Baconitis: A Modern Short Story
Back in 2012, I wrote a fictional short story and published it on the website Lulu. The short story sold for $0.00 (Free) and yet no one downloaded it. Since I wrote it, and the cost was Free, I am going to give you, the reader, an even easier option than a free download. Just scroll down and read below. (Yes, I do realize that my description smacks of desperation.) Two Chapters of nihalistic pessimism.
The End is Here
"Good Morning Sleepyhead."
"Here's the new plan. Your awesome daughter woke me up 2 hours ago because she 'forgot' about some homework. She is going to be lucky to live through the day. As punishment, I have her phone. She is already fed and she's under my jurisdiction for the rest of the day."
"Good job!" Steve's bladder aches from the pressure building from within its lining.
"Here's where you come in. You need to feed the boy, get him off to school, and get him from Jeffrey's house and to his hockey game."
"Don't okay me, I'm going to be gone all day. You have to take care of the boy."
"Yeah, yeah, food, water, school, hockey. Got it."
"Oh, and the weatherman said chance of freezing rain mixed with the snow today. Don't speed."
"Food, water, school, hockey, don't speed."
Steve's wife gives him the look of scorn. "I don't want you calling later with a bunch of questions. I'm super busy today and can't take your call."
Steve pushes his luck "forget all that nonsense and come back to bed."
Steve smirks at his wife as he pats the mattress. “Isn't this where you want to spend your last hours on earth anyhow?"
He finishes his sentence with a wink.
She rolls her eyes "that's today?"
"That's right, 12-21-12."
"Great, I don't have time for all of the crazies that are going to be showing up at work today. It's going to be worse than a full moon on Friday the 13th."
"Steve deepens his voice "I'll use my mental powers to send only normal, slightly sick people to your office."
"How 'bout you use your powers to get up?"
Steve takes about a half turn toward the edge of his bed and loses his motivation. He's not even at work yet and the incentives of life cannot overcome Newton's Laws of Motion.
His wife stomps out, yelling as she goes, "I hope you're ready for school. I'm done with all your drama this morning."
There is a mumble that Steve can't quite make out. He thinks there may have been some curse words uttered toward his wife from behind his daughter's closed doors.
He thinks to himself "uh-oh" as his wife begins to scream. Steve makes the decision to avoid the imminent storm and picks up his iPhone from the nightstand. Without standing, he takes his wife's 2 pillows and props them on top of his 2 pillows to make himself a nice, comfortable, bed-chair. He immediately dials up his fantasy football league to check the weekend game reports. Steve's favorite team is the Detroit Lions, but everyone else in his league has the same love for the Lions, so his team is stocked with the best players from the AFC South. His rationale is that he wants to win the league in 2013, so he allows his friends to load their teams with Lions players in his keepers league while he stocks up with better players with a lower local recognition factor. Screams act as background noise as Steve's son runs into the bedroom and turns on the TV as he slams the door behind him. Steve asks the obvious question "what's wrong?"
His son looks scared, "I think those two may start beating on each other. I came in here to hide."
Steve's stomach says it's time for breakfast. His head says the trip to kitchen is too dangerous.
"I'll give you $20 to go cook me some bacon and eggs and bring them back in here."
Steve's son replies with a look of disbelief. "You want me to go in that kitchen? Not happening. For 20 bucks I'll run into the kitchen, grab you an energy bar, and run back."
He snaps at his son "I can grab an energy bar for myself as I run out the door. Some help you are."
The father returns to fantasy football. The son scrolls through his phone filtering through the gossip of school. Neither are actually watching TV, neither move a muscle in the bed, there is only the dancing movements of their eyes transmitting images back to their brains.
Steve pauses as his stomach is now audibly hungry. "All I want is bacon" he thinks to himself, "it's my last day on earth, all I want is a plateful of crispy, peppered bacon."
He licks his lips in anticipation.
His son just happens to glance at the father, "hey creepy, do I need to leave the bedroom?"
"What? No. If you were a good son, you'd brave the danger outside that door to bring your father, the one who feeds and clothes you, some nourishment."
