The Ass Hole
One day he finally woke up to the fact that he was an asshole. "I’m an asshole," he though as he ran the soap across his chest in the shower one morning. "They were right." All those women he’d had affairs with, his employees who told him off as they quit or were fired, even his brother. "I am an asshole. Shit." He finished washing and turned off the facet, grabbed the towel and started rubbing his hair before he thought, "Well then, what now? How do I stop being an asshole?"
It wasn’t until halfway through breakfast that the thought popped, unsolicited, into his head, "Do I even want to stop being an asshole? Do I care?" And really, after 45 years of it, why should he change? He had a good career, power over people, made tons of money, and had all the right toys. His parents were dead, his ex-wife long gone except for the alimony check his accountant wrote each month. The women he occasionally met, had sex with, "dated," were never a problem, or if they were, someone else took care of it. His idiot brother was somewhere in Canada, doing god knows what but not bothering him at all. Why change?
"Am I lonely," he asked himself? Lonely… What does that really mean anyway? So he looked it up in Webster:
lone.ly \'lo-n-le-\ aj 1a: being without company : LONE 1b: cut off from others : SOLITARY 2: not frequented by human beings : DESOLATE 3: sad from being alone : LONESOME 4: producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation
"Hm. Definitely 1a, 1b, and 2. But 3 and 4? Am I sad?" So he pondered sadness for a while, and also consulted the dictionary, since his confidence in his grasp of simple vocabulary had failed him:
sad.ness \'sad-n*s\ n : quality, state, or fact of being sad M, GLOOM: SADNESS is a general term that carries no suggestion of the cause, extent, or exact nature of low spirits; DEPRESSION suggests a condition in which one feels let down, disheartened, or enervated; MELANCHOLY suggests a mood of sad and serious but not wholly unpleasant pensiveness; MELANCHOLIA applies to a settled deep depression verging on insanity; DEJECTION implies a usu. passing mood of being downcast or dispirited from a natural or logical cause; GLOOM applies to the atmosphere or the effect on others created by one afflicted with any of these moods or conditions SYN syn DEPRESSION, MELANCHOLY, MELANCHOLIA, DEJECTION)
Who would have thought sadness would have such a long and vague definition? "Fuck," he thought. Slowly the thoughts began to assemble like the cars of a toy train being put together by a small child, "If I’m an asshole…. and if I’m sad about it… maybe… I should try to figure out... how to stop... being an asshole." Pleased with himself for completing a whole train of thought without consulting the dictionary, he got dressed and went to work. Now all he had to do was figure out if he was sad about being an asshole.
The secretary tiptoed in and left his coffee on his desk, refusing eye contact, clearly hoping he wouldn’t notice her. Usually he didn’t. He wondered if she always acted like this and if that was why he didn’t notice her. Did she have a reason for not wanting him to notice her? Was she like that with everyone? Did she have personal problems and always creep around everyone? Or was it just around him? He tried hard to remember how long she had worked for him… She was matronly shaped, in her late thirties, and had been preceded by a fresh-out-of-college blonde who was pretty, but always on the phone and completely unreliable. He usually alternated between good help and pretty help. He rarely bothered to remember their names, since they seemed to need replacing every six months to two years. The blonde had called him an asshole on her way out the door after he fired her. That was six months ago, or approximately, because it had been cold and rain came in the door as she held it open to yell back at him, and now it was summer. He checked the window to confirm. Yes, summer.
He pressed the buzzer and asked her to come in. She stood nervously, pen and notebook in hand, sweating slightly under his eye. She didn’t look bruised or like she’d been crying, so there was no chance of her being a victim of violence. Her eyes weren’t red, so she wasn’t emotional or PMSing. She hadn’t had a vacation lately, so no sudden deaths in the family. So why the hell was she so tentative? "Are you all right?" he asked her. She flinched at his words. "Fine, sir," and a long pause and then "Thank you." She obviously wasn’t talking, and he didn’t know how to go on, and the whole thing was giving him a headache. He dismissed her.
"Shit. Does not being an asshole mean I have to start caring about other people and trying to figure them out and all that godawful bullshit about feelings and everything? Fuck all. What a fucking headache. Fuck this. So I’m an asshole. Deal with, World." "I’m an asshole. Deal with it," he said out loud, staring out the window at the cityscape.
And then like an eagle tearing out of the sky and into his chest, he expelled a huge sob and began to cry and cry and cry until his knees buckled, and he passed out. He hit his head on the desk on his way down, dislodging a large paperweight, which also fell on his head.
He never woke up.
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