Real Life

“Life, is like washing a floor. Once the dirt’s swept up and tossed in the trash, the scuff marks scrubbed clean and it’s sparkling pretty beneath the lights, some asshole tracks in fresh mud.” JSM

-Introduction-

Hi. I’m Jeremy. You can call me Jere if you wish.

stick-man

Opened up my stats this morning while waiting for the kiddo to finish getting ready for school, just checking out various behind the scenes stuff, and I realized I had fifty five posts in this thing called, Tales of the Chronicles. This installment makes fifty six. I actually shook my head and did a double take to ensure I wasn’t imagining it. Fifty Five. Never would have believed it. My, how the time flies.

I title this installment, Introduction, due to the idea that not many know anything about me other than what I post here, or on my social media. Since March 2016, I’ve portrayed myself publicly as a person who’s the mirror opposite of who I am today. At this point, most know Dr. Jekyll and are unfamiliar with Mister Hyde.

Chatting with a buddy yesterday, I mentioned, “I guess describing myself as a bit ‘off my rocker’ has served me well. At least I’m enjoying the experience.”

Now, that TotC is starting to pay off a little, I need to tell the readers some stuff about me, outside of what I call, Tales.

Yeah… I’m a bit eccentric in my day to day life. My friends and family know me well. Earlier installments suggest my hobbies are unorthodox and strange, and yet without those focal points, those activities I engage(d) in, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. I had to find something to grab hold of and not let go. An anchor point.

The world is a cruel and heartless place sometimes. Bad things happen to good people and if not for the things that truly define our happiness, the world gets tougher, and more brutal.

For me, it was a step by step process; learning what it was I wanted to do, and try. And I’m still learning and trying. No denying that. Through unconventional methods I came to grips with what my personal definition of happiness and success is all about. I refused to believe I was meant for a constant stream of never ending bad luck and unfortunate happenstance for the rest of my days. I’d be damned if the world got the better of me. I’d be damned if I allowed others to control my outcome.

Am I happy? You betcha. Never been happier. It took an estimation of half a lifetime to get there, but absolutely. I am happy. (Whew, had some close shaves while looking for it)

Am I successful? That all depends on the subjective interpretation of success.

In a material, educational, and financial sense? No. I’m not successful and that’s just fine. What I do in my life is not money centered. Am I happy with my “40 hour jobby job” and does my job take care of my family’s needs? Yes, I am happy with my employment, but my employment does not define my success or determine my definition of happiness. It’s an activity I’m forced to participate in.

If the pursuance of individual happiness is the true definition of success, than yes, I am successful. Finding that buried treasure in the back of my mind formulated my happiness.

I prefer happiness. I prefer having the opportunity to find myself and be who I am. Unfortunately, the road to find who I was, and what I wished for, was long, tiresome and seemingly endless.

In my personal opinion it was the journey along that road, which led to where I wanted to be. Now that the road has a gentle breeze blowing steady around me, has branched off elsewhere to parts unknown, is straight and narrow, the sky seems clear, and the walk has become a comfortable stroll, it continues on and on and I don’t wish it to find an end this time.

And I don’t see an end.

I like this path of life. I’m enjoying what makes me happy.

What makes me happy, is writing.

I write. A lot.

I write every day. Sometimes four hours each evening or as little as one if feeling drained, and on the weekend(s) I can go all day if left alone and the coffee IV is hooked up to each arm. I try to keep a blog entry between fifteen hundred and two thousand words per installment, with the exception of the shorter poems I’ve spliced in, and last night I browsed through every scrap of material I’ve stored away and I sit at just over 475,ooo collective words across multiple projects over a five year period.

I am not published.

I am learning.

I am seeking that, which I’ve subconsciously always desired.

When I mention 475,000 words I can be honest and say, head held high, that the words I have on paper are not perfect words. Far from it. Open admission. I’d be a fool to think that. In many cases, what I write is noticeably flawed and I’m big enough to admit it. The best part of my journey along that tiresome road was my eventual understanding of what defines my shortcomings and my faults, as well as what makes me happy.

