Chapter 1 – otherwise known as the first 1,667 words I typed of this story to begin the first day of November. More to come
I bided my time to steal away into the night and escape the bonds of servitude I had somehow self imposed. A glance at my companion, a tall toned and dark haired man in his thirties, and at his watch revealed five hours remained until I would be free. I was obligated to accompany him only until 2:00 a.m. at which time he and I would go our separate ways. I curled my fingers around a short glass filled with cheap whiskey and took a sip. Leaning my back against the bar at which we sat together, I sighed at the mind numbing boredom this night appeared to have in store for us both.
He noticed my obvious disinterest, “This is boring. I thought mind sharing was supposed to be this ultimate experience? My friend told me that when he mind shared with this bipolar chick it was awesome. He said the high he got was better than even the best high he ever had from any drugs. I didn’t pay thousands of dollars just to come and sit at a bar with a chick that won’t even talk to me. Your ad said that you’re bipolar. Aren’t you supposed to be acting all crazy or having fun or something?
Isn’t that the point of all of this? I share your mind, the way you think, the way you feel. I get to experience life exactly how you do for the next few hours?” he downed the last few drops of his draft beer and slammed the empty glass down with a thud upon the varnished wooden bar.
“Look, Brad, that’s your name, right. It’s Brad, right?” I couldn’t remember his name exactly. I knew it was something like Bard or Brad or Brent or Braden or something similar. From the moment we met earlier in the afternoon to set up the mind sharing technology between us, I hadn’t liked him. He was arrogant and rude, petulant and pretty much an all around asshole.
“You don’t even remember my name?” Brad made it clear this was unacceptable.
“Why bother,” I sneered at him as I took another long sip from my short glass, “You’re just one in a long line of excessively wealthy, overindulged, overappreciated trust fund babies who has run out of ways to entertain himself. So here you are, seeking out a bipolar person to mind share with in the hopes of gaining some new high. This is all just a game to you, just a way to kill some time on a Wednesday night.
You don’t care what my name is. You don’t give a rat’s ass about me. This is just about you using my mind for a few hours. So quit acting like you give a fuck if I talk to you. All you need is for me to do what I do, be what I am so you can feel the feelings I feel and have thoughts like I have. We don’t actually have to talk to each other.”
I slid my now empty glass across the bar towards the bartender. Joe, the bartender, was a friend. Given my job of mind sharing for money, I frequented the establishment. It was a good place to stir up drama and get involved in other people’s problems and give my sharers exactly what they paid for, usually. Tonight was slow and there were few patrons in the place.
Joe flashed me a smile as he caught my get me out of here stare. He shared my distaste for snobby, narcissistic pricks like Brad. Sliding me another short glass with two shots of cheap whiskey, he didn’t have a chance to say anything before Brad interrupted.
“Hey man, can I get another beer or what? Come on, get with it already,” Brad for the moment ignored my little speech. After getting his beer he returned his attention to my words, “Do you know who I am? You’re lucky I am even here in this dump hanging out with you. Do you know how many women would love to be with me right now? There are hundreds of girls who would give anything to be by my side.”
“Well I suggest you go find one of them,” I had enough of Brad’s crap for the night. Money or no money, I didn’t have to put up with this shit from anyone. Mind sharing is a gamble. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. Sharers get what they get. Tonight just happened to be slow and uneventful.
“This is bullshit. I want my money back!” Brad pulled the chip out of the back of his neck and threw it onto the bar.
“Yeah well there are no refunds. Sorry about your luck. You can put the chip back on and see what happens for the next few hours or you can call it quits. It’s your choice but either way there aren’t any refunds.” I answered calmly because I knew yelling back at Brad would only make the situation worse. I wasn’t afraid of him I just didn’t feel he was worth the effort of even getting angry. I also noticed Joe had his phone out, no doubt poised to call the police if necessary to remove Brad from his bar.
Brad made a show of flicking the chip down the bar and watching it skitter to a stop in a spot of pooled liquid against some empty glasses at the end. He smiled since I am sure he knew regardless of what type of liquid it was, it ruined the chip. Making his way to the double entry doors, Brad turned one last time long enough to hold up his middle finger to me and Joe and told us to fuck off.
“Another one bites the dust, eh,” Joe laughed as the doors slammed shut behind Brad, “That might be a record. How long did it take you to get rid of him? Like an hour or two?”
“Three excruciating hours to get him to give up. God, these guys are just non-stop these days. It’s just one after another of these rich little bastards. Good thing those chips are so easy to come by, a dime a dozen. Every single one of these guys ends up throwing the chip somewhere. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
Rubbing my temples with my fingers, my head was already throbbing from too much whiskey and not enough rest. Folding my arms onto the bar I laid my head down onto them. I could feel the stress of recent days adding up. It was getting to me and I was headed toward something. I had no idea if it would be the long spiral down into depression or a rainbow ride through full blown mania.
The impending cascade of emotions would be good for business as sharers would get what they want. They would get the emotional roller coaster ride they sought. For me it wouldn’t be so pleasant as I couldn’t just pull a chip off my neck and return to a more normal life. I didn’t have the luxury of checking out of crazytown anytime I liked. Cascades of emotion are like Tsunamis and when they hit, regardless of whether they are depression or mania, they leave devastation in their wake.
Total and utter devastation leaves scars that will never heal. Each time it happens and I survive, I am a little more damaged than before. Each time I pick up the pieces and put it all back together there are more and more holes that will never be filled. There will come a day when the waves come and all will be lost, washed away forever.
“Oh, come on, you love this job,” Joe was more cheerful, “You used to say that being able to bring someone along, really have them experience what you’re experiencing was really cool. The fact that with a simple chip on the back of their neck they can sync into the one on the back of your neck was the best invention ever. I think you just need a vacation. Can’t you take some time off or something. Destress for a while?”
I had to smile at Joe’s effort to lighten the mood. That was sort of his job, to make his customers feel better and if that didn’t work, to get them drunk enough not to care anymore. I was headed towards the latter of the two. Getting drunk was a whole lot cheaper than a vacation. I tapped my fingers along the edge of the glass as I debated on downing the entire two shots with one quick drink.
“I can’t afford to take a vacation,” I answered his question even though I knew it would prompt more questions on his part.
“What? You make how much money per mind share? Like a few thousand dollars or something? How many mind shares do you do a week, like 10 or 12 or something? How on earth could you not have enough money to take a vacation?”
“I’m bipolar Joe. I make some pretty stupid decisions sometimes with my money. I’m not exactly known for my financial expertise.” I laughed in spite of myself. It was true. I never had money because I always spent it as fast as I made it. I made as much money as some of the richest people in the country and I couldn’t even pay my bills on time and sometimes I didn’t pay them at all.
“Oh yeah,” Joe flashed me his flirty smile.
“Alright, alright, enough of this. I took one large drink to empty the glass. Pour me another two shots so I can forget about tonight’s fiasco with Brad or Bart or whatever his name was.”
“You got it.”
I liked Joe. He was smart, he was cute and he got me.