“You mean the father who's still hung over from his Birthday last weekend? That's what happens when you get old, the body takes days, even weeks, to recover from debauchery. While I'm at school I can look up some nice area retirement homes. If you're paying, I'll look up some higher end ones, college money on your daughter is a waste of time. If I'm paying, I'll have to see what the punishment is for abandoning loved ones in the forest."
Steve's son is a snarky little S.O.B., but he's right. Steve feels sore. He's felt sore all week. The last couple of days he's felt a bit nauseated. And he did hit it a lot too hard at his 50th Birthday celebration. Since which, he seems to be getting very little sympathy from around the household. There is no avoiding the inevitable, he rolls over and slowly sits at the edge of the bed. Arching his back, he slowly plants his feet firmly on the ground.
Steve begins to doodle as the countdown to the conference call continues. The suit in charge of the proceedings is the less than honorable Joe Smith. As the Vice President of Eastern American Operations, the job description is not the one of gentile encouragement, but of kickin' ass and takin' names. The meeting today should be an end of the year-type state of the business session, but with the weaselly Mr. Smith, you could well wake up being transferred and on the first boat to Guatemala.
"Alright, this session has a very short itinerary, so let's get a quick attendance to verify the information is disseminated and in motion for the new year.
Detroit? Is that you Wayne?"
"No, it's me, Steve, Wayne had a family emergency today and I'm sitting in. Wayne said it was a mandatory conference call."
"Yes it is. Huntsville?"
The roll call goes on across cities in the Eastern and Central time zones.
"Unfortunately, all of the computer models for 2012 were correct and we are going forward with the Great Lakes re-districting plan."
"Uh-oh," Steve thinks to himself. The Detroit branch had been hemorrhaging money for years now, but the founder of the company was born and raised in Detroit. There is a feeling in the pit of Steve's stomach, not unlike the one you get when going over the hill in a rollercoaster. There has always been an assumption in the halls of Detroit that they were immune to downsizing in their antiquated swath of real estate.
"We have secured a favorable short term lease in the Indianapolis market while we start construction for the long term. As outlined in the fourth quarter memo, we are pulling our resources out of Detroit, Cleveland, and Louisville, positioning them in Indianapolis for a new focal point in the region moving forward."
Steve thinks to himself "what memo?"
But in the quiet of his own head, he is already answering his own question. This market hasn't been viable in years. Then he remembered a funny anecdote that Wayne told him on a particularly bad early day in his career "you know, technically it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom."
Profound advice given the current situation. Joe continues on with some year end numbers and threatens the Atlanta office, which makes Steve chuckle, then out of the corner of his eye he notices a folder labeled Indianapolis. He opens it up and inside is a copy of Joe's reorganization memo. As he scrolls down the sheet, he notices that he is no longer part of the future of the organization. Before he can say anything that he will regret, he drops off the conference call. As he re-reads the memo a second time, there is no anger, just exasperation. As Joe was running through the roll call, Steve was unconsciously scribbling on a piece of paper, nervous energy perhaps. Steve consciously stops everything he is thinking and looks at his doodle, kind of bites down hard on his bottom lip, and then continues to draw.
About 10 minutes pass when Steve's best friend, Rich, walks straight into his office and sits on his desk. "What's the plan for lunch?"
Steve doesn't look up and shrugs him off, "whatever, go ahead without me."
Rich starts running his hands over the desk "what are you working on that's so important today?" He snatches the doodle out of Steve's hands.
"Art? This is crap. What's so important about this drawing?"
Steve snaps back "the drawing's not important, I was thinking."
Cutting right to the chase, "I got an e-mail from my buddy in Cleveland telling me that everyone in the office over 30 is laid off. What do you know about this?"
Instead of explaining, Steve simply hands over the memo. Rich takes a second to skim over the contents, then screams "so it's true? I'm going to stab Wayne in the eye with a sharp stick. In August, AUGUST, I sat across the desk from him and he assured me that if Detroit got shut down that I would still be with the company somewhere."
