[The Promotion, 8,109 Words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]
* Image courtesy of Martin Rumsby
The call centre was filled with rows of tables, spread out in little pods where they would form the shape of a star. On the table settings were computers, complete with keyboards and appendices. The call centre was located in an office building, made up of several floors, each identical to the last. They had their tea rooms and toilets, and people wove in and out of the inner workings of the office building. Justin would arrive to work each morning at eight sharp. Every morning he would make himself a cup of coffee with the infamous International Roast that was a common sight amongst workplaces across the country. He would have his coffee white with two sugars. The sugars seemed to cover up the bitter taste of the budget based coffee. He would then take his coffee to the computers. He would log into his computer and set himself up for a day of calls that had to be made to the general public. He was in the service of selling financial reports to the general public. The financial reports could then be used to determine one’s credit status and help consumers determine if it was viable to take out another loan in the service of their own business or enterprise.
He didn’t dislike his job, but then again, he didn’t particularly enjoy it all too much either. He was among the many who worked who found themselves in their vocation, not because they had aimed to hold that position, but because there was a high demand for the role and the work required. Now, it’s not that he didn’t fight to get the job. He had been interviewed among dozens of potential applicants and was grateful for being offered the job. But he always dreamt of being somewhere else. He didn’t want to spend his whole life processing service requests from customers, being surrounded by an emotionally despondent staff body that chose to obliterate itself over the weekend with a copious intake of alcohol.
After work drinks were quite the sight to see. People would sit around as the body corporate rewarded different staff members for their different levels of input. Some people would take part in the competition that occurred amongst the staff members. Attempting to outsell their competitor or produce a better standard of call control. Because Justin preferred not to compete among his staff members, this won him some friends and some enemies. Those that defined themselves by their career disliked him for his lack of input, whereas those that determined their personality outside of their work pursuits took a particular shine to him. He had long ago, in life, decided not to take things so seriously for the simple fact that when people take things too seriously, that’s when people began to get hurt. The management seemed to understand this component of their workforce. You always had to have the disinterested types assorted with the others, otherwise the workplace became too toxic. He would do what was necessary and try not to step out of line. Everyday went by smoothly and in concerns to many things he was content in his lifestyle and habits.
Work would finish at four and he’d pick himself up a soda from the convenience store and wind down with a cigarette. It was like that every weekday. When the weekend rolled around he would get drunk with the rest of the rabble and the weekend would disappear with a hangover and in the blink of an eye. As far as relationships went, Justin never found himself in one long enough to proceed with any serious type of commitment.
He would daydream on the train ride home. Witnessing different pieces of graffiti and marveling at their overnight appearance. Beyond his work there existed an entirely different world. One made up of desperation and contempt… A world bitter at the prospect of the powers in control enforcing their authority to maintain control upon the population. He would daydream beyond his own existence, beyond the existence of others and he found his bliss in the calm saturation of Nirvana. Not the band, but the state of being, or rather the state of non-being. A place free from worry where worry itself did not exist. Where nothing existed, not even his own consciousness, that’s where he felt his calm from the rat race of civilization.
One day, whilst at work during his lunch break in the tea rooms, he had his hope rejuvenated. His manager informed him that there was a position being offered within the larger business. The role being that of a ‘Business Writer’. He had always considered himself a master of the written word and now that a suitable role had come along in line with his own motivations, this kick started his mind into gear. He went home that evening and began to work on his application for the role. He was excited by the prospect, finally; after years of having taken endless service calls he would be able to find himself in a work vocation where he would enjoy the prospect of going to work every morning. It was as if his prayers had been answered by the sudden appearance of the position. That the heavens had decided to open up and shine a little bit of light on his path. Justin drafted his cover letter several times before he was happy with the final product. Then went about addressing the key selection criteria. All of which surmounted to his application. After two days of working on his application, he submitted it through the online work portal in hopes of obtaining the job. All of his co-workers wished him their best for the application. There were others who were also applying for the position through the call centre, but none of them were as enthused with the prospect as Justin.
After sending in the application, Justin was informed that he would have to wait a week while the recruitment team sorted through various applications so that they could pin down the suitable applicants. That week seemed to stretch along a much longer period of time than it actually did. Every day he felt the anticipation of being a part of the selection process. Every day the wait became that much more agonizing and excruciating. As the hours trickled on, as the days past, it all became a slipstream of events.
