Sunday, September 21, 2008

45 degrees and falling

Tim's mother, Diana, knows everything.

She knows how they'll cure cancer someday (high-tech blood transfusions), how to prevent kids from being abducted (by implanting GPS devices under their skin), and how to keep convicts from escaping prison (by building jails in space. Dumb idea, I know, and I'm sure Michael Scofield would find a way to break out anyhow.)

But most annoyingly of all, Diana knows how to keep mother Earth beautiful and pristine for all of eternity: By never throwing anything away. Ever.

Putting something in the garbage is painful for Diana. Every once in a while, just for laughs, I'll drop a plastic bottle in the trash while she's watching and wait for the scream. "What are you doooooing?!" she'll shout. "Recycle it!"

As for anything larger than a plastic bottle, you can forget it. If she has no room in the house for it, she'll try to sell it; if she can't sell it, she'll give it away; if she can't give it away, she'll put it on her curb with a "Free" sign on it, and leave it there for weeks until her husband threatens to divorce her.

Monday, September 8, 2008, 6:39PM
Steve and Tim's house

"What's that?" I ask, pointing to a strangely familiar red-cushioned office chair.

"It's our new chair!" Tim says, way too enthusiastically, like a kid trying to convince her mother to keep a stray dog.

It doesn't look new. And there is only one person sufficiently lacking in common decency to palm off a faded, tattered, and probably malfunctioning piece of crap like that on us.

"That's your mother's chair, isn't it?"

"It works," she says, unconvincingly. "Plus, we need a second chair, so we can sit together while you're on the computer!"

She hates it too. But she only stands up to her mother on very important matters; otherwise, fighting with her would be a full-time job. The chair is not going anywhere, so Tim must make her peace with it. She's forced to smile bravely and pretend to love it, the same way you compliment a friend's ugly baby or smelly dog.

"Watch!" she chirps, plopping down onto it.

I stare as her breasts bounce heavily. Why didn't I notice that tight T-shirt before?

She wriggles cutely into the seat, and the back rest immediately tips away from her and comes to a stop at a 45 degree angle, so that the chair looks more like a poolside lounger than a piece of office furniture.

She smiles weakly and reclines against the back rest, spinning a little to face me, her knees slightly apart, hips thrust upward, her tight shirt straining against her boobs.

My cock stiffens at her suddenly suggestive posture. I love that she still turns me on so much, even after two years of dating and almost a year of marriage. I imagine myself pulling that frayed shirt over her head and feeling her nipple stiffen as I tighten my lips around it...

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"You are so fucking gorgeous, you know that?" I ask in a hoarse whisper.

"You're crazy," she grins, rolling her eyes.

I grab her shirt and pull it up over her head, just like I imagined. Her naked breasts stare out at me, her nipples already at firm attention. She's been thinking about this, too.

Yeah, I've seen her tits a million times, and yet, like a song that never gets old, their smooth skin and gentle, sloping curves still get me hard every time.

My heart races. I hear the soft cling-ing of my belt buckle as I pull off my creased office slacks and frantically unbutton my white Oxford shirt. I watch unblinkingly as she slips her jogging shorts over her round ass and turns her big blue eyes up at me with a sexy half-smile.

I lower myself in between her legs, my pulse pounding in my ears, and rub my cock against the smooth skin of her pussy.

There is nothing like a hairless vagina. I love the pink folds of flesh and the telltale shine of wetness that tells me she's turned on. I love how her clit swells with her arousal and the way it feels between my teeth, hard and bulletlike. Covering all that natural beauty with wiry hair is a sin. Shaving it clean is like cutting down a row of nine-foot tall shrubs and revealing a gorgeous house behind them.

I shove it into her all at once, and the pleasure rushes to my head. I watch her, soaking in every detail, her bouncing tits, her half-opened mouth, her curvy thighs pinned against my hips, the way her hair cascades gently down her shoulder, ending halfway down her chest, the graceful peaks and valleys of her nude body, as if designed by an architect.

I grab the arms of the chair for leverage and thrust my cock into her harder, so hard that she falls back against the chair with all her weight. This thing is going to break one day, I think.

"Oh God," she whispers in my ear, and I look down again, growing harder as I watch her pussy lips alternately turn inside out and disappear inside her again.

The seat back protests loudly under our combined weight, an ugly, squeaking groan that under any other circumstances would have made us stop short.

But not now.

I'm going to cum. I can feel the orgasm rising inside me, like a storm cloud waiting to explode with angry torrents of rain.

I fuck her harder, faster, listening to my own heavy breath, feeling her legs tighten around my waist and her hands squeeze my biceps. It's probably my imagination, but it almost seems like the chair is...

Crack! Thud!

The seat back breaks free of the chair and drops to the floor. Tim falls violently backwards, flailing her arms wildly for balance. The lurching of our bodies tips the chair to one side, and for an endless moment we are at a crazy angle and the room falls eerily silent before we crash to the floor in a heap, as I am bombarded by elbows and knees.

"Looks like your mother's getting her chair back," I say.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Steve's therapy, redux

Monday, July 21, 2008, 7:00pm

Dr. Debra Sussman's office

After my illustrious attempt at therapy back in the day, I never thought I would be in a shrink's office again, but here I am.

"Steve, Felicia, come on in," she smiles, as if we were her long-lost cousins.

"Please call me Tim," she says.

Debra extends her arms to hug us, but we hesitate, and she ends up patting our shoulders. It's awkward.

The room seems made for calm reflection, from the maroon couch to the soft carpet and the nondescript wallpaper; though it manages to relax me, I forget what it looks like five minutes after I leave.

"So, what's up?" Debra says, placing her hands in her lap.

"We've been fighting," Tim says.

"Really?" asks Debra, raising her eyebrows, as if she were some kind of accountant or tax adviser who couldn't possibly help us. "What'cha been fighting about?"

"I work late hours at a restaurant in downtown Boston. I barely get to see Steve at all, since he works during the day, and he's really frustrated about it. He never gets to see me, and we're newlyweds, and he feels like we should be spending a lot more time together."

