Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Something hidden part 02

Continuation of an Easter Egg... for lack of anything in 2008....

You're welcome.




      "Yup." I said, looking at it on my desk, as if it were calling me to use it again. Perhaps in other means?
      "Good." he replied. I could tell he was thinking about it.
      "So why are you leaving?" I asked, getting bored with small talk and snapping out of my trance.
      "Long story short, I am getting too old for this place. I can’t keep up with it anymore. I’ve had good tenure, and now it is time for a new adventure. Plus, all my patients are gone. Only ones that I see, are you and Tony." He said, pausing to take a sip of coffee. I could hear him faintly sip it down.
      "Oh." I responded, not really sure I wanted to hear his reasoning.
      "So then what will happen to me and Tony? If we still have to check in with you, then we are screwed." I asked, half heartedly let down.
      "Well," Nick started. "Although I’ll be gone, I would love to continue to talk to you two. Or, I can suggest someone just as good." He stated, trying to make everything as blunt and optimistic as possible.
      "Did you tell him this?" I questioned, referring to Tony’s release.
      "Yes. Tony knows everything. Hence the reason you are calling." Nick said. I could tell he was getting bored with my inquiry.
      "Okay. Fine." I huffed out, a little upset.
      "Just keep in touch, as a friend, alright?" I continued.
      "Oh, definitely." He said and hung up. 
      When I hung up with Nick, I immediately felt a sense of dread. I know the past was the past, and everything from that point on would be alright, but I felt as if I had this giant hole in my soul; like I had lost everything. I can’t describe the feeling left behind in closing another long chapter in my life; but I figure, if it’s gotta be, then let it die. 
      I sat in my chair feeling empty, for what seemed like ages. Looking at my watch, it had only been ten minutes. What’s worse, is I received an instant message from Tony.
      He needed me to come in to his office. I replied back to him, got up, and walked down the hall to see what he wanted. 
      "Hey" I said, walking into Tony’s office. "What’s up?" I asked, sitting down to talk to him.
      "Eh, same shit, different day." He shrugged. "I got a call about ten minutes ago. It was from Largey’s wife. He killed himself this morning." Tony informed me.
      "You’re shitting me." I said, shocked.
      "Nope. He’s gone. Completely entangled himself in his belt. The wife has no idea why he did it." Tony replied, reaching for some figs in his desk drawer.
      "That sucks. No note or anything?" I said, almost sounding like it meant the end of the world.
      "I know. No. She found no trace or reason why he would have done it." Tony said, eating a couple figs out of the container.
      "So what do you want to do?" I asked, motioning for the jar.
      "Well, I tried calling Eddie, and can’t seem to get in touch with him for some reason. It’s weird his phone could be off,  because it did a ring ring, hang up. Anyway; I think we should go home and sleep it off. I’m beat."  Tony suggested, getting up and stretching.
      "Okay. You know, he could have been recording at home, and turned it on vibrate. He has the habit of pressing ‘ignore’ immediately when he’s recording, remember? Plus, I think he had a field trip today." I suggested. I knew the real reason, but I did not want to get into it.
      "At any rate, do you need a ride home?" I continued, finishing the figs and getting up from the chair I was in.
      "Please." Tony nodded, reaching for his coat.
      "Okay. Let me get my things." I said, getting up to walk to my office. 
**** 
      Three days later, we were at Largey’s funeral. "This fucking sucks." Eddie said, lighting a cigarette as he, Tony, and I leaned against a couple headstones in the cemetery.
      "I know" Tony said, his hands in his pockets, looking at the headstone in front of us. 
      "I think it’s a sign that we need to close shop." I said, lighting a cigarette. "I mean, it’s been what, twenty odd years already?" I shrugged. "What do we have to show for ourselves? Certainly not raising stocks in smokes." I chuckled out, taking a pause to inhale my Red.
      "Well, that’s what you’d say now, Alex." Tony said, taking his hands out of his pockets to clean his glasses.
      "Eddie and I had this talk about fifteen years ago. You were about to get out of Bellevue and we had little but no options left. We didn’t tell you because we were still unsure." He continued as he put his glasses back on.
      "Oh, sure, the truth comes out now." I said, waving my Red around angrily. "Well, you know," I continued, pointing my cigarette at Tony. "Eddie may or may not have told you, Tony, but we had talked about it while you were in Bellevue too. Thank you very much for your honesty, Eddie." I sarcastically spat out. I shot Eddie a dirty look, as if to say ‘Fucking asshole’.
      "Well, I told him I wouldn’t repeat any of what we talked about unless the three of us were together." Eddie said, arms raised, taking offense. It was as if this could be a sufficient apology.
      "It’s a little late now." I said, crossing my arms over my chest. I was officially pissed off, betrayed even.
      "Hey! I’m still standing here!" Tony exclaimed, raising his hands in defense, as if he were invisible. "Anyone want my  opinion?" He asked.
      "No!" Eddie and I both harshly stated.
      "Damn, you two sound like some old married couple." Tony attempted to joke out, as Eddie and I looked at each other while we both snickered at the remark. 