After a week had passed Justin was informed that he was among the final applicants for the position. They sent him an email to confirm that he had been selected to proceed through to the interview process. Because it was an internal interview within the larger corporation, they cleared the interview time with his supervisors.
The interview would take place a week from that present time. Justin prepared himself mentally for the interview and even booked a pre-meeting with the supervisor that he would be working under if he was successful in his application. He offered to shout the supervisor a coffee.
The supervisor accepted his invitation and the two briefly met to discuss the role. The role was one in which he would have to research different businesses and prepare brief summaries of different corporations. The business was then selling this information to other companies as some form of business index that allowed for a financial report on each of the businesses, a brief assessment of their leadership and potential future options. Justin informed that he would have to conduct interviews with CEOs and other corporates who were in positions of power within different companies and had access to that information. They briefly discussed Justin’s previous experience in different roles and his ambitions of being a writer. It was a quick brief and the supervisor introduced his own experience, it was generally a pleasant experience.
Justin then thought to himself within his own time about any other considerations that he could give to the role. The primary idea that he had was about his own personal presentation skills. Usually within his current role Justin would wear the bare minimum corporate attire. Just a white business shirt and black slacks. So he began to consider the purchase of a suit. After careful consideration, he decided that this would be the best path of action.
That weekend, before the interview, he went to a range of different suit stores. He briefly visited the malls before deciding that he would be better off hitting a metropolitan sidewalk where those sort of shops were a common sight. He went into a couple before finding a boutique one with a beautiful saleswoman. He was nervous with the prestige and class that she aired as she showed him around the shop. She wore dark rimmed glasses with bright red lipstick curtly applied to her lips. She spoke with a West London accent and gave him a guided tour of the facilities before asking what it was, exactly, that he was after.
“I’m working on a budget, but I have a job interview on Monday.”
“I see, and what sort of budget are you working on.”
“I was thinking around the five hundred to seven hundred dollar mark.”
“Yes,” she replied, “I think we can find you something reasonable for that price.”
She showed him a range of different suits within his budget. He tried some on before finally settling on a light grey suit with buttons sewn into the sleeve lapel and break line. It was a tidy fit. He was able to haggle with the saleswoman and find a purchase price for just under six hundred dollars. Equating to a fifty dollar discount. He placed the suit in its covering and then went home.
At home that night, on the night before the interview, he sat outside looking at the night sky. The stars all lined up in the sky, the moon at a half crescent. He sat outside drinking decaffeinated coffee and smoking cigarettes. He felt that he was on the cusp of something, but could not be assured as to what that something was. His mind was racing with daydreams of success and fortune. The pay rate was a minor raise to what he was afforded with his current role. However, an extra one hundred dollars a week was substantial when you were only scraping by. He might finally be able to afford to live in a suburb that wasn’t surrounded by poverty. Rent a flat in a better suburb and be able to surround himself with a better type of person. Success would then roll on to further success. His mind was racing with different possibilities. Because of the fantasies that were running through his mind, he found it difficult to find sleep.
So instead of meandering about his flat, he decided to go for a walk. The walk was pleasant enough. It was in the midst of summer and a cool change had hit the scorcher that had hit the daytime with a swell of heat. He walked with his palms spread out, taking in slight gusts of cool wind that had hit the city and its suburban surroundings. After a half an hour walk, walking around the suburban streets in a circuit, he returned home.
He readied himself for sleep. Having a shower and then brushing his teeth. Rinsing out his mouth with mouthwash. He felt crisp and clean, the minty taste the mouthwash left as he laid his head down on the pillow of his bed. It was too warm to pull his quilt over his body, instead he brought a bed sheet to cover the circumference of his body. The walk ridding him of any feelings of anticipation that he might be feeling for the morrow’s event. And then, slowly, he drifted off to sleep.
He was awoken by the alarm. The buzzing of the alarm made an impact into his consciousness. Like a small drill, drilling a hole through a plank of wood. His mind went through that little hole and he bore through his unconscious state to a state of consciousness. He put his body at a ninety degree angle, sitting up in his bed and looking around his room. Light had already penetrated through the window and was flowing into the room. Birds of a different variety were chirping outside, singing about the rising of the sun and making their mating calls. He looked at his alarm clock and read the time of six-thirty. That is when his mind gathered full clarity of his surroundings and he remembered that the interview would take place today. He rushed to the shower and then after bathing himself, shaved the residue of a beard that had begun to form.
