The spider crawls up the leg of my desk. Slow, jerky movements of eight thin appendages surrounding a tiny black body creeping up the rotting wood. I'm not really seeing it, spacing out and looking through because my book is kind of boring, to be totally honest. I haven't found a lot to do after quitting the whole dance, something that took up my entire life. Without drinking, which I quit, and Jess, who I quit, I find I don't have too much to do. I've taken up reading, in an attempt to fill the emptitness, but it's so uninteresting compared to the fun I was having. I'm not made for this sort of thing though, not really how I'm minded. If not for the repetition waking me up, I could have spent the rest of my life in a bottle next to Jess, who would never tell me to do otherwise and never say anything worthwile.
It's been nine days since I woke up and dropped off of the fire escape. I quit my job, found a new apartment, and ignored my phone until it stopped making noises. Gary and Jess were calling and texting, wondering what had happened and where I had gone. So were the rest, but their names are lost to me now, only the two I knew the best stand out in the foggy haze my mind has become. I just let it buzz or ring, and didn't call back or feel the need to. They stopped after about a week, in which time I had found a new apartment for a third of the cost of my previous one, and made a call to my brother.
My brother, Arnold, was a lot smarter than me. By, like, significant orders of magnitude. He finished school, where I didn't, and got a job at a huge research and development company where he was doing god knows what with crazy calculations and big deal engineering bullshit. Might as well be another language to me. I needed him now, for a lot of things. He had offered me a job as an intern a couple months back, but I had declined, needing my fun and parties. Now there was nothing in my way, and I figured I could use this to get back on my feet, and maybe chain it to something tangible, a future. I didn't have a clue where it was going to take me, and wasn't even sure if he was going to call me back. It had been three days after I left a voicemail, and there had been nothing so far. I hadn't exactly been amicable to him in our last talk however, so I wasn't absolutely sure he'd want to talk to me. He likes to criticize the life I used to live, and I was rather defensive about that sort of thing when I was living it. But I was very apologetic in my voicemail, so that helps. Right?
It's a funny thing, trying to get someone to call you back. You don't know if they got the message yet, or saw it and ignored you. You don't want to call again, because then you're being a pest. It makes sort of this impersonal tension that the other person may never know about. Modern communication causes all kinds of fucking insecurities. In my delicate state, I was not prepared to deal with them. I was reaching for the phone to call him when it rang, which was very relieving. I wouldn't want to be weird.
He sounded tired. Tired, but not overly stressed, and there of a tinge of excitement in his voice. "Jason," he said, "how are you?" There was no malice or agression behind what he was saying, which was sort of unexpected given how we had left it. He was a generally spiteful person, and would have given me a little bit of a harder time if not just to fuck with me a little bit. But he wasn't doing that, wasn't playing that game. He was just coming at me straight. Which threw me off a little bit.
"I'm good," I said, keeping my voice level, "Better than I've been in a while actually." I didn't want him to think anything about me or what I felt. Arnold could read people really well, and I didn't want him to know where I was coming from. It wasn't important, just dind't make me feel like shit about myself. I wanted to hold some cards for a change. He didn't say anything, waiting for a response. The man was wicked smart, and he knew I was going to ask for something. He just wanted to hear it. "I was wondering about that job you offered me? You know, the internship?"
He was silent, but I could hear him smiling over the phone. "I didn't think you wanted that job, last we talked." There was spite in his voice now, dripping through the phone into my ear. "That position has since been filled."
I wasn't worried yet. He was happy about it, and he didn't totally hate me. That meant there was still something in the works, something that was coming for me. Which was relieving, because my money was going to run out. "I have something else though." There was a lot of excitement in his voice now, and I was surprised. I wasn't expecting this. "I was planning on calling you actually. I have something big in the works. Something unprecedented." I wasn't scared but he was starting to unnerve me. I couldn't comprehend what he might think of as "unprecedented." I was silent. I didn't quite know what to say. "So," he said after a few seconds of nothing, "When can you be here?"