The problem with Thursdays isn’t that Friday can’t come soon enough. Sitting in my apartment watching my flat mate vape and play Friends reruns isn’t a riveting weekend activity. The problem is that only Greg and I are at work. The halls are nearly empty and the odor of Wednesday’s stale coffee sits idly in the pot by my door. Greg strides in twenty minutes late as he usually does, a bluetooth piece in his ear and axe body spray wreaking from his beer stained suit, walking in with purpose as if none of us notice last night’s hangover following him in toe. Luke works downtown on Thursdays holding apparently top secret meetings for the firm. I find it convenient that he and Ariana choose the same days to work downtown, but I don’t have the guts to say anything. I spend most Thursdays submitting countless resumes to other firms, mostly as a joke to myself now since I know no one will hire me. Something about a nearly finished college degree with no explanation, only one professional reference, and two DUI’s on a legal record doesn’t appeal to most lawfirms. Leave it to Barnes and Associates to hire a low-life like me. I fit right in with the team of four: Greg’s untamed narcissistic alcoholism, Luke’s lack of brain cells and Ariana’s gambling problem make Newark’s most dysfunctional dream team complete. By the time the year is up, Ariana’s inheritance will be gone and we will all be let go. We all know it and none of us do much about it. Nonetheless, I can bullshit a cover letter as well as the rest of them. “In spite of my prestigious legal record, I can offer your company unwavering professional loyalty for a maximum of four weeks, creatively crafted excuses, and an unlikeable personality. My personal and professional qualities match your corporate values precisely.
Last Thursday was no exception to the stenchy scene. I walked in after Greg for once. He must have either fallen asleep at the office the night before or caught a ride with Wednesday’s call girl. The axe scent had faded, replaced by the common blast of alcohol and body odor. I mentally prepared myself to make small talk in the hallway before I recognized Ariana’s insults from behind his office door. My gut sank. Was today the day?
“Net worth is still net worth. If we are $700 in the hole, she’s going to notice.”
“Take a step back Ari. Last month we went over budget by $1,800 and she didn’t notice. She hasn’t run financials since February.”
“Did you see her new Rolex? Who paid for that?”
There’s something inspiring about noticing they’re talking about you before they realize you’ve noticed. It gives you time to think. For the first time, I realized I had an alternative to being let go. Before I could change my mind, I put my plan into action. I hastened toward Greg’s ‘secret’ vodka stash behind the shredder, reached for my company credit card, and hopped back in my car. Apart from stopping for gas and a vodka refill in Queens on my former lawfirm’s dime, I made it to Long Island before I got arrested.
I zoned out during the booking process. I had my Miranda rights memorized and I’d polished off the second round of Vodka so there was nothing of note in my search. The last time I was booked was at the Essex County jail after I broke in to a Victoria’s Secret late at night with a blood alcohol level of 0.12 as a fearless act of self sabotage from a third date with a successful doctor with husband potential. Self sabotage is a powerful safety net against happiness. I knew this time would be different, though. My mom taught me that being myself was the best gift I could offer humanity. I figured humanity could do without my gifts as a low life fraud accountant with a drinking problem. It was time for a new approach. I managed to take my Miranda rights as literally as possible for the 72 hours before my emergency court hearing. I did not speak, even when spoken to or berated for not speaking. I accepted my stale bagel with shaking hands as my forced detox went unnoticed. I ate two bites before giving up. I was silently amazed by the intentional indifference of inmates and staff to my nearly fatal state. But still I did not speak. I knew what I had to do to get out of this: I had to make them think I was as insane as I felt.
“Please say your name for the record, Ms. Agonis.”
“Her name is Ms. Agonis, your honor,” I uttered for the first time in 72 hours. “She is not here right now, but I am.”
I sighed triumphantly as his honor squirmed uncomfortably in his chair, the potential for insanity paired with lack of legal representation dawning on him. I stood up, paced erratically around the room, and mustered every ounce of practice from eighth grade drama club to tear up.
“Your honor, Ms. Agonis is dead. Your honor, I can’t hear her. She has been quiet for days.”
Walking out of the psychiatric evaluation with a schizophreniform disorder and a prescription for seroquel was simple enough. I knew enough from roaming the streets to make my affect blunted, my speech delayed, my orientation lacking and my associations loose. I was jobless and newly sober. If the system was going to play me, I would play their game.
This may be a story of fraud. It may be a story of switching my pathetic lawfirm life for the life of stale bagels and silence while I hope for a plee of not guilty by reason of insanity. I feel insane myself. But for the first time since I got an A in eighth grade drama class, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I know there’s nothing out here for an addict like me, so I’ll try my hand at being psychotic. Maybe someday, I can figure out who I am behind this broken mask.