I'm running behind on all my projects, nothing is complete and nothing will be complete unless I can get my act together and make it so. But I can't. So nothing remains done and the 'outgoing' pile remains empty while the 'incoming' pile is growing faster than those petunias my wife planted. I don't know what I'm going to do. They're moving my worthless ass out of my cubicle in a few minutes. We're getting the office repainted or something, the Big Cheese wants the whole building remodeled for some reason yet again. We've got the most suped-up building in the history of Michigan and he wants it redone yet again. But that's not my business, not my affair. My affair, aside from the one I've been having with Amanda down the hall for a few months now, is currently laying unfinished on my desk. I don't know how to write a content management program! I've got an MBA in Communications and a BA in Management for crying out loud! I'm not a tech monkey! Oh Jesus, I'm feeling ill again.

"Leonard, would you like coffee or tea?"

"Tea please, Melinda. I don't think I need anymore coffee today." I sound cheerful, masking my internal anguish, raising my empty cup as if in a toast.

"Green or Jasmine?"

"Jasmine, please."

She's gone. Melinda. Nice girl. Fat as hell and never brushes her teeth but nice girl indeed. Reminds me of my Mary in a way, same type of smile. I remember back when I first met Mary I thought she was the center of the universe. I thought I was so incredibly lucky to just get a sniff of her panties. That was high-school, over thirty years ago. We were high-school sweethearts as people like to say, perfect in every way, happy little bastards running around having premarital sex and spending our parent's money on ice cream and dances. It was a romantic time in my life, I don't deny that. When I was twenty-one and Mary twenty we got married, had a child. Later that year we bought our first house, a nice little number on the outskirts of Washington, white picket fence and everything. Bought a dog, a sheepdog, and named him Ted for some reason. When my daughter was born I was the king of the world, strutting around like I owned the whole town. Martha, so named after my grandmother on my father's side, was a good-looking girl. Beautiful blue eyes and shiny red curls. Our lives were now complete, perfect as perfect can get, living the American Dream.

Having completed more schooling than every other chap on our street put together, I became an admired and looked up to man. Mary never worked, enjoying housekeeping and gardening. The bitch. When Martha disappeared, only two days after her fifth birthday, we lost everything. The police department told us to hope for the best and that 'best' came in the form of a rotting disembowled corpse of my little girl floating down the local sewer drainage ditch. Something died and kept dying with my little girl, something within myself and within our relationship.

Our marriage went down the hill from there, with me spending more time at the office and her .. Hell, I never even bothered to find out what it is she took solace in. Who cares? I don't. If she had been a better mother in the first place nothing would have happened to Martha. Damn it .. I'm going to cry and it's the middle of the workday. Jesus. I can feel my eyes getting itchy, tearing up.

"Are you alright, Leonard?"

"Yes, Melinda, thank you. Thank you for the tea." I flash her my award- winning smile and take the cup from her hand. Its hot. She better leave or I'll drop it.

"You're welcome." She smiles. If only she was a few hundred pounds thinner .. Damn.

I must get back to my work before someone notices. I didn't ask for this, some ass volunteered me. "Leonard can do it!" "Leonard is in charge of Resource Management and this falls under his department." "Leonard is our guy." Fucking morons, I can barely work my laptop! Idiots! What am I going to do? I don't know anything about PHP or C minus or plus or whatever the hell it is. I don't know! This project was supposed to have been completed two days ago, I'm behind schedule. Nothing else is getting done, nothing else is getting sent out and the projects are piling up.

"Leonard, the painters are here."

"Thank you, Melinda."

"Is that your wife?" She picks up the picture and asks the same question she's been asking me for the last year that she worked on the same floor as me. She knows its my wife, she met her at the company picnic in March!


"She's a good looking woman, very attractive." Lies.

"I'm a lucky man."

"You are."

Kill me please. I gather the stack of unfinished project outlines and memos into my little pink 'moving box', so provided for my convenience by the less than lovely Melinda, and toss the framed picture of my even lesser lovely than Melinda wife on the top. Melinda helps me move, carrying my laptop after failing to unplug it first. The cord snaps her back and she unhooks the battery pack instead of removing it from the plug in the wall like a normal sane person would do. I correct her mistake after she moves in the hallway to lead the way, not wishing to embarrass her on the spot. I grab my tea with my spare hand, the heat burning the tips of my fingers through the thin plastic cup.

"You and your wife really need to join myself and Roger down at our cottage one day," she briefly turns around and smiles, "The view is perfect. And the exterminators got all the raccoons removed last week!" I fail to see the point of owning a cottage in the middle of the wilderness if you're going to have to remove all the wildlife and slaughter everything remotely related to nature around it. That beats the whole bloody point! Besides, Roger is a bigger idiot than Melinda. Even Mary agrees.

My new office looks better than the old, window and a mini-fridge included. Guess they expect us to live in these cubicles now.

"You should see where they moved me! Right by the mail room! You, Lucky, you've got the spot by the conference room!"

"Great view."

"It is! See," she walks over to the floor to ceiling window and points at the parking lot, "See, this is the car Roger bought me for my birthday!"

