Home sweet home…conclusion A Mike Valentine tale

Mike got up, his swollen legs screaming in protest, and moved to the sofa to sit beside his son. Lady dutifully followed and plopped down at his feet. He wrapped his arm around the boy and they watched TV. It wasn’t long before his wife appeared in the doorway and told D that it was bedtime. Mike looked at his watch. It was 9 already. He reminded himself that that’s what happens when you sit in a bar, dreading coming home. He told his wife that he would take care of bedtime. She gave him a sarcastic “thanks” and went back to the kitchen. He forced himself off of the sofa and motioned for D to follow him, told him to brush his teeth and put his pajamas on. He didn’t put up a fuss, he was a great kid.

He went upstairs with the boy, poking his head in his oldest daughter’s room. She was lost in a book. He went into her room, leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“I didn’t hear you come home” she said.
“Next time I’ll make more noise” he joked. He kissed her again. She gave him one of her famous smiles, the gap between her front teeth front and center. He loved that gap, it was cute and reminded him of her as a toddler, mugging for the camera. She was such a happy child. He also observed that she would need braces soon.
“Good job on your report card” he offered. “I’m proud of you.”
“Mom went ape on the boys.”
Mike could only imagine. Yet she took them out to dinner? It must have been her friend Lisa’s idea. Lisa’s kids probably got shitty report cards as well but she didn’t believe in disciplining her kids. She wanted to be their friends. Mark hated that she and his wife were so close. He thought Lisa was a terrible influence, but his wife fucking loved her. Almost to the point that he wondered if she switched teams. He chased all of that out of his head and returned his attention to his daughter.
“Jeez” he said. You couldn’t have saved the old man a chicken finger?”
She laughed. He kissed her again on the forehead and walked down the hall to the boy’s room where he found R at his desk, furiously scribbling on a notebook. He looked miserable.
“Hey bud” he said. “That’s enough for today, nothing will change overnight.”
“Mom is pretty mad.”
“I know. I already bumped into her. See the burn marks?” he said as he showed his bare forearm. It was a bad joke but Ry laughed. He wasn’t trying to denigrate his wife. He just wanted to cheer the kid up. It seemed to work. He sat with the boys as they went through their nightly routine of procrastination. Fearful of his wife getting angry at the time, he went to the banister and listened for signs of life. She was talking to Lisa, the toxic friend. No doubt talking about what an asshole she married.

He went back into the boy’s room and said goodnight. He made a couple of silly faces, drew a laugh and turned the light off. He went downstairs looking for his youngest daughter. He poked his head in her room, she was fast asleep. Shit, he thought. I didn’t see her at all today. He sat on the edge of her bed and just watched her breathe for a while. She looked so peaceful. She was the unplanned one but immediately shot up to I can’t imagine my life without her status. She was cuter than a duck wearing a hat. His heart welled. He got up and closed the door behind him and headed for his comfortable chair. He had to walk through the kitchen in order to get there and he ignored the glare of contempt his wife shot at him as she babbled into the phone.

As he sat down. Britt appeared in the doorway.
“My asthma is acting up. Can I do a treatment?”
Mike got up, went to the closet for the Nebulizer and a capsule of albuterol. He set it up, placed the mask on his daughter’s face and sat down beside her. The hum of the machine soothed him as he watched her, glued to the TV as the mist gently wafted from her breathing treatment. He had changed the channel to Nickelodeon and had found Spongebob. Perfect.

He let her stay with him for about 15 minutes after the treatment was done. He didn’t want the moment to end. He knew, whether she knew he did or not, that she wasn’t really having an asthma attack. It was her sneaky way of getting an extra half hour with her dad.

This, Mike Valentine thought to himself, this is the good stuff. The rest of it doesn’t matter. He squeezed his daughter tight and waited for her to fall asleep.

Home sweet home…a Mike Valentine tale

Mike Valentine pulled into his driveway a bit too fast. He heard the scraping of the undercarriage as it met the small dip at the end of his driveway. It was just another moment in his 15-minute drive that he was reminded of how reckless it was for him to have driven home. He was half in the wrapper. It occurred to him that he was driving a company vehicle, a DUI would equal no job and no car. Smart. He put the car in park, popped an Altoid in his mouth, took a deep breath and walked to his front door. Every night he tried to ignore the crumbling masonry adorning the walkway and the ugly door that desperately needed a coat of paint. It was his daily reminder that he lived in a house that he couldn’t afford to maintain. He was in over his head. He went in the house.

