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Something’s Always Wrong Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Luggage & Fix Ups

 

Ken was hunched over the keyboard of his computer. His eyes were intent on the screen before him. He had spent most of the day at home working on spreadsheets and proposal forms for work, but he had decided to take a little Internet break and had found his way into the chat rooms on HOMO.COM. He had intended only to observe the other chatters, but the urge overtook him and he had made out his own profile and was smack dab in the middle of the San Fernando Valley room. There wasn’t much going on in the main chat, but Ken was juggling four separate instant messengers. All four were pretty much the same. They were all in their mid thirties, they all were professionals who enjoyed outdoor activities and dinners with close friends, or that special someone, at least that’s what their profiles said. Ken was just jumping from one conversation to the next. All four discussions were surrounding mundane topics such as weather and each chatters’ dislike for their work. Eventually, almost at the same time, the chat turned to more personal matters. First the question if Ken worked out was asked by all four chat mates. He had barely gone to his gym in the months following Greg’s departure, but Ken lied anyway and said that he worked out at least three times a week. This impressed his new cyber friends. Then came questions of his physical measurements. Ken again fudged a bit. He gave his height honestly, but he shaved a few pounds off his weight.

Then the final, most important, question was posted. Whether or not Ken had a picture to share. Ken felt a slight chill run down his back. He was beginning to feel a stir in his lap from his talking to the four online strangers and wasn’t looking forward to popping the bubble. He took a gulp of air and realized it was bound to happen at some point. He told them all yes, and transmitted his most recent picture to them all. Time passed. Beads of sweat began to form on Ken’s forehead. ‘They must be having trouble downloading it.  It was a pretty big file.’ Ken thought to himself. He asked if MANSTUD69 was having any trouble with the file. No answer. He then tried XXXBEERCAN, again, no reply. Ken’s fingers were starting to wiggle over the keys. He decided not to tempt fate with the other two and just let them simmer. Just as he was about to close out of the program, a new line of text popped up in MANSTUD69’s chat window. Ken’s heart began to race. He scanned the line of new text but then his heart sank a little. Apparently Ken wasn’t MANSTUD69’s type. A polite way of telling him he was repulsive. Ken quit out of his Internet browser without so much as an obligatory good bye. Ken knew in his head it was just on-line flirting. Nothing to be taken seriously, but in his heart, any rejection, however small, stung like a thousand knives.

He was still feeling vulnerable since Greg walked out on him, also with no good-bye or even explanation. Ken had been going into the chat rooms more and more frequently over the past few months. He was soon a veteran of the whole thing. He had the lingo and shorthand down pat. He knew the dance quite well. The only problem was he just wasn’t that good at it. Just as the onset of full force depression began to take hold of him, the front door of his Van Nuys apartment flew open and Mike came barging in.

“I have been trying to call you for over an hour! What the hell is wrong with your,” Mike stopped suddenly when he saw the computer was on and Ken had his head down. “Oh. Cruising the chat rooms again?” Ken slowly nodded his head.

“What are you doing here?” Ken asked as he picked himself up and took a deep breath.

“You said I could borrow your luggage, darling. Remember?”

“Oh. Right. I forgot. Sorry.”

“I didn’t want to barge in here like this, but Ivan and I are leaving on our trip in a couple days. I’ve got to start packing if I’m going to make that. Oh. Kenny, boy! Can you believe it? I’m going to Europe! I’m actually going! And not alone like some loser! I’m going with my boyfriend. My actual, ‘been together for a whole year’ boyfriend! I never thought I’d see the day.” Mike said in a breathy, happy tone.

“Neither did I.” Ken said brusquely as he pushed past Mike towards his bedroom to retrieve the luggage in question. Mike shot a hard sneer at Ken as he passed, but Ken would hardly have cared even if he had seen it.

“I don’t like the tone, missy.”

Ken opened his closet and up on the top shelf he saw his gold seal Samsonite leather cases. He had bought them years earlier at a time when he had been going on several extended trips for his firm. Ken had decided that a good set of luggage would be a good investment. After he bought them though, his trips had ceased and he was stuck with a set of luggage that nearly set him back a clear grand with no place to go. He had played with the idea of going to Europe himself. He had secretly wanted to go, although he never told anyone, due to the fact everyone simply assumed every gay man dreamed of going to Europe and he didn’t want to play into any stereotypes. He really wanted to go though, and that luggage was going to go with him, but that was a long time ago and the dust that was building on the luggage was becoming noticeable.

