The money in my bank account was starting to trickle down into numbers I was not comfortable with. I had left my job at the hospital for greener pastures, of which there were many, and was living off my savings while continuing my career as a writer. In three months, I released three books that had been shelved indefinitely while my editor/ girlfriend ignored me, and started to see other people for the last six months we were together. She thought of herself as an actress while her talents rested in the B to C categories, a few steps behind ________ (insert crappy soap opera here).
July had started and while I had been gone from the work place for three months I was still sleeping on my old work schedule. I had a set routine of things to do during the day trying to make a living from self-publishing but I would not see the fruits of my labor for another three months. I needed to get out of the house. I applied for a job with the County and I was told at the interview that I was over qualified. The last time I heard this it was a bad thing and I was never offered the job at Stryker. This time around the county was excited to hire me with little training needed to get me started.
I was checking my E-mail and shorting through messages on Facebook when I discovered a hidden file of messages that I didn’t know existed. There was the usual spam and junk mail, women claiming to find me sexy and guys saying I somehow inherited a million dollars from relatives I never heard of. There was one piece of mail that stood out, it came from a man I’ll call Nick Golden.
Hey Matthew, Have just last week discovered your writing skills through your ‘After the Day’ novels. Also, I’ve enjoyed your blog & FB page. I’ve assembled and am adding to my writing team on a TV Web Series. I took my writing training at Writers’ Workshop at Iowa U. in the mid-sixties; my filmmaking experience was mainly in Scandinavia. This series, is a near-future (2029 start date in pilot) account of an American Dynasty family, with five generations still alive and living on the post-collapse America. The politics and base assumptions seem to be aligned with yours. An economic collapse based on dollar collapse and aquifer death are principle inciting incidences. Then China comes in to collect on their collateral for their defaulted loans. If you have an interest in a ‘work for hire’ project which is right down your alley, pls be in touch. I think your character development, ear for dialogue and plot savvy, can work well within our Saga long-arc story-line. (Whereas your novels treat the domestic scene, we couple domestic with Commune-building. competition to rescue the Dynasty’s legacy, and rescue America, with international intrigue.) I’m at my S. CA home right now. I alternate between here and “Walden Lodge,” a log hunting lodge on five acres near Bellevue, WA.
I called Nick and he answered on the second ring. It was the first phone call I had in months that wasn’t a telemarketer. Nick started talking and that was the end of my side of the conversation.
“You are a hard man to find. I couldn’t find anything about you online. I was about to send a private dick out to search for you.”
I didn’t know what he was referring to, my email and Facebook page were public, there was also the comment section of my blog that could have been used.
“If you are interested in working on the television show I can email you the contract right away. This is going to be big. I’m looking at selling it to Netflix. Everyone is going to want a piece of this. I used to run a production studio in Norway. No one is going to want to pass this up.”
“Ya send me the contract and I will have my guy look it over.” My guy was my friend Judd who had just started his own company from home and worked as a freelance writer for a short period of time.
While I was trying to figure out how I was going to start balancing a second shift job, writing, and working on a TV show, my “girlfriend” sent me a text. I had not heard from her in 10 days. The last time we spoke she was asking me for money. Did I mention she worked as a nurse and made $40+ an hour. She had made several financial mistakes during the three and a half years we were together and now debt collectors were calling and she wanted to be bailed out.
“How much do you owe?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well the first thing I would do is sit down and figure that out.”
“It’s more than I have.”
“How do you know if you haven’t added everything up?”
“I just know. Don’t you trust me?”
“It’s not about trust, it’s about numbers. If you want me to sit down with you and make a plan I will do that but I’m not just going to give you money when you won’t even figure out what is going wrong.”
“My mom gave me $400 dollars without asking any questions. Why can’t you do that?”
“How much do you want?”
“How are you that far behind? You make four times what I did at the hospital. What are you doing with your money?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Then you’re definitely not getting any money from me. Figure out what you’re doing wrong then call me.” I hung up the phone.
This time around she wanted to have lunch. This was something we would do several times a week and these days I barely saw her, never received text, and when I did try to contact her she would say everything was fine and that she was really busy. She never had the balls to break up with anyone.
I sat down across the table from her in the hospital cafeteria. It was a safe space, one that people wouldn’t start a conflict in, normally. She was in her scrubs and already had her food, French fries with ketchup.
“You’re mad at me,” she said eating her food.
I shook my head like I didn’t know what she was talking about. “It’s been ten days.”
“I’ve been busy,” she said. Then went ahead telling me about putting her house on the market, the bathroom remodeling job that had been taking forever (because she was fucking the handyman), putting the house on the market, the kids, the other guys kids, refinancing the van… eventually I droned her out. I didn’t care. She had no interest in me anymore and I just wanted her to say it was over so that I could move on, but that wasn’t how she worked. “So, what have you been up to?” she had a look on her face like she was expecting me to say that leaving the hospital was the worst choice I ever made, I was miserable, and that there weren’t any jobs out there. Everything I told her was the opposite.
“I have a job with the County now, Union, and full benefits. Same pay as here but no fingers or blood to clean up from the floor. I was contacted by a Hollywood producer to start writing for a showing being produced for Netflix. He wants to fly me out to Seattle to work with his group. I’m trying to schedule an interview with a Kurdish Sniper who fought ISIS in Syria for a spy thriller based on the War. A girl from Twitter is helping put it together.”
“Who is this girl? Do you like her? Why are you talking to her?”
I sat back in the chair, this was what she had been waiting for, something to use to turn on me. I had never cheated on her, always did as I was asked and now was her moment to make me the bad guy, regardless of how ridiculous it was.
“She works as a journalist on the side in Norway,” I said.
“So, you like this girl,” she said working herself up. “That’s nice. That’s really nice. So you’re leaving me?”
I tried really hard not to laugh. This was becoming absurd.
“I haven’t seen you in ten days. You appear out of nowhere asking for money because you can’t get your shit together and this is what you can come up with? Ya I’m leaving. It’s obvious you don’t want me around.”
“After three years your leaving me?”
“Take care, Kelly.”
There were messages after that. Mind games to act like she was the victim. She wanted to ultrasound for the child she had aborted early on in our relationship. I told her she could have it but of course she never showed up. She would send questions about other stupid things, excuses to write me. I told her if she wanted to talk she needed to call, I was done with this texting bullshit. She never called and I never heard from her again. A week later she posted pictures on Facebook having dinner with the Handyman who looked like Sloth from the Goonies. It was finally over.
The contract had been printed out and Judd went over it explaining that there wasn’t anything to worry about.
“Don’t talk about your books while working for them. Anything you bring up becomes property of the company. Also, whatever you create for them they own. You can’t talk about the project outside of the group for three years. It’s standard stuff.”
I signed on the dotted line and faxed it to Nick. It looked like I was going to Hollywood.