He did not get dressed in his suit straight away. Instead, he prepared himself a simple meal of toast and poached eggs, served complete with a cup of coffee. The mug that he had selected featured a caricature of the nineteen seventies children’s cult icon Scooby Doo. He was addicted to caffeine, drinking more than one coffee through the day and then continuing on into the night, switching to the decaffeinated type after four in the afternoon. It was because he was a chain smoker, or at least would be if he didn’t have to apply himself to his work and the tasks involved. After eating his meal he went outside with the leftovers of his coffee and smoked a cigarette. The first hit of nicotine each day made one feel numb, numb and calm. Which is exactly what he needed.
He was dressed in boxer shorts and a white singlet. He looked out onto the suburban streets and slowly a periodical movement of traffic had begun to form. Everybody was on their way to work, preparing themselves for a busy day. After finishing his cigarette he went back inside and changed into his suit. The shirt that he had selected was plain white and he ironed it in the lounge room of his flat. He spent time to make sure the creases occurred at the correct angles and after having ironed the material, took off his singlet and started to wear it. Then he went and retrieved the suit from his wardrobe. It was still fresh and clean, only having been purchased recently.
He put the pants on, one leg at a time. And then placed the blazer on his shoulders, over the white shirt. He looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and then remembered he needed a tie. So he got a tie and then taking off the suit top, placed his blazer over a chair. Then did the tie up in a Windsor knot. Folding the collar over the tie. Then he picked up the blazer off the chair and went to the bathroom mirror to once again stare at himself in the mirror. He looked fine, no, he looked great. Look the part, play the part. That’s what he had been told and that’s what he was going to do.
Justin gathered all other necessities such as his wallet and phone, then made his way to the bus stop. From there he would catch the bus to the train station, which would then deliver him within walking distance of his workplace. He had miscalculated the fact that he would miss the bustle of rush hour and both the bus and train were packed with other people headed off towards work. He looked around, disconcerted, on the train as he could not acquire a seat and was forced to stand. He was still tired from the previous night. The feelings of anticipation had left him with a feeling of fatigue. And left with no other option, but to stand, it pained him to do so.
After the journey by public transport, he arrived half an hour early to work. He was surprised to find that many of his co-workers did this on a regular basis. Some of his co-workers commented on his new suit. To which he replied, “Yeah, well y’know. Job interview today. Look the part, play the part.”
His interview would take place shortly after lunch. Which meant apart from the hour after lunch, it would be a regular day at the office. He had another coffee, using the office supply. Sitting down with one of his co-workers who was reading today’s newspaper.
“So,” Justin asked, “What’s happening in the larger world?”
“Nothing much,” his co-worker looked at him, assessing him from behind his newspaper, “Looks like there has been another shift of public opinion concerning leadership in the government. Expect another prime minister soon.”
“Ha!” Justin smiled, “It’s like the changing of a light bulb now. Happens every one to two years. It’s pretty ludicrous.”
His co-worker ignored his comment and continued reading the newspaper. Justin considered his reaction rude: not a laugh, not a smile. But instead of making comment, he went to wash his coffee mug in the sink. He turned on the hot water tap and looked on as the water ran down into the sink and then down the drain. Then grabbed a sponge, rinsing out and cleaning his mug.
He went to his desk, like he would do every other day, and logged into the systems. He browsed through various news articles online to entertain himself before his work began. Once the work began, his mind and training went on auto-pilot. He made call after call and even achieved a few sales to some small business owners. The day progressed smoothly. He took his first break of the day at about a quarter to ten and then returned to the phones. Secretly, at the back of his mind, thinking that this would be the day that would change his life.
He took his lunch at twelve and during that break, along with buying a focaccia from the local café, looked through the position description of the job he was applying for once more. Afterwards he felt mentally prepared for any questions that the interviewers would ask.
He informed his supervisor that he had his interview in fifteen minutes and would have to log off of his computer. She smiled and said, “I know. Just remember to lock your computer.” And so he did so, following her instructions. Then went to the interview, his supervisor once more saying, “Good luck!”, before he left the floor.