He reached up and pulled the largest case down. A cloud of soot drifted down with it. He grabbed the other two smaller bags and wiped off the dust. Ken then carried all three bags out to Mike who was waiting anxiously to take them in his hands.

“Oh wow! They look great! Like they’ve hardly been used.” Ken ignored his friend’s jab.

“Enjoy.”

“Look, I’m sorry okay? It’s not like I planned for my relationship to be going so good while yours, well, while yours crapped out.”

“It’s okay, Mike. Really. I don’t give a shit anyway. What good are boyfriends anyway? They just add this unwanted pressure into your life. Someone you always have to look good around. Someone you’re always self conscious around. Does he love me? Do I love him? Please. I’m much more comfortable just being single. The way God intended.”

“Wow. Someone’s been getting drunk on the bitter juice lately.”

“Not all of us can land a fashion mogul like you.”

“Are you implying that I’m only with Ivan because he’s rich?”

“Well?”

“I’ll have you know that I would be just as happy with Ivan if he were poor. The fact that he is rich is just the biggest, best surprise in the world.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I’m just still shook by Greg. I am happy for you and Ivan. I really am. Maybe even a little jealous.” Mike’s steel features softened and he lovingly took Ken in his arms and hugged him gently.

“Oh, honey.” Mike cooed. “Of course you are.”

Mike cradled Ken in his arms and then released his embrace and looked Ken straight in the eyes.

“Look, serious, okay? It really is killing me seeing you such a mess. How about I fix you up?”

“A fix up? I don’t know.”

“Why not? That’s how Ivan and I met.”

“No it’s not. You hooked up in a bath house.”

“I know. We’re just telling everyone it was fix up. It’s so much more romantic, don’t you think? So, how about it? A little fix up?”

“I don’t think so,” Ken said. “Oh come on! There’s this really cute guy at the restaurant who’s just as desperate and hard up as you.”

“Thanks.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, but since the cat is out of the bag.”

“Is he really cute?”

“Babe, he is hot! I mean if it weren’t for Ivan, I’d be camping out between his legs right now.” Mike said.

“What’s his name?”

“Ramone Del Cruz. He’s very sweet. A little shy since the divorce.”

“Divorce? From a woman? He was married to a woman? He is gay right?”

“Darling! Why do you think she dumped him? Don’t worry. He’s totally down with the man on man thing. When do you want to do it?”

“I didn’t agree to anything. Yet. I have to think about it.”

“Fine. Think.” Mike said as he handed Ken a piece of paper. He looked down at it. It had a phone number and the name Ramone scrawled across it. “I told him all about you, so he won’t be too surprised to hear from you.”

“You gave him my number too, didn’t you?”

“It may have found its way into his pocket.” Mike said impishly.

“I appreciate it. I really do.”

“I love you, you know that. We all do.”

“Love me as much as your luggage, right? Well, my luggage,” Ken said with a smile. “I know. I’ll be okay. You go on. Enjoy my luggage. Enjoy Europe!”

“I will. Thanks.” Mike then gave Ken a light kiss on the cheek and sauntered out.

Mike came driving up to Ivan’s house in Brentwood. It was a ranch style house hidden deep in a small glen of ivy and old oaks. It was one of the few very secluded, exclusive, neighborhoods in a city as large as Los Angeles. The lights were off which concerned Mike as Ivan had told him he’d be home all night.

He parked the car on a small patch of gravel. He got out and as he walked towards the front door, the lights inside came on. Mike ran over and opened the door. He stopped when he saw a platoon of packed bags sitting before him.

“What is all this?” Ivan popped out from behind one of the larger suit bags.

“Just a little surprise.”

“Did you pack for a vacation or are you moving?” Mike was trying to comprehend the amount of clothes that sat before him.

“It’s Europe! The weather over there can be crazy so you need to be prepared for anything. Plus, we’re going to a number of official events so I need a good selection of dressy clothes.”

“Is there anything left in your closet?”

“Just my underwear.” Ivan said with a sly grin as he slowly slid his arms around Mike’s waist.

“Well, you won’t be needing those, now will you?”