"Is this correct, Steve?"

"Yeah. But she didn't mention that she has wanted a chef job for a long time. This is her lifelong dream, and it's finally coming true, and she needs me to be more understanding about that. She loves me, and enjoys our time togther, but she also needs to be happy and fulfilled careerwise, and this is the only way she sees to accomplish that right now."

Debra looks at me, then at Tim, then back at me. The room fills with silence for what feels like an hour.

"Let me tell you something," she says, matter-of-factly. "You just stated each other's points of view perfectly. Know how I know you did it perfectly?"

We look at her.

"Because you didn't interrupt each other, and you didn't correct each other. Not once. I have couples who have been coming to me for 18 months who still can't do that. You did it the first day!"

She smiles.

"Can we go now?" I ask, and we all laugh.

"Steve, did you know what the hours were when she took the job?"

"Well, yeah, but--"

"So that's a yes?"

I know where she's going. I didn't object when Tim was interviewing for the job, so I have no right to object now. But that's an oversimplification.

"And Tim, you spent a lot more time with Steve before you took this job, right?"

"Yes! But he knew that--"

"So that's a yes also," Debra says.

Good! For a minute there, I thought I was being ganged up on.

"Steve, do you want her to quit?"

"No, I just want more of her time."

"How's she supposed to do that? She works late nights!"


"And Tim, do you want Steve to just be happy with the way things are now? Are you happy with the way things are?"

I would really love it if Tim said the right thing here. I'm not going to lie to you: It's hard feeling like I've taken a back seat to my wife's career.

"I miss him," Tim says, looking sadly at me. "I know you might not believe that, Steve, but I miss you so much."

"Me too, Tim."

"So you want me to tell you how you can spend lots of time together while you both work full time on different schedules," Debra says, looking at us.

"No, I told you we were fighting," Tim says. "The problem is the fighting. We're not communicating."

"You're communicating fine," Debra says.

"We're communicating fine today," Tim says. "At home we're screaming and swearing, and..."

"Fighting is not a bad thing, you know."

"It is when it's taking over the marriage," Tim says.

Wow. These two aren't playing around. Better just stay out of their way, for now.

"Steve, do you agree?" asks Debra.

So much for keeping my nose out of it.

"Trust me. We wouldn't have gone to all the trouble to come out here unless it was an emergency," I say. "You know, I just wish--"

They both look at me. "What?" They say in unison.

"No, it's nothing, it was just something stupid."

"Say it," says Debra. "There's no judgment allowed in this room. There are no dumb statements."

"I was just gonna say, I wish we could both stay up all night and spend that time together instead of sleeping. But, I go to work in the mornings, so I have to sleep."

"Wait a minute," Debra says.

"No, I can't pull all-nighters. There's no way."

"You don't have to," she says. "Steve, what time do you get home from work?"

"I dunno. Six-thirty? Seven?"

"And what time do you get home, Tim?"

I see where she's going with this. I get home, eat something, and sleep for seven hours or so, then Tim gets home and we chill out until I go to work.

"You could just sleep when you get home!" Tim says. "Then we can spend time together!"

"I know. But that would screw up our body clocks big time, wouldn't it?"

"This is not a long-term solution, guys," Debra says. "But it sounds like you're not connecting, and you need more time together. Give this a shot. Stay up together and talk about your situation. Talk about your long-term goals as a family. Are you planning on having children?"

"Yes!" Tim says.

"You do realize it's going to get harder when you have kids, right?"

"We know," Tim says, looking at the floor.

"Spend an overnight together and talk about how you're going to fit kids into your schedules. That's your homework," Debra says.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"...I'm guessing Jay Leno is out of the question..."

Marriage was supposed to end my story.

The fancy wedding was the final scene, after which I would say, "...and we've been together ever since." I was supposed to put away my bad habits like out-of-style clothes, and lead an uneventful existence until I the day I end up stuffed into a box wearing a fancy suit. But alas, things have happened.

Tim worked hard to find her job. She networked tirelessly, chased down endless leads, and tolerated every perverted restaurant owner who refused to even consider her for a chef's position because she happens to have a vagina ("You're cute! Why don't you work for me as a hostess? You'd make good money!")

She finally found a sous chef job in downtown Boston. It was far (35 miles), the pay was less than she wanted, and of course the hours were horrible, but she was thrilled.

I was thrilled for her, too. There was joy, pure joy, in her face when she told me the news. She was going to get paid to do something she absolutely loved. I was proud that she persevered, and impressed at how ambitious she was about it all. I knew she would have to work many late nights, including lots of weekends, but we'd find a way to spend time together. We were newlyweds, right?

As it turned out, "many nights" turned out to be five or six a week, "late" meant 1:00 or 2:00 am, and "lots of weekends" translated to every weekend.

At first, I felt better with a shower of kisses, an "I'm sorry, baby" and a cowgirl-style, middle-of-the-night fuck. But it got old fast.

When I wake up for work, she's still sleeping, and when I get back, she's gone, already on her way to the restaurant. I hate coming home to an empty house, with nothing for dinner and everything in darkness. I hate going to bed alone, as if I were a single guy all over again. I got married for companionship, and it feels like I never get any. Call me spoiled, or greedy, or whatever you want, but this sucks.

Tim tries to make it up to me. She didn't dare take a weekend day off for the first six months or so, but then she managed to get a Saturday and Sunday off, and took me to a bed and breakfast in the mountains, where we turned off our cell phones and she catered to me like royalty the whole time. She cooked me everything I wanted, paraded around in sexy outfits, and sucked and fucked me as if it were my last two days on Earth. I did feel a lot better after that, but she had to work 12 days straight to make up for all the favors, and nothing truly changed afterwards.

The argument goes something like this:

"You're never home."

"You supported my career choice; now deal with it."

"I didn't know it was gonna be this bad!"