      **** 
      The next day, the three of us sat in the conference room, talking about the state of the station. "I think that we should wait out the year and see how things go." Eddie said.
      "If we do, who knows what else can happen?" Tony asked, making the attempt to play devil’s advocate.
      "True," I said, "But if we close down, we look like chumps" I continued, going off what both men were trying to suggest. 
      "Look, January is around the corner. Let’s get some new people in here to fill in, and for the next two months, we’ll interview. Then in December, we’ll each take a week vacation. Alex, you take the first week, Tony, the second. I’ll take the third week. That way, we are covered in case shit goes down. Come Christmas, we’ll reconvene and see what’s up." Eddie suggested, coming to his senses and lighting a cigarette.
      "Fine with me." Tony agreed, nodding his head as he looked at me.
      "Yea. Sounds good." I said. "One thing – why not start looking now, so we are really covered?" I asked, lighting a cigarette.
      "We could, but we’re cutting it close in all the funerals and bullshit, don’t you think?" Eddie asked, as he flicked his GPC.
      "Not really. A wise man once told me that it’s better to cover your ass and cover your mouth before you speak." I beamed, turning my head to face him. I gave Eddie the biggest grin I could. I knew he’d enjoy that remark with immense joy.
      "Okay then." Eddie laughed, as he let a cloud of smoke out from his mouth and allowed it to linger around his head for a few seconds.
      "So we’ll start next week then. Tony, write some ads for papers and I’ll start to do radio ads. Okay?" I said to both men, as I took the last puff of my Reds and put it out.
      "Okay." Eddie and Tony stated as we wrapped up the meeting. 
      **** 
      It’s now Thanksgiving, and our station has not had any issues with anything out of the ordinary. The police have been off our backs for a month and a half, and it’s safe to say we are all thankful that we are safe and happy.
      Tony and I were able to make perfect ads and there are over ten new employees working at the station. Every few days, we were interviewing even more people. As much trouble as we’ve been through, no one seemed to mind or care. 
      One by one, people would come in to my office. Around mid day, thinking I have a spare moment for a smoke, I get a knock on my door. "Come in." I said, silently shaking my head in disagreement, as I put my cigarette down in the ashtray, having not even lit it. I look up and in comes my old buddy, Calista. 
      "Calista! What’s up, kid?!" I said, surprised she was in front of me.
      "Not a hell of a lot, man." She said with a smile.
      "Come in! Sit down! I’ve missed ya!" I said, motioning to the chair in front of me.
      Calista sat down and immediately pulls out a pack of Newports. She lights one up, and I watch her awe because it’s been at least a decade since we last saw each other in person. 
      "I heard you had some job openings, Alex. I came to apply." Calista said, smiling, as she took a haul from the filter.
      "We do, actually." I said, lighting the Red I wanted to smoke before Calista came in.
      "Can I get the hook up?" She casually asked, as if she already got a CEO type of position with us
      "Well, we have a screening process. Plus, you and I have about five, ten years to catch up on." I said.
      "Well, what are you doing now? Let’s go to lunch." Calista suggested. She looked down at her watch as I flicked my cigarette.
      "I’m going to lunch with you." I grinned, getting up from my chair and taking a puff of my cigarette. 
      Calista and I left my office to go to ‘Stro, a local bistro favorite of mine. After getting an order of drinks, we started chatting. 
      "So what have you been up to, now that you’ve been on your own?" I asked, taking a sip of my wine.
      "Not too much. Been working at this nice little hotel where I get free room and board." She replied, sipping her Alize.
      "That’s nice." I said, still in awe that my friend was sitting in front of me.
      "It is, but I want to find something better. As much as I like it there, I need to find something fresh; I saw your paper ads and heard the radio ones. I thought I’d come work for you." Calista smiled.
      "That would be cool. Actually, we are looking for a couple positions to fill. What would you be interested in doing?" I asked, as our meal came.
      "Anything available." Calista grinned, as she welcomed her salad and sandwich. 
**** 
      Calista and I sat at the restaurant for two hours, discussing jobs and local events. By the end of the meal, Calista had found herself a new position, and I had found one of my closest friends that would work at the station. Calista was no longer some jail rat. She was the Hip – Hop and R & B Program Director of the FM station. 
**** 
      Oh it feels so nice to be on my week’s vacation. I wrote in my journal. But for some reason, I feel as if I am missing something. I know; it’s my week to relax, take in a movie or two, just have no worries. However, I keep thinking I need to get to the station; like they need me for something... I continued to write. 
      It’s the first week in December. I rented a cabin for the duration in the middle of Maine. It’s so pretty here. We had a snow squall the other day, so the woods look innocent and it feels like a vision out of a fairy tale. The trees are lightly covered in ice and snow, the ground has about seven inches of fluff. I am cuddled in the corner of a beautiful picture window, writing in my notebook, viewing the wildlife, and thinking about work. 
      I can’t take this... it feels wrong. I can’t help thinking I am taking this absolutely amazing thing for granted and I need to get back home. I wrote. I know it is only the first "real" day I have had out here, but it is also the first time I have had any type of vacation. Let alone any time for myself. I continued to write. 
