“Do whatever you want – I’ll still pay you! I just don’t want to see this happening again. Understand?”
“You had better guess! I do not want constant fact-checking in this office!”
He walked away from his boss’s desk with head hung low. He had simply grown tired of his office. What else was he supposed to do? Follow everyone else? But someone had turned him in. Someone had ratted him out. They just couldn’t stand the idea of him doing work while everyone else was screwing around. When he got back to his cube, Jim talked to him immediately.
“So, what did Bossman want to talk to you about?”
“My work ethic.”
“Dude, I wasn’t going to say anything, but it has started to slip. Is everything okay at home?”
“Yeah, fine. I’m flirting with other women, chatting up people on the internet, everything.”
“She is too! It’s fine.”
“I’ll let this go for now, but we should go to lunch. See you at 11.”
He could barely dissociate with all the work piling up. It was all he could do to surf the net without checking e-mails from his clients and accounts. Just when he thought it was unbearable, Jim came by. It was lunchtime.
“You ready? We got a couple of hours, so I thought we’d go to that place over in Pokeyville.”
“Jim – that’s 35 minutes from here.”
“So? Come on, let’s go.”
They got in Jim’s car and drove to the hip new restaurant in Pokeyville, 88 Steve. It was the kind of restaurant that had all kinds of stuff on the wall, and all kinds of stuff on the menu. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, American and Canadian food was available to order, as was any kind of drink or dessert. They ordered a combo appetizer and the buffet.
“Okay, John. We have to talk. I wasn’t the one who turned you in, but I know who was. You’ve just got to watch yourself. Procrastinate more, and stop finishing every day! This staying late business – everyone is talking about it. You are going to have to get wasted or something just to get your reputation back. Speaking of that – waiter!”
“Jim, I don’t want a beer. It’s the middle of the day!”
“Good point. Waiter, can you bring us two bloody marys? Thanks.”
“John, we are friends. If there’s something going on with you and your wife, I’d like you to know that you can tell me anything and I will keep it to myself. But you can’t hold things in forever!”
“We’re fine! We sleep in different rooms, and sneak people in, and I lie to her and she lies to me I guess, and we just have tons of sloppy sex with whoever we can get.”
“John, you are full of shit. What’s really going on?”
“Okay, fine. We ate dinner together the other day -”
“It’s not a crime, Jim! We ate dinner, and talked, and we basically sort of, agreed that we, um, didn’t really want to… Well, we get along pretty well, and…”
“Holy shit. You are not saying what I think you are saying.”
“We love each other, Jim. We agreed that we don’t want to see other people. We want to be exclusive. Monogamous!”
“Shut up! Do you want someone to hear? You’re my friend, but some of these people will kick your ass.”
“I don’t care! I like finishing a job, I like being faithful to my wife, and she to me. At least, I hope she is.”
“I never wanted to tell you this, John, but I think under the circumstances I can. Last summer, I flirted with her and tried to bed her, but she said it would be wrong. She likes you. I thought she was just a kinky little whore, but now I see that you guys have your own sick little lifestyle going on. You’re my friend, but I’m not sure I can hang out with you if this gets out.”
“I don’t care. I’m tired of living a lie, Jim. I am a good and diligent worker, and I like doing a good job. I like being with one person – my wife. I don’t care who knows. I don’t care if everyone thinks I’m a freak. And I don’t care what my coworkers think either. I will not follow the crowd. I’m not just some office drone, goofing off because that’s what everyone does. And speaking of that, are you ready to go back to work now?”
“Fuck no. I haven’t even had dessert yet, plus there’s a new movie at the cineplex I wanted to see.”
“That’s what I figured you’d say. I’m taking a bus back. I’ll see you later.”
John went to work, but he was fired. He went home where his wife had also been fired, and rented a truck, packed up all their stuff and moved to Diligent City. It was considered a horrible and shady part of the greater Whatever metro area, but they figured they would fit right in.