“Nope. So, let’s go.” Ivan whispered in Mike’s ear. Mike bolted up.

“What? Go?”

“Yes. I called and had our tickets upgraded. We leave in about forty five minutes.”

“I can’t go now! I haven’t even packed!”

“You don’t think all these clothes are mine, do you?”

“Huh?”

“The red bags are yours, the green ones are mine. I know your measurements and what you like so I took the liberty of packing for you. All originals. All French.”

“Oh my god. Ivan! It sounds so silly to say this but you shouldn’t have,” Ken’s luggage, which was still sitting in Mike’s car outside, was fading out of his mind. “Wait.” Mike said as a certain reality abruptly popped in his head. “My job. My vacation doesn’t start for two more days!”

“So? It’s just two days.”

“It must have been a while since you’ve been in the world of hourly wages, but normally employers don’t like it when you take off work days ahead of schedule.”

“I realize that, but I’m sure they’ll understand. Just call up your boss and explain the situation.”

“I’ll try.” Mike pulled out his cell phone and dialed Oscar Porter; the owner of the restaurant Mike was currently working at. It rang a few times. A thick, smoke scarred voice came on.

“Yeah?” Oscar blurted.

“Mr. Porter? It’s Mike.”

“Oh. Mike. What is it?”

“I was just calling to tell you that something’s come up and,” Mike wasn’t sure what to say. He knew that Oscar wasn’t one to give away free time too easily.

 “Hey, Mike, if you’re calling about your vacation time, you’re talking to the wrong guy.”

“I am?”

“Yeah, I haven’t told anyone yet, but I sold the place today.”

Mike felt his head spin briefly as he heard these words hit his ears.

“What?”

“I know. I was surprised too, but I just got a real good offer the other day and I figured I was about ready to retire. Don’t worry though. No one’s losing their job or anything. I was assured the business would stay open and be run as usual.”

Mike felt a bit of relief at that news but his more immediate concern was still hanging in the balance.

“Who do I talk to about my vacation then?” Oscar proceeded to give Mike a phone number. He thanked him and dialed the new number. He shot a confused look at Ivan as he waited for the sound of ringing. Then almost by coincidence, Ivan’s phone began to ring. He grabbed his phone and stepped away out of sight. Within a few seconds a familiar voice purred in Mike’s ear.

“Yes?” Mike could hear Ivan both over the phone and just a few feet away. Mike clicked off his phone and ran over to Ivan.

“You? You bought my restaurant?”

“Surprise!”

“Why?”

“I just thought it would make it easier for you to get out of there a couple days early.”

 “How did you do this? Buying a restaurant has got to take mountains of paperwork!”

“Fortunately, I’ve got mountains of money.”

“Are you telling me you bought an entire restaurant just so you could make sure I could leave with you two days early?”

“That’s about the shape of it, yes.”

“That is so crazy! You don’t even know how to run a restaurant!”

“I’ll hire someone for that. I look at it as an investment. I’ll worry about all the nuts and bolts when we get back. Now, get your bags. We’re leaving.”

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Something’s Always Wrong Chatper 1

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Chapter 1

Mornings & Meetings

The rays of the morning sun lit up Jason Preston’s messy bedroom, giving light to the piles of dirty clothes on the floor and mountains of junk mail that had accumulated over the previous week.

Jason’s eyes slowly opened and just then the clock radio on his nightstand went off. As usual, he had beaten the clock. He then reached over and slammed on the snooze button. He winced in pain as he lifted his arm, but the nagging ache didn’t surprise him. It had been like that for months. It was one of the lingering souvenirs he had received from a serial killer known as the Road Rager who had attacked him the previous year.

Jason also had a lovely six-inch scar running down his shoulder, from where the killer’s axe had landed with the intent to kill, and a nagging limp due to moderate nerve damage in his spinal cord.

Jason slowly turned onto his back, trying not to make any sound. A little squeal of pain had become an involuntary reaction that he had been trying to control as best he could. He just lied there in bed, staring at the white ceiling. He began running through his mental to do list and remembered, with great relief, that he didn’t have to go back to his old job.

The money his friend Elliot Leskowitz had left Jason after his tragic death, also at the hands of the Road Rager, was more than enough to support him and keep the bills under control, despite the fact that the money was meant to finance the production of Jason’s movie. Jason wasn’t too pleased to realize that after all the loans and cards had been paid back, most of the money was gone. He had not realized it had gotten so bad.  