Steve attempts to calm the situation "don't sharpen any sticks-"
Rich screams right into his face "the hell I won't! Says here that Wayne is the head of the transition team and that he's not taking us. He knew we were circling the drain and didn't tell us.
And where is he today? He was probably gonna text us of our layoffs 'cause he's a fat coward.
I- am- going- to- KILL- him!"
"No you're not."
"Why aren't you madder?"
"I'm surprised that we lasted this long. Wayne didn't have to tell me that our branch was tanking, I knew it. And I knew this day would come. It's not exactly like I thought it would go down, but this is no surprise. Business is business and everyone that hired us has long since retired. Joe Smith gives less thought to the city of Detroit than he does about brushing his teeth in the morning. All he sees is a set of numbers and thinks to himself "the matrix of the Great Lakes region is no longer a feasible profit making area. What is the next step?"
"You know what will be a surprise? When Wayne finds a pointy object protruding from his brain. You stay here and wallow, or shut down, or give up, whatever your defense mechanism seems to be-"
"Don't be like that-"
"I'll see you in hell!" As Rich storms down the hall, he grabs a potted plant and chucks it in the general direction of Wayne's office. The Fichus detaches from the pot but does no damage. Steve finds the nearest office window and watches his friend storm off into the street, stop, then turn around and hop into his car. A puff of smoke appears from his tires as he peels out of the parking lot.
"That's funny, dumbass was going to try to run to Wayne's house."
Steve returns to his chair and turns on Classic Rock 94.7.
"Next up is Cruisin' by Michael Nesmith."
"Haven't heard that song in a while."
In Steve's mind, he is rebelling, as he turns up the radio from volume setting 2 to volume setting 3, a move that makes a sound barely discernable beyond his own personal space. He reaches over and examines his work of art. Thankfully Rich has failed to smudge his masterpiece.
Steve places his tray of food down in front of him, dreading the ensuing conversations of the layoffs. "How could you not see all of this coming? Are the people around here so self-involved that they don't see the imminent demise of their own jobs?
Are they mindless robots who come to work, cash their checks, then Tweet to celebrities all day?" Steve seems more annoyed with his co-workers than management.
"Y'all get what you deserve," he thinks to himself.
As the first bite of food reaches his lips, Conspiracy John sits down next to him.
Deep in the recesses of mind, his brain cells communicate to the mouth "must eat quickly, hide back in the office."
"Did you hear about the layoffs? That's what you get for re-electing Obama. I guarantee you that Joe Smith just made his bonus."
Steve doesn't want to argue, he simply wants nourishment. He is disdainful of the slop that he is eating, but continues to shovel it in, nonetheless. What he really wants is bacon. Couldn't the chefs have sprinkled bacon dust into the food to make it taste better? He could eat faster if the food tasted better.
"See, now that the corporations are getting their taxes raised, management has to keep up their profit margins. Pow, out we go into the snow. Obama might as well have flown in from the capital and laid me off himself."
Steve doesn't want to argue, he wants to get away. Can't get up and move, too rude, still have to work with this guy for a few more weeks. Too hungry to toss out the food and leave. So the answer is "yeah, watchya gonna do?"
"Old timers like you and I are the ones getting screwed, just so the rich can get richer. Is Obama going to pay for my daughter's college? Don't think so. What's your plan?"
Steve pauses, "um, put in some resumes?"
He takes a large bite of food to avoid clarification.
"That's the spirit. You got to keep on fighting. That's what we working stiffs do. I was just online and saw that our stock price has gone up over a dollar since this morning. I'm glad the shareholders are getting a good return on their investment by me getting laid off. This is bullcrap. You know who's got it right? The Amish! Did you know that the Amish don't even use credit cards-"
"Not the 'why can't everything be like the Amish bit again.'"
Steve cannot listen, the Amish are a bunch of smelly, inbred cult members. In his mind he is arguing with John.
"What would you say if I said, 'let's all move out to the country and make cheese. Electricity is the devil and the only way around is by horse and buggy.' You would say 'you're crazy.' But because the Amish have been doing it for 500 years, it's a tradition. What's the difference between David Koresh and the Amish? Guns and a disdain for the FBI."