      Looking up and outside, a deer came into view, and it stopped right in front of me. It looks so calm and peaceful, as if it has done its thing many a time before. 
      Sometimes I wish I were like the deer I see in front of me. Its beauty and innocence wrapped into one shrouded second as it stops to look for food. Deer are taken for granted out here, in the deep woods. I have already seen a couple of hunters pass by on foot. If they only knew they were killing themselves and not the animal. I wrote on. 
      Putting my journal down, I got up to get a beer and my Reds. Walking to the mini fridge, I heard a gun go off. A split second later, I hear a  thump and the deer was dead. Thirty seconds later, I see a hunter running over to the animal. He checked it to make sure it was completely dead, and pulled a walkie talkie out from his jacket pocket. I saw him radio somebody about it. As I stood in the cabin watching this, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the animal. Five minutes later, a flatbed truck comes into view and a man gets out of the driver’s seat. He helps the hunter pick the deer up and put it into the truck. A few minutes later, they drive off. 
      I stood there, taking everything in. I couldn’t believe I just witnessed that. Did those men not know I was here? I shrugged it off, leaned over to open the fridge, pulled out a beer, and grabbed my smokes from the table next to the appliance. I walked back to my perch as I opened my bottle, sat down, and lit a cigarette. For the rest of the night, I sat there, watching the shadows. 
**** 
      DAY FIVE OF VACATION. I started writing in my notebook.  I have been here for five days already. I’ll probably leave sometime tomorrow night. I continued to write.  I no longer feel a sense of dread. After seeing that deer, I learned to not worry as much. If the shit hits the fan, the room will stink. Being out here has made me realize that everything is not as it seems and it is not important to get so worked up over everything. The only things that I have done here have been writing, sleeping, going out into the woods, and thinking about life. If things happened at work while I have been here, okay; I am fine with that. I can deal. That’s life and the dirty curveballs that are thrown.  I wrote, not thinking anymore. I have had enough of the bullshit. I think I found my new hide-a-way. I thought.
      On the sixth night of my week off, I drove from the outskirts of Maine, to under the devil’s dress I call home. I walked into my house around one thirty in the morning, unpacked my car, and went to sleep. The next thing I remember, is being woken up by blaring voices two days later.
**** 
      "Alex!" A deep voice boomed in my mind. "Alex! Wake the fuck up!" It continued, this time shaking me out of my slumber. I open my eyes to see Eddie and Calista standing angrily over me. 
      "Huh? What? Why are you two here? It’s Sunday. I don’t have to come in til tomorrow." I groggily asked, wiping the sleep from my eyes.
      "It’s Tuesday, hun, and you’ve got to go back to work." Calista said, enthusiastically annoyed.
      "Plus, you gave me a key a few years ago." Eddie added, as if it meant everything yet nothing at all.
      "I did?" I questioned, dazed, as I sat up. I had forgotten about that. He was the only one I trusted enough at the time to own a key. He’s  still the only who owns a set. How privileged he must feel.
      "Yup. So when you didn’t show up yesterday, I thought maybe you were stuck in traffic coming home and that your cell phone might have died. Then when you didn’t show up this morning, I figured you needed to be checked on." Eddie continued, taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it. 
      "I came home late Saturday night. I think I went to sleep around dawn on Sunday. I didn’t realize I’ve been sleeping so long. Shit. I probably have piles of work on my desk. Where’s Tony?" I asked, looking around the room.
      "Tony is on vacation. Remember, this is his week off." Calista said, snuffing her Newport out in an ashtray I had on a table.
      "Oh, yeah." I said, remembering it was the second week of December already. Time flew; even on my week off.
      "Come on, Calista, let’s let Alex get up and dressed. We’ll wait for her at the office." Eddie motioned, walking to the bedroom door.
      "What time is it?" I asked, getting off my bed.  I scanned the room for anything I could fix my eyes on. Finding nothing, I scavenged for a cigarette on my bedside table.
      "It’s one o’clock." Calista said.
      "PM. There’s still time to go to work." Eddie chimed in.
      "Okay. Let me take a shower and get dressed. I’ll see you two in about an hour at the station." I replied, motioning them out, as I retrieved some clothes from my dresser and closet.
      "Okay." Eddie replied from the door frame. He looked back at me sullenly, as if to say he missed me and didn’t want to leave me. He then shrugged it off and left, as I continued to grab stuff from my room. As soon as I heard the car turn on, I started my shower. 
**** 
      I walked into the studio, as if I never left at all. Although there were phone messages, mail, paperwork and CDs thrown all around my desk from not being there, it gave me a sense of calmness; as if to say "You can do this, Alex. It’s easy". 
      I sat down at my computer, turned it on, and instant messaged Eddie and Calista that I was in my office and checking email. Calista responded back saying she was coming to see me, while Eddie stated he was busy doing some paperwork. 
