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?