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His daily quota hit, his bob cat eyes puffed up into slits of feral fuzz, Giacomo Jones tears himself out of the unfinished algorithm flashing and flashing across his four computer screens like some kind of purgatorial fire. He coughs and chugs the rest of his really cold Guatemalan coffee, his superhairy fingers throbbing, screaming, throbbing all over his comic strip-cluttered desk. He growls, he groans, he bounces on his baby blue exercise ball. Because after two or three weeks of binge coding he like definitely can’t feel his legs, his feet, or his bloated brain. Because he like definitely needs—definitely deserves!—a five-minute breather after two or three weeks of not sleeping, not masturbating, not eating or living or nothing nothing as nice as all that!
A couple of bouncy yawns later, feeling just a tad bit better, Giacomo Jones rips off his fighter pilot headset (strictly 80’s and 90’s hip hop), then throws a quick violent glance over at Ian the Intern—the nonentity hunched over his desk, eating his disgusting ginger nuts and supposedly working on Beloved Entropy’s social media presence. Even though whenever Giacomo checks on him the quasi-sentient intern like always seems to be clicking his life away with Facebook photos of marshmallows and s’mores, smoky campfires and sleeping bags, hunting rifles, crossbows, dead elk on lifted trucks, beer and friends and an internet-ready log cabin . . . Our favorite superhero growling but definitely not in the mood to growl at someone. Because he’s like just way too tired to actually remind the quasi-adult intern, who apparently just graduated from the University of Alaska this year, to get his fucking act together before he ends up as a dirt-cheap rent boy down in the Village, or worse, in Times Square. And if Giacomo isn’t in the mood to do or say that, then he’s like definitely not in the mood to give the quasi-logical intern a real programming project to work on. Not that our favorite superhero would ever do anything as revoltingly vulgar at that. No fucking way. Because Giacomo Jones intends to finish this ridiculously complicated algorithm the only way he knows how. Solo and at full thrust. Like a Chicago-made rocket. And since Peter’s the one who found the quasi-obese intern on some kind of black market list for unpaid slaves or whatever, and since Peter’s off on a client meeting or whatever, there’s like definitely no one around right now to tell Ian the Intern to stop being such a lazy hick and get his fat ass back to fucking work—and go pick us up two or three pepperoni pizzas while you’re at, you worthless Alaskan chode! . . . The fortysomethingth floor like so dangerously quiet this afternoon that Giacomo can’t even hear the Anti-Aging Angels over there, way over there past the endless rows of empty desks, vacant cubicles. Can’t even hear them working on their stem cell research, their I Ching acupuncture, their Golden Dawn necromancy or whatever the fuck it is that they like actually do over there but that at least like definitely does usually help a little and sometimes a lot to block out these relentlessly buzzing servers and these five o’ clock whispers which softly knock knock on the floor-to-ceiling windows. Begging Mr. Jones to come out and play. To come out and say FUCK IT. Knock knock. Knock knock . . .
Bouncing and bouncing on his baby blue exercise ball our favorite superhero scratches his overgrown crew cut and looks over to his right—down the aisle. He watches Sophie Strudel peel the Thanksgiving Day stickers off the wall, her milk chocolate ponytail bobbling next to the headscratchingly high-tech water cooler, bobbling under the flatscreen TV silently spewing the news, the news, the news. Giacomo watching Sophie tap-a-tap something or other on her smartphone, then go back to carefully rearranging the holiday decorations she brought into work today—a mistletoe wreathe, a ball and chain of lavender lights, a miniature Christmas tree. Giacomo watching for a few more drawn-out seconds, then yawning and glancing back at his four flashing screens, lines of code zipping across like migrating termites. His Midwestern fuel cells totally depleted our favorite superhero slowly, slowly shuts down what’s left of his brain, slowly opens a new window on his Web browser, and slowly, slowly starts to click his life away with meaningless status updates, shamefully stupid YouTube videos, celebrity gossip blogs, sports highlights, comforting comics. He clicks and sinks back into the four screens. He sinks and starts to void . . .
Except that our favorite superhero suddenly feels a delicious tickle-tickle up and down his superhairy spine because enough’s enough and he gots to do it—like right fucking now! Giacomo bouncing to his extra-large feet and like actually almost falling head over Chuck Taylors as two or three weeks’ worth of backed up blood creep-a-creeps down his paralyzed thighs . . . Giacomo leaning on his desk. Giacomo waiting for his human heart to finish inflating his superhuman groin . . . Giacomo coughing and wishing he could like just take a quicker than quick look in a mirror or something. But since he definitely can’t get to the bathroom without first going round and round the headscratchingly high-tech water cooler Giacomo shuffles his Chuck Taylors over to the floor-to-ceiling windows. He shuffles past Peter’s shiny desk, shuffles past Ian the Intern and his disgusting ginger nuts. He shuffles up to the bewitching glass, then shuffles his reflection over Manhattan and the great American beyond. With a “Fuck me” groan Giacomo runs a superhairy paw down his prickly muzzle. Because he like totally forgot to shave and today like definitely wasn’t a good day to forget. Great. Just great. Giacomo straightens out his denim collar, tries his very best to pick at the yellow crust on his grumpy green sweater but the dried goo just won’t come off. Just won’t quit. Coughing, scowling, coughing Giacomo Jones looks down at all these streets wound up like boa constrictors round and round the skyscraper Valhalla. At all these good-for-nothing molecules borne this way and that across the nebulous pillars of Creation . . . Giacomo smiling his sinister smile and tucking back his boner. Giacomo pounding his anti-gym gut, pounding it twice for twice the luck then pointing his Chuck Taylors back down the aisle. Aiming for the water cooler. Aiming for Sophie Strudel’s black leggings and fluffy red boots. For her black and red plaid shirt . . .