Steve laughs to himself "that's what I wish I could say."
Just then, Conspiracy John puts the fear of God into Steve "-you know what I heard on Alex Jones last week?"
Steve's eyes dilate with terror "not Alex Jones."
Luckily a co-worker interrupts from the next table over "are you talking about the show-"
Steve stands and pardons himself. He then trudges over to the garbage and dumps the remaining food into the trash can. He concentrates on his own situation. On his own life. His thoughts are concrete and in the now.
"I wonder if (cousin) Dave can get me in at his company? Dave's got a good head on his shoulders." Steve pulls a piece of gum from his pocket and puts it in his mouth. His jaw continues to move with nothing coming from his mouth.
"Maybe I should consider opportunities from outside of Detroit." It's not long before the fruity freshness of his own breath annoys him.
"I don't even like berries. You know what I want, what I could really go for? No, the ONLY thing I want is? Bacon. Some good bacon. I love bacon. Something for me that I don't have to share. Crispy bacon, heavily peppered with cheese sauce on the side. The bun doesn't matter. The meat doesn't matter. The sandwich could be a BLT with no L and no T, as long as there's B. And cheese. And, well, some mayo too. Even better, cook up some bacon, put it on a plate, and have 2 dipping sauces: Cheese Sauce and Mayonnaise. No one lives forever."
“I don't care if it's on my diet or if bacon isn't good for you. I don't care. I wonder if I could go back and bribe someone in the kitchen to whip me up some bacon and bring it to my office. Steve thinks of his favorite quote about bacon by the great sportswriter Woody Page "I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol."
Steve sits down, grabs a pen, and begins to eye the doodle. He turns the paper to the side and begins to fill in the corners. As he draws he starts to hum Cruisin' to himself. Time is no longer a factor in the day.
Steve looks up and shakes himself out of his self imposed trance.
Conspiracy John is standing there, for who knows how long, and asks again "did you read Mitch Albom's last book?"
Mild-mannered and even tempered, Steve just wants to be left alone. But he is annoyed by the idea that John has interrupted his 'work.'
"No, why would I read the ramblings of an overrated, talentless, hack?"
Joe speaks, but he doesn't listen so good.
“Have a Little Faith is probably the best book I've read since Tuesdays with Morrie."
The conversations resume inside of Steve's head "did he not hear me? I hate Mitch Albom. Did I imagine that I vocalized my feelings? Right here, right now is the perfect example of why I'm ready to move on. I'm not going to miss this. Almost as if on cue, Wayne plops down in the chair next to Steve's desk "hey, I owe you one. What gobblety-gook did Joe lay on you this morning?"
John is seething, but he is a seething coward, and quietly slinks away.
Steve gives Wayne a dirty look "we're going through with the Indianapolis relocation plan for the new year.
"Wayne shifts gears quickly "look, nothing personal, business is business, and the numbers-"
“Steve interrupts "save your breath. I don't want to work for a company that doesn't want me, and secondly, Detroit is my home. I assume that you're giving me a great severance package to keep me from going postal or giving all of my company secrets to the competition.
Wayne shakes his head in agreement.
"Of course, you and John both."
Steve wonders aloud "John?"
John peeks his head back around the corner and slowly starts "Wayne, did you know that the stock prices went up after the announced layoffs, I bet you this is all part of Obama's march toward crushing-"
Steve interrupts John, he's heard this story before "just a heads up, I'm kind of looking forward to being a stay at home Dad for a few months, recharge for the next challenge, but Rich is taking the layoff personally. You may need a police escort out of here tonight."
"Because of Rich? I'll put my foot up his ass and tell him to keep on moving."
"And what does that mean?"
"He tore out of here looking for a pound of your flesh."
"What part of business is business doesn't he understand? I was driving by McDonalds last night and the sign said 'Hiring Managers: Nights and Weekends,' you lose your job, you get another job."
"In case you haven't noticed, economy is a bit sluggish around here lately."