Right on schedule, his hyperactive Springer Spaniel tore around the corner and jumped all over him. He enjoyed this part of the day. A dog always loves you unconditionally. If only other people in my life were this happy to see me he mused. After Lady (named after the Disney dog of course) calmed down a bit Mark took off his shoes, stumbling slightly and went into the kitchen. His wife was sitting at the kitchen table, a stack of envelopes before her. Her face said it all. He was about to have the money talk. Mark reevaluated his condition and decided that he may not have drank enough.
“You could say hi, you know. You must have heard me come in” he said.
“We need to talk” she replied.
“Not now”, Mike said with a defeated tone. “I know where this is going. Talking about it isn’t going to make a money tree grow in the back yard.” He regretted his snarky tone as it left his lips.
“If not now, when?!” she yelled. He knew what was coming, She was boiling and she wasn’t in the mood for the verbal foreplay. She wanted to fight.
“I’m doing the best I can.” He knew she didn’t believe it and he wasn’t sure if he did either. “You don’t know what it’s like out there right now.” He tried to change the subject. “Anything for dinner?”
“We went out.”
“Of course, you did. After all, why would you eat any of the food that is in our fridge, we only spend $200 a week on groceries after all.” He immediately realized that he was a raging hypocrite, he was just out himself. And she hasn’t asked where he was and why he was late. Is it possible she doesn’t care? Yeah, he didn’t want the answer to that one.
“Fuck you.”
“Nice. Where are the kids?”
“In their rooms doing their homework. Report cards came out today and with the exception of Britt, the boys are looking at a long time in their rooms. Don’t bother them.”

Mike dutifully obeyed and left the room. He walked into the family room, plopped down on the plush cushion of his chair and turned the TV on. He peeled off his socks and put his feet up. His swollen ankles hurt like hell and without rolling up his pant legs he knew that his legs were swollen as well. As if he didn’t have enough shit to worry about, his condition was getting worse.

He noticed a change of light in the room and he looked to see his oldest boy D, in the doorway with a Miller Lite in his hand.
“I got you a ‘water bottle’ Dad” he said as he tucked the can under his arm and did his famous quotation fingers.
“Don’t you have homework to finish?”
“I’m done. Did mom tell you about the report card?”
“No specifics but she didn’t paint a rosy picture.”
“It wasn’t that bad. Mine, I mean. I can’t say the same for Ry.” He sat down next to his father, handed him the beer and said “The Sox lost.”
“Yeah, I saw.”
“Weren’t you at work?” Mike hated lying to his son.
“Between you and me I knocked off a little early.” He and D were close. D rarely told mom much of what he said when she wasn’t around. He wasn’t proud of that, he didn’t encourage it. The kid just favored his dad and somehow knew the politics of the household. Mike wished he didn’t. He also wished his kids didn’t bring him alcohol and joke that they were water bottles. He was some fucking example of a father. Yet his children loved him. Despite the fights they witnessed between he and their mother, all of the hurtful words that can’t be taken back, they seemed to understand him. He hoped the same for his wife, he didn’t want to be the favorite, he just wanted their love.