I know when something is too big for my britches. I can see when I’ve lost sight or have the inability to bring what I visualize into action. I know when I’ve hit a wall, can’t rectify an issue or see beyond my personal veil of ignorance. I own my mistakes, make strides to learn from the situation, I listen to those I respect and have the advice I seek, and I continue with each challenge towards self betterment. I try, try, try and try again. Today, when I fall down, rising to my feet is easier than before.

In the beginning I never contemplated the gratification of applying words to paper. In fact, I ignored the impulse for a period of time and forced myself to fight it off.

Who the hell do you think you are? Why would you want to attempt something so meaningless and difficult? Stick with the dream journal, buddy boy. That suits you just fine. Keep it simple stupid. “That” is a world where you do not belong.

This is coming from someone who doesn’t know what world they belong in.

I really didn’t know. Towards the end of the rocky road journey, and the beginning of the new adventure, if someone asked me, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I probably wouldn’t have had an answer. Only a half shrug, mumbling “I dunno” in reply.

“Everything I do, I do for my children.”

That’s where it all began. The kiddos.

The best thing to do for them is set a good example. The absolute best example you can set.

Apparently my anger, confusion and the emotions that manipulated my mind during that period of turmoil, distracted me from the little clues I left myself. Over time, from my late teens to that moment five years ago, I was mindlessly jotting notes and one liners and storing them away for no particular reason. I’d write something, and hide it. No order. No “system” or process. Just ramblings, notations, names, doodles and thoughts.

At the end of the difficult path, I had to force everything to make sense. My mind sought logic within the illogical. If I retained and hoarded everything for a purpose, what’s the bigger picture? What connects it all together? Where, or what, is that one unifying thing I keep overlooking? How does this crazy madness I’ve concocted, fit into some semblance of sanity?

That was my immediate problem. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening to me, and around me. I felt so off balance, bouncing throughout the multiverse, phasing in and out of the Twilight Zone and blaming everything and everyone for my troubles, I couldn’t find the opportunity to see inside myself and search for personal recognition. I sought self awareness, but never intentionally looked for it.

It just fell into my lap one night, something in my mind clicked back on, and my path changed.

I’ve never looked back. The experience has changed me into the person I want to be.

This was the toughest of all the installments for me thus far, and I’ve deleted it three times and started over. My difficulty stems from the fact that I’ve broken character, and have lowered my shield a bit for everyone. I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. That is not easy for me.

For quite some time I battled between what I wanted to do and what I should focus on exclusively.

Kids, Nancy, job, dog, save money to pay bills, shop, spend money, keep an eye on my children’s small pets, chores.

Splicing in the dream to find happiness, within all that chaos, was a fight I almost lost.

When ‘they’ say, “sitting down to start is the most difficult part” they ain’t just a whistling Dixie.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way. I’ve sent my work to the wrong people. In some cases, a manuscript or two have been sent away for critique, and a year later I still haven’t heard back. That’s fine and dandy. In fact, those manuscripts have undergone so many radical changes since then, it’s become a whole new project. Night and day.

What made all the difference in the world was what I call the five beta readers. Four of the five agreed to give my work a read through and each reply was positive and uplifting.

The fifth reader was a happy accident.

I sent a copy of my project to a family member and in turn, he handed it off to his friend. The friend of the family enjoyed it and made it a point to say at a BBQ one afternoon, “When are you going to stop working on that online blog thingy, and get back to work on that project of yours?”

Don’t worry, old man. I’m working on it every day.

The five beta readers renewed my spirit. I was given some good hard positive critique, and I’ve been diligent in applying what I can, to strengthen it and make it better.

One reader’s reply, “I liked this. I’m guessing you’re getting an editor, right?”

That was a bridge I never considered. In fact, it brought on a flutter of butterflies in my gut when I pondered it. A casual read by a group of people is one thing. Hearing positive replies from a handful was enough to make me feel good about what I was trying to accomplish, but an editor was a different step.

One day, while believing my foot was nailed to the floor and I was running circles around myself, I reached out to one.