"And that's why we are making the business decision to pull out of Detroit and refocus our energies in Indianapolis."
"What about the people here?"
"That's the hard knocks of the business. You have to run your statistical analysis and make the best decision available for the region."
"Technically, the best decision for the region would be to stay and fight through the downturn."
"Listen, we should have pulled out of Detroit in 2011, we tried. We are going to refocus our energies with a new team and are going to try again with a new approach."
"And I think that's why Rich may be mad. The company is trying a new approach with the same old Wayne, in a new city."
"I'm not the reason we didn't succeed in this town. That's why there needs to be an infusion of new blood in the region."
"New blood in an old corpse, how'd that work for Frankenstein?"
"What are you getting at exactly, you think they should have laid me off too?"
"I don't care what the company does. Nothing this company does is proactive, it's all reactive. All I guess I'm saying is, is that if you were getting laid off, you'd be driving to Joe's office to take a pound of his flesh. But in the same breath, you're talking about Rich going to work overnights with meth-addicted teenagers and that's just how business works. You know, in sports you can't fire the whole team, you fire the manager."
Wayne stops "yeah, but I'm not the one getting laid off. I flawlessly implemented every initiative that Joe sent across my desk. That's why I'm moving to Indianapolis. What don't you people around here understand about nothing's personal?"
Exasperated, Wayne attempts to soften his stance. "Listen, off the record?"
Steve motions to go on "yeah."
"Indianapolis is the new prototype. The powers that be have concluded that our business model no longer works. HRs across the country are being laid off and we are going to outside vendors. IT and payroll, too. All these kids, basically crawling around in diapers with laptops attached to their hands. Everything is going through the computer. If Indianapolis works, and it will, we will be shutting down every location in the country and consolidating them into a few offices."
Steve starts to talk, but Wayne interrupts him "and you, you should start a consultancy firm. I give you my word that we would hire you."
“Your reputation is a little bit shaky right now."
"Nobody can do what you can do in this market. You own Detroit."
"Why would you lay me off today to re-hire me tomorrow?"
"That's an easy one. I don't have your check in front of me, but say you make $50,000 a year. We lay you off, we don't pay your salary, we don't worry about your insurance, and we don't sweat about OSHA every 10 minutes. We pay Steve L.L.C. $20,000 a year for their outstanding service and come out way ahead. The risk is now assumed by Steve L.L.C. and if you screw up, we just terminate your services without any costly lawyers involved."
"But how do I come out ahead in that scenario?”
“You would have to hustle, but your services have value to others besides us. Look, this isn't just our company, all companies are doing this. Shifting as much risk as possible away from the company, and, by definition, people are risk. Let's put it this way, my Dad worked at GM at its heyday, they were 350,000 workers strong in North America, making top dollar. But as all those workers retired, GM's business model became bloated and the company nearly capsized due to worker cost. Did you know that corporate giant Google only employs about 30,000 people? Across the entire world? One of the strongest companies in America is not bogged down by worker cost."
Steve hears the reality of the situation, but what can he say? You can't argue with a faceless entity. Companies dealing with other companies instead of people because they think of people as a liability, eventually there is a messy endgame with that logic.
Steve picks up his son from his friend's house. Jeremy lugs a heavy bag and hockey sticks behind him.
"How was school today?"
"You know, same old, same old."
His son bounces the question back to his father, "how 'bout you?"
Steve weighs honesty versus brevity and opts for the latter. "You know, same old, same old."
"You staying for the game tonight? Or is it back to work?"
"Yeah, I'll be back." He re-evaluates the timeframe of running off to dinner and coming back.
"Um, I promise I'll be back by the second period."
The son smiles at his father, "just make sure you're back by the third to see my shutout."
"What make you think that a shutout is on its way?"
"We're playing Pontiac, lots of losses over there. Once we get way up, coach'll sit the first line and the shots will start coming in. I don't anticipate much action until the third."