Add in a few "bitch"s, "asshole"s and "fuck you!"s, and it's more or less a weekly conversation at the Caruso household. It's interesting, in a way, how we can make the exact same points so many times without resolving anything. It occurs to me sometimes that this is how marital problems get started. But that could never happen to Tim and me.

Could it?

Tim says I need to deal with it while she builds her career, since I spent many a long week building mine, and I remind her that I wasn't married or even dating anyone at the time. Every argument has a counter argument; every jab earns a jab in return. We are both too good at arguing, too good at turning things around on each other to make any progress.

Sometimes I wonder what is going to happen if we don't find any common ground on this issue. "If you want me to quit, I'll quit," she always says, but I know she doesn't mean it. If she ever left that job because of me, I'd never hear the end of it. I wonder if we would ever split up because of this.

The arguments keep getting louder, and the problem has infected other areas of our lives. On nights when she's actually home, we usually end up going to bed mad. At a party, if one of our friends mentions working late, we glare at each other. How much worse can it get?

"Why doesn't she just quit?" my brother Chris says. "Her marriage should be more important."

"Says the guy who's fucking around with some young hottie."

Yeah, he's still boning her.


"What about Tim's side? She'll say that it's just her being away from home, and that's not the end of the world either."

"You see your wife two days and two nights a week. That's not enough!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008, 5:45pm
Steve and Tim's house

I've been in Cincinnati for three days on business. I am exhausted, physically and mentally, and glad to finally be back.

"Nice of you to come home," Tim sneers as I pull my suitcase through the door.

"Wow, three whole days alone, Tim. How did you handle it?"

"You mean three days since I had to do your laundry? And a sink full of dishes?"

"I left at three AM, Tim! How the hell was I supposed to do chores?"

She jumps up from her seat at the kitchen table. She's wearing a powder blue short-sleeve T-shirt that I've always loved on her. It's a little baggier since the breast reduction, but she's still sexy as hell in it. I'm smitten by her, even as she crosses her toned arms across her chest and looks lasers at me.

"Why are you traveling so much? I hate when you're not here!"

"You do, Tim? Why? It's not like you're ever home anyway."

"Don't be sarcastic. Your chores are your responsibility, and if you don't do them, then it's more work for me!"

The anger spills over inside me. She's reaching, looking for something to rag me about, probably so I can't rag her first.

"So leave the goddamn dishes and laundry then!" I shout. "At least let me get in the door before you start pestering me. Bitch!"

"Fuck you! You are such an asshole!" she shrieks, whipping a plastic tumbler at me. It careens off my arm, leaving a mark.

I grab the tumbler and throw it back at her as hard as I can, but she's already left the room. It bounces off the wall with a hollow thwok!

I sit at the kitchen table, waiting for my racing heart to slow down. I open the paper, but I can't concentrate. I might as well be trying to read Klingon.

I look up. Tim is standing over me, her beautiful face stony with anger. Or maybe it's disappointment.

Is this it? Is she leaving me? Is she going to ask me to leave?

"I want us to go talk to someone," she says, finally.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Lila and me

A lot of you who contact me still ask about Lila. People in my non-blog life do the same thing. Hopefully, that means I've done a good job of describing her.

Lila and I are still friends, but we don't talk as much as we used to. Part of that is because I'm married, and doing all the things that newlyweds do. For Tim and I, a month without some kind of romantic getaway is an eternity. We're always visiting family, or eating at some new restaurant, or catching up on "our shows", and it doesn't leave much time for anyone else.

Sometimes Lila and I will text each other, or send a quick email to say hi. Occasionally, we'll talk late at night, like we used to. Beyond that, we go from one month to the next with little contact.

Lila's been with her boyfriend, Nate, for well over a year, and the more I hear about him, the more wary I get. At the beginning, he struck me as a cool, successful, well-adjusted guy and a great match for her. But as she's gotten to know him, he seems terribly insecure and needy.

The script was written long ago, and it's been played out more times than Hamlet, MacBeth, and Cats combined. Stop me if you've heard it:

Young man grows up and becomes irresistible to women. He beds one after another,
satisfying his every wildest erotic fantasy, having his way with any female within smelling distance of him. They simply can't keep away from him, and he's having the time of his life.

But there's a serious problem. With the ocean of testosterone flooding his veins, the only possible way he can quiet his voracious sexual hunger is to spray his manly fluids around like a lawn sprinkler, dousing as many women as possible. It's just a matter of biology, really: He simply can't control it!

But the women don't understand, you see. He only needs them for an hour or two, and they want more. Having experienced his rugged manliness, they fling themselves at him, clutching at his pant legs like sad children, begging him to remain in their lives, however superficially.

He could have these women any way he wanted them, of course. He could simply drop by their houses, unannounced, fuck them mercilessly, and then piss in their toilet bowls and leave without lowering the seats, and they'd be on his voice mail the next day, asking him to do it again.

But, alas, this is not how he wants it.

It would get complicated. These poor, naive girls, they simply don't understand what it is to be a man like our hero. They don't understand his need to roam the earth, fornicating with wild abandon. They would interpret his repeated conjugal visits as "love", or "commitment", or "lack of nausea", and soon after, the demands would start.

They will demand that he be exclusive. That he only date them, to the exclusion of all others, that he holster his babymaking weapon and only draw it for their benefit. Sadly, this is impossible, and our happy horndog rides off, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.

You ought to know this story, since pretty much every guy between the ages of 17 and 35 has been telling it since the mid-70's. Nate is no exception.

At the beginning, Lila used to tell me about this mysterious guy who would give her a little head-nod when he walked past her at the gym. Sometimes he'd say hi. One day they were next to each other on the treadmills and he told her she had "great arms". It sounds corny, I know, but she wore tank tops every day from then on, hoping to impress him. As if she had to try.

I gotta be honest. Hearing about some young stallion macking up Lila made me jealous. I know, I know, I'm married, but I get territorial sometimes. I could see she was really intrigued with him, and it made me realize that both of us had moved on.

She would call me and wonder aloud if he noticed her, if he thought she was attractive. Was she serious?

