“Low Road”: Chapter 16

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I’ve only written one story, and that story was Low Road. Although not very good, or downright terrible in certain parts, I’ve been editing it to make it presentable. Out of respect for the only piece of fiction I’ve written, I wanted to see this thing completed.

Recap: The 25 year old drunken bastard Rod Townshend has been living with fellow drunken bastard Jack Schilling, a burned out writer. Rod ghostwrote Jack’s most recent novel, which Jack has been busy promoting, but had yet to pay Rod for his efforts. Tensions build between the two.

Chapter 16

Jack returned home. Per usual, he was wasted. I didn’t feel like dealing with him. Neither did Sandy.

“When are you going to pay me?”, I asked.

His smile quickly faded.

“I just wanted to have a good time tonight. I hated Colorado. I missed my friends. I just wanted to party tonight. But both of you are being shitheads. Fine.”, Jack replied.

He wrote a check for $10,000 and handed it over to me.

“Don’t be an asshole. This is my book. I wrote it.”, he told me.

I didn’t expect him to hand over the money. I felt sorry for Jack. Clearly he was broken.

“Jack, I’m sorry. Let’s have a few shots. Just to congratulate ourselves on a job well done.” I said.

We shared a few shots, then he disappeared. When he returned, he was pissed.

“What the fuck happened to the blow? AND the weed!?”, he yelled.

“I had to sell it. Sorry but you owed me! And to tell you the truth, you owe me more than $10,000!”

“You fucking cunt.”

He went to the bedroom and grabbed Sandy. Then he gave us a tongue lashing.

“You two only use me for my money. Well you know what…”

He pulled out his wallet and threw $50 bills on the floor. I didn’t give a shit. I picked them up. Sandy refused.

“You’re a fucking stripper whore. Pick it up!”, he told her.

“Jack, you’re a piece of shit! I’m done here.”

Sandy began packing her things. Jack was yelling obscenities at her. I should have left. Sandy gathered her bags and was out the door. I never saw her again.

He took a few moments to gather himself.

“I don’t believe it.” He said.
“I think you better go to bed, Jack.”
“Don’t tell me what to fucking do”
“Don’t fuck with me. You’re an old drunk. You best not cross me.”

He took a swing at me. I fell on my ass. I kicked his legs out from under him. I tried to climb on top of him, but he was way stronger. After he gained control of me, he placed me in a chokehold.

That was the last thing I remember.

I was still on the floor when I woke up. This was it for Jack and me. I made sure that I still had the $10,000 check and the $50 bills.

I heard that Jack was awake and in his office. I heard him frantically typing on his computer.

“What the hell man?” I asked.
“I have nothing to say to you, Rod.”
“You were a total fucking dick. You should apologize to Sandy. And to me!”
“You?! Fuck you! Get the hell out of my house.”
“I wrote your piece of shit book, Jack.”
“Get the fuck out!”

I got into my truck and out of this asshole’s life. I decided there that I was going to California. Then I got a text from Jeanne.

The Self As A Battlefield

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About to finish Ehrenreich’s Natural Causes.

Not gonna lie, there’s a lot of it I don’t buy. But so what? Unlike many, I don’t have an issue with blatant contrarianism. I wouldn’t say that Natural Causes is necessarily an example of that, but in the contrarian spirit, it challenges us to be critical of things we take for granted. A few have pointed out that contrarianism shouldn’t be a substitute for disciplined skepticism. I agree. I don’t confuse the two. But contrarianism allows us to have fun, like it’s skepticism’s undisciplined younger brother, and unfortunately many take it seriously. But again some of Natural Causes is Ehrenreich’s cranky or idealistic perspectives, and some of it is evidence-based skepticism. Take and leave what you wish.

That being said, there were parts that I thought were brilliant: namely the ritualistic nature of the  patient/physician relationship and the idea of body as a “battlefield”.

I have made reference to the self as an ever-changing entity that conscienceness superimposes itself onto. The idea being that the notion of permanent self is an illusion; everything, to include our mind and bodies, is more like a stream moving forward in time. Science and biology have, more or less, confirmed that. But we have this conception of ourselves, and our bodies, as one machine with all these parts working together to create a functional being. But that’s not altogether correct. In fact, according to Ehrenreich, there are certain elements in our bodies that will work AGAINST us if given the opportunity. The body isn’t so much of a totalitarian regime where cells diligently do what they’re told. It’s more of a confederation of parts that occasionally act under their own free agency.