The interview would take place on the sixth floor of the building. Whereas most of his duties were restricted to the fourth floor. He went to the bathroom on the sixth floor to relieve himself. And then he washed his hands, looking into the mirror of the staff bathroom. He pooled water into his cupped hands and washed his face, refreshing himself. He stared at his reflection in the mirror and gave himself a mental pep-talk within his mind, reassuring himself by saying, “You can do this!”
He waited for ten minutes before they brought him into the interview room. There were two people in attendance. He gave them each a firm handshake and introduced himself, as did they. Then the interview began. He worked well under pressure, always had. As they asked their questions and went through his resume, he gave an acceptable and positive answer to each of their queries. The interviewers were pleasantly surprised by many of his answers. Everything was all smiles and handshakes after the completion of the interview. It all progressed smoothly and he knew it. He could tell that the interviewers, what would be his supervisor and his supervisor’s manager, liked him. He could see it behind their eyes. All in all, he couldn’t have done any better. He asked one more question of the interviewers, “How long will it be for you to make your decision… About the job?”
“Give us a week. We have a few applicants who are in the running.” The supervisor of the position replied.
After the interview, he returned to the fourth floor to continue with his regular duties. When his current supervisor asked how it went. He replied, “It couldn’t have gone any better.”
She smiled and congratulated him. He finished off the day with a few powerful sales and then went through his regular routine. In the convenience store, where he would usually buy his soda to unwind after each day of work, the radio was playing. ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis was currently being played. He hummed along to the tune of the song as it played. Smiling at the serendipity of the song’s presence in the day’s events. Carefully selecting his brand of soda, branching out from his regular or routine selection.
As he sat down with his cigarette and soda in a nearby park. He congratulated himself for everything going so well. He reflected on his memory of the interview and gave himself a small round of applause for the answers he had given. He felt positively illuminated by everything that had occurred.
He went home that night and celebrated with a meal at a Thai restaurant. He ordered a beer with his meal and ordered gang keow waan gai, or green curry with chicken. He enjoyed the meal and ate it at a leisurely pace. It had some chilli added to it, but nothing too spicy. In fact, he enjoyed spicy food. The spicier, the better. After finishing the meal he returned home and slept like a baby, very peacefully.
The next morning he got dressed in his usual attire. Black slack pants and white collared business shirt. The next week past by as it should. Routine and structure. Every day was like the last. It was something that he had grown used to. Something that had made him feel sick over the period of time that he had worked for the business. That same role over the past three years had grown tiresome and brought on worker fatigue. The repetitive nature of the job, on some days had made him want to choke himself. But it was something, he was assured, would end and it would end very soon.
After a week of waiting to hear back about the role. He was sent an email. It described that although he interviewed well, there was somebody else with more applicable experience. He was unsuccessful in his application for the role.
That evening he went home distraught. Foregoing his usual ritual of his can of soda and smoking cigarettes in the park. He took the first train home and when he arrived home, feeling safe, he entered his flat and closing the door, started yelling, “Why the fark does this shit always happen to me!? I mean, for fark’s sake, give me a bloody break! It’s been like this my entire life, one fark over after another. Why the fark!?” He started smashing ceramic plates in his kitchen until he felt better. The smashing of those plates brought a moment of clarity when he realized that he would have to replace them and buy new ones. He then slumped on his couch, defeated.
He lit cigarette after cigarette inside the confinements of his flat. Not something that he usually did, but considering how fucked over he felt, smoking inside of the flat that he was renting was the least of his worries. After a few hours he began to feel better. He then cleaned up the mess that he had created in the kitchen. Emptying the shattered ceramics into the garbage bins outside his flat.
He then relaxed, having exhausted himself emotionally. He settled in front of the television and settled into night-time television programming. He was watching one of those Survivor type reality shows when he received a message from his work supervisor. It read, ‘I know that you may not be up for it. But we’re hosting a night of drinks and fun to celebrate Cassandra’s promotion into the role of Business Writer within the larger business. I know you also went for the job, but were unsuccessful. In the name of good sportsmanship it would be really great if you were there.’ And then there were the details of the event and the house that it would be held.
Justin breathed in deeply, considering the motives of the event. Did they want to piss him off intentionally or was this just a side effect? He breathed in deeply, considering all possibilities and reasoning out the situation. He came to the decision that there was nothing sinister behind the scenario. He repeated the phrase to himself over and over again, “Good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship.” He slowly replied to the message from his supervisor, stating, ‘I’ll be there.’