      About five minutes later, Calista was at my door. "Come on in, Cali. Let me finish this email. Have a seat." I said, quickly glancing at her, while still typing away. Calista sat down and lit a Newport as I hit SEND on the page. 
      "What’s up?" I asked, turning to her as I lit a cigarette.
      "Not too much. Same shit, different underwear." Calista shrugged, looking at her Newport as if it were a joint, instead of tobacco.
      "You needed to talk to me about something?" I asked, putting my cigarette in my mouth so I could try to clear some of the paper mail off my desk.
      "Yea." she said, taking a deep breath in from her Newport. "I wanted to see how your vacation was last week." She continued. Only the way she said it, made me think more was up than how my vacation was.
      "It was definitely peaceful. I had a good rest." I smiled, inhaling a mouthful of cigarette smoke.
      "That’s good to hear." Calista said, leaning towards an ashtray on my desk and flicking her Newport.
      "But I wonder, Cali, why are you really  questioning my week off?" I asked, taking another puff of my cigarette.
      "I can’t ask?" She shot back, accusingly.
      "Well, you and Eddie showed up in my bedroom this morning. Only one of you needed to come." I attempted to reason.
      "We were worried. I thought we should both go." She replied apologetically and seemed to be getting a little fidgety.
      "Come on, Calista, tell me the truth." I said, getting aggravated.
      "Well, we had an issue last week." Calista spout out.
      "Oh?" I asked, snuffing out my Red.
      "Yea," She replied, putting her Newport out in the ashtray.
      "Well, what happened?" I asked, shocked no one said anything earlier. Just as Calista was about to tell me, Eddie instant messaged me and tells me that Calista and I need to be in his office ASAP.
      "Shit." I said, glancing at my monitor.
      "What?" Calista asked.
      "Eddie needs us, stat." I replied, as I got out of my chair, grabbing my smokes.
      "Christ, now what?" Calista said, rolling her eyes, as she stood up, lighting a cigarette. She opened my door and we walked out to see Eddie. 
      We walk into Eddie’s office and he was sitting there, smoking a cigarette and talking to a cop. The cop turns around to greet us and lo and behold, it’s my old buddy. "Hey Alex, Calista. What’s up?" He asked, smiling, waving his hand to say "hello".
      "Chillin’." Calista replied, taking a drag of her cigarette.
      "What are you doing here, Copper?" I asked, a little nervous, due to Calista just about to tell me what happened, and the fact I was seeing the cop casually sit across from Eddie. I moved closer into the office and leaned against a wall.
      "I’m here because we got a call that there was an attempted robbery late last night at Tony’s." The cop said, lighting his own cigarette.
      "What?! Is he alright?" I asked, stunned that we just  heard about it.
      "Yes, he’s fine. He was out for the night, came home this morning, and found his front door kicked in. Only his office was in shambles." The cop said, as if he was reading the information off his crib notes.
      "Was anything stolen?" Calista asked, as if she really cared.
      "No, all his files were just thrown around. He keeps his computer pass worded, so the thief couldn’t get in there." Copper stated.
      "Fucking bastard. I told him to stay in last night." Eddie said, shaking his head in disgust as he finished his cigarette.
      "What do you mean, you told him to stay in?" The cop curiously asked, shifting his weight in the chair.
      "Because he wanted to go try his luck at the new casino up state and wanted me to go. I told him it would be packed there because the place just  opened three days ago. Apparently he didn’t listen." Eddie replied, swatting the notion away mid air and put out his Chesterfield.
      "Well, he is home now, trying to clean up." The cop said, putting his cigarette out in an already full ashtray. "You know, you should really clean this shit out. It’s a fucking fire hazard." The cop finished, chuckling away.  
**** 
      That night, I decided to pay a visit to Tony. Although I left work not knowing what Calista wanted to tell me, I felt at ease going to see my friend. 
      I arrived there just as the last cruiser was leaving. I went up to the door, rang the bell, and Tony came down to greet me with a half cup of juice in his hand. 
      "Hey Alex. What a nice surprise." Tony said, smiling, as he took a sip of his carrot ginger juice.
      "Yea, well, I figured I would come to check up on you; considering what happened today." I said, as he motioned me to follow him into his house.
      "It was definitely an adventure to come home to such a mess." Tony chuckled as he took another sip out of the glass, and walked me into the kitchen.
      "Have you cleaned everything up? Did they take anything?" I asked, helping myself to a cigarette.
      "I just finished cleaning as the cops left. I made a cup of juice to ease my nerves. As far as I know, nothing was stolen, and all they ransacked was useless files. My theory printouts, health books, just things no one else would want." He said, rinsing out his glass in the kitchen sink.
      "Wow." I said. "That takes balls to go through everything just to trash some books and not steal something." I continued, taking a drag off my Red.
      "I know. I couldn’t believe they didn’t take anything either. They tried to get into my hard drive, but I keep it under lock and key." Tony said, walking into his living room and sitting down on the couch.
      "That’s so odd. I mean to target you and not make a bigger mess?" I said, putting my cigarette out in my new handy pocket ashtray.    