And the dark part is: some of these free agents, namely macrophages…we have no control over.

In our health-conscious society, we want to believe that our health is entirely under our control. Cancer, diabetes, infections, etc are all entirely preventable. It’s just a matter of exerting your will….And fighting yourself.

It’s a fight you will lose. No one has ever won it. Because death always wins in the end. No matter how much kale you eat, no matter how many marathons you run, no matter how many carbs you missed out on….there’s no telling how, or when, the cold hand of death will come reaching out.

We can live this life with the acceptance that it will one day end.  We can take part in the pleasures that make life worth living. Or we can deny ourselves those pleasures in the vain hope that we can prevent the inevitable: the decline and demise of our physical body into nothing, where conscienceness ceases to be.

So check out Natural Causes!

Barbara Ehrenreich: Through the Bullsh!t of Our Mental Health Crisis

I love Barbara Ehrenreich. Her cranky, contrarian, no-bullshit take on American life is, frankly, what we need more of on the Left. It’s what we need more of PERIOD.

I admit that I have yet to complete her most recent book Natural Causes (which she briefly discusses in the video posted). I’m not entirely convinced by all of the arguments that I’ve read so far, but Ehrenreich did propose an intriguing idea that the medical community is essentially ritualism. Of course, it’s presented as “science and evidence based” to make it palatable to Western patients, but many of the procedures serve little purpose other than to have patients kowtow to the doctor’s knowledge and recommendations. And these patients expect, even demand, that kind of service in order to receive the fulfillment they desire….even if these procedures are demeaning or embarrassing (undressing, being digitally probed, etc). It’s all a routine that’s generated to create a placebo effect, where the patient feels as though they have been treated, although next to nothing has been done.

From what I can recall, Ehrenreich doesn’t specifically address the mental health industry. But, as anyone that’s gone through the system can tell you, it’s pretty obvious that psychological therapy is a ritual. I don’t think anyone’s hiding that fact. However, as Ehrenreich explained, the “science and evidence based” mind-body health industry is, as the description states, an INDUSTRY. You are being sold a product. Because we’ve grown accustomed to a certain set of rituals, and various enterprises (insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, etc,) realized that they could make a profit off of it, we now have a very non “science and evidence based” industry masquerading as one. That’s true for physicians of all sorts. And that’s especially true for mental health, IMO.

I don’t know how we found ourselves in this “mental health crisis”. I don’t do research here. Perhaps it was pharmaceutical companies pushing out newer drugs, forcing doctors to find newer disorders to fill those prescriptions. Perhaps it was stress of the modern workforce that broke our spirit. Perhaps it was a perfect storm of various causes that led towards the profit-driven medical community into having us by the balls. I don’t know, that’s a discussion for another day. But I do know that this is a bullshit crisis, where we’re led to believe that our mental states are disorders rather than a natural condition… because our capitalist overlords need us to keep popping the pills so that we might become better, more productive employees.

So be sure to check out Barbara Ehrenreich’s Natural Causes!

“JFK” (1991) and “Nixon”(1995) Revisited

For a brief period in time, from about 1986 to the mid-90’s, Oliver Stone was the shit.

In Hollywood, I suppose no one stays king for long. But he did stack up an impressive resume: Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, The Doors, Natural Born Killers. A few busts in the 2000s, namely Alexander and W. were the finals nails in the coffin for his impressive reign.

As a teen, I felt that his towering achievements were JFK and Nixon. Thematically (and historically), Nixon was a sequel to JFK: both explored the legacy that John F. Kennedy had on the American psyche. It’s been years since I’ve seen the films, so I spent my days off revisiting them.

JFK is largely seen as a classic, albeit a forgotten one. I was curious to see how it held up in our age of conspiracy theories. And…well….

It remains a technical achievement. It’s a beautiful film. In my mind, it’s a sudden break from traditional editing methods into our current age (no doubt influenced by The Thin Blue Line). As an engrossing narrative, I’m with the critics to a point: we might disagree with Stone and his “alternative presentation of history”, but it still holds up as an engaging picture. Costner’s portrayal of Jim Garrison is earnest. His speech in the courtroom is still moving, although the basis for the trial was likely bullshit. For the most part, we’re able to wave the absurdity of the premise to be captivated by this otherwise moving picture.

BUT….the ridiculous premise does get in the way.