As far as a simple introduction is concerned, that’s it for now. My name is Jere, I love writing and I’ve been engaged in this hobby almost every day since discovering I wanted to give it a try. Creativity and creation has outweighed all the bad in my life and has permanently covered over and buried my negative past.

However, back to the matter at hand. I have an email to re-read and if my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, the contents say I have six days to leave the Island. Once the nausea and dizziness fades away, I may do something about it I’ll regret.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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The Devil You Know

 

“Stop falling on your sword. It’s getting dull.” JSM

Chapter Twenty Eight

Sleeping in the Rain

Fire is my friend.

Of all the elements, it’s the one I can control.

I can start a fire with flint and steel. I taught myself to build flames in the pouring rain. At gatherings, I’m the one asked to make a campfire and keep it alive. I enjoy it’s creation when times get tough, I treat it like an art form, and I seem to revert to a caveman mentality.

I’ve been known to sit and stare for hours, keeping a constant vigil, letting the fire simmer and dwindle, then raising it to the sky in an explosion of sparks and heat. As long as I have access to burnable material, I can control fire. Call it a side hobby.

It’s also therapeutic. Meditative. Hypnotic. It allows a place to think, ponder regret, reflect on the past and dwell on mistakes. The outside world disappears and all that exists is dancing flickers of pointy colored light.

It’s a go-to-place. I seek the solace of fire.

Watching my portfolio and three years of life curl up in the flames, fall to the coals in charred fragments and transforming to ash within the raging inferno, was an instant moment of regret and sadness. The heat now too intense to reach in and retrieve what I foolishly discarded in a fit of anger.

All I could do is question my motives and wonder why.

*****

Are you out of your mind?

I just might be.

“Hey, you want something to drink?” My friend came to join me on the grass, sat a few feet to my left and handed me a bottle of soda.

I wiped a forming tear and thanked him.

Smiling at the tall flame he pulled his knees to his chest, “You can crash on the couch if you want.”

“Thanks.” I hurled a log into the pit and asked, “will gold melt in there?”

“Gold?”

“Yeah, I chucked my medals in. Along with everything else. Probably not real gold anyways.”

“I guess it depends on how hot it gets. Medals?”

“The graphic arts competition.”

“Yeah, yeah,” He nodded and looked to his slippers, “That’s right. Probably wasn’t the smartest move.”

“No kidding. What’s done is done.”

“You want company, or do you want to be alone?”

“It’s your property. You can stay if you want. This is all I’m doing.”

We sat and conversed for an hour before he decided to go back inside. He was the first to hear the story on the events that brought me to his backyard, my termination from a dream job, and the idiotic reasoning behind the temper tantrum and the fiery purge of my accomplishments.

He seemed to agree with my plight and the explanation of my actions, but stated outright I could have chosen a different method to cope with the situation.

And with those obvious few words of wisdom, accompanied with a tender sympathetic pat on the shoulder, I was once again alone with my thoughts.

I glanced behind me and watched the lights in his home flick off one by one, and when the upstairs became dark, it started to rain.

Great.  Just what I need.

Over the next two hours, I watched the flames vanish until it was nothing more than a large bed of sizzling coals. I allowed the rain to conquer my creation, watching and hearing the hiss of cool water on red hot debris and fatigue overwhelmed me.

You have to sleep.

I’m not moving.  I’m staying here.

Don’t be a moron. Go home.

Nah… this looks good enough for now.

I placed my head on my backpack and tried to use it for a pillow.  The belts, buckles and straps made for an uncomfortable and lumpy resting spot, so instead, I gutted out it’s contents and stuffed my head inside it. A built in rain protector. I lowered my covered head to the soaked earth, closed my eyes and listened to the patter of raindrops on the bag’s material.

There I stayed. Laying outside in the rain feeling sorry for myself. Obstinate and angry at the world. Defiant and locked into a mindset of self punishment. I felt slighted, embarrassed and torn on what to do next. My head covered with a black backpack.

Damn.  I haven’t even told the family yet.  That should be fun.