Jason remained still in his contentment until he finally remembered that he actually had things to do. He had to meet with some of the actors he had been able to convince to work for free. They weren’t real actors, but rather drama students active in the theater department at CSUN. They weren’t very good, but their enthusiasm and willingness to work pro bono more than made up for any lack of talent.

 Jason’s morning meditation was suddenly intruded upon when his phone rang. He looked back over at the clock to see that it wasn’t even 7:30 yet.  

“Who?” Jason mumbled to himself as he carefully reached over for the phone. “Hello?” He asked with some trepidation.  

“Good morning, baby.” A thick, full voice purred over the line.

“Matt.” Jason said, suddenly feeling a lot more energy in his brain.

 “Sorry for calling so early, but I just wanted to say good morning.”

 “What’s the occasion? There’ve been lots of mornings when you didn’t say good morning to me.”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because this is the first morning that you didn’t wake up over here.”

“I thought we talked about this. It’s not that I didn’t want to stay, it’s just I have things I need to get done and when we’re together, I get too distracted. I really have to pull it together here.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I guess I’ve just been getting used to having you here lately.”

“Well, I’ll make it up to you later, okay?”

“Promises.”

“Yes. It is a promise.”

“So what’s on tap for today?”

“I have a lunch meeting with Justin and Tanya.”

“Three way?”

“No. Justin and Tanya are two of the actors I’ve managed to secure for the movie. They’re the leads in fact. I just need to go over the script with them and figure out how it’s all going to work.”

“And after that?”

“I promised Ken I’d go shopping with him later. He’s still kind of in mourning since Greg left him.”

“Ah, yes. Gay therapy.”

“I’ve been trying to get him back in the dating thing, but he’s so guarded.”

“Just give him time.”

“I suppose. Oh. I better get up now.”

“Yeah, I better get to work, too. I’ve got a lot of cases backing up.” Matt said, equally remorseful.

“Okay. Then hang up.”

“No. You hang up.”

“No. It’s your turn to hang up first.”

“It’s not my turn. Look, just hang up okay?”

“Oh god. Are we being cutesy?”

“Disgustingly. Yes. I’ll hang up. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Jason said just before he heard the click of Matt’s phone hanging up. Jason put the receiver back down in the cradle and with a deep breath pulled the covers off and started his day.

After  putting himself together, Jason stepped out the door and took a deep, full breath. It was a beautiful day in the valley. The sky seemed especially blue and clear with only a few faint, wispy clouds floating above. The air was crisp, yet warm and comfortable. An energy came over Jason. A feeling of potential and promise took hold of him. For the first time in his life, he could see the endless frontier of his future and he was no longer afraid. He was ready to meet it head on.

Jason then made his way down to the garage and saw that his car was parked behind Ben’s in their tandem parking space so he was clear to go. Just as he was about to put his key in the door, a voice rang out behind him sounding excited and giddy. It was Ben.

“Did you see!?” Ben asked sounding very much unlike himself. Jason spun around to face him. He was wearing a white tank top; ultra short shorts and carrying a small basket of freshly cleaned laundry.

“What?” Ben raised one of his eyebrows and indicated across from them. Jason looked over and the only remarkable thing he saw was only one car on the other side of the garage was clean and shining. It was also the newest car there. It looked to be a dark blue Jaguar. It still had the temporary registration taped in the rear windshield.

“Check it. New money’s moving in.”

“Or someone got a new car.”

“I checked with Steve earlier. It’s a new tenant. He says the guy’s hot too!”

“All right,” Jason said trying to figure out how the information was important to him. Then a sudden shock of realization hit him. “He’s moving into Cynthia’s old place?”

“I think so, yeah. Oh, don’t tell me you’re still down about that! You were at the wedding. You knew full well she was moving out.”

“I know, I know. I guess it’s just as long as her place was just empty I thought maybe there was a chance she’d come back. Someone moving in pretty much shoots that fantasy dead.”

“Man. You have got to be the only gay guy I know who has any kind of fantasy involving a woman,” Ben said. “Well, if this guy is everything Steve said he was, you’ll have a whole new fantasy to play around with.” Ben shot Jason a quick wink as he turned and started towards the door leading out of the garage.

