All In My Head – Ch. 07
It was dark outside when I heard the door open. I hadn’t moved, still sitting in the chair, looking at the frozen picture of Scott.
Jen walked in with her suitcase. She looked at me and smiled. “Weren’t you gonna meet me at the airport?” she asked.
She saw my face and how my eyes were focused on the computer screen. “What?” she asked moving to see. I got up and she sat down.
She stared at the screen for a moment, not understanding what it was. She clicked “play” and the video started again with Scott saying “Hey bro, you’re gonna love what Jen’s giving me for my birthday,” and then she watched as she and Allie walked into the picture.
“Oh shit,” she said and hit “stop.”
She looked at me. “Mike, I didn’t know he made this,” she said. She moved towards me. “Let me explain.”
What was there to explain? She’d gotten tattooed for him. She’d given him a threesome with Allie. She’d let him fuck her bareback, and let him shoot his cum inside her.
I felt empty, tired, defeated. Yeah, it was a game. Yeah, I was part of it. She said she loved me. But if she did – if she really did – how could she treat me this way?
And how could we stay together now? How could I stay with her, having seen what I’d seen, knowing what she’d done, what she’d said? There were limits. Everyone has limits.
“Baby, I’m sorry, let me explain,” she said putting her arms around me.
“Please don’t touch me,” I said pulling away. There was no anger in my voice. No emotion. There was nothing there. She pulled back hearing how empty I was.
“Mike …” she began, trying to figure out what to say. “I was drunk. And then we smoked pot and I got high. I’m sorry. I let it get out of control.”
“You say that a lot,” I said. No anger, no bitterness, no sadness. Just a statement of fact. I was empty inside, dead. I got up.
“Where are you going?” she said looking scared.
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “But I need to go. I’m too … obsessed with you. But I can’t take it anymore. It’s too much.”
As I left our apartment she was crying and calling my name.
I walked around. Not really thinking or feeling anything. My body was still alive I guess, but there was nothing inside.
At some point I stood in front of my office building. I don’t know how I got there.
I went into my office. Immediately Elaine, Brian and Steve came in. They looked scared and anxious.
“Mike, Eric told us about the deal you made,” Steve said. “We won’t agree to it, we’re together on this, a team.”
“I fucked up Mike, not you,” Brian said. “I should be fired, no one else.” Steve and Elaine quickly disagreed.
I cut them off. “It doesn’t matter anymore,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Steve said.
“Can you give me a minute?” I told them. I didn’t want them there, I didn’t want anyone there, I wanted to be alone.
Maybe because she’s a girl, Elaine read me. She said, “Mike, is everything alright with you and Jen?”
A long pause. “No,” I said simply. “Give me a minute guys, okay?” I closed the door. Sat in my chair. Looked at my computer.
And then it came to me. Why Sapphire was broken and how to fix it. I shook my head. How stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
We’d put boundaries into Sapphire. Not intentionally. But the boundaries were acting like a dam. And when you put up a dam to hold back water, you better make sure the water doesn’t do bad things like flood adjacent land.
Some of our code was acting like a dam on Sapphire. It was holding her back and bad things were happening. It was like a Y2K thing.
I removed the dams from Sapphire. I increased max values, changed integer variables to real, modified limiting functions, stuff like that. It took about 15 minutes. Then I re-ran it. The anomaly was gone.
For shits and giggles – because I didn’t care anymore – I ran a new performance projection. I shook my head and chuckled. Sapphire’s new performance – her true performance – was way better than before. Way way better. Like exponential better.
I emailed my fixes to all the partners. I attached the new performance numbers. At the end of the email I wrote “I respectfully resign.” I was done.
I looked around my office. I’d never be back, and wondered if I should take anything. I saw the picture Jen gave me on my birthday. The one of us in Cabo, the one where she changed the Springsteen lyrics. Impulsively I put it into my pocket.
When I opened the door, Brian, Steve and Elaine were there. I’d cc’d them on the email. They looked relieved but unsure. I gave them a smile and shook Brian and Steve’s hands and gave Elaine a hug but didn’t say anything to them.
As I waited for the elevator, I turned and saw old man Jacob. The old geezer was in the office this late on Sunday. For a moment we looked into the other’s eyes. He had that amused interested look again. The elevator doors opened and I stepped in.
The next days were a blur. If asked where I went, what I did, where I slept, I wouldn’t be able to say.
Eventually the numbness went away and the feelings returned. You know how you stub your toe and you don’t feel anything at first, and then the pain hits? That’s how it was. It was – I guess I’d say – debilitating. That’s how bad the pain was.