to be continued…

Song lyric Sunday

I have chosen to share with you this Sunday a song, a well-known song that you may have heard a thousand times. Pearl Jam’s Black.I share it as an homage to a love that I never had. One that I desperately crave.  One in which I am so happy, so awe-struck, enamored and smitten that in the throes of loss, I could write a song as powerful as this.
I dedicate the last paragraph, the one that disembowels me emotionally every time I hear it to my ex-wife. Some of my anger has subsided. I have knelt at the altar of painful accountability and have found myself looking at my marriage in a different light.
I don’t like failure. My divorce is just that. I committed to put in the work, to love for better or for worse. While I can point to several formidable moments that caused me to have contempt for her, I failed to recognize that I had a few myself. I wasn’t always a saint. I made several risky career choices with good intentions and poor outcomes. There were times I could have been kinder, more nurturing. A little more present. When we began to really fight I began to come home later, often a little drunk to offset the contempt and animosity in my own home.
It’s not all her fault and while I most certainly do not want her back, too much has happened and she doesn’t love me anymore, I wish more than anything that she will someday have the life she dreamed of as a wide-eyed young woman, yet to be spoiled by the realities of wasted potential and poor decisions.
I don’t know if I failed her, if she lost faith in me, if I failed to provide her the life she deserved or if it was meant to be that we would part ways after so many years together. After seeing the 100 or so pictures she posted online the other day of the old days with our friends and family I saw an awful lot of pictures of she and I looking happy. Real happy. If I didn’t know better I would call it love. But in the wake of our tumultuous demise I had forgotten those times, when the world was bright and our futures held hope and promise.
I dedicate this to her because, despite our ruined state I still wish the best for her. I wish that things had turned out different for us. May she find balance in her life, may she overcome her demons and ultimately meet someone who makes her happy. To find the type of love that inspires a song like this. In particular I dedicate the last stanza, which I have highlighted below.
Hey, oh
Sheets of empty canvas
Untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me
As her body once did
All five horizons
Revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed
Has taken a turn
Oh and all I taught her was everything
Oh I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands
Chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything
Oh the pictures have
All been washed in black
Tattooed everything
I take a walk outside
I’m surrounded by
Some kids at play
I can feel their laughter
So why do I sear
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin
Round my head
I’m spinning
Oh, I’m spinning
How quick the sun can, drop away
And now my bitter hands
Cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
All the pictures had
All been washed in black
Tattooed everything
All the love gone bad
Turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see
All that I am
All I’ll be
Yeah
I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life
I know you’ll be a star
In somebody else’s sky
But why
Why
Why can’t it be
Why can’t it be mine

Sunshine Blogger award

I was nominated by All about life for the Sunshine blogger award.

And the award goes to…….those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community and, apparently, that includes me! While not much for awards (I really don’t feel worthy), out of respect for her nominating me and with a desire to draw attention to her blog I want to answer the questions posed in the nomination. Lisa pens a really wonderful blog, written in a very down-to-earth manner and it just reeks of positivity.  She engages her readers and offers sincere, useful feedback. Oh yeah, she’s funny. Check that out here. I personally am thrilled to have found her blog.

  1. What’s the thing that you like most about yourself?
    I would like to think that if nothing else, I am genuine. I can’t and won’t pretend I’m something I’m not. Some people are like playing cards. From the front they look solid, turn them to the side and there’s just nothing there.
  2. Do you have any little oddities?
    I have a lot of little oddities. Let’s see if I can come up with a non-embarrassing one. I have a nervous tick, when I tell a joke that I am uncertain about (due to appropriateness or for fear of offending a snowflake) I slap my leg at the punchline. My son makes fun of me all of the time for it.
  3. A million dollars or a 1000 hours of bliss? Which would you prefer?
    I would take the million dollars and then create some bliss. I would do as many meaningful gestures as possible with the money. Anything from buying new cars for my kids to helping a military family or a family with a terminally ill child. Something that would better someone’s life.
  4. Which animal do you most identify with?
    The dog. I have the potential to love unconditionally. I am loyal. I may have teeth and am capable of doing harm but at the end of the day if you rub my head just right I will be truly happy. 
  5. Do you believe in fate or think we create our own destinies?
    I’ve always struggled with the notion that our destinies are pre-determined. That it’s all a master plan that we have to wait and see how it plays out. So I guess I believe that we, to the best of our abilities create our own destinies. In the end it is a combination of our willingness to take risks, our drive to succeed, the ability to make good decisions and our ability to get up after we get our asses kicked.
  6. Which of your blog posts are you most proud of (feel free to add link)
    I tend to avoid the word “proud”. But I would have to say that I am happy with my few attempts at fiction and poetry but I am most rewarded by the response I have gotten from those posts that I really put my bare ass out there and shared my life. Many who read me find my “brutal honesty” (not my words but a reader’s) refreshing. It helped me also by putting it out there, it is liberating.
  7. It’s your last day on Earth – what will you do?
    I’ve been chronically ill for a long time. I am probably the worst I have ever been as I type this. I tend to treat each day as if it is my last in that I make sure that all of the people in my life know how I feel about them; that I free myself from anger and bitterness; not waste my time with negative people and thoughts; and I make it a point to enjoy every sunset, gust of breeze, conversation, and opportunity to laugh knowing that if I were not to wake tomorrow I left nothing on the table.
  8. What’s your favorite quote and why?
    Pine
    I don’t care how much shit you have, how many instagram followers you have, how much you make or how big your house is. Do you have character? That is how you will be remembered.
  9. If you had to give up one forever would it be reading or writing?
    I’d eat a bullet before I would give up either. Books are an eternal wellspring of knowledge, fantasy and learning. A life without these is no life. Writing is my only therapy, I like to think I do it well and I would also like to think that I have helped or inspired someone by my writing.
  10. What’s your happiest memory?
    I have so many. All of them involved when my kids were young. Footie pajamas, silly movies, shoulder rides, bedtime stories and belly laughs. Wishing they would never grow up. 
  11. Who are you?
    I am Bill. I will never put fruit in my beer. I like what I like and I don’t ask you to change for me, just accept me for what I am. Opinionated as hell but accepting to a fault.  I am a philanthropist with no money, I still want to save the world. I am a guy with no job, no money living with his mother that still believes that life is good and will only get better.