Donald Sutherland’s cameo as “X” is hysterical. “Don’t take my word for it”, he tells a skeptical Costner….words that sound oddly similar to any conspiracy theorist roaming the internet today: “Don’t take my word for it, look at the facts! Look it up on the internet!”. After spending over 25 years in the dark regarding the JFK assassination, the American public might’ve found this cameo to be acceptable. But in our current era of “Q-Anon” and God knows who else, this section of the film seems ridiculous.

But as Roger Ebert indicated upon release, this film is a representation of the anger that Americans were feeling regarding the assassination. It’s an anger that doesn’t quite translate to current times. (The release of JFK is roughly the halfway point between now, the time this was written, and the assassination. Can you believe that shit?) When I was a kid, and on into my teens, a “federal conspiracy to kill the president” was the dominant narrative regarding the assassination of JFK. As time went on, we realized that that narrative was more of a representation of us (or the baby-boomers that lived through it) rather than an accurate picture of the facts.  Whatever faults the Warren Commission might’ve had, Lee Harvey Oswald almost certainly killed John F. Kennedy. It wasn’t a conspiracy within the government motivated by the military-industrial complex (although that too poses a genuine threat)…it was some piss-ant off the streets of Dallas. And that’s what the public couldn’t accept. And they were angry about it. The facts weren’t sufficient enough so a narrative and sub-culture of conspiracy was generated. That’s how we ended up with Stone’s JFK. 

Perhaps I should revisit this film in another 27 years.

I don’t have a problem with an “alternate presentation of history”. It’s just a shame that Oliver Stone didn’t have much of a sense of humor. It was obvious that Costner’s Jim Garrison was jumping down a rabbit hole of insanity regarding this theory. Family and co-workers were alienating him because of it. It never occurred to Stone that perhaps Garrison might’ve been seeing shadows. That would have been a much more interesting film, rather than entertaining Garrison’s delusions as genuine fact. A Thin Blue Line-like treatment was warranted; or a postmodern exploration of how we generate meaning within our heads, and how that often doesn’t translate towards an accurate picture of reality.

We can only view this film through the lens of Stone’s anger regarding the unrealized potential of JFK’s vision….a vision that was struck down by a madman’s bullet in Dallas. This is a subject that he returns to in Nixon.

I was surprised at how well Nixon holds up. Dare I say that I enjoyed it far more than JFK? And the reason for this is simple: Anthony Hopkins. His performance occasionally gets shit on by the critics, but it was a tour de force that the film needed: it was a performance that Donald Sutherland should have given to JFK. Hopkins played it the only way it could have been played: sleazy, awkward, and conflicted.

Was it on the nose? Occasionally too caricature-like? Over the top? Sometimes comedic? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. YET, Hopkins still manages to make us feel sorry for the sad sack of shit that was Richard Nixon. I thought it was brilliant.

But it occasionally felt as though the two stars of the show, Anthony Hopkins and Oliver Stone, were making two different productions. Hopkins realized that there’s only ONE way to portray Nixon, and Stone was trying to create some biblical “man’s fall from grace”-like story. The director expanded the scope of the production far beyond necessity. The White House intrigue alone was enough to sustain an entire picture. The interplay between Nixon, Kissinger, Halderman, and Ehrlichman was great. Everything else felt inconsequential or uninteresting.

In short, Stone needed to do less. Hopkins and the actors were more than competent to carry the show. But like the historical characters he tries to depict, Stone’s reach exceeded his grasp.

I have no idea if Nixon was truly obsessed with Kennedy. Maybe he was. “When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are” might be a good line, it still feels as though Stone was overreaching. Obviously Kennedy played a huge role in Nixon’s career, but a lot of that stuff in the film felt hamfisted. Who knows if we would have had a Nixon presidency had Kennedy not been assassinated, but I doubt that that weighed heavily on Nixon’s mind.

The era of Nixon was a cynical period. The 60s and 70s were transitional times, due in part to the killing of John F. Kennedy. Oliver Stone’s Nixon felt as though he was misjudged because of these times…that his misdeeds would have been overlooked by the public had his predecessors committed them. Maybe he was right. This is touched upon in Nixon, but is heavily distorted because Stone was too angry by the unrealized potential of Kennedy’s Presidency.

But that’s just what you get with Oliver Stone.

So are JFK and Nixon worth revisiting? Sure. It’s worth revisiting one man’s anger towards an era that let him down.

 

“Low Road”: Chapter 15

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Low Road was the only novel I’ve ever written. It’s the only story I’ve ever completed. As I’ve said many times, it wasn’t very good. But I vowed to see this thing through to the end. So I’ve edited it down to where its presentable.