      "Yes, it’s odd." Tony replied. "But it’s my luck, I suppose." He shrugged.
      "Did you at least win big last night?" I asked.
      "I wish!" He sarcastically joked. 
      The next thing I know, it’s eleven o’clock and Tony and I are still talking. I glance at my watch and tell him I need to leave because I have work in the morning.
      "So I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?" I asked, heading out the door.
      "Sure." Tony smiled, seeing me out.
      "Alright, I’ll talk to you then." I waved, walking to my car. 
**** 
      The next day, I got into work early, beating everyone there. I walk into my office and immediately started working on some paperwork. Two hours of slaving diligently over a computer went by in a heartbeat. All of a sudden, I recieved an instant message from Eddie. 
      "COME 2 MY OFFICE... NOW!" The screen said. I responded and made my way down the hall. I got into Eddie’s office as he was writing a report. "What’s up?" I asked, standing in the doorway like a fool.
      "We need to talk. Sit down while I finish this." Eddie said, pointing to an empty chair as he lit a cigarette.
      "Okay..." I replied, sitting down and lighting my own butt. Five minutes of watching Eddie hunt and peck at the keyboard, he was done. He turned to me and bluntly stated, "Calista is dead." I looked at him in disbelief.
      After hearing what he just said, I asked "Are you serious?". He replied to me by taking a puff of a cigarette.
      "Why the hell would I joke about that?" He quipped as he exhaled the smoke.
      "I don’t know." I shrugged, unsure of where to go next.
      "Your buddy called me this morning at my house. He said he tried calling your place but you didn’t answer." Eddie continued, looking at me, as if he were trying to read my facial expressions. It felt like he was seeing right through me, instead of attempting to judge my emotions.
      "I know. I’ve been here for a few hours. Lost track of time, I guess. I’ve been trying to play catch up." I said, taking a drag off my cigarette.
      "Ah. That explains why I couldn’t reach you either. Where’s your cell phone?" Eddie asked, flicking his cigarette.
      "Battery’s low, so it’s off." I said.
      "Oh. No charger?" Eddie asked. I shook my head ‘no’.
      "Anyway, the cop said he got a call from Calista’s neighbor, saying there were screams coming from her place. He got there and saw her lying in a pool of her own blood. She was already dead." Eddie continued, snuffing out his cigarette.
      "Oh shit." I replied in awe.
      "Yup. That’s what I said. He claims that from the look of it, someone got in her house, a fight broke out, and the guy shot her point blank. She died within minutes. Then, the guy stole her TV and DVR player." Eddie told me.
      "That’s fucked up. And to take menial shit? What the fuck? I wonder if there is any relevance to Tony’s break in?" I questioned, leaning over to a half full coffee can-cum-ashtray, and put out my cigarette.
      "I know, but I have no idea. The cop said he’s going to stop by later today to talk to you." Eddie informed me.
      "Okay. I’ll be prepared, I guess. Thanks for the heads up." I said, getting up and walking to the door.
      "No problem. By the way, did you want to plan her funeral, seeing how she has no family?" He asked as he started to turn towards his computer.
      "Might as well." I shrugged. "And, erm, clean out that Folgers can before one of us starts a fire." I winked, pointing to the metal coffee can as I left Eddie and started walking towards my office.  
**** 
      I sat in my office, staring at the wall. I must have stared dumbly for hours. I just didn’t know what to do or say. I just lost one of my good friends. As I finally mustered the will to do some work, the cop cruised in. "Hey, Alex." He said, with a sorrowed smile.
      "Hey Copper." I said. "Have a seat." I continued, pointing to the chair in front of me.
      "Thanks. I really need to talk to you." He said, pulling his cigarettes out of his pocket as he sat down.
      "About Calista, right?" I asked, lighting my own filter up.
      "Yes’m." He said, lighting up a Camel.
      "Where do you want to begin? I mean, you already know my history with her." I said, taking a puff.
      "I realize that, Alex. And I appreciate your co-operation with all this. It means a lot." He said, looking me right in the eye.
      "Don’t flatter yourself, man. You’re not my type." I replied with a stiff laugh.
      "Don’t worry. I wouldn’t think I was. I’ve seen the way you’ve treated some of the guys." He said reaching for an ashtray.
      "What’s that supposed to mean?" I asked, slightly offended, as I puffed on the Red that was dying. I could feel the interrogation begin.
      "Oh, nothing." He casually stated, as if he were telling me that the paint were dry on my wallpaper.
      "I’m serious. What’s that supposed to mean?" I repeated.
      "Well, I always thought of you, as... you know..." He trailed off, as he was getting a little antsy.
      "No, I don’t. C’mon, tell me." I said, although I already knew what he was talking about.
      "You know, a lesbian." He replied, taking a quick drag on his cigarette. It was as if saying the word "lesbian" was the most sinful thing ever created, and the cigarette would make me forget what he just said.
      "Haha! I can’t believe you think I am a lesbian! Well, thanks for the compliment man."  I laughed at him, knowing full well it would make him more uncomfortable.
      "So you’re not?" He asked, blowing smoke out of his mouth, as he leaned over to snuff out his cigarette.