There was a week left before the celebratory party. For the entire week he felt depressed, but did his best to maintain himself. He didn’t know who Cassandra was until he heard about the job. She was one of his co-workers that worked in another team. He asked someone to point her out and they did. He then approached her and congratulated her on her success in getting the role.
“Yep, last week doing this type of stuff. I’m sorry that you weren’t successful, but one of us had to be, right?”
“Yeah… I suppose so. Anyway, congratulations.”
She mentioned the celebration that would be taking place on Friday night. To which he informed her that he would be attending. To which she stated that she was pleased. The week seemed to pass by quickly. He was so depressed and absent minded in his work role, being distracted with depressive and almost suicidal thoughts. His performance for the week was below average, but management seemed to understand and for the moment, at least temporarily, decided not to press the issue.
The week passed and Friday rolled around. Soon enough, it was the night of the big event. Before attending, he went home to change from his work clothes into something more suitable. As he sat at home, preparing for the evening, he looked at the suit that he had bought for the evening. It was sitting in the wardrobe. He was almost tempted to wear the thing to the night of celebratory drinks. Almost… He was filled with a sudden bitterness and anger. But like with all things, it soon passed. He got dressed into a casual shirt and jeans. Then placed one of his favourite jackets over the top. Changed his work shoes to his casual sneakers and headed out the door.
The sun was setting and he waited on the train platform for the train. He lit a cigarette on the train platform, took a couple of puffs and then seeing a couple of protective service officers, put it out. About ten years ago now, they had made smoking on train platforms a fineable offence. This fact really irritated him, but he couldn’t afford the fine. So, he simply needed to abide by the laws that were in place across the city.
At an interchange he found a liquor shop. There he bought a bottle of rum and a couple of bottles of ginger beer to act as a mixer. He then took a train to the nearest station and from there, caught a taxi to his destination. He spoke with the taxi driver about what had happened. He told him how he was unsuccessful for the job and now he had to show a display of good character by helping the victor celebrate. The taxi driver hardly listened to a word that he said, instead turning on the radio and ignoring Justin’s pleas for advice.
Justin exited the taxi at his destination and paid the fare. Paying using his eftpos card, he decidedly didn’t tip. He found the house and knocked on the door. There he was greeted by his supervisor who welcomed him in. She gave him a guided tour of the facilities and then showed him out to the back. Most people had already arrived and they were drinking and talking amongst themselves. Justin decided to settle in the backyard with his drinks so that he could smoke outside. Most people gathered indoors as they were non-smokers and only a few people were outside providing him company. One of which was Vincent. Vincent was a portly fellow who wore glasses and had a discerning brow.
“You applied for the same position, didn’t you?” Vincent asked.
“Yeah, that was me. I’m the one who didn’t get it.”
“Well, good on you for showing up. If it were me, I wouldn’t have bothered to come out tonight.” Vincent seemed to understand.
“Yeah, good sportsmanship. Show my face, congratulate the winner. That sort of thing.”
“Fuck that!” Vincent then went into a tirade over the issue, “Fuck sportsmanship! Be bitter! You lost, it sucks. You don’t have to hide that fact. And it’s probably not your fault either. Someone else’s decision in management decided to choose that person for whatever reason. She’s your enemy, you shouldn’t have to congratulate her on her success while you wallow in your own defeat.”
Justin sparked up a cigarette and poured himself a drink with his mixers and rum. “Yeah, but it’s about making an impression within the company. Showing I know how to handle my losses. That sort of thing.”
“But aren’t you in the least bit upset?”
“Yeah, I am but…”
“But nothing. Fuck them and fuck the world is what I say. Let’s drink to it!”
And so Vincent and Justin drank to the feelings of loss and obliterated their minds in defeat. One drink after another, both of them went round for round. Smoking cigarettes in-between, as Vincent put Justin in good spirits about the whole thing. They may have gone a little bit overboard as Justin’s vision began to blur and his speech started to slur.
The night progressed and inside the house they started playing RnB and hip hop music. People were dancing inside and there was much joy and festivity to be felt all around. By this time Justin was well beyond drunk and decided to head inside to mingle. He kept on drinking the whole time profusely. Drink after drink, they all added up.
He lost track of time, being as intoxicated as he was. He found himself in a conversation with a co-worker. He didn’t know who, but he was expressing the inner depths of his soul to this nameless stranger.