I called Claire and Sam. I didn’t have my iphone – I didn’t know where it was – so I used a pay phone. “I’m all fucked up,” I told them.
“Mike, honey, Jen is worried sick, everyone is looking for you,” Claire said. “You need to go home, okay?”
“Where are you buddy?” Sam said. “We’ll send a cab for you.”
“I can’t be with her anymore Sam,” I told him. It came out as a sob. I hung up the phone.
I’m a math geek. One to two, two to three, that stuff. When I thought of Jen I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t have a solution. I couldn’t get from one to two or two to three.
She’d known I didn’t want him bareback inside her. She let him do that.
She’d known I didn’t want him to cum inside her. She let him do that.
She’d known I didn’t want her to get a tattoo. She got one. For him. He’d picked it out.
She’d known I hated Scott. But she kept going with him. She even let him shave her.
I thought about what I was going to do next. The more I thought about a high school math job, the more I liked it. I wanted out of the fast lane, out of the high expectations that go with an “upwardly mobile” job.
I thought about moving west. Mostly to get far away from NYC. San Francisco didn’t appeal to me (the number crunchers were there). Neither did LA. Seattle sounded good. I’d never been there, but it was on the water and they had a good football team with a young exciting quarterback. What the hell. I made a few phone calls, and was surprised at the response.
I knew I couldn’t leave without seeing Jen. We both needed some closure. I called her at work but she wasn’t there. I called her at home. Her voice was just as unemotional as mine. We agreed to meet that evening at the Soho bistro we go to.
That evening as I approached the bistro I closed my heart to Jen. I’d be like Sapphire, with dams in my heart, not letting anything in. It was over. We both had some things to say. We both had some questions to get answered. We’d do that and then it would be done. Time to move on. Maybe I’d get season tickets, get satellite and Sunday Ticket. Things were looking up.
She was already there. She was gorgeous as usual, but I closed my heart to her. Her eyes looked red from crying, but I closed my heart to her. She looked fragile, but I closed my heart to her. For a while we didn’t talk, like 2 boxers sitting in opposite corners, wary of each other.
She reached into her bag and pulled out 2 envelopes, one green the other blue. “Mr. Jacob came by and gave you these.”
“He came to the apartment?” I asked surprised.
“Yes,” she said. She pointed to the green one. “He said that’s for Sapphire.” Then she pointed to the blue one. “He said that’s for not letting them fire Steve, Brian and Elaine.”
I took the envelopes but didn’t open them.
“I wish you’d told me what was going on at work,” she said softly, regret in her voice. “I never would have gone to Vegas.”
I didn’t say anything. I closed my heart to her.
After a few moments, when it was clear I wasn’t going to say anything, she said, “I talked to Steve. Brian too. They got promotions.”
I looked up at that one, and couldn’t help a grin. “They did?”
“Yeah,” Jen said. “They really think a lot of you.” She paused looking at me. “They told me the deal you made with the partners.” She reached over and squeezed my hand.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” I said under my breath looking away from her. I pulled my hand away. I closed my heart. It was done, over.
She winced when I pulled my hand away. Her eyes watered. After a few moments she said “I think it’s a real big deal. So does Eric.”
“You talked to Eric?”
“He came to our apartment looking for you,” she said. “He said you resigned?”
I shrugged. “I’m thinking of teaching high school math or something.”
She nodded. “You always liked teaching.” I’d been a TA in grad school.
“I got an offer from West High School,” I said. “It’s in Seattle.”
She slowly nodded but didn’t say anything, as if processing what I’d just said. We went to our separate corners.
“It must’ve been terrible going through it alone,” she said breaking the silence, regret in her voice again. “I wish you’d told me. I wouldn’t have gone to Vegas. I would’ve been here for you Mike. You know that right?”
Yeah right, I thought. Like you were there when we launched Sapphire. Or in the Hamptons. Or on the video. Or even on fucking karaoke night, when I disappointed you. But I didn’t say anything. My heart was closed to her.
“I know you don’t believe me. I don’t blame you,” she said softly, eyes downcast. “It’s true though,” she insisted.
I couldn’t take anymore. The hurt and anger and bitterness came out. “Seriously Jen?” I said derisively. “Remember, I saw the video.”
She looked away like my words were a physical blow. Tears rolled down her cheeks. The waiter came by. I ordered something, just to get rid of him. He saw the intensity of our conversation and quickly left.
“You probably won’t believe me,” she began, “but I’d already decided to end it with Scott. I told him, and he said it was his birthday in Vegas and asked me to hook up one more time with him.”
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