Jason arrived at The Garden for the first time for a meeting that he had arranged. The sun was bright and blazing over the small Hollywood bistro. The morning crowd seemed a bit more sedate than those who came for lunch.

He was sitting at one of the large tables near the wall in a seat that gave him an optimum view of everything happening on the patio. An obviously gay couple walked in and Jason took quick notice. The two men looked nearly identical. They had the same type of build and they were both extremely good looking with very similar facial structure. They were also both inhumanly tan, with oddly blonde hair and dressed in clothes that were so ugly they just had to be name brand.

 When the well-muscled greeter came up to them with menus in hand, they looked him up and down as if he were the special of the day. He led them away to a table inside, so Jason was left with his imagination to finish out the scenario. Once they were seated, they probably offered the young naive waiter a cocktail and in his youthful ignorance he would accept the drink. They would undoubtedly put something in his Cosmo or Fuzzy Navel causing their young, unsuspecting prey to start taking his clothes off. He was hot and it was a gay establishment so no one would object to such an action and before long, they’d be double banging the lad on their table; One in the back and the other up front. They’d shoot their wads and leave their servant spent and used. They probably would even forget his name after their moment of passion, or so Jason thought. The reality that one partner staring at the waiter would incite an argument between the two and by the end of the meal, one of them would be wearing their Long Island Iced Tea would never have occurred to him.

Hours dragged on. Most of the people Jason saw arrive, were starting to leave. He kept checking his watch. It was almost noon and Justin and Tanya were supposed to have been there at nine. He had finished his roast chicken sandwich and was on his fifth glass of cola. The pressure in his bladder was beginning to nag at him but he had no idea where the restrooms were. The thought of searching around the place as if he were some little lost child did not appeal to him.

Jason was just about to give it up when he saw out of the corner of his eye Tanya running up from the street, although it could barely be called running. She was shuffling along on her three inch heels as she made it onto the patio. She composed herself. She spotted Jason right off as she walked through the front gate and hurried over to his table, sitting down smoothly in the chair across from him.

“I am so sorry.” She began. “I was up all night studying for an art history exam.”

“That’s okay,” Jason said, barely meaning it. “You have your copy of the script?”

“Uh, no. I was in such a hurry.” Tanya’s eyes seemed pleading through the dark sunglasses that covered the top portion of her head.

“I guess that’s okay. We can just talk about where your head was. You did read it, right?”

“Yes. I didn’t get all of it, but from what I can tell, it looks pretty good.”

“Thanks. Now, what are your thoughts on Taryn?”

“Who?”

“Your character! Taryn!”

“Oh! Right. Her. She was fun. I mean, she’s been around, but hell, who hasn’t, right?” Tanya asked with a slight laugh. She winced in slight pain. She put her hand to her head and squeezed. A picture was forming in Jason’s head.

“Why don’t you take off those glasses?”

“What? Oh. No. It’s too bright out here. I’m good.”

“It’s not that bad. Besides, your back’s to the sun. Just take them off for a second.”

Tanya began to speak but couldn’t come up with a good excuse. She surrendered and took them off. Jason nearly fell back off his seat. Her eyes were nearly glowing red.

“Okay, I can explain.”

“I thought you said you were studying last night.”

“I was, but after I was done I went out for some fun.”

“We’ve talked about this, Tanya. I need you focused on this.”

“It was just a little slip. It won’t happen again,” Jason snagged her arm and took a closer look at her upper arm. He could make out small little holes along the veins. “I can explain that too.”

“I can’t believe this! We’re shooting this thing in a couple of days Tanya!”

“I’m under a lot of pressure right now, okay? My parents cut off my Visa. My Mercedes is still in the shop and that rental they gave me doesn’t even have an MP3 player in it! And on top of all that, all my teachers this quarter are female, which means I’m going to actually have to study for my finals. Well, for at least two of them, anyway. I just needed something to level off.”

“I can’t deal with this. Where’s Justin? I thought you were coming together?”

“Justin isn’t going to be able to make it.”

“Why not?”

“Well, we were partying together last night, and I guess he couldn’t really keep up with me.”

“Where is he? Jail?”

“Morgue.” Tanya said.

“Morgue? You mean he’s, he’s…?”