Once the sun made it’s presence known and the birds of the morning sang their songs around me, I felt myself floating on the tail end of a dream. My subconscious in a limbo state between the real world and the sleeping realm.

Before me standing at the edge of a tree line, an angelic being with long auburn hair, adorned in a flowing white robe. Before I ripped off the backpack from around my head and lurched into a sitting position I heard a voice while in the limbo state. A whisper from the back of my mind, “Her name is Saara.  She is the queen of Heaven.”

What the hell?

It was a moment before I realized where I was. I shook away the visage and the cobwebs and blinked out the floating image from my memory.

I gathered my rain soaked material, stood up, and stretched the aching muscles. My clothes clung to me like a heavy second skin.

Today is a new day, and you have nowhere to go. What to do, what to do.

Oh yeah. Go home first. Discussions are needed and you need to get dry clothing.

… shit.

I dragged my feet back to the homestead and found an empty house. The only thing noticed out of the ordinary, was a handwritten note on the kitchen table.

“Steel mill called. They want to talk to you.”

Fate is a funny thing. It happens when it’s least expected. Fate takes many forms. Sometimes it’s staring you right in the face and obvious. Other times, it’s subtle and secretive.

As fate would have it, I started my new position at the steel mill the very next day. The layoffs had been lifted.

Instead of seeking something elsewhere, I stuck with the devil I knew and understood. I know steel. It’s better than starting over completely from scratch. I needed to make the money.

Saara would have to wait.

>>Thank you for reading and following along.  Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email.  Please like, share, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Inferno

“Without fire, the phoenix can never rise.” JSM

Chapter Twenty Seven

Blaze of Glory

In my late teens (early twenties) I helped manage a sandwich shop. The best perk of employment were the breaks and the food discounts.

In the back room the owner had varieties of entertainment which the staff had permission to play and engage in when not on the clock and working; to include video games. No quarters needed. Just hit the start button and enjoy a game on the house and have a pleasant break.

Of course, me being me, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Each break, lunch or otherwise, was spent playing Centipede, Pacman or Donkey Kong. Sometimes I’d come in early and relax before my shift with a hand of solitaire or Galaga.

The owner made attempts to provide a comfortable area for his staff to enjoy themselves in between the busy times.

Situated around short tables he used empty pickle buckets for seats and we could play cards or socialize. Posters hung on the walls, a dartboard, and for those who smoked, two lawn chairs sat by a backdoor each with cup holders and individual ashtrays.

In the middle of a heatwave one bustling afternoon, the air conditioner stopped working.

The ovens and grills continue to operate at full steam. Folks expect to eat regardless of AC.

I can’t be sure what the building’s interior temperature was when I began blacking out and falling to the floor, but when I landed on both knees and crumpled forward I had no concept of reality, time, my surroundings, or the screams by other customers and staff.

All I saw was a tunnel of crawling black creeping up from both sides, swallowing my vision, and the greasy tiled floor coming to greet my face.

I had just enough time to drop my elbow and forearm to the ground, stopping my fall, and the world was awash in a dizzying haze; gray and out of focus.  The items I could see clearly in my field of vision had no meaning to me, and while trying to swim back to the real world, I had no recollection of the equipment’s purpose.  My head swam with confusion and discomfort and two staff, accompanied by a customer, helped me to my feet and escorted me to the break room.

They called an ambulance and the EMT’s said I had dehydration and was overheated.

Once I came back to reality and wasn’t considered in any danger, I was left alone in the back room to rest and recuperate. I sat on a pickle bucket, sipping cold water and pulled in deep lung fulls of air; trying to relax and calm down. The staff left the heavy wooden door open to the kitchen area for when I was ready to return, but I had no desire to get back to work any time soon.

Take the rest of the day off.  You’re not yourself.

My inner voice was 100% correct this time. No debate. I was certainly not feeling like myself. I centered my attention on the break room cribbage board and watched the small holes move around, weave together, doubling in size…

… I drank more water and diverted my sight elsewhere.

You can’t go back to work like this.

No kidding.  They said take all the time you need.

I need the hours.

Is it worth dying for, or a one way trip to the ER? No. Didn’t think so.