Recap: Rod (drunkard, dirtbag) has moved out of Jeanne’s house and left his job. He now lives with the drug-addicted writer Jack Schilling. Rod helped Jack complete his latest novel, which re-launched his career. Naturally, resentment ensues.

Chapter 15

I was living with Jack. Sandy was there all the time. Jack was going to get her boob implants.

I doubt her and Taryn were on speaking terms. Taryn would often bitch about this.
Jack was oddly busy. He was touring, giving speeches and interviews. With the announcement of a new book, his career was going through a renaissance.

I wrote the book, but I had yet to see a dime. The last paycheck from my time at the bank came in. Jack was as unstable as he’d ever been. I was too afraid to ask him for cash.
Sandy and I would lounge around the house in Jack’s absence. I’d mope, pouring a drink now and again. We’d watch old westerns. God knows why. Taryn didn’t want me hanging around her. She never came to Jack’s place because of Sandy.

I felt sorry for Sandy. I wasn’t sure what she meant to Jack. They’d argue far too often to be a real couple. We’d often get high together.

“Are you going to work tonight?” I asked. She was still working at the strip club.

“No. I’m going to quit.” She lit it up a cigarette. “My sister lives in New Orleans. I’m going down there.”

“Isn’t Jack getting you implants?”

“I don’t know. Don’t care.”

The conversation shifted towards Taryn. Sandy was disappointed that their friendship ended. I informed her that we had planned to move to LA once everything had settled.

“The fuck? Are you going to be an actor?” She asked.

“No. I don’t know why we’re going there. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Phillip texted me. He wanted to know where he could find weed and other shit. I’ve been supplying him drugs off and on. I gathered some shit laying around the house. It was Jack’s drugs, but he owed me money. I didn’t give a shit.

“Shit’s just been crazy, man.”, a spazzed out Phillip told me. “Mom’s hasn’t been herself since you left. And I don’t know about Angel. She seems a little out of it.”

“What’s wrong with Angel?” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about her. You two didn’t have a thing, did you?”

“No way! She was like a sister to me. I wouldn’t do that to you dude. I’m with Taryn.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing.”

I pulled out a bag of some white powdery substance. It was probably cocaine.

“Have you done this shit before?”

Remembering Mark Fisher

I’ve been slowly trying to acquaint myself with the works of Mark Fisher. He was writer and theorist, known for his blogging name K-Punk and the book Capitalist Realism.

Fisher died last year of an apparent suicide.

There is a degree of overlap between his thought and mine. I’ve only recently been introduced to him, so I don’t claim to know everything about his ideas. But it’s common among leftist and Marxists to link the rise of depression and anxiety with the prevalence of capitalist ethics intruding on our lives. The drive to make money is literally making us crazy.

And it is. I’m not challenging that assertion.

My take is, however, that depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and even autism are not new phenomena. I’ll take a leap of faith and say that their prevalence probably hasn’t changed that much among populations…at least “physiologically” speaking (for a lack of a better term). If they have, it simply means that we’re getting better at diagnosing them OR have lowered the threshold by redefining the term. Are people more sad and anxious than they’ve ever been? Of course, which means that they exhibit characteristics of depression, but don’t possess brains that are, again, physiologically “depressed”. This also means that those who do possess a “depressed mind state” can go through life and not know it. There are simply too many moving variables to determine who’s going to exhibit what and when.

I wouldn’t say that there are defined borders that determine who has “depression”, “bipolar”, “schizophrenia”, etc, necessarily. Those descriptors are only applied after the fact. It all runs along a moving spectrum and anybody can fall anywhere on it. Again, I’ve compared these mental states to skin color, hair color, eyes, weight, height, etc. As a general rule, we commonly accept those characters as a reflection of human diversity…that’s not the case for mental diversity.

With “1 in 4” adults with a disorder as the most commonly cited statistic (with the prevalence of addiction, PTSD, and God-knows what else…I’d wager to say that that’s a conservative estimate), how long can we go without having to evaluate what we mean by “disorder”. If roughly half of your population exhibits a degree of insanity, what’s sanity?