“Dead? Yeah. He kind of passed out after the Vodka bong and then it all went downhill from there. Trust me. You don’t want details, and if you do, you can get them from the police.”

“The police.”

“That’s kind of the real reason I’m late. I had to give a statement. Maybe we could get together tonight and go over the script?” Jason had his elbows up on the table propping up his head. His mood was growing heavy.

“Go.” Jason said in a low, tired moan.

“What?”

“I said, go!”

“Fine. I’ll call you when you’re thinking more clearly.” She said as she got up and waddled back out.

Jason’s mind was a swirl of thought, which was soon broken by the sound of clapping; A slow, deliberate clapping. Jason looked around and further back, behind a potted palm, Jason saw Bill Kaslow sitting comfortably at a table that was clearly too small for his girth.

“Bravo!” He called out as he squeezed out of his chair and walked over to Jason’s table.

“Bill?”

“The one and only. How are you, Jay?” Bill said happily as he took the seat across from Jason.

“I’ve been good. Where have you been?”

“Well, I was riding high on the porno thing for a while, but I got bored with it. Figured that would happen eventually, but not so quickly. At first it was great. Hot chicks left and right. The drugs, the parties. I think I got laid more in the past eight months than ever before in my life! But then everyone was starting to get obsessed with the art of it. Pretty soon it was the same grind with the whining bitches and over inflated egos. I started to miss Hollywood all over again and thought maybe I’d get back into the regular biz again. Speaking of which, I heard you came into some money. Finally making your own movie, eh?”

“How on Earth did you just hear about that?”

“Hey, contrary to popular belief, Hollywood is a very small place. Sometimes you can hear a fly fart from across town.”

“Lovely. It’s true. Elliot left me the money in his life insurance policy.”

“Mmm, terrible. Sorry for your loss, but do you need a director?”

“What?”

“Look, I was watching you with that girl. I can tell right off you don’t know how to handle actors, and that’s fine. You’re a writer! Handling actors is the director’s job. I can help you.”

“I don’t know.”

“Think about it for a minute. You’ll still be in charge, but I’ll be handling the grunt work. You’ll be like the executive producer.”

“Well, to be totally honest, the thought of jumping off a bridge has been on my mind lately. I guess I really didn’t know what I was getting into. There’s just so much! The lights, cameras, and actors! It’s a mess!”

“Which is where I can pick up your slack. I’ve been dealing with all that longer than you’ve been alive. Let me take the burden.” Bill said in a soothing tone.

“So,” Jason said, thinking. “You’ll be working for me?”

“I wouldn’t put it like that.”

“But you would.”

“Technically, yes.”

“You, Bill Kaslow, would be working for me, Jason Preston.” Jason said sounding more impressed by the idea by the minute.

“Okay. I get it. I suppose in your shoes I’d feel the same way. Do we have a deal?”

“I don’t know.”

“Look, Jason. It’s me! Bill! We go back a long way. It’s not like I’m some stranger. You know me. You trust me.”

“Well, I know you.”

“Come on man. I admit, I can be a royal ass when I want to, but as far as my art, I’m all business.”

“That’s true. Fine. Be my director.” Bill’s face lit up like Jason never saw before. He jumped up from his chair and grabbed Jason’s hand in his meaty grip and began shaking it wildly.

“You won’t regret this!”

“Oh, I know that.” Jason said warningly. “There are some conditions to this. I don’t want any double crosses or quick switches! I don’t want to see my movie ending up at the Tom Katt Theater!”

“I swear! Nothing like that. The script you wrote is the one that will get made.”

“It better. I’ll be checking up on you. Don’t think I won’t be watching.”

“You’re welcome to. In fact, I think it would be great to have you on the set while we shoot. I can teach you some of the finer points of film production.”

“Well, we’ll see about that. Come by my place tonight and I can give you all my stuff. You can see how much I’ve gotten done so far and you can get your starting point.”

“Can’t wait. I’ll see you tonight then.” Bill said just as a waiter came gliding up towards the table.

“Is there anything else today?” The waiter asked. Just as Jason was about to ask for the check, Bill’s large mouth opened up and an order started pouring out. The waiter jotted down every word and looked over to Jason, who just waved him off. Jason looked over to Bill with an accusing look.

“What? When you worked for me, I paid for your lunch.” Bill said as he settled back in his seat with his familiar, self-satisfied smile.

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