I am not going to nominate anyone. If you feel encouraged to play along, I would love to hear your answers to the same (great) questions.

Hope

If I could pick one thing that I have always had an abundance of, I would say it is hope. I have left many impressions on those around me, some good and some not so much, but most everyone saw me as optimistic. As life kicked me to the ground repeatedly, often at my own request through stupidity, ignorance and drunkenness, I got up and dusted myself off and looked to tomorrow to be a better day. It wasn’t forced, it was just how I was. My glass, usually containing beer or scotch, was usually half-full and always refillable.

I came to rely on my optimistic nature as I became sick. Despite being diagnosed with a potentially life-altering (and possibly ending) disease in my early twenties I refused to let it define me. I cruised through my twenties at a frenetic, often drunken state and really never gave it a thought. When I had a “episode” of peeing coca-cola colored urine, searing lower back pain, severe fatigue and bedrest I was of course reminded in the starkest of ways. But when the symptoms went away I pushed it to the back of my mind again.

In my thirties my disease progressed. My “outbreaks” were more frequent. I was forced to face up to it more often. In the interest of protecting my family from worry and my employers from firing me, I tucked it deep down inside. I then added denial to the mix, because “not thinking about it” wasn’t doing the trick. I still had so many things to accomplish.

Despite being in crushing debt I was hopeful that a big break would come so I worked crazy hours to make more money. All that I achieved was higher blood pressure and the knowledge that no matter how much I made my wife was spending it as if she was a drunken sailor with a fist full of Viagra.

My higher objective was to make the best possible life for my family. The hours, the career changes, the constant worrying about money was in the interest of making sure that my family had everything they needed. My larger hope would be that I could somehow save something for their future. Alas, that was not to be either.

I cruised through my thirties on my rocket ship of denial, fueled by hope. I even entered my forties with just a few outbreaks. Then, at age 41 I was told that a transplant was definitely in my future, there were no other options. I was initially floored. I will admit that there was a emotional breakdown involved. When you avoid crying most of your adult life you are only sticking your finger in the dyke. Eventually the dyke will burst, and this one did. But just like that, I was over it and I was overcome by a powerful and inexplicable sense that this it work out. I had a deadline, and that was to avoid dialysis at all costs. It was my father’s influence on me, he always, to a fault, said that “everything will work out, it always does.” My Dad had a shit life, but he had an abundance of hope.

In my late 40’s, teetering on the edge of dialysis and in the hospital again with a renal-related infection, I was told by my boss that in my absence from work a co-worker had stepped up and offered to be tested for donation. A girl that I barely knew. I had hope. I was told that the odds of her, my only donation offer at this point, being a match were slim.
She was a perfect match. Hope wins. Despite the odds.
We did the surgery 4 months later. I came out of the surgery like a bull out of the gates. I was full of energy, the desire to be better at what I knew, and to tackle those things that I didn’t. I committed myself to recovery. I was back at work in 33 days, that has to be a record. My doctors told me to take it easy. I told them to get lost.