"But I don't even shower before I go to the gym!" she said.

"Get a clue, honey. The guy is drooling over you."

She doesn't get it. Lila could go to the gym in a garbage bag, and guys would be tripping over each other to hand her a twistie-tie.

By the time he asked her out, she was about ready to rip of his Adidas sweatsuit and ride him cowgirl style on a weight bench. Call me cynical, but I wondered if this guy was a true player, or if he just lacked the balls to hit on her properly.

On Friday nights, he either played poker or went out drinking with co-workers, and every time she asked to come along, he'd give her a speech about "taking it slow". Pushing her away like that, giving her a challenge, made her want him ten times more. Guys didn't do that to Lila!

"Why won't he take me with him? Is he ashamed of me?" she would ask.

"Lila, do you seriously believe that? Really?"

"Well, why then?"

"He's either trying to play the I-don't-give-a-shit role to make you want him more, or he's afraid of falling for you. Or he's queer."

"Maybe he has another girlfriend."

"Then who needs him?"

The cool-dude routine faded away soon enough. After about a year with Lila, Nate was dropping hints about marriage. She was flattered, but she didn't encourage him, hoping he'd get the hint and slow down.

"He just asked me," she said on Thanksgiving night, and I could tell from her tone that she turned him down.

I figured he would dump her after that, but he didn't. In fact, he didn't even back off; if anything, he got worse.

After months of negotiating (or begging, depending on your point of view), he asked her again on Valentine's Day, and she said yes.

"Why can't you be happy for me?" she asked.

"Because you don't seem happy."

We fought about it, and I was secretly glad that she was unhappy, that Nate did not inhabit her the way I thought he might have. And I think Lila knew it.

A month or so later, she was calling me again, just like she used to, and she sounded sadder than ever. As part of Lila's "take it slow" requirements, they haven't set a date yet, and it's a constant source of irritation for him.

Now that they're engaged, he smothers her even more than before. He works out with her at the gym, rushing to her side any time a guy so much as says hello. If she's 15 minutes late coming home from work, he wants to know why, and he especially hates her talking to me.

She's not forbidden from calling, exactly, but I do get mysteriously cut off sometimes while talking to her. He trash-talks me constantly, asking why she wasted her time with me, and if she says anything remotely resembling a defense of our relationship, he flies off the handle. It's funny in a way: he's 30, ten years older than Lila, and yet she dominates him, like a young girl with her father wrapped around her little finger.

Even though I'd be jealous, it would still be nice to see Lila in something resembling a stable relationship.

And it would be nice to talk to her like I used to, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Open season

Liz Trotta, Fox News Channel, 5/25/2008: "And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could."

Mark Madden, ESPN, 5/22/2008: "I'm very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated. I wonder if he got a card from the Kopechnes."

Mike Huckabee, 5/16/2008: "That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”

Interesting how these "jokes" always involve extreme violence and murder. Makes you think, doesn't it...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Okay, assholes, update time

First off, for everyone who's been IM'ing and emailing, thanks for the good wishes. I've been married for--gulp--six months now, and I am really happy. I have to admit, I really hate that Tim works so many nights and weekends, but she loves her job, and as long as she does, I will support her.

After our one-year anniversary this October, Tim and I are going to try for a baby. I can't wait to be a dad.

I've decided to put Bismarck on hold. I'm not happy at all with where it's going, and I think I'll have to start over. All I can say is, it feels wrong to me. Many of you noticed the same thing, and of course, seized on the opportunity to rip me a new one for it. Why am I not surprised?

More later guys...


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chapter 16: A (bare)Backstabbing


SugarKookie: he doesnt like using condoms

RedFoxx85: you let him bareback you?!?!?

SugarKookie: mmhmm

RedFoxx85: ur so bad

SugarKookie: it was soooooo nice tho

SugarKookie: o and his gf doesnt let him cum inside her

RedFoxx85: what? why

SugarKookie: she says its gross

RedFoxx85: dumb bitch

RedFoxx85: so u let him cum in you?

SugarKookie: mmmmmm, of course

RedFoxx85: lol, u like that dont u

SugarKookie: soo much

SugarKookie: i think hes breaking up w/her

RedFoxx85: seriously??

RedFoxx85: how cool would that b 4u

SugarKookie: totally

* * *

I'm not going to lie to you: My first impulse is to do nothing. Nothing, that is, except sit in front of the computer and ask "why me?" until I collapse from grief and exhaustion. I want to sulk, or cry, or put my fist through the bathroom mirror--but I have to force myself to even think of doing something constructive.

You probably think I am an idiot for the whole Jeopardy! thing, but it's actually helped me; I can't solve a problem in a second and a half if I'm not thinking about solving it at all. The Bismarck idea has helped me do that.

Suddenly, my apartment feels like a tomb. Nothing worthwhile will get accomplished as long as I sit here, overdosing on self-pity, burning hour after hour on the computer, hours that I'll never get back. How can anything change this way?

I want to be anywhere but here. I bolt out the door and into my car, dialing Stainer's number as I go.

Stainer barely listens as I tell him about the Bismarck revelation. He keeps staring down at his coffee and shaking his head slowly, like a disapproving parent.

"When are you gonna wake up, Eric?" he asks, finally looking up at me. "She's fucking this guy. She's fucking him! She's getting naked for him. She's sucking his dick! She's playing you! You busted her, and instead of doing something about it, you're talking about some damn game show!"

"Don't you think that--"

"Let me tell you something," he continues, "if my girl ever did that to me, I'd dump her cheating ass. I'd dump her, and then I'd go fuck every one of her friends just to make a point. No one does that to me."

"Emily is still having sex with me. It's not like I'm going without. If I break up with her--"

"Don't give me that!" he shouts. "You're looking for an excuse to stay with her, because you're afraid of being alone! Stop being afraid, Eric!"

I am afraid. But that doesn't mean it's right to let her go. I know Emily still cares for me; she must, or else she would not stay with me. She could leave me if she wanted, and she's not. I must be giving her something she needs.