I don’t know if this is a clarification of Fisher’s comments in the video or an alternate perspective. But my larger point is that our eccentricities are embedded into us. It’s not a result of exterior forces impressing themselves upon us. At least that’s not the entire story. We’re not blank slates.  What capitalism is doing to change these eccentricities or mental variations into “disorders” is by narrowing the objective of everyday life towards the pursuing of capital gain (as Fisher stated). This fosters atmosphere of loneliness, alienation, angst, and stigmatization which in turn manipulates mental states into disorders. It causes anxieties when people can’t keep up, and as time moves on, fewer and fewer people are able to meet its demands. Thus, only a small segment of the population are left satisfied…namely psychopathic CEOs and their managerial puppets: normies.

We’ve come to define the stability of someone as how well they can manage their monetary situation, keep a job, and otherwise contribute to the economy. There are other sets of criteria of course, but these are the bare necessities to function within society. If they can’t reach those benchmarks, then clearly there’s a disorder. We’re trapped within a narrow set of confines that are championed by a self-help reading, positive thinking, careerist class…who are in turn governed by a bunch of psychopaths that want us to shut off our empathy so that we can make them an extra buck. No wonder everyone’s on drugs.

Down the Lonely Road of Modern Life

I’m mentally depleted. So I’m just going to show this video and (hopefully) won’t have much to say.

I said previously that I view mental health awareness as more than just than just awareness of personal suffering. These “disorders” aren’t personality defects, they’re as natural as the color of our eyes, skin, hair, etc. Except certain conditions are more favorable economically than others, and unfavorable ones are labeled “disorders” by the medical community. These states or conditions have been with humanity since the beginning (particularly depression) but are only now becoming problems.

Of course, my preference for the theoretical and speculative over empirical research means that I’m probably wrong more often than right. But there you have it….

There are a variety of reasons for how it got to be this way. I’ve typically stated that this is the result of neoliberalism, poor medical diagnosis and practice, and unprecedented technological advancements that have revolutionized social interaction. This has been both good and bad, but has unfortunately pushed large swaths of people into isolation.

As a result, we are devoid of any meaning in our lives.

Incel Mania!

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In the middle of writing this, my brain started to hurt. I’ll admit, this might be the dumbest problem I’ve had to address. But here we are, in 2018.  I don’t care if this is terribly written. I was just trying to finish the damn thing. 

Incels are hot, Hot, HOT right now. An asshole in Canada rams his van into a bunch of pedestrians, and a few writers think “maybe this guy had a point.” A discussion on “sex redistribution” is now a thing. Everyone but nerdy economists are on a rush to scorn it. It’s the only time when puritans like David French and Ben Shapiro along with Leftists Mary Elizabeth Williams and Chapo Trap House can agree on the stupidity of something (for vastly different reasons, naturally).

I’ve spent the last month mocking the shit out of “men’s rights movements”, the pick-up community, Jordan Peterson, and anyone that appeals to the male sense of persecution. But I think Williams, Chapo, and myself were burying the lead: in the age of the internet, the inability to find a mate or get laid can have disastrous consequences. This isn’t a “sex inequality” problem, this is a straight up mental health concern.

As much as we wish that Incels and similar MRMs exist solely on the fringe, like they have in the past, I’m not convinced that they still are. Was my attitude towards them ill-advised? Perhaps (not that I give a shit). And the reasons for this are two-fold: much of what I have tried to do on this blog is attempt to de-stigmatize mental health concerns. Secondly, my larger aim is to frame mental health within a socio-political context….meaning that depression, etc, are not disorders as such, but are economically undesired mental states.

Williams underlined the problem within her Salon post: sexually isolated men are far more violent than their female counterparts. Nothing is more terrifying and politically disrupting than a community of angry men. There has always been sexually isolated men. BUT the Internet provides them a platform for unity. Perhaps the Left should have seen this coming. I’ve pointed this finger one too many times. But because this went unaddressed, this allowed a gaping hole for various charlatans and pick-up artists to walk through and validate incel alienation. Their hatred of women is a symptom. The disease is isolation, loneliness, which can become exasperated in the digital age. Mental disorders can be an underlying cause, or the result, of sexual isolation.

My larger concern is whether or not incels, and incel related groups, can ever become a viable political movement. I know that sounds ridiculous AT THE MOMENT although they are receiving attention from a handful of academics. HOWEVER, I always felt that anti-feminism was primarily fueling alt-right sentiments…far more so than racism. Normies typically don’t follow racists. But anti-feminism? That’s much more palatable. This just goes to show how far women have to go.