      "Nope. Not now, not ever." I stated as a matter of fact. "It’s because I’ve put more stress on then I have to, and have gone through too many things in my life. It makes me look older and butchier then I really am." I said, tapping my cigarette over an ashtray. "Plus, smoking for over two decades does it too." I quickly added, as if it wasn’t that obvious.
      "Now that we cleaned up that issue, can we talk about Calista?" The cop asked, regaining his composure.
      "Sure. Where do you want to start?" I asked, flicking my ashes into a nearby used cup.
      "How about telling me the last time you saw her?" He asked, starting a new Camel.
      "Alright," I stated, putting my cigarette out. 
**** 
      Two hours later, we were done talking and it was late. The cop left my office and I decided it was break time. I needed a stiff drink after the day I had gone through. 
      As I made my way to my car, I turned my cell phone on to see how much battery I had left. Finding it half charged, I kept it on. A minute later, I received a text message from Eddie. I started reading it as I sat in my car and turned the ignition on. I couldn’t believe what I just read. "TONY IN HOSPITAL. EMERGENCY SURGERY. MAY DIE. CALL ME ASAP".
      "FUCK!" I screamed, tossing my phone into the passenger seat. Instead of returning his call, I sped into the night, looking for any bar I could drown my day in. 
**** 
      The next day, I woke up with the most disastrous headache I’ve ever had. "What time is it?" I asked my bed. I glanced at my cell phone, squinted in the dark, and it read 4:45pm. "Shit". I said, reaching for a Red. I slept a day away again. I thought as I lit my cigarette. Picking up my phone, I called Eddie.
      "Where the fucking hell have you been?!" Eddie exclaimed immediately upon picking up the phone.
      "Erm...drinking and sleeping the day away?" I questioned back, a little drowsy.
      "Well, get your ass up and come to the station. We need to talk." Eddie replied, hanging up. 
      I got up, put my Red out, and took a shower. It was an hour later by the time I meandered into Eddie’s office. "Sit." He said, lighting up a Liggett Select. "Tony is in critical condition at the hospital. Doctors don’t know if he’ll live." Eddie blurted out, as I lit a Red.
      "Shit." I said, taking it in.
      "I know. When I didn’t hear from you the other day, I thought you fucked up too." He said, worried. He looked at me and frowned. I could tell he was scared, just by looking into his glossy eyes.
      "So what happened? Why is Tony there?" I asked, deeply concerned. I took a drag off the filter of my Red.
      "Apparently, he was walking down his street and a car ‘accidently’ hit him, sending him flying. He landed ten feet down the road, and hit his head on a stop sign.  His head is stapled up, he’s got six broken ribs, legs are twisted, and his arms are broken in three places. Each." Eddie said, flicking his cigarette.
      "Holy fucking shit." I said in disbelief, flicking my cigarette in a nearby ashtray.
      "Yup. That’s why doctors are skeptical about him living. If he doesn’t make a major improvement by tomorrow night, he will die." Eddie explained, slightly annoyed at relaying this type of information. I’m sure he’d had rather I didn’t fuck up, so he could keep an eye on me. I definitely know better now. Always check in with the warden.
      "So there may be another funeral to plan?" I asked, getting upset and fidgety.
      "Maybe." He replied, checking his watch as he snuffed out his cigarette. 
**** 
      I went back to my office, not knowing how the next day would go, considering it was already eight o’clock and I had piles of work to do; again. I contemplated throwing it all out, leaving, and never returning. Instead, I decided to go to the hospital to see Tony.
      I needed to. 
**** 
      I didn’t get to see him until 9, and by that time, I only had thirty minutes.
      Damn I thought as I assessed what he looked like.
      "Hey Tony." I said softly, as I stood at the foot of his bed, gripping the footboard. He couldn’t move or even blink a response. Doctors said he’d been in and out of consciousness all day. I could barely stand there and look at him. 
      "I know I should have come to see you when Eddie first told me, but I couldn’t face it." I said, tearing up. "I need you to live. You’re one of the few things left that are positive in my life. Please don’t leave me." I said, crying. I found a chair and sat down next to him. I had every intention of staying the half hour with him, but I fell asleep by his side and didn’t wake up until a nurse was poking me at eight the next morning. 
      "Excuse me, miss." The nurse said. I felt a slight jab of a pen in my arm, and I opened my eyes. Surveying the room, I found Tony’s bed empty.
      "Where’s Tony?" I questioned, rubbing the sleep from my face.
      "I’m sorry," The nurse started. "But he passed away during the night." She finished. I couldn’t believe it! I was in the room with my ‘forever friend’ and I didn’t even know he left!
      "What? He couldn’t have!" I exclaimed, grasping the arms of the chair wildly, in plain awe of the news.
      "Yes" The nurse said, cleaning the bed and equipment.
      I stood up from my chair in shock, and left the room. I called Eddie’s office and he picked up right away. 
      "Eddie, it’s Alex." I said immediately, trying to hold back tears.
      "Hey, what’s up? You hear any news about Tony?" Eddie asked.