I know it will be hard, but from now on, I'm going to think about this positively, like a problem that needs to be solved. And no, I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to let Doug win. I'm going to fight for the one I love.

* * *

The air felt warmer as I walked out to my car the next morning; for the first time this year, I was sure that winter was gone. Brilliant sunlight poured endlessly from a sky so blue that it might have been colored by a kid's crayon, and I decided right then that it was going to be a good day. I'd make it a good day, even if everything went wrong.

I sat in the car and stared out the sunroof for a long time, watching a single white cloud float lazily across the sky. I can't remember the last time it's been this perfect out.

This weather, this day, is just as much mine as it is Doug's. Or Stainer's, or anyone else's. I deserve it as much as they do. And not just that; I deserve success, and happiness, and money, just as much as they do. If I want something, I can go out and get it, just like they can. If I try to get something I want, and fail, so be it. But from now on, I'm always going to try.

After I put together that list a few weeks ago of all the new construction projects downtown, I created a marketing campaign for them. It was expensive--the glossy mailing sheets alone cost us over $1,000--and Todd hesitated a long time before saying yes. And now, almost a month later, we've gotten one phone call.

Though we have full-time reps who are fully capable, I usually handle the follow up calls on initiatives like this one. It's going to take me the better part of the day to call them all, but I'm going to do it. I'm going to keep pushing, focus relentlessly until the job is done.

"Eric, I was trying to enter a prospect in the database and the computer locked up again," Barbara says, standing in my doorway. "Can you take care of it?"


"I'll be at my desk. Can you just let me know when it's working?"

Shit. This is what always happens to me: Just as I get going on a project, someone interrupts me and I get sidetracked. I'm going to spend an hour on the phone with tech support--


"Barbara." She turns around.

"You don't need me for that. Just call tech support. The number is in the help menu."

"But Eric, I--"

"Barbara, you know more about the system than I do at this point. You can handle it."

She turns on her heel and huffs loudly as she leaves the office. She's pissed. But it worked! Now, for the follow-up calls.


I have a lot of work to do. Manager work. If I could get an account manager to make the calls, I could have the whole day free.

I call Gordy, our best account manager, into my office and explain the project. His eyes get wider as he learns what kind of numbers are involved. "Eric, don't you usually call on these?" he asks.

"You want the commissions, right?" I ask.

"Depends. Is Todd going to want to pay the commissions?"

"Believe me. If you make these deals happen, Todd'll give you a blowjob."

"Tell him I'd prefer the commission."

Gordy bounces happily from his chair and off to his desk. My office falls silent, and I look slowly from one side of the room to the other, expecting a phone call, a problem, some type of emergency. But nothing happens.

So what the hell do I do now?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chapter 15: Bismarck, North Dakota


You don't pick your family. And friends are fine for poker night, or for helping you put up a garage door opener. But having someone you love the way I love Emily is all that truly matters. Emily knows that, and she thinks it's a big joke.

The seeds were planted years ago, before we even started dating. I showed Emily, in a million small ways, that I loved her too much, that I would tolerate neglect to be with her. That I would, just as Stainer said, rather have been miserable than alone. A small piece of her attention was enough to satisfy me. What's happening now is a direct result.

I was convinced that I'd never do better than her. Gradually, she learned that if she needed me, I'd be at her doorstep at a minute's notice no matter what my other priorities were, that she could puke in my car after a long night of drinking without any cleaning to worry about the next morning.

She'll never respect me, and I'll ache for her for the rest of my days. The only thing that will make me happy is Emily coming back, being mine and only mine. But she's found excitement now, true excitement, in the pursuit of a wealthy, desirable man who is just a bit out of her reach, the same way Emily is out of mine. She burns for him the way I burn for her; she lies awake at night, rehearsing every conversation, second-and third-guessing every outfit, just as I do, and now that she has tasted what Doug has to offer, I will never, ever get what I want.

I'm supposed to quietly shuffle off to my place at the back of the line and accept my fate. I'm supposed to passively absorb abuse until I finally die, get stuffed into a pine box and rot away underneath a couple of yards of dirt for all of eternity.

Fuck. That.

I can't have Emily. My job is a disaster. But, when I'm 85 years old, frail and desolate, sitting in a puddle of my own piss, it will be nice to know that at least I stood up for myself, that I didn't let some son of a bitch run roughshod over me. Yeah, I'm doing this.

I'm never getting away with it, though. I'm not one of these psychotic freaks with icewater running through their veins, who can look at you, stone-faced, and lie about killing someone. This will end badly.

I couldn't just kill Doug, then cruise back home and wash the blood off like a faceful of barbecue sauce after a messy picnic. I'm not capable of that.

It might be after my 9th green beer some St. Patrick's Day. Or it might be in bed, after Emily has made sweet love to me and told me that I could share anything at all with her. But sooner or later, the secret will jump out of me, and part of me will be glad, because I will need to hear that I was right and Doug was wrong, that he deserved it, that I am not a bad person, that--

Dammit. This isn't a fun train of thought. I need to be calm for what I'm about to do, not all sweaty-palmed and scatterbrained. I need a drink.

* * *

The midnight sky is more grey than black, and a cloudy mist rolls across my headlights like smoke from a brush fire. My windbreaker is suddenly not enough for the cold, and with shivering fingers, I turn up the heat in my car as high as it will go.

I've driven by Captain's 100 times, but never went inside before now. The closer I get to the entrance, the more I see why.

Captain's is a square yellow building which sits in the middle of a cracked patch of asphalt, between a gas station that went out of business two years ago and a check cashing place. It only has two windows, and they are so plastered over with scotch-taped signs that I can't see in.

The flimsy screen door slams shut behind me as I enter, and I'm met with the smell of buffalo wings and stale beer. A bare light bulb hangs over a pool table, its glow reflecting dully off the stained walls.

The stool creaks so loudly as I sit at the bar that I instinctively jump up, and a horrifyingly ugly woman behind the counter stops wiping the bar long enough to laugh at me. Doesn't ask what I want to drink, though.