His son's ringtone goes off and the texting starts immediately. The Father is used to the treatment and reverts his eyes back to the road. As the eyes search the horizon for stimulus, Steve notices a Safe Auto billboard with comedian Norm McDonald smirking on it. Steve's mind starts to wander "what is wrong with Norm? Does he really need the money that bad? He used to be the funniest guy on TV not that long ago. Now Shannon Daugherty, it makes sense that she's pitching online colleges in the middle of the night, she's hit the wall, but Norm? You know what he needs? He needs a good comeback vehicle. All these Hollywood studios making re-makes of crappy movies to begin with, they should cast Norm McDonald as the lead in a new Cannonball Run, now that would be a great idea. Imagine Norm and Artie Lange in the lead car. And it could be a multicultural remake, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan in a different, competing car is pure comic gold.
As Steve builds his own little universe, his son interrupts "bye Dad."
Somehow the car automatically made it to the hockey game. Steve shakes himself conscious, "good luck, I'll meet you in the stands after the game."
As Dad's taxi resumes driving, Steve reverts back into his thoughts "five cars, four chuck full of comedians, but the fifth car, the fifth car would be filled with a bunch of angry, old punks playing hired goons. Like Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, and hmm, who would be a good third? Maybe an Iggy Pop type? Or even John Lydon. Oh, and you know who else would be perfect? Burt Reynolds playing the Frank Sinatra role from Cannonball Run 2."
“It would be the Fastest Comedy Ever!" Steve knocks on his own head to spur further thought. "You need women though. All great Burt Reynolds movies have women hitchhikers. I think I would pick Holly Madison and Kendra Wilkinson. The girls have to be younger, but they also need name recognition and don't mind being eye candy. Norm McDonald doesn't seem to be the casting couch type of guy. I wonder if I wrote a treatment if I could get it to his agent. What a great second act. I wonder where you go to find out how to format a treatment. Could you find that online, or would you get a book from the library? Geez, I can't remember the last time I went to a library and actually checked out a book for myself..."
As if on automatic pilot, Steve finds himself at the front counter of Wendy's. The young lady at the register repeats herself for a second time "sir, may I help you?"
"Yeah, yeah, I want a large Baconator Combo, with a Large Cola as the drink. Then I'd like to have a Son of Baconator sandwich only on the side. Could I have a small bag with the Son of Baconator, 'cause I'm taking that sandwich home."
For some reason Steve feels the need to explain to the girl that he's not eating both sandwiches at the same sitting. She, on the other hand, couldn't care less about the customer, she is counting the minutes before she is able to get baked with the kitchen staff.
Steve sets his tray on the corner table, as far away from the doors as possible to avoid a draft. He deliberately places his cell phone on the table next to the Baconator. Bagging the second sandwich, he licks his lips in anticipation. As the first bite touches his lips, a smile crosses his face. The first real smile of the day. He chews, slowly rotating the food in his mouth to receive pleasure from every single molecule of bacon. As the second bite is taken, the cell phone goes off. Steve barely moves, turning the phone to see the message.
"Rich is circling my house, should I call the cops????"
Steve swallows and texts back to Wayne "Yes, do it now."
Rich isn't dangerous, but he's not Steve's problem now. They can sort out their own issues. Another text comes in, this one from his co-worker Stan, "forgot to email year end variance report, can I send it on Monday?"
Steve doesn't know, nor care, "yes Monday is okay." Then he speaks aloud to his hamburger, "I guess. What part of laid off don't these people understand?"
A hunched over Wendy's employee, probably about 75 years old, stops in his tracks, "I'm very sorry sir, I didn't hear you, did you say you need a refill?"
Steve turns and loudly states, "no, thanks for asking."
"Okay, have a great evening sir." The employee returns to cleaning tables.
Steve stares at the elderly gentleman and wonders "what happened there? Friday night, wiping off tables? Oh, well."
Another bite is taken and in comes another text "swamped. Be home at midnight."
Steve doesn't know where his daughter is, hopefully his wife has it covered. As if telepathy was in full effect, yet another text comes in "YOUR daughter at Janes. YOU get her tomorrow." "Well if today is the last day on earth, I would much rather be eating bacon and watching hockey than changing dining room garbage cans." His phone vibrates again and Steve rolls his eyes....