      "Yea. Are you sitting down?" I asked, exiting the building. I grabbed my cigarettes out of my pocket and lit one up.
      "Yea, why?" Eddie asked.
      "Well, erm, Tony died during the night." I stated, crying; almost dropping my cigarette, lighter and phone.
      "Shit. Are you okay?" Eddie asked, his voice wavering.
      "I don’t know. I’m on my way to the station." I replied, fumbling with my keys and getting into my car.
      "Okay. Come to my office when you get here. And be careful." He said, hanging up. 
**** 
      I entered the station around 9:30 and went straight to Eddie’s office. He was sitting in his chair; cigarette dangling between is lips, typing at the keyboard. He looked like he had been kicked in the balls and then beaten in the face. 
      "What the hell happened to you?" I attempted to joke, interrupting his hunt and peck trance. I stepped into his office and sat down to face him.
      "Not a damn thing since you called." Eddie responded, looking at me with glazed eyes.
      "You look like shit." I said, lighting up a cigarette.
      "Your phone call tore me up. I panicked when I hung up from you. I tossed shit around, lit too many cigarettes..." He trailed off. His astray  was a little full.
      "I’m so sorry, man. I was in the room when he died, and I never even woke the hell up." I said, sniffling.
      "Shit... Now what are we going to do?" Eddie asked, staring me square in the eye. His eyes were bloodshot, swollen from crying.
      "I don’t know. We have Calista’s funeral later. Are you up for it?" I asked, pausing to take a draw from my cigarette.
      "I guess. I totally forgot about it." Eddie said, lowering his head, as if he were about to ask forgiveness for a sin.
      "Look, I know you’re upset. I can see that. But, we’re both  upset." I said, putting my Red out and starting another.
      "It’s not that..." Eddie said, with streams of tears running down his face. "It’s the fact that you and I are the last two standing." Eddie continued, starting another cigarette with the end of his first one. "Who’d have guessed?" He asked, blowing smoke around his face.
      "Yea." I chuckled.
      He laughed uneasily, and continued, "But the three of us were supposed to run the place into the ground by other means. Not die off.".
      I sat there listening, watching him stare at his cigarette.
      "Now you sound like a little bitch." I smiled out, hoping to cheer him up.
      "I know," He smiled through tears. "But I always thought that  I’d be the one to be killed first. Yea, we‘ve lost so many troopers here, but I’ve only got my bus and cigarettes." He said, with tears flowing.
      "I know, but you can always drive the short bus over a cliff and call it a day another time." I smirked out. "Right now, we’ve got a funeral to attend to, and another to plan." I finished, getting up and fixing myself. 
      "Yea, you’re right." He attempted to smile, wiping the fog from his glasses. 
****
      As the funeral procession geared its way to the cemetery, I realized Eddie was right, in a way. We’ve all got our demons; whether it’s cigarettes, booze, music, or driving. But we all keep moving on, as if we’ve had better live life now and not tomorrow. Who’s to say when the next CD will be cracked, or when/if we’d be hit by a car? Life is short and we’ve got to make the best of it.
**** 
      The funerals for Calista and Tony were done and gone. All I had left was Eddie and the station. That’s all I knew. Eddie and I had awesome careers in radio. Albeit, some crazy careers; but we made it last longer than it ever could. 
      Tomorrow is a new day and we’ve got to take it full throttle. This, my friends, is the story of how life got turned around for the better (and worse) after people’s lives were cut short from their jobs. 
****
      "Stop fucking talking about ‘penis butter’." G-Boi said on the latest installment of Horny Boys Radio ("HBR").
      "But I can talk about whatever the fuck pleases me. Plus, I like my penis butter creamy. Like Skippy peanut butter." Mr. VP snickered out, wiggling in his chair like a child mocking their parent, while they were sitting in their own filth. "And I want to tell you fuckers a story" He said, pointing a half smoked cigarette at G-Boi. "It all started over thirty years ago." He continued, this time taking a draw off his GPC, as if to add an extra sense of ominous tension and suspense. He really wanted to use it as spacer so he can have an excuse to smoke with no worry. Plus, he was debating on how to properly start, considering the fact he was a little leary about ‘personal’ issues of this caliber. 
      At this time, I shut off my webcast and decided to take a nap. I fell asleep, with visions of jugulars and fat bastards dancing in my head. 
**** 
      "So we ended up, just the two of us, in this big radio station." Mr. VP excitedly declared, as if it were the biggest thing since sliced bread.
      "Then why are you sitting here with your boxers and beater on? Are you coming in from fucking her?" G-Boi pondered out loud.
      "Hell no. I’m fucking comfortable. That’s all, meathead. Just let me get on with the story." Mr VP shot out angrily. He expected G-Boi to not be interested, but this remark bordered low brow, even for him.  What a fucking dip shit. All he wants is sex. Mr VP thought, rolling his eyes. 
**** 
      Later on, after I awoke from my nap, I was too depressed to do anything. After burying my two close friends, I didn’t feel like working. All I did was sleep. I immediately fell back to bed, after turning the HBR radio show on. 
