Monday, January 03, 2011

The Enterprise - 24

My roommate Sean had lapsed into a deep depression. Every night I'd find him in his customary spot on the couch, gazing torpidly at the TV, a Camel Light between his fingers. He used to be all right. What happened?

He used to have a job. As an assistant to a TV producer, a friend of his. The job was supposed to be cool. It was supposed to be easy. He was invited to submit ideas for shows, even, if he ever had some. To maybe do some voiceover. Who knows, a little acting. If he wanted to. He was a born talent. An adept and instinctual performer. But he froze on the spot.

One late afternoon his boss, his friend, called me up. His voice was strained with dread.

"Do you know where Sean is?"


"He never showed up today."

"You called him?"

"No answer."

Of course we were both certain that he'd entered some fugue state, that he'd run away to die. That whatever he'd done, he'd done emphatically, once and for all, preempting all hand-wringing and palliative platitudes. It was an affront, a powerful gesture. A familiar figure gone precipitously absent gains an aura of solemn authority, as though already peering at us from the Great Beyond. I felt angry, scared. Ashamed.

When I got back home he was asleep on the couch.

"What? Jesus, what fucking time is it?" he mumbled drowsily.

"It's six something. Seven."

"Jesus fuck. Godammit. Must've slept all day."

"Artie's looking for you."

"Really? Fuck. Godammit." He sat upright now, rubbing his forehead.

"You should really call him."

"Jesus. What time is it?"

"I told you six forty-five."

"Oh yeah. Sorry. Right." He reached out to the coffee table, plucked a cigarette out of the pack, and placed it between his lips. He sparked his lighter once, twice, a third time before it lit. He took a long, deep drag and life resumed.