"I've been working at the Local for three years," he bitches. "Can you not get it through your selfish-ass, thick, fucking drunk-ass head that I goddamn fucking work every mother-fucking, tittie-sucking, bitch-whore Tuesday, Thursday and Sungoddamnday?"
He says all that like it matters to me. "Jesus God, just don't go," I say, refusing to believe Grant really has to "be" anywhere. "Come with me to Park City, you pathetic, ass-licking loser." Grant can move fast for a fermented, just-woke-up bar jockey, because in an eye blink he was over the table and had me in a headlock before I even said the last syllable.
"What?" I choke between laughs. "It's not my fault you locked yourself in your own damn personal prison."
When I met Grant, he was as untethered as an escaped party balloon, and I used to be able to call him on a whim and we'd head to the Mexican Caribbean, or Prague, or even Tuscaloosa, Fla., for that matter. He didn't have a care in the world. Nobody beheld him to a job and nobody knew how he made money, he just always had gobs of it. He still doesn't have a care in the world, and he still has gobs of money, but now he has a schedule, too.
"Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday?" I cry. "Your week is ruined! Your workdays are scattered all over it! You hardly have two days off in a row. What place is worth going to when you just have two days? Fuck your job. Just quit."
Maddeningly he ignores me and keeps showing up for his shifts. I guess he likes being a timecard-punching plebe, if not in general, then in this case, in particular. When he got this job, I predicted he'd last six months. I thought I was good at knowing when he would give things up, because he'd hardly done anything for more than six months since I met him. Even his retirement only lasted six months. He boarded a plane to Mexico with nothing but a knapsack -- containing two pairs of shorts and eight sets of prescription sunglasses -- and swore he'd never come back. Blink, and six months later his freckled hide was back here with his hair all sun-bleached like a pile of hay on his head. Six months after that he had this job, and now my six-month theory is all shot to hell.
"Give your boss notice," I beg. "Give him six months' notice!"
Because, Christ, it's not like six months isn't a respectable length of time. I remember when six months equaled eternity. If somebody told me to wait six months, they may as well have been telling me to crawl into a sensory-deprivation tank until the year 3000, because six months seemed like such a long time to wait, so far into the future, with so many things that could occur to derail whatever gratification was sought.
For example, when I was a kid, it was our custom to start selling homemade crap door-to-door six months before the county fair came to town. We did it with the gusto of little medicated mental patients because the occasion was so far into the future we couldn't fathom its reality. But believe me, the closer the day got, the more enthusiastic we became, branching out from cupcakes to greeting cards to anything laying around the house, including all the costume jewelry from my mother's cricket cage and my father's keychain collection. By the day the fairground gates finally opened, my sisters and I had amassed enough silver coins to keep a mafia victim weighted to the bottom of the river.
My mother kept telling us the day would come, kept telling us we needed to be prepared, and we went through the motions but didn't really believe her until the reality was close enough to pierce our isolated little worlds. In truth, I think my mother looked forward to the fair more than we did. She used to put us on the mechanical octopus ride and watch us from behind the gate, standing there waving with her Salem menthol as we soared by, squealing with joy while strapped in our pods, yet still somehow untethered. For her those six months had been over in an instant. They had come and gone in an eye blink and now here her girls were, big enough to ride the mechanical octopus on their own.
Blink again and we're grown. Blink again and she is diagnosed with liver cancer. She has six months, and keeps telling us we need to be prepared. But we are soaring and untethered. We are going through the motions and won't really believe her until the reality is close enough to pierce our isolated little worlds. She keeps telling us the day will come. Six months later she is gone. In an eye blink she is gone.
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