This episode completes my humiliation. By this time tomorrow, I'll be in a morgue with a tag on my toe, or getting my mug shot taken. Most people in that situation go out gracefully; they find a halfway decent restaurant where they can enjoy a last meal, maybe even gather some loved ones to share it with. Me? I'm in a rickety old dump, alone, and hideous barmaids are laughing at me.

"Bar's almost closed," she says, finally, turning to face me directly. There's a huge mole next to the corner of her mouth, an orange knob that distracts me from her otherwise pale skin.

"I'll have a Kamikaze," I say, firmly. I've never had one before, but what better drink could there be for me now?

"We're all outta lime juice," she says, turning her droopy eyes up at me.

"How about a Screwdriver?"

She sighs loudly, whirls around, picks up an empty plastic jug and slams it back down. "All outta OJ too. Can't I just get you a beer?" she groans.

A Jeopardy! rerun blares from a TV set on a high shelf behind her.

Just perfect. A trio of nerds with photographic memories spewing out obscure facts, to remind me that, beyond my romantic failings, I am also intellectually inferior.

"This state capital was named for a famous German chancellor," Alex says.

A contestant named Greg rings in. "What is Bismarck, North Dakota?" he asks, and before Alex even tells him he is right, he's looking up at the board to make the next selection. I wish I could be that confident about anything.

He didn't think about the answer. He knew it, completely and totally, as if it were encoded in his DNA. Pressing the button on his controller and giving the correct question was a subconscious reflex for him, something he could have done while shaving or tying his shoes.

It seems to me that I could learn a lot from this dork. If I could have his confidence, maybe I wouldn't get stepped on so much. Confidence impresses people. They remember it. You become that guy, the one they better not try to argue with. And in real life, there is no game show host standing next to you with a stack of index cards to tell you you're wrong.

Wouldn't it be great if I could answer every question in the amount of time it took Greg to say, "Bismarck, North Dakota"? Wouldn't it become easy to silence every doubter, to solve every problem that came my way? If I could somehow manage to do that, I would become a completely different person. A guy like that wouldn't have to commit murder just to make a point...

...I need to go home and think.

Next... Chapter 16: A (bare)Backstabbing

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chapter 14: My fingers do the walking


I swerve onto the Saw Mill Road, pressing harder on the gas pedal even as the rear of my car fishtails wildly.

I thought Emily would never leave. She was very cuddly after we did it, pressing tightly up against me in bed, her leg draped over mine. Luckily, she's helping her cousin plan a wedding shower, and has to be across town first thing in the morning.

"It's way closer to my house, otherwise I'd stay, baby," she cooed. "I'll be done around noon; can I come visit you then, so we can play some more?" she asked, and I grew hard in spite of myself.

I thought a lot about what I would do when I finally saw the hairless patch between her legs. I fantasized about the scene, saw myself wrapping my hands around her throat and squeezing until she turned purple, just like I did in gym class that time. Except, instead of letting go, maybe I would just keep squeezing until her body went limp.

There would be a deep sense of satisfaction in that, wouldn't there? It would be the ultimate I-told-you-so, proving to her, and to that cocksucker Doug Barrett that they badly underestimated me. I would make her pay for disrespecting me, pay with her life, and the weight of the guilt would crush Doug forever.

But in the end, my affection for Emily won out. She melted me with her sexy eyes, disarmed me easily with a gentle brush of her fingernails across my skin. "I love you Eric, I love you so much," she whispered as I fucked her, and I could barely hear her above the rhythmic thumping of the headboard against the wall.

No, I didn't hurt Emily. But I'm going to hurt someone. Doug.

I'm sure Emily hasn't shown him my picture. He wouldn't know me if I stood right in front of him and stared him down. I could do this. I could totally do this.

I make a frantic U-turn, barely touching the brake pedal, and head for the highway. I have an errand to run.

I drive 45 minutes out of the way to a Home Depot in Rhode Island.

I don't know how I'm going to do it, so I have no real idea of what I need. I'll just wander the aisles and grab anything that seems useful.

My heart pounds as I grab a five-gallon jug of bleach. It's more real now that there is something I can hold in my hand.

A reciprocating saw with an eight-inch blade. A 28-ounce steel framing hammer. A pick, a shovel, a giant blue tarp, and two wooden handles.

It's strange. As I look at the items in my cart, I see exactly how I'm going to do it. It's almost like I'm watching someone else shop, and trying to figure out what kind of project he's working on.

I see myself now, spattered with blood like a butcher, cutting Doug's arms off with the reciprocal saw, twisting and pulling them away from his torso as the last few tendons stubbornly stay attached. I can hear his bones crack and snap--it would almost be like cutting up chicken wings.

I can see his dead body beneath me, his blood-stained tie askew, the buttons of his shirt torn away, his hair a filthy, tangled mess, like a homeless man's.

Gonna get laid tonight, Doug? Gonna fuck my girlfriend, then brag about it to your buddies at the health club? I'd ask his corpse, grabbing him by the collar and screaming into his dead eyes. Are you--



"Can I help you find something? You seem--"

"I seem what?"

"Well, I--"

"How do I seem, Toby?" I ask, reading the name on his orange vest. "Tell me."

"Y-You just seem frustrated, sir, that's all," he stammers. "I just wanted to ask if I could help you find anything."

"Where do you keep the razor wire?"

* * *

I'm not stupid enough to look up Doug's address on my PC. I know just how I'll find it.

I was at a convention at the local Marriott a year ago, and I remember a bank of pay phones in a little alcove. With a local directory under each one.

I walk through the main lobby, trying to look inconspicuous, like a guest. If I do this right, no one will even give me a second thought. I make a right turn into the phone alcove and look underneath the first phone. Pay dirt.

Watch this guy be unlisted, I think, as I scan through the B's: Banet. Banks. Barnes. Barnett. Bartlett.