“It’s not that I couldn’t do the job, you understand…” Justin attempted to explain to the nameless stranger.
“I know. It’s just that she was better.”
“Hey! I’ve been through a lot of things… In my life, I mean. When I was younger, I smoked a lot of marijuana.”
“Oh, really?” The nameless stranger was interested, attempting to get all the juicy details out of him.
The conversation continued as Justin unloaded all of his life’s problems onto this nameless stranger. Until he got to the point where he said it, that statement that would curse him, “I even sucked a little boy’s penis.” The man, listening, looked at him shocked. Justin realized what he had said, and being drunk, he hadn’t explained it properly. He attempted to backpedal, drunkenly, “No… No… It wasn’t like that.”
The other man, then stated, “I’m going to tell your supervisor.”
And then Justin lost it. He panicked and then began to scream. He pulled at the sides of his face. Stretching his skin and screaming. Revealing the red flesh beneath his eyes as he pulled at the sides of his face. Screaming like a baby. He realized how it would appear. The man, the co-worker, walked up to his supervisor and began whispering something into her ear. He couldn’t hear it, but he assumed what was happening and then started crying. Calling out in front of everyone, “No! No! It wasn’t like that!” Then he fell to the floor and started freaking out on the floor. Completely intoxicated by this point. And this situation was beyond embarrassing. It brought him back to feeling like a child. And he yelled out into the crowd as they all looked on.
The onlookers were horrified. Vincent then came to the rescue and dragged him out onto the street. They started walking down the street in a nameless direction. Vincent was doing his best to coach him, “Now, you really fucked up in there. In there, what you just did. That was a scene. These are all your co-workers who witnessed that shit. You can’t take that back. That moment will stick with you forever now. There is no fixing this, you understand that?”
Justin was slowly pulling himself together after what had happened. Which was no easy thing to do. “What… what… what do you suggest we do now?”
“Well,” Vincent thought about it for a second, “There’s only one thing that we can do.”
“And what’s that?”
“We get blackout drunk.”
“How will that help?”
“Well, everyone else may remember the situation. But you won’t. Trust me, it will help.”
First of all, they caught a taxi and went through the drive-through liquor shop. Buying three bottles of spirits and mixers. A couple of decks of cigarettes. Then they ordered the taxi to drive back to Justin’s flat. From there, they drank themselves past the point of intoxication, past the point of breaking point, to the blackout point. It’s difficult to determine what they talked about in that situation. Or what exactly happened. For the most part, they played music through the stereo and smoked cigarettes. Drinking profusely. At some point Vincent left and caught a taxi to his own home. Leaving Justin passed out on his sofa blacked-out, as the stereo blared in the background.
He woke up sometime in the afternoon. Without any clear trace on what had occurred the previous evening. He attempted to back trace his steps in his memory. But the point that he could remember up to was arriving at the celebratory drinks party. After that everything was a blur. And every time he attempted to remember the event, his head throbbed with pain. He poured himself glass of water after glass of water in the kitchen. Then scrambling through the pharmaceuticals of his bathroom medicine cabinet, he found some aspirin and paracetamol. He took two tablets and drank some more water. Then he lay on the couch with a wash of confused and disturbed thoughts, he breathed in deeply and waited for the painkillers to take effect. And slowly they did what they were intended to do and he fell asleep again in a slumber. He woke up two more times through the day where he had to repeat the process of drinking water and taking painkillers. He slept through the entire Saturday.
When he finally woke up it was four in the morning on Sunday. He didn’t have time to do anything else, so he prepared himself for the working week. Washing and drying his work clothes, then ironing his shirts. He ordered a pizza that was then delivered to his flat. He spent the rest of the evening watching a horror movie that he had purchased through NetFlix, eating the pizza and numbing his mind out of his state of existence. He still felt slightly hung over, but the worst of it had passed and the greasy pizza helped ease his stomach.
As he watched the movie. He thought about the job once again. The job that he didn’t get. Then he thought about the suit that he had bought in preparation for the job. It had cost him the better half of a week’s worth of wages. And now what was he going to do with it? Let it sit in his wardrobe and gather moths, who would eat away at the fabric, rendering it useless. It pissed him off. So he decided, in that moment, to wear that suit every day of the working week. Just to make his employers think about what they had done to him when they denied him that opportunity. The farkin’ bastards!