      "Alex never showed up for a fucking week." Mr VP attempted to explain, but quickly changed his mind about finishing his statement. He lit up a cigarette and adjusted his microphone levels. "At any rate, it’s time for a quick break. Let’s listen to G-Boi’s favorite comedian." Mr VP disapprovingly shook his head, and quickly loading two tracks into the vault.
      "I’ve got to drain the snake. Badly." Mr. VP announced off the air, as he got up from his chair and walked to the door that led outside the makeshift studio.
      "Fine, faggot." G-Boi excitedly giggled, amusing himself in a round of online flirting with one of the listeners in the Vespa Lounge; HBR’s home grown internet chatting service, made exclusively by their 18 year old website prodigy, Wally.
      "Don’t forget that cane of yours, old man." G-Boi laughed out, as he typed away on the keyboard.
      "Fuck you. Suck shit." Mr. VP croaked out through a cough. He gave G-Boi the finger as he left the room. 
**** 
      I sat up quickly from my dream state. Drenched in sweat, visions of a nun-ghost with glowing red eyes, had me screaming bloody murder. I controlled my voice to find my feet bound to my bed by my sheets, and my hands strangling the air. I couldn’t figure it out, for the life of me. 
      Shake it off, girl is all I thought, as I fell flat on my back and right to sleep. 
**** 
      "I received a call from Alex on a Saturday. She was scared shitless." Mr VP said, arms waving, to prove his point. He had stopped to take a drag off his cigarette and pour himself a shot of alcohol. By this time, the Horny Boys Radio program had reached 2.5 million people online, and it was growing by the minute.
      "I don’t know what got into her, but she was desperate to tell someone." Mr. VP continued, after downing the liquid in his glass. 
**** 
      I entered my comments anonymously on the HBR live radio blog. "I’m enjoying your story, Mr VP. Keep it coming" I wrote, as I turned up my speakers and shut the monitor off. 
**** 
      "Fuck this shit, VP. Doesn’t it get dirty? You’re turning into a pussy." G-Boi asked, scratching his head, bewildered. He had stopped his flirting and was on to more serious matters: trying to get Mr VP to end his story so they can talk about other, more pressing and pertinent  issues.
      "Keep listening fucker." Mr VP stated, adjusting his boxers and beater. Taking a sip of his vodka martini, he went on with his seemingly boring narrative. 
**** 
      I fell back to sleep in my puddle of sweat, too tired to change the sheets and my clothes. Relaxing to the off the wall comments of HBR, I drifted back to dreamland. 
**** 
      "So is this going anywhere?" G-Boi solicited, as he took a sip of the "Moo Brew"; one of HBR’s special house ales.
      "Yes. Just pay attention, dickwad. It gets juicy." Mr VP said, a little perturbed that G-Boi wasn’t finding the thrills of his escapades amusing. He subsequently gets the girl, and all G-Boi can think of is why Mr VP is doing the show with him, instead of getting his candle waxed; his matzoh balls eaten. 
**** 
      I finally mustered the courage to get up and shower. Another day and I’d really have shit growing in places unknown. I took my bed linens and threw them out. I then put on clean sheets and laid in a bath. For what seemed like a day, it turned out to be two hours in the tub. I got myself toweled off and checked my thousands of emails. All from Eddie. 
      After replying to a few, I made myself some tea and dinner. "I really feel like shit." I said to my apple cinnamon water; I took my time sipping the tea and thought I would take it out for some air. The warm weather cheered me up, but I still felt the need to go back to bed. Instead, I putzed around the back woods of my yard and let the air cool me. An hour of getting lost in my own wilderness, I headed home and back to bed. 
**** 
      "Tell me it ends there." G-Boi announced, apparently getting lost in other online news.
      "Nope. Just gets better." Mr VP shot back snippily, teeth baring, as he took a sip of his blue Kamikaze. 
**** 
      The next thing I knew, it was day break; or what I thought was day break. It was just Eddie trying to call me. I picked up my phone and he immediately started talking. 
      "When are you coming back? It’s been two weeks and I need you here." He asked, worried.
      "Maybe later." I replied, half heartedly let down that I was woken up and disturbed.      
      "Okay, because I don’t want to check on you again, just to make sure you’re still here. I miss you, you know." Eddie sadly stated, as he was truly concerned and hung up.
      I could tell he seriously and honestly meant it. Knowing that he missed me, I then drifted in and out of consciousness for the rest of the day. Finally, I got the rest I deserved. 
**** 
      "And she died peacefully in her sleep after I talked to her. Never got to say ‘Goodbye’." Mr VP said, tearily, sniffing back as much water works as he could.
      "Holy shit." G-Boi stated, mouth open, completely shocked at the turn of events.
      "Yup. So I guess this is my way of saying ‘I’ll see you again, my friend. I love you for everything.’" Mr VP cried out as the whole world listened to the story of how one little station attempted to change it all with just a few sick minded people.   
**** 
*FIN* 


Done... Now I can't be told there's no solid story up here...