Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Ordinarily I'd be looking forward to the upcoming baseball season, but it's different here in Empire City. All people can talk about is the Emperors and whether they're going to win it all this year. I can't stand the Emps; I became a baseball fan in the early '90s when they were winning everything in sight and I hated them then and I hate them now. Makes me popular around here, I can tell you.

I'm a Pioneers fan, of course. Coming from Keysbury, could I be anything else? Not that it's really fashionable cheering for the Pie these days. God, I wasn't born the last time they won anything worth winning.

All through high school and college, there was a group of about six of us who'd all pile into a car and drive into the city for every home game we could manage. We'd usually have a row of seats all to ourselves, and cheer until we were hoarse. I was there in '98 when the Pioneers clinched a third-place finish, the best they've done in the whole time I was a baseball fan. That night I got drunk for one of the only times in my life.

We'd take the same signs to every game. The first guy's sign said, "Go Pie!". The second said, "3.1415," the third guy had "92653," and so on. Mine was "58979". We never got on TV, though.

So now here I am surrounded by obnoxious Emps fans. Nick has a little Emperors flag on his security desk. Even Cruickshank has tickets to Opening Day, and I know damn well he isn't a sports fan.


Awkward phone call this evening, from my brother.

Ring ring


"Dennis! Returning your call."

"Hey, Mike. I didn't call you."

"Oh. . . then I must be responding to one of the letters or e-mails you've sent me."

Sigh. "I haven't sent you any letters or e-mails."

"Oh. Then screw you."

"Thanks. What's up?"

"Not much. Just checking in with you."

"Cool. I can't talk long, though, I gotta go to work."

"It's Friday night. It's nine o'clock. How are you going to work now?"

"I have stuff to do."

"At your secret job that you can't tell anyone about."


"Making toys at the North Pole."

"Yes. You've guessed it."

"You're still not going to tell me."

"I told you. I'm the building guy for a little office building. That's all the details I can give you."

"Why? Do your janitors use secret brooms or something?"

"Because a couple of the tenants have big research contracts, and I signed a total secrecy thing. Climb down."

"Oh, and who am I going to tell? Not a lot of industrial spies here in Keysbury."

"That's not the point. I signed a thing, I'm not going to talk about it."

"But you are going in to work at nine Friday night. You are lying your ass off about something. I know you."

"Well, thanks for calling me up and telling me."

"Anytime. Listen. When are you coming home for a while?"

"I don't know. It's hard to say."

"Why's it hard to say? Pick a week and take some vacation time."

Here we go. "I don't know how that works here. It's probably more difficult than that."

"I'll explain it to you then. First you decide when you want to go on vacation. Then you tell your boss that that's when you want to go on vacation. Then - are you still with me? - then you actually go on vacation that week."


"That's your 'okay' you use when you just don't want to talk about it anymore. Do you actually get vacation days at this job?"

"I don't know. There's probably something. I don't know how it works."

"They have to let you take a vacation, Dennis. It's the law."

"Yeah. Well. Don't worry about it; I intend to take vacation. I just can't give you any details."

"Except that you have to go in to work at nine o'clock Friday night."

"Yeah. Are you going to be home this weekend? I'll call you tomorrow sometime."

"I'll be in and out. If you don't catch me leave a message and I'll call back."

"All right. See you."

"Bye. Have a good night at work."

Click. I've been having more phone calls like this with my family.

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