He went to sleep and set his alarm for the regular time. He woke up and got dressed in the suit, then took the train into work and arrived at eight o’clock sharp. He had his coffee and logged into the computer systems as he usually would. What he didn’t expect was the people talking behind his back as he did so. They were all making comment on the events of Friday night behind his back and did their best not to confront him, avoiding him and keeping their backstabbing to themselves.
But because he had gotten blackout drunk that evening, he didn’t quite understand what was happening around him. People were talking behind his back and suggesting that he was a paedophile. And that sort of talk around the workplace created a degree of hell for Justin, in a position that he already loathed. Nobody would engage in conversation with him as he went about his work routine. He made the calls, made his sales and met his KPIs. And every day of the working week, he wore the same suit. That grey suit that he had been so proud about within the initial purchase. And over time people started to complain about the smell that he was emanating. Wearing the same clothes for the whole week will do that. The suit was soaking in the sweat that poured out of his pores, as he sat in his seat on the computer, day after day, hour after hour.
He didn’t know anything about it. But there were quite a lot of things going on behind his back at the same time. People were complaining to his supervisor that they didn’t want to work with what they considered a paedophile. And although his supervisor defended him, stating that that wasn’t the case and that he had no criminal conviction. She couldn’t help deter the sway of public opinion against him. Nobody talked to him through the week and he decided to avoid the usual routine of going out for drinks when Friday rolled around and wrapped up the working week.
Instead he sat at home. Drinking a bottle of spirits until he was blackout drunk. Then he would sleep in through Saturdays, taking painkillers when he woke up, and only being present consciously for the Sunday. He hated his existence now, absolutely loathed it. He had no friends and work was a form of living hell. His mind was full of suicidal tendencies and his innermost thoughts were constantly geared to beat himself up over the fact. The weather was hot and he had no air conditioner. He was being mentally tortured by his own personal demons and tortured at his workplace where people consistently ignored him.
It was like that. Every week until his eventual termination from his position. His colleagues and upper management had been cornering him into this position for some time now. His supervisor did what she could for him, but it was no good. His productivity had decreased and he didn’t bother to get the suit dry cleaned over the weekends, which led to further comments being made behind his back in concerns to his character and cleanliness.
Eventually upper management took him into a room to inform him of his termination.
“Well, Justin, we’ve given you a few warnings in concerns to your behaviour in the workplace and your below average performance.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Justin, you’ve been wearing the same suit ever since that night and you haven’t washed it.”
“What do you mean I haven’t washed it? Of course I wash the thing. I get it dry cleaned every weekend.”
“Trust me we can tell. There’s a sauce stain on your left lapel. That stain has been there for more than three weeks now. We can tell.”
“What’s a lapel?”
“The parting of the suit… On the left side. That’s the lapel. Look, it doesn’t matter. We’re having this meeting to let you know, we’re letting you go.”
“No…” Justin sat there, irrefutably upset.
“We just think this is the best thing for you at this present time…”
“No…” Justin attempted to deny the fact, but it was making him all emotional.
“There will be further opportunities down the road. Things that you’ll be better suited to. Where you’ll be a better fit into the company culture.”
“You’re just not a good fit for this role. You’ll have to pack up your things and leave. We’ll give you until the end of the day to pack your things, but as soon as you do, you’re no longer an employee of this organization.”
Upper management left the room, leaving Justin to sit there and reflect on what had just happened. Sitting there, in a room; alone. It wasn’t a good feeling that he was left with. He could feel the taste of ruin on his tongue. Everything that had occurred since he had applied for that role. It had all been a slippery slope down the back of a snake. It hadn’t been a pleasant ride either.
Eventually he worked up the motivation to exit the room and gather his things. There wasn’t much that he had to do. Tear down a couple of pictures that he had put up over the time that he had worked with the organization. The only real thing of note that he owned was his coffee mug. He took his coffee mug and exited the building. With everyone watching on and people making sly little comments that he couldn’t hear. He exited the main offices of the fourth floor and took the elevator down to the ground level. Once there he handed his security pass into security. The security officer looked at him, realizing what had happened, he apologized, “Sorry bro.”
Neglecting to buy a can of soda, he went to the park where he usually took a breather after work. He lit up a cigarette. He looked at his coffee mug, it had stains in it. He thought about it, everything that had happened. It upset him so much that he piffed the ceramic mug onto the pavement walkway of the park, smashing it into a hundred different little pieces.