I mountain-biked with the big boys. I set a personal best on the bench press. I lost weight.  I joined a charitable fraternity and paid it forward. I got propositioned by a smoking hot 27 year old Latina at work. Things were great. Well, my marriage was still a train wreck and my finances were in a shambles but I felt great. This continued for 5 years. Then one night, while serving a charity dinner, I suddenly cramped up and was unable to stand. I knew what it was. The next day my doctor confirmed that my new kidney was failing.

I was crushed. I felt betrayed. How could they have not told me that my disease could return? I felt that I had been given false hope. It was only later that I realized that if I was told the potential of failure I may not have tackled life post-transplant as I had. I may have just sat on my ass and waited for it to happen.

When I got divorced, moved in with my mother and applied for disability I pretty much lost hope. The last year has been a year of hibernation. I miss my family, I miss my friends and I miss working. I miss tackling each day like a warrior.

Then, last month I was fortunate to be offered the prospect of another transplant. Again, I have hope. Yet I am cautious. I am nervous. I find myself withdrawing from my friends and family. I am haunted by the prospect of it not happening, or not working out. Every day, every Dr visit is part of the waiting game. I am deathly afraid of false hope.

That’s why I have been posting poetry and dabbling with my “Jack Valentine” saga. I am dabbling in the fantasy world to avoid reality. Writing about my real life, as I have always done with a modicum of success, seems out of reach.

Maybe I need more of the one thing I have always lacked.

Patience

 

The bad day…conclusion

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. I welcome you to catch up here.

Mike had stepped outside to call his boss. Fortunately, he was only asked a question about a particular customer. Was Mike aware? Did Mike have a plan? When would Mike act on it? He was aware, he had no plan (he lied about that also), and he would act on it tomorrow. They exchanged pleasantries and ended the call. Mike looked around. The thought that his boss was on to him and sitting in a car across the parking lot waiting to bust him always occurred to him. It wasn’t an entirely unlikely scenario, managers spy on their employees all the time. He decided that at this very moment it would be a relief, shrugged it off and went back to the cold, non-judgmental beer patiently waiting for him inside.

Ninety minutes and 4 beers later Mike had still not called home. He mused that he would rather fill his asshole with honey and squat on an anthill then go home. The fighting about money was out of control. She wasn’t entirely wrong, Mike was clearly in a rut and he hated his own lack of effort to fix it. What bothered him was her methodology, and her timing.  She never let up and started with him at the worst times. So here he sat, avoiding…well…everything and everybody.

As Liz came over to offer him a refill Mike engaged her. “What was that about your brother you mentioned earlier?”

“Yeah, sorry about that. It was awkward as hell, I know. I said that he would love a hat like yours. He actually mentioned it to me a while back that he wanted one.”

“They’re available online and at the giftshop.” Mike explained. “Although they’re a bit pricey.”

“He doesn’t have a computer. He lives in VT and he’s broke.”

Mike was not proud of the next thought that popped into his head. The word “deadbeet” had come to mind. “Sorry to hear that.” Mike offered.

“He’s dying of Testicular cancer.” She said. She was tearing up. “I want to visit him but I can’t get out of my shifts this weekend.”

Mike was floored. He had successfully beaten Testicular Cancer 15 years earlier. He had been lucky. His heart ached for Liz. The conversation ended on its own awkward volition and Mike drank some more. When he finally decided to go home, he summoned Liz for his bill.

She brought it to him and he again offered condolences for her brother. She thanked him and walked away. He waited for her to walk through the swinging doors to the kitchen. Once she did, Mike quickly took his hat off, stuffed the bill and money in it and left the hat on the bar. He walked out as fast as he could.

As he sat in his car, composing himself for the fresh hell he was about to drive home to, Liz appeared at his driver’s door. She knocked. He opened the window.

“You shouldn’t have done that. I can’t possibly accept the hat.” She was crying.

“Yes, you can. And you will. Go to VT. Fuck your shift, fuck your boss, fuck all of it. Go see your brother.” He paused. “Give the hat to your brother and I hope he will feel better on some level.”

“Thank you so much.” She stammered. “It means so much to me.”

“Exactly.” Mike Valentine said. “To me it’s just a hat. To you it’s something that actually matters. I’ll be here this weekend, I hope I don’t see you.”

