The year was 2012. The Mayan’s had been wrong about the end of the world, or maybe they were correct about the start of the end, a twenty-year landslide of civilization into a dumpster fire followed by a cesspool. The second half appears to be more accurate.
Being a newly divorced hospital janitor I was sitting in a coffee shop one evening cruising around on Facebook and downloading the latest episodes of the Henry Rollins radio show. While browsing past the latest political arguments in my Facebook thread I received a message from one of my co-workers. Hope was a patient care assistant in the same unit I worked. It was well known that she was unhappy and the list of affairs she had grew over time.
-Hey Matt, what do you know about Vance?
-He’s a poon hound. Stay away from him.
-but he says the sweetest things to me. He said that he loves me and wants to take care of me and the kids.
-Vance loves Vance. He has a fetish for Asian women. His last girlfriend dumped him because he’s a mooch.
-he said she was cheating and that’s why he left.
-He proposed and she locked him out of the apartment.
-how do you know this?
-he told me.
-look, Hope. All the guys in the ER think you’re hot. You can do better.
-You think I’m hot?
-you’re married. To a guy who carries a gun for a living.
-I’m not happily married.
-if I were you, I would either go to a marriage councilour or get divorced.
-he says if I ever leave him he will shoot me then himself.
-I’m sorry Hope, I don’t know what to tell you. Vance isn’t the answer.
Our conversation ended and as far as I know she never ran away with Vance. He had left the ER and moved back to Chicago where he was from. Hope stayed in the ER and continued her secret life with a few of our co-workers. There was the charge nurse with a long history of sexual harassment and sexual assault. While Hope said she was looking for a better life she had a habit of picking the guys with a self-destructive nature.
Four years later, I left the ER. I left the hospital and started a new life. After 14 years, I was free from a job that I had always known. My 20s were gone and now I had to start over. For the first time in year I had internet at home and was cruising through Facebook while not writing the current book I was supposed to be working on. People I had worked with were posting comments about Hope, that she “didn’t deserve that.” I sent some direct messages asking what had happened.
Hope had left her husband and filed for divorce. She had a boyfriend and luck for him he was not sitting around the camp fire behind her house, sharing a few beers with friends while the kids were inside sleeping. Her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, came to the house, walked up to Hope, shot her and then himself. Hearing this, I immediately remembered our conversation years before and what she told me.
Two years later, it is 2018. I’m chatting with some co-workers at the library I was working at while one of them tells me about a “date” they had been on. The guy she was hanging out with locked the doors to the car while parked in front of her house. He keeps asking her to go out with him but she keeps saying no. after sitting there for an hour he tells her that if she doesn’t go out with him, he will kill her then himself. She tries brushing it off like it was no big deal. “He’s a punk. He won’t do anything.”
I tell her she should take it seriously. You don’t know this guy. Then I share the story that I just shared with you dear reader. For some reason, one that I cannot, and will never understand, it was reported to HR as a threat against her. As if I wanted to see another co-worker killed for no reason.
While I sit in the office listening to the list of complaints against me, I finally reply “how is that a threat? A woman that I used to work with was murdered by her husband.”
“It was a threat of violence,” the woman replies.
“It was in the news.” I reply. “Go look it up. Hope _____. Her husband was a Battle Creek Sheriff’s deputy.”
“It was taken as a threat.”
That was when I knew the farce that the investigation was. That comment was followed by hearsay, comments made from co-workers about things other co-workers had said. They couldn’t get their shit together enough to talk to actual people about certain accusations. Meanwhile, I sat there wondering why my complaint about racist comments regarding me were swept under the rug.
“You’re talking about race and sex. No HR department wants to touch this with a ten-foot pole.” My boss said. What he really meant was that I was the wrong color and that my complaint was not relevant. Being a straight white man didn’t mean a damn thing unless the complaint was about me. The words started to become foggy, I couldn’t ay attention anymore because it had become obvious that I was in a world without hope.