Shit. He's not there. I should have known that a well-to-do guy like Doug would never have his name listed in a phone book. I'm an idiot.

This whole thing is a joke. It's never going to work. I'll probably get there and find a huge cocktail party going on. It would be just my luck.

Wait a minute. I was spelling it with two "R"'s; maybe...

I scan a bit further up the page, and my lips curl into a small smile at what I see. The letters might as well be a neon sign, a giant, flashing reminder that I had no idea what I was capable of.


Next... Chapter 15: Bismarck, North Dakota

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chapter 13: Christmas in February


Emily's period always ends on a Tuesday, and since today is Tuesday, she could be sleeping with Doug anytime now.

I don't talk to Emily every single day, especially during the week, so it's important that I don't keep checking up on her now that I know what she's up to. But how the hell can I stop myself?

I sit at my desk for eons, the phone staring unringingly at me, the hands of my office clock frozen in place. I straighten the adding machine on my credenza, then straighten it again, praying for a huge pile of work to spontaneously appear in my in box and provide a few hours of distraction. But no such luck.

It's 10:22am. I can't possibly sit here for another 6 1/2 hours, torturing myself about her. For all I know, they're going to sneak off and fuck each other's brains out in a supply closet at lunchtime. Maybe she wore that short little black skirt and high heels for the occasion, the outfit she used to wear for me, and maybe she's thinking about his cock right now, making herself wet with horny anticipation, and maybe my face will flash in her mind the second he penetrates her, not because she feels guilty, but because she wonders why she ever wasted one moment of her time with me.

That's what it's all about, isn't it? The pulse-pounding excitement of being with a guy who's drowning in cash, who's careful never to leave the house in wrinkled pants or to drive a car more than two years old. Women are wired to seek out men like Doug, men who can take care of them. Several million years' worth of evolution is pushing Emily to him, forcing her to think of him constantly, to throw herself at him, to acquiesce to his every demand, and to strike me completely from her mind, to delete me like an unwanted file.

"Todd, I'm not feeling well. I'm gonna head home. I'll call you later."

"We need placements, Eric!"

"We're working on it."

* * *

Why did I come home? There's less to do here than there was at work.

I shuffle down the hall to the bedroom, then back to the kitchen for a glass of water, and finally back to the bedroom again, where I watch myself sit down at the computer.

I can't. Once I click on that link, I'll check back every five minutes until I crash from exhaustion. I need to find something else to do--

I turn around and look under the foot of the bed, where the corner of a box sticks out. stmas, it says.

I pull the box out and lift the lid. It's my holiday skater set, a scale model frozen pond with magnetic figurines that glide around on the fake ice while Christmas carols plink out as if played on a toy piano.

The skaters calm me. No matter what is happening in my life, I've always been able to put my problems on hold over Christmas and New Year's, and although it's February now, I'm able to forget Emily's cheating as long as the music is playing and the skaters are skating.

Emily and I had a great time two Christmases ago. Our relationship really clicked. A day was an eternity for us; we couldn't go for more than a few hours without texting or calling. We obsessed over each other's gifts, spending hundreds of dollars we didn't have just to see that look in one another's eyes on Christmas morning as the wrapping paper came off.

We had non-stop sex, hungrily ripping each other's clothes off whenever we had a free moment, only to do it all over again a few hours later. And "sleeping" in the same bed was a mere figure of speech.

When I look back now, I see that those were the best days of my life. Work was quiet; my relationship was stable; I had everything a man could have wanted. I know I can never bring those days back, but at least I can make the present feel a bit more like the past.

I put the Christmas song playlist back on my MP3 player and set it for "repeat all", and as I inhale the sugary smell of my Christmas Cookie jar candle, I can feel the stress leave my body. Most of it, anyway.

With "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Frosty the Snowman" wafting in the background, I actually manage to get a few small projects done. For one thing, I made a list of all the new construction projects downtown; with so many new buildings going up, someone is bound to need temporary workers.

It's 5:30 now, and I think I'll shut it down for the day. Maybe I'll treat myself to something nice for dinner.

The phone rings. It's probably Todd, wondering how much business we've brought in today. Things are very slow, but at least I have the construction project list to tell him about.

"I miss you," Emily says. She wants to make plans for this Friday.

My heart flutters. She's still thinking about me. I know she's let me down before, but what am I supposed to do, give up? She's pursuing me!

It was only a sliver of encouragement, I know, but between that and the Christmas stuff, I'm happier than a kid who just cracked open a pinata. The days fly by, and before I know it, it's Friday night.

The night is perfect. We lay on the couch, her nestled against me, the room completely dark except for the flickering TV screen. She provides a running commentary on the movie, cracking me up just like she used to.

The credits roll, and my stomach churns with anticipation. It's been a while since we've been together, and my heart pounds like a jackhammer as I picture her naked thighs pressed against mine.

I watch intently in the half-light of my bedroom, absorbing every detail as she unhooks her bra and unbuttons her jeans, her breathing just a bit heavier than usual.

She lays down next to me, flipping her silky hair out of the way to kiss me, and I run my hand gently down her back, delighting in her supple skin and the soft, round curve of her ass.

I slip a finger under the elastic of her panties and slide them slowly down her legs. She rolls onto her back and her eyes flicker up at me at she spreads her knees apart.

I stare for a long time before I let myself believe what I see. But yes, it is true: The inevitable has happened, and the horror I feel will never be gone from me.

She is completely shaved.

Next... Chapter 14: My fingers do the walking

Sunday, February 03, 2008

18 and... No.

The unthinkable has happened. The NFC won the Super Bowl, and the 2007-8 Pats finally lost a game, and the worst possible game at that.

All I can say is congrats to the Giants, for keeping Brady off balance (and on his ass) for most of the game. It doesn't matter who your receivers are, if the QB doesn't have time to throw it to them.

To ease my sorrow, I'll be writing more, so keep checking back for more updates, guys...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chapter 12: A Little Too Much to Bear


I surprised myself the other night on Saw Mill Road, but in a good way.

