life.HACK

My head is spinning. Time lapse? As I regain my senses I find myself staring out of the window in my office. It’s spring. Thoughts cloud my mind, as if I’ve jumped fast forward almost five years*. I feel the urge to pinch myself, but realize that only badly written scripts and books still hold on to clichés like that. Instead, my eyes rest on the curious person staring intently at me from the other side of my desk.

It’s John ‘ Cookie’  Dutch, my best friend since second grade and my business associate at Far From Finished Games, inc. I meet his stare, but glance sideways as I locate my coffee and take a moderate sip. It’s still a bit hot, but drinkable. Cookie hasn’t stopped staring intently at me. Upon closer examination, it turns out he’s actually staring intently at the person sitting behind the desk on the other side of the room. It’s the workplace of Janice (pronounce: Janeece – god forbid you get it wrong), our new secretary.

Janice is a friend of Nadia’s, my wife. She was at our wedding ceremony last month.

Oh, I’m used to married life, believe me. I’ve had to give up my existence as a free man over 15 years ago. Thing is, Nadia wanted to renew our wedding vows. It’s just one of those things that women like to do when you reach a ‘milestone’. A 15-year anniversary, apparently. I guess us men don’t really care about all that. Sure, I still love her. But why celebrate the loss of blessed freedom? It’s beyond me. Happy wife means happy life, though. So I just went with it.

Speaking of freedom long since lost; Pewter – apologies – ‘ Peter’  – just turned 17. I know that, when reminiscing, people always look at their children and say fluffy goo-goo stuff like ‘time sure flies’ or ‘it seems like only yesterday that I held him in my arms as a babe, when he threw up all over me and I freaked out so much that I screamed like a little girl’. In my case, I really did hold him in my arms yesterday. He’s on leave from military academy now and got totally wasted with his friends last night. Nadia is working night shifts at the hospital, so I had the dubious honor of making sure our house was spotless again before she got home. Geeze Louise, as if I don’t need any sleep.

But yeah, the military school thing.

He insisted on going there.

Really, I kid you not.

When Nadia inquired as to the ‘why’, he just answered that it was his ‘doodie’. I can’t help but feel there could have been a slight chance that he was referring to his daily feat at 8 am sharp (after which I’m known to avoid the bathroom for a full 2 hours), instead of the pride and love he holds for his country.

Anyway. Janice.

I honestly can’t stand her. She has this way of talking to you as if she’s addressing a baby. Duckface and all. Makes me want to buy a big candy cane and give her a good whack on the head with it.
It goes without saying that Cookie also attended our ceremony, after which I introduced him to Janice.

I wish I hadn’t.

Being a healthy, single male in his late thirties, Cookie instantly was all over her. Granted, she’s a looker. Her control room is not operating on full capacity, though, if you get my drift. Naturally, that doesn’t stop Cookie from chasing after his hormones. To the outside world it might even look like Janice is deliberately sexing men up acting like she does, but I’ve observed her long enough to know that isn’t the case. As such, that makes the whole thing even more awkward.

So there we have it. a sex bomb in the office and a horny CEO that follows her around like a puppy.

“She’s great, isn’t she?”

“Mh? What?” I drop the pen I’m subconciously fiddling around with. I reach for my coffee, delicately sip it and throw a sideways glance at Janice, who is just bending over to add some paper to a lower drawer of the copier. My coffee is now lukewarm, and yet I suddenly feel hot. “You’re not… you know, in love with her or anything, right?”

“God, no. Well past that stage. I feel like gettin’ it awn.”

‘Well past that stage’ in Cookie’s language means that he had in fact been in love with her, deduced that he didn’t want the burden of a healthy relationship, the prospect of married life, children and a pet he’d most likely have to care for all on his own (because Janice forgot to feed our office fish multiple times last week; it’s a miracle it is still alive) and subjected himself to the matters of the flesh instead.

“She’s spoken for”, I add on a side note. That won’t stop Cookie from reeling in his object of desire, but at least now I did everything in my power to lessen the chance a lawsuit will be filed against him in a matter of days. Now what was the web site of that intermediary agency again?

“I’m gonna ask her out, Gene”. Before I could even object, he’d risen from his seat and slithered over to her desk. I dared not look in their direction and pretended to be hard at work behind my laptop. The overly smooth ‘how you doin’?’ didn’t even register with my brain anymore.

Why? Because a couple of things then happened at the same time. In Slow-Mo.

Pewter – shit – ‘Peter’ suddenly entered our office. I completely forgot that I brought him with me this morning, because I didn’t dare leave him home alone in his state of intoxication. I didn’t mention it to Cookie, either.

Still drunk, he squinted at the fish in its tank, which he warily addressed with ‘pop?’.

While probably wondering how in the world I’d managed to change into aquatic form and do such a mighty fine job with decorating my underwater palace, he managed to catch Cookie, who didn’t see him enter as he had his back toward the door, off-guard. John jumped up from Janice her desk in response, while letting out a high-pitched shriek in the process. This in turn startled Peter (who was even more hungover than that bearded guy from ‘The Hangover’),  who had miraculously gotten hold of the net that we use to clean the tank, probably wanting to save me from my watery prison. While scooping up the fish he instinctively covered his ears to numb the sound of Cookie’s shriek, as such launched the poor finned fella across the office, right into the cleavage of – you guessed right – Janice. She, in turn, screamed like heaven and hell had just collided, started clawing at her bra, not sure where to reach for the slippery guest between her bosom. Cookie immediately saw opportunity and instinctively stuck his hand in Janice her bra in an attempt ‘to get the fish out’. Janice screamed even louder, after which she swung a right hook at Cookie’s jaw, who immediately dropped to the floor like a ragdoll. Before he hit the deck, however, he swooped the coffee pot from its holder, which landed right on top of the copier. The machine immediately sparked up like the fourth of july and caught on fire, which was welcomed by the tapestry that hung near it, lighting up like a matchstick.

An hour later, I’m sitting outside of the building, sipping my coffee. I’m wrapped in a blanket and can’t even be bothered by the wailing sirens in the background racing towards our burning office building. The only thing I vaguely register, is Janice screaming at the still unconscious Cookie while the police hold back a hysterical Peter, who is desperately reaching for Janice her bosom, convinced that I’m only seconds away from suffocating between her luscious breasts.

I close my eyes. Another sip.

Coffee. The greatest life hack known to man.

 

*  Note from Scotch: It really has been almost five years since our last entry. If you’re still reading or even remotely remember who we are, thanks from the bottom of our hearts. Cookie will date you.

Author: Scotch

Eugene Essig, the titular 'Scotch' from the stories @ ScotchandCookies.com. Lead writer for Far From Finished Game Studios, father of Peter Essig, slave - err - husband to Nadia Essig and childhood friend of John 'Cookie' Dutch.