With both kids accounted for and out of the house, sore Steve decides that a good nights sleep is the best medicine.
Well, besides actual medicine.
Going to the cabinet, he takes a handful of pills. Not of the same kind, mind you, but a drug cocktail. Pill for anxiety, pill for depression, pill for high blood pressure, multivitamin, pill for borderline diabetes, pill for pain, pill for acid reflux, pill for heartburn, and finally, a pill for sleep. He briefly contemplates taking his pill for E.D., then shakes that impulse off, "who knows when she'll really be home."
Going to the fridge, Steve grabs a beer, then, thinking better of the situation, washes everything down with a Vitamin Water. Heading back to the bedroom, Steve thinks to himself "wonder if the world is ending right now?"
He lies down and turns the TV to CNN. There is a stained groove in the remote in the shape of Steve's hand.
"Nope, world's still here."
He proceeds to scan over a 100 channels, nothing to his satisfaction. As Steve starts to drift to unconsciousness, he starts to talk to himself, "if I did do the remake of Cannonball Run, I would totally watch that every night of the week. I wonder if I could get Dominic Hasek to do a cameo? How about the 1989 Quebec Nordiques? Man, what a shame about those guys. I read in the Bleacher Report that they were one of the worst teams in the history of the NHL. But what the author doesn't tell you is that that team had 5 future Hall of Famers on it. Let's see, Sakic, Sundin, LaFleur, um, Goulet, and uh, um, I'll look up the other one tomorrow (Statstny). And it was Sakic, Foote, Leschyushyn, and Fiset that were the backbone of the Stanly Cup winning 95 Avalanche. And because the 89 Nordiques tanked, they got Owen Nolan, then would have drafted Lindros in 90 if he wasn't such at puss. Imagine how many Stanley Cups that team would have had if it didn't move to Colorado. If that team stayed in the East, Detroit would have met them in the Stanley Cup Finals instead of the Conference finals. I wish I could have seen the team with Sakic, Sundin, Nolan, Lindros, Foote, and Fiset. I wish I could get in the line to punch Eric Lindros in the head...."
"....honey, are you awake?"
"Yeah, yeah, what's wrong."
"Sorry to wake you, but you were snoring awful loud and kind of twitching a little. You feeling alright?"
"Yeah, are you alright?"
"I just walked in the door and-"
"What time is it?"
"Quarter after 12-
"We made it. The world didn't end."
"Don't start. 3 times the cops were in the emergency room. It was so busy at 10 tonight that you'd think they were having a health care sale."
"Sorry about that."
"And of course it's not normal stuff like chest pain or the flu. We had one guy dislocate his shoulder playing tag."
"That's not so bad. How old was he?"
"43. Playing tag. Drunk. In a cemetery behind the church. He tripped over one tombstone, only to fall on another."
"That would be ironic if he died upon impact. The coroner wouldn't have to move the body that far at all."
His wife doesn't even smile and begins to get out of her scrubs.
"I feel like there's a hole in my stomach, I'm going to grab a bite to eat."
Steve moseys on down to the refrigerator and grabs his cold Son of Baconator. As he reaches for the bag, his left arm starts to tingle. "Must have slept on that bad boy wrong. Maybe I shouldn't have that second hamburger." He then glances up at the clock and reassures himself, "well, since it is Saturday, and I'm starving, this will count as my breakfast."
He walks as he eats and returns to the bedroom where he is greeted hostilely.
"What are you doing?"
"Midnight snack. What are you doing?"
"Listen, I'm not going back to the emergency room tonight. If you don't die waiting in line, there's a good chance you'll catch something like the measles in the waiting room."
Steve lies "I hardly had anything for dinner."
Steve's wife peers at him "okay, did you have a rough time at work today?"
He eats as he talks "yeah."
He doesn't want to have a long conversation, so he omits large portions of his day.
"They're doing a restructuring at work, so I'm not sure what the future holds."
