It’s 2am by the time I get back to Elliot’s flat. I’m disappointed to see that the light is on; I hope it doesn’t mean he’s still awake. I really can’t face his attempts at talking me into seeing dad again. I almost head out back to the streets but I think my temper is in check: still there, seething beneath the surface, but restrained – for now.
Yep, the Elliot inquisition is on schedule.
“Where’ve you been, Christian?”
His voice is quiet and he looks tense.
“Look, I don’t want to fight but I can’t be the middle man here. You and dad have to sort this shit out.”
Fair enough. I don’t need Elliot’s fucking help.
“I’m moving out in about six hours, Elliot, so you won’t have to put up with it much longer.”
“You’re being a juvenile fucking shit.”
“Don’t push me.” My voice is deadly quiet and Elliot’s blue eyes widen in surprise. I can feel my hands balling into fists again, my blood surging with sudden anger.
“Do you want to fight me, Christian?” His voice is shocked.
“No! Just… leave me alone, Elliot. I mean it.”
He shrugs, his eyes cool and distant.
“Your call, bro,” he says softly.
Then he stands up and heads for his bedroom. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to a real fight. It scares me how badly I wanted to beat the crap out of him, my own brother, for fuck’s sake. I am one fucked up son of a bitch. And it’s getting worse. I don’t know what to do to stem the fury that constantly fills me. I can’t stop.
I can’t sleep either, so I work. About 5am it’s just starting to get light. I’m picking up the keys for my new apartment at 8am. Elliot’s right about one thing: I’ve got fuck-all to pack. I move quietly around his room, picking up my shit and throwing it in the case. The rest of my belongings from Harvard have been freighted to my parents’ place. They’ll have to stay there for now.
I leave quietly. Elliot can have some peace now I’ve gone. I’m not ever going to live with anyone again. I fuck it up for everyone who comes near me. I don’t want that for my family. I have to stay away from them.
But there’s one positive thing in my life: my work. I can make a difference there: I can fix failing companies like SIC and turn them into profitable businesses, securing salaries for the people who work for them.
I can see the irony: fixing fucked up companies when no-one can fix me.
My new apartment is large because I hate feeling caged in. That’s the best you can say for it. It’s one of those converted warehouses that you see everywhere in older parts of Seattle. There’s a small bathroom at one end with a shower unit and a kitchen/diner which is basically a two-ring stove top and breakfast bar. There’s no refrigerator, microwave, or anywhere to sit. There’s also no bed or TV. I don’t care about the TV but I guess I’ll need somewhere to sleep. The wooden boards are filthy so the first thing I need to do is hire a sander and clean them the fuck up. It’s back-breaking work, but doing something physical like hiking or fucking has always been a sort of therapy for me.
By the end of the day I’ve got everything I need, including a low, wooden futon bed. It’s minimalist but it suits me. I haven’t got a closet so I buy a hammer from a hardware store and bang some nails into the raw, brick walls. Hanging my clothes on the walls makes it look like a sort of strange, modern art gallery. I like really the idea that no-one knows where I live.
I run, I work, I eat, I listen to CDs and sometimes I sleep. I miss having a piano. The next place I live in will have room for a fucking piano.
I’m first in the office on Monday morning. I note without surprise, that Ros isn’t far behind me.
“Good morning, Mr Grey,” she says pleasantly. “I’d like to discuss getting some extra staff for the broadband project. I wrote a report for Mr Roberts Jr but he didn’t…”
I like the fact that she doesn’t waste my time asking how my fucking weekend was, but I cut her off before she can say anymore.
“I read it. It was good. I’ve got three potential interns coming in from WSU this morning. You’ll be interviewing them with me. If any of them are good enough, you can have them for your project.”
For a moment she gapes at me then quickly regains her composure.
“Thank you! That’s… great. Er… what time?”
“My office. 8.45am.”
“Well, ok then!”
She walks away smiling to herself.
I email my schedule to Susan. She’s supposed to be my PA but she’s pretty fucking useless. She’s attractive in a blousy sort of way: big tits, lots of make-up. I also suspect that Roberts Jr has been screwing her on the company time. The fucker doesn’t even know enough not to screw the staff.
I leave a note on her desk saying I want coffee for three people in my office by 8.30am. When it doesn’t appear I stalk out to see what the fuck she’s playing at. She’s on the phone speaking in whispers. It’s obvious to me that she’s talking to Roberts Jr and he’s trying to find out what I’m up to.
I take the phone from her and replace it on the receiver.
“Coffee for three people. Now.”
“Oh, sorry, honey, I was just…”
“You can call me ‘Mr Grey’ or ‘sir’ but if you ever delay fulfilling an instruction again, you’re fucking fired. Understand?”
“Do you understand?”
She’s appalled. I doubt anyone here has spoken to her like that before. And I’m fucking furious – she made me lose my temper.
At 8.40am Ros is in my office reading through the three resumés I’ve had faxed over. Susan brings in a tray with the coffee. Her hands are shaking and she looks like she’s been crying. Oh, for fuck’s sake!
The first potential intern is fucking useless. He’s out the fucking door in three minutes flat. What are WSU playing at sending me that fucking idiot?
The second one is wearing a decent suit and is obviously competent but no more than that. Ros looks faintly disappointed.
The third and final intern looks like he just fell out of bed after a long weekend of partying at a music festival. Ros blinks in astonishment. But what the guy doesn’t know about IT hasn’t been dreamed of yet and, from the way he talks, he’s done a lot of dreaming. He’s just what we need and I suspect the reason that he hasn’t landed an internship is because of the way he looks. I don’t give a shit what he looks like; I only care that he can do the job. I glance at Ros and she’s beaming. She gives me a tiny nod.
“Thank you, Mr Sullivan, we’ve heard enough,” I say and the guy’s face falls. He thinks he’s out on his ear. “We’d like to offer you a place here at SIC. When can you start?”
“You’re offering me a job? Why?”
Ros’s grin threatens to split her face in half. “Because you’re the one we want, Mr Sullivan.”
“Wow! That is so cool!” he says. “Call me, Barney. I didn’t think people like you… I mean, the suits and shit… er… stuff… you never…”
“When can you start?” I say cutting off his happy waffle.
“Right now is as good a time as any,” I reply. “Personnel will contact you for your details during the morning. Good to have you on the team, Barney.”
My shitty morning just got a whole lot better. Barney Sullivan is a fucking genius. And when I look at my phone at lunchtime, there’s a text from Elena.
* Tonight. Call it payback on the loan. Txt me yr address. *
Tonight should prove interesting.