I remember feeling inept and out of control.

Then I became angry. I crushed the Styrofoam cup and launched it away from me. Of course being lightweight Styrofoam, it didn’t travel far, so to prove only to myself how upset I had become, I brought my sneaker up under the table’s surface and kicked it’s contents to the floor.

I straightened up and looked to the ceiling, sucked in air, and the break room door slammed shut.

The noise jumped me right out of my skin. My stomach fluttered, I swallowed a lump in my throat and dashed away from my bucket. I ripped open the heavy door, bolted around the corner and rushed to the cooks and staff.

“Did anyone close the break room door?”

Each person in the kitchen looked to one another and collectively replied with shrugs of the shoulders, “No.”

“Did anyone go outside just now?  Through the front door?”

“No… You ready to join the land of the living again? Got a big to-go order that could use some help.”

I scrunched up my forehead and looked back to the break room. “No, not yet.  I’ll be in soon.”

I returned to my pickle bucket and sat slow upon it.  Keeping my attention on the now reopened door which was perfectly positioned in it’s former spot, I waited for it to move again. I turned the smoker’s fan towards it, opened and closed the smoker’s door trying to create suction and motion of wind, and checked the ceiling vents for air flow to debunk all possibilities.

The only thing that made the door move, was when I applied a forceful push to it with the palm of my hand.

What made the door close?

Maybe you have superpowers. Channel your anger… try to replicate it. 

Shut up.

OK, let’s be realistic here. I know I don’t have superpowers. What a foolish notion. Absurd to the point of laughable. But when the two possibilities are ghosts, or superpowers? I lean towards unorthodox abilities and the potential of the mind.

I mean, seriously.  Who wouldn’t?

I still don’t know what made the door move that afternoon, but I know it had nothing to do with the power of the mind. In hindsight, perhaps it was ghosts. Who can really say?

Nonetheless, there I was siting on the bucket straining my inner powers and focus, concentrating my anger, digging deep for a possible wellspring of magic, struggling to make the door budge before my watching eyes and it failed to move an inch.

“Oh well,” I whisper as I return to my duties. “At least I can say I tried.”

Within a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of time, for a passing fleeting second of my existence on this world, twenty years ago, I had a silly moment where I believed my anger was a source for sorcery.

Can you believe that?  Yeah, neither can I.

In the basement supply room of the print shop, ensconced in thick darkness with flickers of lightning flashing through the few windows around the foundation, for a second time, I felt magical again.

Even though it was all in my imagination.

*****

The foreman hit the floor with a thud and Doug crashed into the door frame. The lightning was quick and bright and thunder backed each strike in perfect unison.  The storm was directly over the building.

Not daring to move a muscle and potentially end up like one of my superiors, I sat firm on my pile of boxes and moved my fingers around like a witch casting a spell.

I moved my head side to side, silently making sounds of explosions and destruction while they fumbled around the room and I know I had nothing to do with the storm outside, but for that strange moment in time it felt satisfying to think I did. It was fun to pretend that I was responsible.

I smiled at each bump and thump and curse word and when my eyes met the room across the hall, the singular bulb flickered above and activated.

It held it’s glow until I looked away. Once turning my attention to the floor between my feet the light deactivated and all we had again was flashes from outside.

The thunder and wind picked up. Hail fell in dime sized chunks and the staff who was outside wandering around the property rushed through the doors upstairs to find safety.

As soon as it started, the storm wandered off to harass someone else.

The lights came back on and I suppressed a smile as the foreman returned to the paper room. “Alright, excitement’s over.  Let’s get this day over with.”

I held my chin up high as I joined Doug on the trip for the files.

I apologized to the department in my own way, “Through an unexplained computer glitch, file 005 was not retrievable.  All that could have been done, was done. Can we have the default files?  This contract is important, for both of us.”

No problem.  Apology you say?

Doug never spoke a word.  It was good enough for him.

The next day I was introduced to the room. The light flickered on and the unkempt work space worsened once inside its congested walls. It smelled of musk and dried paint and three flies hovered over the rim of a small trashcan crammed in a corner.