As Steve chews his wife goes on, though exhausted, you can tell she hasn't wound down from her day yet "I don't even work at your sucky company and I could fix it. First of all, shut down Cleveland, move their best and brightest up here. Then you cut the fat at your place and try to move into the new millennium. Didn't you say that John guy doesn't even like to use his computer?"
"He's the first one to go. And I don't care if Rich is your friend or not. He's a borderline maniac, he's next because he's the most likely to go crazy."
She looks toward the sky and says, "as a matter of fact, you should just quit and start your own business. Become an independent contractor and charge those idiots at your company double your salary for your services. 100 Grand a year for Steve Inc.'s services. Between Joe and Wayne, they don't have a brain between them. If it wasn't for corporate guidelines telling them to breathe in the morning, they would die of asphyxiation."
Steve snickers as he finishes his sandwich.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
"You're not off the hook either. If you don't do something soon, you're going to wind up on the unemployment line. You've been complaining about your company for, at least, the past 3 years wondering how they stay open. 'My company isn't proactive.' Well guess what? You work with idiots. Is it their fault that they're idiots? Or is it your fault that you allow yourself to work with idiots?"
She pauses, looks at her husband, then rolls on "as a matter of fact, the girls and I were talking about this rash of mass shootings and you know what EVERY SINGLE ONE of them have in common?"
Steve feels like he should know this answer, but he doesn't and shakes his head no.
"Men! Men are always the shooters in these massacres. Just like men like to legislate about women's health, maybe it's time that women step up and legislate about the plague of insanity in men. How 'bout you let women vote on men's gun usage?"
The wife mocks her husband "'but guns don't make men crazy, men are just crazy.' Guess what? At the heart of the problem is the breakdown of the family unit. If there's no stabile family, lost girls grow up to be strippers. Politicians don't seem to mind that problem. But lost boys, on the other hand, boys are fragile and hide in their mom's basement their whole lives, planning revenge against society. Maybe yesterday was the end of the world. Man's world. How about if women take over and base society on the family instead of money? Simple solution, abolish the IRS, set a flat tax rate, you could have a sliding scale for richer or poorer Americans, then the ONLY deductions allowed are marriage, children, and one home mortgage. Corporations would be pissed, but they're not people. Is a bus full of riders a person? No, it's a bus. Is a plane full of passengers a person? No, it's a plane. Is a mall full of shoppers a person? No, it's a mall. Corporations are not people and you cannot run a society on that premise. You want to fix your society's problems? Elect a nurse. Gays want marriage, fine, straights have messed it up so bad, they don't deserve exclusive rights to it. Reinforce the family, no matter what the family looks like, then wait a generation and we'll see these problems dissipate. When raising a family is the hardest life choice for an adult, that's when the game's over. Steve doesn't like the shift in tone, or length, of the conversation.
"Um, I'm not arguing with you-"
"I'm just saying. People at work are shocked about these school shootings, I remember when there was a school shooting in tiny LeSueur, Minnesota, home of the Jolly Green Giant, 20 years ago. Something else that Ruth brought up was that she was watching the Sister Wives special and a person from the audience asked 'are you okay with a woman with 4 husbands?' She responded 'goodness no, that's not what our religion teaches at all.' Of course it doesn't. All systems are slanted towards the ones who set them up, and now you are seeing the results of a capitalist system that dehumanizes people, but is then stunned when atrocities happen when loners lose touch with humanity and snap. Women need to clean up the mess that men made, again."
Steve looks around the room and doesn't think that the room is that messy. He cannot focus and he dare not speak his thoughts. But he does lie back down and turns off the light. It is unclear if it is the pills or the subject matter, but Steve cannot stay awake. Discretion says that his bad news best wait a day "goodnight."
"I can't go to sleep yet, I'm going to watch a movie downstairs."
“< lub dub, lub dub, lub dub, pop >”
News Flash: The world didn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. You've probably already figured that out for yourself. Despite reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, a mysterious planet on a collision course with Earth, or a reverse in Earth's rotation, we're still here. The Mayan connection "was a misconception from the very beginning," says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. "The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date."- NASA.GOV