Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I'm not happy and I don't know what to do.

I've been at this desk since yesterday afternoon, working. No problem there; there were a lot of supervillain dossiers that had to be updated, and it's interesting reading. But Cruickshank stopped by yesterday evening.

He took a chair out of the blue room and sat down across the desk from me. "Have a minute?" he asked.

"Sure. What's going on?"

He looked me in the face, and exhaled. "I've been talking with Greyghost."


"He's . . . uneasy about you. Like he's not satisfied with the job you've been doing. I think he's thinking about letting you go."

"What?! Why? What's wrong with the job I've been doing?"

"He didn't say, but . . . look, you don't know much about superheroes, right?"

"Not really. More than I did before, though."

"Yeah. Well, the thing about superheroes is this: their work is really important and they have no time. So imagine you're a superhero: you tell your guy to do something, you've gotta believe that it's going to get done, automatically, perfectly, immediately. You have to be able to count on him without thinking about it. Right?"

"He can count on me! Everything he's told me to do, I did it."

"All right, all right, it's just . . . look, I know you're new to the big city. You're not used to the pace, you're not used to dealing with superheroes. It's different from how things are in Keyville."

"Keysbury." What an asshole. I got enough grief at college from city guys who acted like I was missing a couple of chromosomes just because I came from a small town. The only thing standing between Cruickshank and a rap in the mouth was the fact that I wasn't any good at hitting people.

"That. It's different, anyway. There's nothing to be ashamed of if you can't keep up with all this. I know you think you've been doing well, but have you really? I mean, Greyghost is worried about something." Now that he mentioned it . . . I thought of the family I teleported from the junkyard, the attention I attracted at the Korean restaurant, the visit to the Finnish bank dressed like a beach bum. That stuff didn't matter, though, did it? I mean, I got everything done okay. "I'm only telling you this because I like you and I don't want to see you punted out of here. But you have to do better. You have to try harder. You almost have to become an extension of Greyghost."

I didn't say anything.

"Think about it, okay?" he said. "Let me know if you need help, even. I've been working with Greyghost a long time, and it's important to me that he has someone reliable in this office. Hey, if it's any consolation, you're doing a lot better than Carl did, and Carl never lost his job."

"Oh yeah?" I'd share a Popsicle with him in hell before I asked him for help.

"Carl was always smarting off at Greyghost and going off on his own. There were about five different times when I thought Greyghost was going to kill him, never mind firing him. I couldn't believe he lasted as long as he did. So you've got the advantage there."

I nodded. Damn. I didn't want to lose this job. The hours were insane and I had no social life, but I felt useful and competent and unique. Until now I did, anyway. The only problem is, I already thought I had been trying as hard as I could. This is it, this is my best. I can't do any better than this.

"Is there anything I can do for you, to help you out? You know how to work everything on the computer?"

"No, no, I'm fine," I said, deleting Minesweeper out of the Games directory.

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