“Here you go, Jeremy. A box of envelopes and mailers.  Your job is simple.  Place the mailers in the envelope, seal them shut and put them in a box.  When the box is full, take it to Helen and wait at your station for the next box. A routine will develop. This sponge and water will keep you from having to use your tongue. This space is yours. Ask Doug if you need anything.”

“That’s it?”

He stopped his walk and turned back around, “Yes.  That’s it.”

I lasted fifty seven days.

On the fifty seventh day, I was released from the small room and forced to find employment elsewhere.  They expected me to quit but instead, however, I was informed I was a part of the annual cutbacks.  Low man on the totem pole, and all that.

I didn’t take the news well.  I expected my situation in the envelope room to be a test. I thought if I worked hard and “proved something” I’d be allowed back upstairs.

No.  That never happened.  Only a heartfelt “sorry” and “take care” and “good luck with all your future endeavors” and I was back to searching for new employment.

But not right away.

I had something to do first.

I entered my home, grabbed my backpack, stuffed it with the items I needed and walked to a nearby friend’s house.

Behind the home at the outskirts of the property sat a large fire pit with stock piles of wood and debris aplenty to burn. He was inside watching TV and waved me away to go about my business.

I raised the flames in the pit to six feet high, sat away from the blazing inferno of my creation, and tossed my graphic arts portfolio as if it was a Frisbee into the popping red hot coals.

I fed the flames for three hours as I buried my dreams in cinders.

>>Thank you for reading and following along.  Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email.  Please like, share or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Tantrum

 

 

“Where there’s an absence of courage, can courage be found.” JSM

 

Chapter Twenty Six

Blackout

The day my teenage daughter moved in with Nancy and I, was the instant I set forth four specific rules to abide by. Those rules apply to all her friends coming and going, as well as any new comers to the home; and I believe they all know it for the most part. My daughter will tell her friends I’m easy to get along with, “He’s a big teddy bear”.  Just be respectful.

Having been a teen myself I know what to expect. Therefore, the rules are easy and they must be followed. Deviation of the rules is a violation of trust and those who know me well, understand my trust issues.

-Don’t lie to me. Don’t steal from me. Don’t manipulate the old man or take advantage of my kindness.  Don’t burn my house down.-

In fact, it’s so ingrained in our relationship we conclude our parting conversations with big smiles and the speaking of a rule, “I love you.  I love you too.  See you tonight. I’ll be home at eight. I may be later than that. I have the dog taken care of. Are we still watching the show later? Yes. Good. Don’t worry, I won’t burn the house down.”

We laugh it off and continue along our adventure.

That’s the way I now visualize life. An adventure.

I have to see it that way. I depend on that mentality.

My friend’s mother gave me a ride home one afternoon and the second we left the driveway was the moment a storm front was moving through the area. The roads were already slick and I mentioned with all sincerity, “You don’t have to do this.  I don’t want anything to happen.”

Her reply was quick, “Let’s look at it as an adventure!”

Within the pages of an adventure the character(s) experience long treks through foreign territory with potential dangers awaiting in nearby corners. Encountering good companions and evildoers along the way, inner demons, monsters, horrible people, and helpful Samaritans when they least expect it. Love and romance. Viscous battles, retreat, surrender and regrouping later for another attack.

Sometimes undergoing great suffering and committing unspeakable actions. Pain and pleasure, ups and downs, highs and lows, wins and losses, bumps and hurdles. It’s what the character becomes at the end of the adventure that matters most.

Sometimes the journey is filled with twists and turns, major surprises and unexpected blindsides. Some instances are nothing more than strange occurrences and unexplained happenstance. What I call anomalies.

This journey I’m sharing is no different, but my visit to the basement beneath the print shop fits within the realm of brief anomaly.

*****

On our way down the stairs, all I could hear was sighing. Each of the senior staff would exhale a puff of breath, slow and drawn out to emphasize the situation and their collective disappointment, while descending into the bowels of the building.