I still feel guilty about killing the possum, but deeper inside me, beneath the guilt, there is something far stronger. As I drove away into the dark that night, my heart racing, the adrenaline rocketing through my veins, I promised myself I would never be a victim again. Not to Todd, not to Doug, not even to Emily. It felt good to assert myself. It felt... right.

* * *

"It's John Doyle from Carrano Construction," the voice on the other end of the phone says.

I already know who it is. I know what he wants, too: He wants some more workers, or "associates", as he calls them. The problem is, he owes Todd about $6,000 in invoices, and Todd lacks the balls to demand it. "He's good for it," Todd always says. "What, is he going to Florida with my $6,000?" But what the hell good is the business if we're not getting paid for it?

"I can't send you any more laborers until you get your account current, John," I say firmly.


"Eric, I- I-can't pay you if I don't have any money."

He's breaking. I can feel it. This is easier than I thought!

"Well, we've got a problem then, because I can't send you more workers if you haven't paid for the ones you already had."

"Since when?"

"Since now," I say, and the confidence floods into me, just like the other night.

John agrees to send me a check for half his balance, and to pay the rest next week. Todd is going to be thrilled!

Fifteen minutes later, Todd calls me into his office. "I just hung up with John Doyle," he says, looking over his wire-rimmed glasses at me. "He's canceling his contract with us."


"Todd, all I told him was that he had to pay his bills. Is that so wrong?"

"Did you know he was our first customer, Eric? Our very first one?"


"And did you know that John lent me money to pay the rent for this office when we first opened up? That's how good he was to us. And now he wants to know why we're spitting in his face, Eric!"

"Todd, I didn't know! I didn't know any of that! I'm sorry!"

"Go home, Eric."

* * *

RedFoxx85: did u give him his welcome home present

SugarKookie: kinda

RedFoxx85: ?

SugarKookie: gave him a big kiss

RedFoxx85: aw how cute

SugarKookie: below the belt ;-)

RedFoxx85: you gave him a bj?!

SugarKookie: o yea

SugarKookie: trust me he wasnt disappointed

RedFoxx85: im sure

RedFoxx85: what was it like?

SugarKookie: salty :-D

RedFoxx85: no what was "it" like

SugarKookie: mmmmmm

RedFoxx85: nice huh

SugarKookie: hes not circumsized

RedFoxx85: nfs!

SugarKookie: ive never seen an uncircumsized one before. i kept playing with his, um

RedFoxx85: foreskin?

SugarKookie: i guess so ya, sliding it back and forth over the head

RedFoxx85: with your mouth?

SugarKookie: mm-hmm

RedFoxx85: nice!

SugarKookie: loved me playing with his foreskin - kept telling me to do it more

SugarKookie: and shoving my head down on him

SugarKookie: hes very bossy in bed :-)

RedFoxx85: so im guessing you two did the deed

RedFoxx85: after you warmed him up

SugarKookie: the red tide was in :-(

RedFoxx85: so??

SugarKookie: ew, not the first time!

SugarKookie: he did want to tho

RedFoxx85: i bet

SugarKookie: so i swallowed for him ;-)

Next... Chapter 13: Christmas in February

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Chapter 11: The Saw Mill Road


I slam Emily's door behind me and stomp angrily to my car. I start the engine and hurtle from the parking lot, tires squealing.

Saw Mill Road is a 15 mile stretch of highway which cuts a narrow path through an endless ocean of trees. There are three farms that I have counted, set so far back from the road that you can barely see the lights as you pass by.

At the beginning of the road, the street lights are about 300 yards apart, and by mile three, they stop altogether.

I call Saw Mill Road a "shortcut" between Emily's house and mine, but it actually takes longer to go that way. Mostly, I do it because I love a peaceful car ride.

My dress shirt is ruined, soaked with blood. I wrap an old t-shirt around my wrist to slow the bleeding, but it continues to ooze from my hand and onto my slacks; it feels like I spilled a half-hour old cup of coffee into my lap.

The cut hurts so much that I can barely touch the steering wheel. Hot jolts of pain shoot from deep inside the wound, coursing up my arm like electricity. I try to focus on the road, on the sound of the engine, on the thought of Emily--but the agony is too intense. It's as if someone drove an ice pick into my hand with a sledge hammer.

Pulling over would be a waste of time. There's nothing more I can do until I get home, so I push harder on the gas pedal and stare at the road as I pass under the last streetlamp and into the dark.

Fifty miles an hour. Sixty. Seventy. The whine of the engine grows insistently louder, like a 747, and somehow I can barely hear it above the screaming pain.

My headlights cut neatly into the darkness; if I look anywhere but straight ahead, all I see is pure black. I am focused on the rear view mirror when something jumps in front of the car.

It's a possum, I think, and it is as surprised as I am. It freezes in place, staring at me. I slam on the brakes, but I know it's too late.

The car hits the possum with a heavy thunk. I can feel its body bounce underneath the floorboard; the sounds are clunky and hard, as if I am running over a pile of firewood.

The shriek of the tires eventually stops, and I sit for a long time, wondering what to do. I've never hit anything with my car before. Do I just... leave?

I feel weird. I killed something. It was nothing more than a rodent, but it woke up today alive, and now...

I want to see it.

I turn the car around and flip on my high beams. The possum lays lifeless in the middle of the road, its body horizontal across the double yellow line. I watch myself get out of the car and close the door.

It's bigger than I thought, maybe the size of a poodle. With its gray fur and spiny tail, it looks like a giant rat.

Its neck is broken. The top of its head has been pushed back so far that it's almost separated, leaving the mouth wide open, like a snake with an unhinged jaw. I shiver at the sight of its pointed teeth and thick, pink tongue, and though I want to turn away, I can't.

This just proves what I learned earlier tonight: I have the power to change things. You might think I used that power unwisely just now, but I had it just the same, didn't I? Just like I had it with the vase--

The pain again, sharper now, burning my hand like battery acid.

I really should get home.

Next... Chapter 12: A Little Too Much to Bear