The phone call came in on Monday – he was in a panic. “They pulled together some BS HR claim,” he said. “I just lost my job.” I sat there, disappointed but not surprised. He had always been too nice, too open, too naïve.
“Shut your mouth and lawyer up.” I hung up the phone, too fragile for such nonsense. Twenty years ago, I barely escaped with my mind and soul intact. Who am I to advise on successfully fighting a bad boss and a large corporation? RoseMarie smoked a cigarette out on the sidewalk. It only took a minute for me to tell her the story.
“Isn’t he your friend?”
“That’s not the point.”
RoseMarie’s eyes narrowed, sucking on her cancer stick until her cheeks sank into her skull. She gets her brand at the Cigarettes For Less, refuses to switch over to e-cigs. I drive her there since there’s a Safeway next door and the cats like their brand of generic dry food. Something in my answer has offended RoseMarie’s sense of justice.
“You ever get the feeling that maybe, it’s not about you?”
“I hear you,” I can feel my chest tightening, the anxiety seeping in. “If I was stronger, maybe I could do something.”
“You don’t know until you try.”
“Just leave me alone, okay?”
“It’s your life.”
I have problems of my own. The current draft of Mike Sierra Echo is 126 pages, eighty-one pages longer than the ex-president’s third indictment. What will it mean for the 2024 election? No one seems to know. The negative possibilities spiral out of control, like a galaxy sucked into the singularity of a black hole.
Meanwhile, Reddit and X (ex-Twitter) duke it out to be the most hated social media platform in the world, with Threads trailing behind – a toady to the big boys, too small to hurt, to mean to die. Earthquakes pulse across the Internet, thumps and rumbles that remind me of the fans jumping and screaming at a Taylor Swift concert.
But nevermind all that now. We’re both too old and too ugly for a fistfight. My friend – close though he is – has to fight some battles himself. Coming out of the darkness brings its own complications. Maybe I can make some phone calls. Maybe it’ll be okay this time. Maybe this is the beginning of a huge mistake.
I stood there in silence with RoseMarie until the sun slipped beneath the hills. The monsters weren’t due on Mill Street.