She forced a small laugh.“I hope not also. Thank you again.”

Mike smiled at her and put the window up without saying a word. Liz walked back inside.

For the first time that day he had done something that felt right. He liked the feeling. It was refreshing, invigorating. He wanted more of it. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

The bad day…a Mike Valentine tale

“What can I get you?” the bartender asked. She had startled Mark Valentine. Despite the fact that a drink was all that he had wanted for the last 2 hours, he had been distracted by the Sox game on the corner TV.

“Good evening, Liz. What are the beer specials this evening?” God, how he hated to ask that question. The Crown Royal bottle on the top shelf was waving and calling his name but he was on a copper budget. His gold tastes would have to deal with it.

“Coors Light and Bud Light draft are $2.50 each.” She seemed to be on edge tonight, not as friendly as usual. He would know, he was as regular as Norm from Cheers.

“Bud Light, please.”

“You got it.”

Within seconds, a tall mug of cold, GMO infused, foamy piss water was in front of him accompanied by a basket of tortilla chips with Salsa. For anyone else, that’s another $2.50 but Liz always took care of him. He took a long sip of his beer and scanned the bar. He wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Maybe a new face or something to indulge in his favorite past-time. People watching. His scan was nearly complete as he turned his gaze back to the Sox game.

As he did so he inadvertently caught the gaze of the guy sitting beneath the TV. He was careful to not stare back but instead focused on the TV. He occasionally found himself darting his glance at the man and each time his gaze was met. This annoyed him. Why does every dickwad sitting under the TV think I’m looking at them? Where the fuck else am I supposed to look?  He glanced over again and the fellow looked particularly hostile. Mike was not in the mood for a confrontation, it was the very last thing he wanted after today. So, he chose to look straight ahead at the mirror behind the bottle rack. As cranky and depressed as he was when he came in, it was now worse. He was disgusted by the round face and bloodshot eyes that stared back at him. Relax, Mike. The mirror adds 15 pounds.
Yeah, but how many mirrors am I in right now?

He decided that he had to do what he hated most, play with his phone like “one of those” people. Mike Valentine was opinionated and old-fashioned and the phone thing conflicted him. He needed it and hated it at the same time. He saw the cell phone as an Orwellian nightmare, herefused to be glued to it and he an had open disdain for those who were. But in this case, drinking alone at 3:45 on a Tuesday afternoon it really was no time to stand on principle. As he pulled the phone from his pocket he saw that he had missed 3 calls. 1 from his boss and 2 from home. He made a mental note to call his boss back. He chugged the remainder of his beer and motioned to Liz for another. She was there with a fresh one immediately.

“Nice hat.” Mike had forgotten that he was wearing his Red Sox Scally cap. He loved the hat and got a lot of feedback whenever he wore it.

“Thanks Liz. I like it a lot.”

“Get it at Fenway?” she asked.

“Yup, thieving bastards got me good on it.” He had, on a whim gone into the gift shop at Fenway Park, home of his beloved Red Sox while on business in Boston looking for that very hat and paid stupid money for it.

“It looks good on you. It’s a keeper.” She smiled at Mike, there was a sadness behind it. As she walked away she said “My brother would love it.”

The comment seemed odd to Mike, almost as if forced. Less conversational and with intention. Whatever. Remembering that he had to return his boss’s call he pushed his stool back and stepped outside. He walked to the end of the concrete walkway to escape any noise from the patrons entering and leaving. Mike knew from experience that this was the best spot to call his boss and lie to him. The nature of the call would dictate how big the lie will be. Mike hated this part, and it was of no comfort that he had done it a lot lately.

Mike Valentine was in a rut at work. His customers weren’t busy, so consequently his portfolio was suffering. His competition was killing him and Mike was worn down by the constant “No’s” from his customers by about noon each day. Deep down he knew that he was a great salesman. But he had lost faith in his product, his managers and most important, in himself. He hated going to work lately. He hated going home also. Especially when the money wasn’t coming in. Every day that he could knock off early he did. Without permission, of course, which is why he was dreading making the call. If asked where he was, what would he say?  He wasn’t where he was supposed to be so whatever he said it will be a  lie, a lousy fucking lie that he thought he was above. He took a deep breath and dialed his boss.

to be continued…