Still Here, We Swear
I was hoping to be back on track with blogger-y things by now. My calendar says so, see:
Today? Today, enjoy the version 2 intro sections to what is now, thanks to the genius of the inimitable Jennifer Melzer, entitled Hero Handlers Anonymous.
Regardless of whether it’s ultimately proven to have been the “phone call of fate” or “the phone call of doom,” the tombstone that will adorn my, likely early, grave shall read:
HERE LIES RHYS IVAR. HE NEVER DID LEARN TO LET IT GO TO VOICEMAIL.
I stared at the dingy walls of my cube and thought about things that were not the presentation I had to give in half an hour. The one I hadn’t started yet because I simply couldn’t muster the give a fuck. There were many fucks to give in my life. On that day, my job wasn’t one of them. The maximum number of pencils the stained acoustic tile over my head could support was one. The loose string hanging from the cuff of my sweater begging to be pulled was another. My sister spending her eighteenth birthday in a psych facility, as she had every birthday, with the exception of her ninth and sixteenth, since her fifth, was a third fuck.
The presentation didn’t make the list.
It needed to. It was important. Well, the salary and benefits were important if not the actual thing itself.
Unfortunately, the last fuck I had the energy to give had sailed the previous evening when, out searching for a gift for my sister, I realized I couldn’t give her anything she could potentially use to harm herself, which included, essentially, everything with the exception of single sheet of paper.
The phone rang.
Sigh. “Ivar, Information systems and technical support. Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”
“I’m less than impressed with your interpersonal skills. You could at least make a weak attempt to sound like you don’t want to throw yourself out the nearest window.”
“If I had a window, I’d have defenistrated a long time ago.”
“Defenistrated, huh? This is why no one except Artie and I like you.”
“Do you need something?”
“You know, if I owned that crap hole —“
“Chase, you do own this crap hole. It’s corporate headquarters for your multi-billion dollar company.”
“Did you just call my company a crap hole?”
The laugh-snort worked its way out before I could swallow it. “Did you call to make my life worse or is there something that can’t wait until beer o’clock?”
“Is it beer o’clock night? I totally forgot. Oh well, not like I had anything else on the docket. Well, okay, maybe I do but —“
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you have a presentation due in half an hour you haven’t started yet. That’s totally going to affect your performance review, by the way. Which won’t matter if you take the new job.”
“New —“ That’s what was going to kill me. The patented Chase Raimundo, ADHD powered, mental whiplash. “What new job, Chase?”
“I’m offering you a job, Ivar. But you’re going to have to keep up. Unless you want to fudge that presentation with a lot of porn. Ballardson likes Japanese school girls, so that might keep you in the black for a couple more days, especially if you buy him one of those Sailor Moon body pillows.”
“You’re making me nauseous, Chase.”
“Look, do you want out of that crap hole or not?”
“I need the benefits.”
“Actual person no problem or Chase no problem?”
“I resemble that remark. You have three minutes to compile the tentacle hentai.”
“I know my name, Rhys, you don’t have to keep reminding me. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s not an issue. You will have benefits that cover you and Linette. Forever and ever, amen.”
“Neither of us is a charity case, Chase.”
“Oh, you’ll be working your ass off for them, no worries there.”
“What’s the job?”’
“It’s easier and less likely to result in a felony conviction if you come to the house and I show you.”
“I can’t just walk out.”
“Aw, come on. Live on the edge.”
“What if I don’t want to do whatever it is? Which, I’d like to point out, is a reoccurring theme in our friendship.”
“Trust me, you’re going to want to do this.”
I started picking at the string on my sweater, tugging ever so slightly in an attempt to break it off. The cuff started to fray. “Am I going to have to kill anyone?”
“What? No! Well, probably not. You may have to abet, but —“
My sweater was disappearing rapidly, the string in my hand now long enough to wrap around my throat if not quite long enough to hang myself from the ceiling pencils with.
“I’m not maiming either.”
“Rhys, pack your shit and get over here.”
I glanced around the bare cube, then down at my arm, now also bare to the elbow. “Why now?”
“Because I need someone I can trust. I didn’t want to risk you before. Now… look, there are reasons. You’re going to have to trust me.”
“That’s gotten me in trouble before. It’s also gotten me in jail.”
“It was a misdemeanor and the records are sealed.”
“You’re asking me for a lot, Chase.”
“You have no idea.” A pause. “Please, Rhys.”
“Okay, okay, I’m coming. But if this doesn’t work out, I want something very lucrative on Bali.”
“Like you’d ever leave me for a tropical paradise —“