Should we continue to mock incel ideology? Totally! I certainly will. But it’s obvious what the problem is: these guys are just upset because attractive women aren’t into them. Women should meet THEIR expectations, but they shouldn’t meet women’s. The other problem is that sooner or later, isolation exasperated by economic inequality and the digitalization of social interaction will break the dam.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The solution isn’t this dumbass “sex redistribution”. It’s fucking mental health awareness. It’s going outside of your house and interacting with people. Don’t worry, we’re all weird. We’re all lonely. Everyone’s looking for something that’s real.

And capitalism sucks!

 

“Low Road”: Chapter 14

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Low Road is a novel-sized draft that I completed in 2015. It wasn’t good, but hey…it was the only story I’ve ever written. SO, I reevaluated it. I’ve spent the last several weeks editing down this hunk of shit. Hopefully now it’s somewhat presentable.

Recap: The alcoholic dirtbag Rod Townshend has officially split up with his sugar momma, Jeanne. He’s also been living with her. The problem is that she’s still his employer.

Chapter 14

Jeanne let me keep my job.

I’ve been splitting my time between Jack and Taryn’s place anyway. Not much was going to change. As I was gathering my things, Philip stopped me in the hallway.

“Where are you headed?” he asked.

“Who knows?”

“Are we still friends?”

I gave him a long hard look. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to say.

“Of course.”

We shared a hug and then parted ways. Angel was nowhere to be found.
Jeanne did everything possible to make things not awkward at work. I didn’t really see her much. I was too busy.

I decided to cut back the drinking. But Tim was too damn annoying. Then his wife visited him at work.

Her name was Jill.

She was everything that her picture said she was. It didn’t make sense what she saw in this dumbass. Tim excused himself momentarily. Jill and I were alone in the office. I was too sober to carry on a conversation.

“How did you meet Tim?”, I asked

“We met at Oklahoma Baptist. We were in the choir. He had an incredible voice. You know, he likes working with you…”

“Well, I…”

Right then, Jeanne butted into the conversation. Her and Jill exchanged pleasantries.

“Are you guys looking forward to Iceland?” Jeanne asked.

“Tim is. It’s a little too cold for me.”, Jill says.

“The hell’s in Iceland?”, I asked.

“It’s a mission trip. Did Tim not mention this to you?”

“Uh, well…”

“Well I hope you two enjoy yourselves.” Jeanne interrupted. “Rod will hold the fort down while Tim’s gone.”

“I’m sure.”

I was too aroused by Jill. I had to be careful. I was wearing a thin pair of slacks. My hands began to shake. Then Jill left. I went to the break room and grabbed some water. I couldn’t control the shaking. I was sweating. I couldn’t focus on work. I noticed that one of the secretaries was wearing a short skirt. I began to sweat some more. I didn’t have any liquor in my truck. I had a massive headache. Then I went to Jeanne’s office.

When I sat down, I didn’t have anything to say. She looked at me. She waited for words to come out of my mouth.

“Yes Rod?”

“I’m speaking to you as a friend. Not as an employee.”

“Okay?”

“I think I need to step out for a few minutes. Maybe take an extra longer lunch break.”

“Are you feeling okay? Do you need to take a sick day?”

“No. I’m just working through something at the moment.”

Jeanne got up and sat down next to me. I needed her near me.

“You can speak to me about anything. You’re still my friend.” She placed her hand on my shoulder. I began to sweat more.

“I just need to take a couple of hours to pull myself together.”

She agreed. Once when I got outside, I frantically called Taryn. I asked her to come by the bank with a bottle vodka. When she arrived, I got in the car and took a few swigs.

“I badly need to fuck.” I told her.

“How about a handjob?”

That was all I needed. I stored the bottle in my truck and went back to work. When I sat down, Jeanne told me to come back to her office.

“You weren’t gone long.”, she said.

“Yeah, I just needed to freshen up. I’m fine now.”

“You’ve been drinking.”

“Look, I’m trying my best here. I went through most of the day without a drink. We’ve got to take baby steps.”

“I can fire you for this.”

“I know. I’m sorry, I swear to you that this won’t happen again.”

“Do you know how many chances that I’ve given you? It’s a lot more than what I’ve spoken to you about. One of my supervisors wanted to fire you weeks ago. But I vouched for you because I knew that you were trying. But I don’t know if that’s true. Are you trying?”

“Welp, I guess that I’m fired.”

“You’re not even going to defend yourself?”

“I don’t see the point.”

“Then go. Take the day off. I’ll let you know if you still have a job next week.”

I walked out. I had no personal belongings at my desk. I undid my tie, poured vodka in my flask, then went to the casino.