At the foot of the stairs a passageway branched to the left and the factory foreman rounded the corner and flipped the lights on; illuminating a long empty hallway before us. To our right sat pallets of paper in a large room and across from the paper supply was a small windowless space covered in clutter: crumpled envelopes, torn fliers, and built into the wall to the left of the door, a pitched work bench with a tall swivel stool tucked underneath. Across the surface of the tabletop were crusted and blotchy spatters of black ink fused into the grains of the wood.

One incandescent light bulb screwed into the low ceiling, gave the room just enough of a glow to see the area’s contents.

The foreman gestured to a nearby pallet and I crossed the threshold into the paper room. I sat on a short stack of boxes and pulled a foot onto my knee.

Kurt leaned against the wall and that’s when the inner voice spoke again.

Have confidence you did nothing wrong.

A lone bead of sweat rolled down the owner’s nose and stopped at the tip. My eyes were drawn to that point and all I could do was stare. It wiggled and moved side to side as he spoke and it seemed an eternity before it finally released, snapping away from his skin and dropping to the floor.

I heard every word the man spoke to me, but I didn’t care to hear it. When upstairs, before I was asked to stop my exit and go downstairs, a calming peace wrapped around me as I started my walk across the factory floor. My alter ego whispering little phrases as I followed them.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Yeah, well, if you did nothing wrong we wouldn’t be heading into the basement now, would we? Why not the office?  The conference room?  Why downstairs?

You know.  They want to make an example out of you. 

So, they’ll fire you. No big deal.  You’ve been down that road before.

But this is different.  This is the dream job.

Some dreams take a lifetime to accomplish. Maybe this isn’t for you. Who cares! Let them fire you.

You did nothing wrong.  You probably know more about this job than most of the employees here.

The owner’s two right hand men paced across the floor as the words spoken from each entered one ear, and wafted out the other.  My eyes pulled down to my foot and I casually grabbed a loose thread from the cuff of my pants and rolled the thin fabric in between my finger tips.  The more I twisted and pulled the string, the more the threads came loose and I smiled.

Kurt continued his speech and I heard the words, “… won’t fire you, but I should.”

My head snapped up, “Did you just say I’m not fired?”

Kurt pushed himself from the wall, crossed his arms and strolled towards me. “That’s right.  I’m not letting you go. I wanted you to work for me, now you’re here, I got what I wanted and I plan to make good use of you. First thing’s first. You and Doug are going to the department, ask politely for 005’s default files, make a formal apology to the department heads for the accident and then tomorrow morning you’ll start your new assignment.”

I bristled up and found a hidden sliver of unexpected confidence, “It wasn’t an accident.  I didn’t erase it.  You heard the techs.  It’s like it vanished from the system. I couldn’t do something like that.”

“It happened while you were using it.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Listen, I’m not trying to be a jerk here or sound disrespectful, but I should be in the design station.”

He clasped his hands over his abdomen and the man rocked back on the heels of his hiking boots, “That’s where you’re wrong. I can put you where ever I need to. Do we have a deal? The door is right there at the end of the corridor if you decide otherwise.”

“What’s the new assignment?”

“Right across the hall.”  He pointed to the small room and smiled.

“What’s the job?”

“Let’s get the files back first. Then we’ll discuss the details. Doug, take the truck. Bring a dolly with you.”

Doug left the room and my anger elevated my temperature. My face and neck blazed with heat and it felt as though my ears would explode. I lowered my focus back to my pants cuff and uttered, “This isn’t fair.”

“I’m sorry?” the foreman replied.

I looked up to him with reddened eyes and clenched my teeth.” I said… this isn’t fair.”

When the foreman stepped forward to shoot off his response, he stopped in his tracks and snapped his attention to the basement ceiling. Thunder clapped and rolled in the sky above the building. The lights sputtered, flickered erratically, and the power went out. The basement was plunged into smothering darkness and while sitting on my stack of boxes as the senior staff fumbled around blind in the dark, I couldn’t resist a brief chuckle.

>>Thank you for reading and following along with me on this journey. Please like, subscribe below or leave a comment if you so desire, and I’ll see you at the next one.