"It's a nice car." I can't see it, it's a goddamn speck from here.

"It has seat warmers." And you, my dear, have quite a lot of seat to warm. She leaves, probably to bother some other poor sap, and I settle in. The desk is nice, mahogany. The chair actually swivels. I unpack my papers from their pink enclosure, the deadlines no closer to being met as they were five minutes ago, this morning, or last week. I can't program anything, I can't finish these no matter how many hours I spend on them, I just don't know anything about these new programs and languages. I'm an old man by now, I'm ten years from retirement. I've buried my life with my daughter and now slave away day after day here at the wonderful TSI only to have to go home to my wife with the occasional stop at the 241 Motel with Amanda.

I'm sitting here in my swiveling chair and its two pm, and I will be sitting here in my swiveling chair and it will be six pm and time to go home. And nothing will be finished. I'm going to be demoted or even worse, let go. I'm going to get sued. A law suit, that's just what I need! Oh god help me, help me! I'm going to be forced into early retirement with a law suit on my heels. Corporations sue, that's what they do, it's a fact of life. Women get fat after marriage, that's also a fact of life.

Sometimes I think about killing myself, taking that early retirement may sound good as long as its by my own hand. At the moment I'm nothing but a shadow of the man I once was or once dared to hope to be. My life, the very essence of it, has been sucked dry by those who pray on misery, those who live their lives with the sole intent to cause as much havoc as possible in those of others. My wife cares more about her plants than she does about me - she hadn't made my lunch or pressed my shirts in seven years now. Seven years. I won't even mention the years since we had marital relations. We don't even sleep in the same room anymore, that should be a good indicator.

Look at this. Look. I've been fiddling with the same code for hours now, hours I tell you and nothing, nothing is coming of it. I don't understand it! This isn't my field but these cocksuckers got me working on this piece of nothing junk and I can't make heads or tails of any of it. I've got nothing to base this piece on. Nothing. I'm the go-to guy, I arrange things, I lead, I take phonecalls, I use my Excel spreadsheet once in a while, you know, communications, resource management. I want to scream. Melinda keeps coming by with tea refills and all I want to do, staring at her flowered dress absolutely unappropriate for office wear, is scream at the top of my lungs and into her round dimpled face. I want to let lose and let go. I want to let every last Tom, Dick and Harry know how much I resent them and how much I pray for their removal from this planet by some quite painful mechanism. The bottom line is, I want out.

I want out!

My name is Leonard Edward Richards and I want out. Out of this job, out of this firm, out of this whole good for nothing life I've gotten myself into. Its time to go, quitting time, and I'm psyched. I'm too old to stay here, I'm sick of it. I'm going to get into my Lincoln Continental and drive until I can drive no more, until my shocks and brakes are worn out and until the gas tank dries up like the Sahara desert.

"Have a good night, Leonard. I wanted to come by to wish you a safe trip home, it looks like its going to rain."

"Thank you, Melinda, I appreciate your concern. Have a safe trip as well."

"I'll see you tomorrow then."


I hope your car crashes and burns with everyone in it. No, correction, I hope mine does. In fact, to make this absolutely perfect, I hope my car crashes into yours and both burn. A nice big explosion would be great as well. Something bright and noticeable, something that will be broadcasted on CNN. I'm walking down the stairs, into our heated parking lot, beeping my keychain and unlocking the door. Some asshole scratched it while I was at Loblaws the other day, now the white coat has ugly gray marks on it. Makes me look like a bad driver, incompetent, uncivilized. Everyone knows I never had a speeding ticket in my whole life!

Tonight is both the first and last day of my life. Where it takes me? I think I stopped caring quite a while ago. Tonight is the night I put on the driving song, the one that takes specific mention of driving down a highway, the one who's name I have forgotten but have had in my barely-used deck for years now, and I will roll out of this town wherever it takes me. The minute details these insignificant peons have assigned to me, to have either labeled me as or simply imposed on me in their crusade for conformity, no longer are my number one priority. I will forget about casual Fridays and stir-fry Tuesdays. I am a man and I can't live like this. I shouldn't have to. As I turn the key and routinely wave the Johns and Janes Doe of the corporate world a goodnight as I pass and overtake them, my heart is burning in anticipation inside my chest. I'm overtaking them and there's nothing they can do about it but politely honk at my shiny white tailend. I'm letting them.

And two days later, approximately at the same time as reports of a missing 'beloved husband' are processed in the state of Michigan, a middle-aged man in a white shirt with the sleeves ripped off and loosened tie is revving his engine somewhere in New York City. At the same time that Mary is going through the phonebook and half-heartedly crying to her sister a man who stopped counting the bugs hitting his windshield and squirrels mincing under his wheels hours ago is living the best time of his life. And at the same time that a sleek black Camaro skids on the entrance ramp going west a man in a white Crown Victoria with a slightly scratched driver's door is making the highway his personal playground. I am that man. Leonard Edward Richards. And as black paint chips mix with white and golden sparks shower the pavement I am complete.