“Fuck’s going on, Soph,” our favorite superhero baring his canines as he leans in for one of the disposable plastic cups.
Sophie looks up from the miniature Christmas tree, a bluegold star dangling from her frosted fingertips. “Hey, boss.”
“How’s the fucking day going?”
“Oh, not bad. I think this might be the slowest day ever. Productive though. Have you had a chance to look at the website yet? I took care of all the rendering glitches. I also tested the new layout on five different screen sizes. The responsive design is working a lot better than I thought it would. I just need to tweak the color scheme a little bit so that it really shouts truelove and then it’ll be good to go for your presentation next week.”
“That’s fucking great,” Giacomo fidgeting with the headscratchingly high-tech knob.
Sophie smiles a prom queen kind of smile. She hangs a buttercream-dipped bauble on the miniature tree.
“I had my mom send me all these. They’re the only things my great-grandparents were able to bring with them when they came over from Germany.”
Brown cheeks burning, sweating, burning our favorite superhero sips on his sippy cup and glances up at the 42-inch flatscreen. Giacomo trying his very best to deflate his superhuman groin by reading the plain white words that skeet skeet on and on about how the police finally apprehended the Central Park Ripper but like all he can do is groan and growl because once again the fucking subtitles aren’t in fucking sync with Big Brother’s lemon lips!
“Motherfuckers!” Giacomo howling and spilling his sippy cup all over his sleeve.
Sophie flinches under the mistletoe wreath. “What’s wrong?”
“What? Nothing. Fuck . . .”
A curiously confused look on her freckly face, Sophie picks up a plastic thumbtack and pins a pair of Santa Claus-embroidered stockings up on the off-white wall.
Our favorite superhero gulps down the rest of his sippy cup as a really awkward bubble rises up from the water cooler’s depths and breaks through the stuffy surface with a muffled fart. With two or three muffled farts. Giacomo shivering and feeling that same delicious tickle-tickle up and down his spine. His peacock jaws starting to move. “Would you fucking wanna—would you fucking wanna grab fucking dinner one of these fucking days?” the words scraping themselves out through his crooked canines.
Sophie slowly turning like a marzipan nutcracker on top of a massive stollen cake at stollenfest. Slowly, slowly aiming her greengold lamb eyes at our favorite superhero.
“Sure, that’d be nice. I’d love to. When?”
“What about,” Giacomo coughing and wiping off his sweater, “tomorrow? I know a fucking great place”—he definitely doesn’t—“you’ll fucking love it. I guaran-the-fuck-tee it.”
“Okay, sure. Tomorrow works. But I just—”
A three-note chime interrupts.
Sophie bends down and grabs her smartphone off the cardboard box of Christmas ornaments. She glances at the flashing screen, then bites her lips and looks into Giacomo’s warthog eyes. “Sorry, but there’s something I need to go do right now. Do you care if I head out early today? I can work from home tonight and have the color scheme ready by the morning.”
“Don’t fucking worry about it. Go for it,” grinning and grinning.
“Perfect. Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
“Sounds fucking good,” Giacomo biting down on his sippy cup, trying his very best to keep it all in. Sophie gliding back to her desk, one hand curling a strand of milk chocolate hair behind a peanut butter ear. Giacomo sweating. Sophie grabbing her red fur coat, her red ushanka cap with the earflaps folded up, her Louis Vuitton handbag and her oversized Jackie O sunglasses. Giacomo licking his muzzle. Sophie’s fluffy red boots bobbling back up the aisle. Giacomo shivering with delicious thoughts. Sophie bobbling up the aisle and out through the endless rows of empty desks, vacant cubicles. Giacomo blacking out as Sophie and her red cap bobble and bobble out of the fortysomethingth floor, out of the Freedom Tower, out of here . . .
Whistling, grinning, whistling our favorite superhero lifts himself off the floor, refills his sippy cup, then waddles back down the aisle but definitely doesn’t stop at his desk right away. Definitely not. Because he hasn’t felt this good in at least two or three weeks—in at least two or three years—and he sure as fuck intends to savor all these naturally sweet chemicals as long as he possibly can. So with a “Fuck all you motherfuckers!” fist pump our favorite superhero waddles back over to the floor-to-ceiling windows and slaps Ian the Intern on the back, slaps him twice, chuckling wistfully to himself as the Alaskan yokel chokes on his disgusting ginger nuts. Giacomo chuckling and sipping on his sippy cup, a rosier than rosy kaleidoscope of crystal palaces twirling and twirling as far as his hyena eyes can see. Giacomo chuckling and crushing his sippy cup between his superhairy paws, the terminally ill sun coughing up blood all over the Island Kingdom. Giacomo chuckling and thinking and chuckling Yea. Now we’re fucking getting somewhere. Now we’re fucking living, brothers. Sister. Mom and pops . . .