off, get inside my head like I’m trying to get into hers – if that’s the case this can be really fun.

“And yeah, there was obviously a certain level of fear there, as well.” Or this is it – this is the answer. She’s some type of compulsive lying, drama-queen pity whore. I don’t know, that’s not a lot of fun, I’m hoping for the former – I’m leaning towards the former. Either way I’m getting closer to figuring you out, bitch.

“I’d never leave my purse unattended or my office unlocked, for instance.” If she is playing a game, which I suspect she is, I need to tread careful here – she’s getting a good read. I know enough about myself to know that I never care about anything; life’s only there so you can pass through it. But this shit, this shit fucked me up a bit – I can admit that. This dude was my age, you know? I knew him before I knew who I was going to be, some of that must have stuck around.

“But after a year of working there and nothing ever being stolen – after working in the same office with people who just apparently did just need a boost – we all kind of loosened up a bit.” And this bitch sensed it. She sensed it and she used it and for a minute there I almost fucked it all up. Standing in her apartment, fucking ready to cry it fucked me up so much, and she just looked at me as if she needed consoling – as if we were supposed to lay down on the couch and hold each other and cry. And she got me, she really fucking got me.

“But we never really hung out with them.” I sat on her couch with her, I held her.

“We never ate lunch with them.” She told me that she worked with him, I told her about the block-races.

“We hardly ever even talked to them.” I told her that I was worried about my own mortality.

“Until Rick, that is.” I actually fucking cried.

“Rick was – Rick just lit up the room, he was so happy to be given a second chance – every time he entered the office he was beaming.” She cried too, pretended to, whatever the fuck she does. She patted my back and ran her fingers through my hair, rubbed my earlobes while I told her I felt guilty – that I turned my back on this kid – that I cut him off because I couldn’t deal with who he was.

“He found out that I had a thing for Jelly Doughnuts, from Dunkin’ Donuts, of course – he’d bring me one every morning and he’d sit down with me and tell me about his evening – about how good everything was getting.” I told her that it felt good to talk with him when he was sober. That it smelled like childhood. I actually FUCKING said that. Smells. Like. Childhood.

“Things were really picking up for him, he was clean for months, making some money – he had an apartment now, away from the home he was living in where his old dealers would come by every day to see if he was doing drugs again.” She asked about my childhood and I told her about the old block. I told her about the Johnny pump and the stickball and the fucking BMX bikes. The fucking skateboards. Told her about a bunch of people I haven’t thought about in years, ones that weren’t fucking dead.

“He was just so happy.” And she smiled, cried, told me that she’s been waiting for me to open up to her.

“Every morning he’d say how great it felt to be on the right course.” She told me we just took a big step.

“How great it felt to belong again.” She told me that she wanted to love me.

“And then he stopped showing up for work.” She got greedy, to say the least – she almost fucking had me.

“A week passed and I still hoped he would come back – went out looking for him and everything – but he just disappeared, never seemed to be at his apartment, never saw him around his neighborhood.” Amateur move, when you open somebody up, when you expose them – you parlay it into the next day, you don’t try to seal the deal. You give them time to weigh their options, process it, question their decisions – you make it seem like they have a fucking choice.

“Eventually I stopped looking; the office went back to normal.” If she would have left it, I would be telling her I love her right now.

“It’s a shame it has to end like this, it breaks my heart, he was so close – he was happy – I don’t understand why he needed to go back to this.” I would be at her apartment with a fucking toothbrush, packing my shit into the drawer she cleared out for me. I would have been a changed man; I would have decided to give this fucking relationship thing a shot. I would have question my decisions, started on a new path, turned over a new fucking leaf, made a u-turn, double backed, gotten the monkey off of my back, praised the new fucking day. I would be picking out drapes and doing her fucking laundry, watching The Daily Show while she rested in my arms.

“But I’m not blaming him; despite how happy he was I know how hard he really had it.” If she just let it go, I would have came to her – she would have fucking won – I would be a broken man right now.

“I know because of the way I felt about him before I found out who he really was.” But she had to push it, she had to expose herself by being so fucking careless.

“I just – I just hope he’s found that happiness again.” And now I’m feeling good, I’m in a position of power, she could have made me cared but now I’m back to not giving a fuck.

“I just hope he’s finally at peace.” And she doesn’t know that.

“That was beautiful.”

“Thanks.” She smiles, ducks her head like she’s embarrassed, playing the fucking part but she doesn’t realize the goddamn play changed. She doesn’t realize I’m playing the lead now. And now she’s going to see how this game is really played; now she’s going to know how a fucking master does it. This ain’t pre-school anymore, cunt.

“I think you should come to Brooklyn with me on Sunday. Meet my parents.” You want to play in the majors; I’m going to fuck you up.

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