life is fucking fragile.


so, it was over then. there was nothing left to do but go to work. each day he showed up with his tie and badge, and he clocked in. he'd bring his lunch with him, or days when he'd forget to bring one, he'd sit alone at sam's hof brau, order himself a pastrami sandwich and a $2 beer. he'd chat with the waitress, and sometimes watch whatever was on. usually, it was court cases or trashy talk shows. he had no interest in the newspaper. what'd the sac bee have to say, anyway? nothing but bad news this, war that, the economy sucks, etc.

after lunch, he'd go back to his office feeling kinda buzzed. he'd look at his fellow employees, mostly younger white fools, and he'd think about what they came home to. what did their lives look like outside that at&t branch? who were they? what were they most passionate about? he'd try talking to the pretty girls he worked with, but they never seemed to return his interest. he felt alone, unlovable, sometimes downright despised.

on the weekends, he'd sit in the garage with his brothers and friends of the family. if he was really feeling up to it, he'd go see a movie, or else go to a bar. he'd hit on women all the time, but he'd never get lucky. he'd call out to girls in other cars, but they would just laugh at the old drunken man. this made him feel frustrated. one time, he was at a club, and he got more drunk than usual. a woman refused his advances, and he grabbed her by the wrist. she screamed, and security had to escort him out. he said, okay, okay, it's okay, as two bodybuilders ushered him out into the cold night.

pretty soon, he just gave up. he no longer bothered with the pierre cardin ties or the van heusen shirts. he'd come home and just put on sweatpants. he'd wear a college football sweatshirt from mervyns one of his nephews had given him for christmas, and it became his uniform. there was no longer any point in going out, no reason to bother getting dressed up. it was true that, in life, he'd miss every shot he didn't take, but the way he saw it, god didn't even let him play. he was and would always be nothing more than a bench-warmer.

he decided that he liked mervyns quite a bit. their clothes were cheap, and they were comfortable. he signed up for a credit card, and he bought everyone mervyns gift cards each christmas. $25 each, nothing to sneeze at. even at christmas, he'd wear a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a football hat, the bill flat and straight. if it were up to him, he'd sleep through christmas. the only good parts were the food and drinking. gone were those childhood holidays, where he and his siblings would dress up, visit all their neighbors. nothing was like that anymore. nothing.

as usual, he went to work on the morning of january 27, 1992. he went to the breakroom and poured himself a cup of coffee. something didn't feel right. he could sense something was wrong, like some organ in his body had been rearranged. the lights in the office looked strange, uneven. how was your weekend, someone asked. good, good, he answered, though not really thinking about it. yours? his coworker's answer was distant. she said something but she might as well have been whispering from across the ocean. are you okay? yeah, fine, he said. he went back to his desk. he stared at the computer screen, a spreadsheet, when the phone rang.

he picked up. hello, the voice said softly, calmly. hello, he answered. patay na si tatay. he didn't say anything for a long time. suddenly, everything made sense again. the lights went back to normal, the organs in his body were all in their right places. asan na sha? sa ospital. he hung up the phone, loosened his tie. slowly, he walked over to his supervisor's office. the old white man was scribbling something down on a legal pad. i have to go, he said. the old man looked up. family emergency, he said. everything okay? i'm not sure, he said. my father might be sick, err, is ill. okay, the old man said. just let me know.

he got into his mr-2, and he drove down watt avenue. other people were in their cars, driving to work, driving home, driving to mcdonald's, driving to the mall, driving to golf courses and airports and petsmart and toys 'r us and the post office. he envied them. those lucky fuckers living their normal boring lives and not having to deal with this shit right now. he wanted badly to roll down his window and yell at them, all those sleepwalking baby idiots. life is fucking fragile! wake up, you stupid silly pieces of shit!

by the time he got home, everyone was already there, even the kids. it was like they had never left. it was like they'd been waiting there for him forever.

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