For the next week he found himself in an alcoholic stupor. Every morning he would walk up to the bottle shop and buy two bottles of spirits with his savings that he had built up over a period of time. Then he would go home, chain smoking cigarettes and drinking the spirits straight, served in a little glass. He would listen to the radio at a high volume. Singing along to his favourite songs and his favourite songs for the time being were all about loss and grief.
When he was working, he hadn’t really been given all that much time to think about his life. But now that he found himself unemployed, all he had was time. And for the first time in a long time he thought about his life. All of the little events that made up his life. All of those times he had been fucked over by some arsehole who had judged him harshly. Some bastard talking him into doing some stupid shit with his life. All of these little mistakes that made up his life. Did he want revenge for what had happened to him? Absolutely. But revenge on who exactly? There had been so many moments in his life where he had encountered some arsehole. Too many times where there was some arsehole who had thrown him under the bus. Or who had short-changed him in some way. There were just too many. The world was so overpopulated with arseholes that one would have to commit mass murder in order to have any effect. And you’d have to be an arsehole of the highest degree to commit mass murder. In the end, revenge was all just a fruitless endeavour. There would always be another arsehole, someone giving you shit or taking a shit on the things you say or do. In the end you just had to roll with the punches and continue living your life in the best way that you could. Or in any way that you could.
He decided not to look for a job straight away, at least for the time being. He had enough money gathered together that he could focus on getting his head right. He’d eventually have to cut down on drinking so much. Eventually. But for the time being he continued listening and singing along to depressive songs. Drinking straight spirits and chain smoking cigarettes. His flat had become a mess. There were empty bottles of spirits and beer cans everywhere. Every so often he would buy himself a six pack and drink beer when the sting of the spirits became too much. It was probably for the best, that he didn’t look for a job right away, any reference that he received from his previous workplace was sure to be a stinker.
And so he thought about his bliss. Nirvana. Nothing. An end to all the suffering and misery that life brings. He attempted to visualize it, in his mind. Nothingness. The pure bliss of nothing. It would be an end, to be sure, but for the time being he hadn’t quite had enough of life. There were good things about life too. Music for one. Alcohol another. Good food. Every so often, though it is rare, you come across a good person. Someone worth talking to. He didn’t know… He just didn’t know…
Another day passed. The hangovers had lessened now. His body had grown accustomed to the intake of alcohol. He had developed a really bad case of smoker’s cough. The type of cough that makes other people shudder when they hear it. It was still summer and the weather was reaching into the forties. Celsius that is. And he still didn’t have an air conditioner. Because he was drinking so much he would have to take a piss frequently. His toilet bowl had shit stains marked up against the toilet bowl. Every time that he took a piss he would aim for the bits of crap that had stuck to the bowl, in hope that the feces marks would dissipate and disappear with this constant stream of urine washing over it.
Sometimes he would just sit on his couch. Attempting to pinpoint the exact moment in his life where it had all gone wrong. That single point in time. And there were oh so many that it was difficult, nay impossible, to determine. He had been sexually abused when he was younger. Placed under the care of a paedophile babysitter. He was a boy when it happened. He had even sucked another boy’s penis when that was going on. With that thought, he began to piece back together everything that had happened recently. He remembered getting drunk and then telling someone what had happened to him as a kid. He had said it wrong or explained it wrong, they had misinterpreted it. And with that he was made aware of what had happened. They had treated him like a paedophile… Even though he was the one who had been abused. At work, that evening of drinks. They had all hated him for it.
And then he had gotten blackout drunk with that other guy. What was his name? Vincent. They had gone back to his flat and Justin had attempted to explain to Vincent what had happened to him when he was a kid. But he couldn’t, he was just too drunk. Vincent had told him that he had a plan to make everything better. And Justin had begged him to tell him his plan. Vincent had refused and then they continued drinking. Justin had continued begging Vincent to tell him his plan to make everything better. And after a couple more drinks, Vincent had flopped his dick out, in front of Justin’s face. Then Vincent had told him that if he wanted to make everything better, he knew what to do. And then… And then…
Justin was holding his glass of spirits in his hand. He was brought back to the present and with the memories that had come back to him from that evening, he crushed the glass in his hand. The glass split and cut his hand in a dozen different places. The spilt alcohol from the glass searing at his newly created wounds.