The Fan Club
By Danger Slater
“Good morning, Bill,” chirps my fan club president, her puffy red face all bunched up around her nose like the knot in a balloon. She smiles so wide her teeth seem to stray. “It seems you slept well. Were your dreams beautiful, Bill?”
The veins in my eyes feel electric. My pupils throb. My breath is awful, tastes thick and yellow; just a molecule away from turning to sulfur.
I roll over, away from the fan club, and reach out. Sylvia’s side of the bed is cold. I shoot upright.
“Where is she? What have you bastards done to her?”
“Relax, Bill,” replies the secretary, “She said she was going to her mother’s. She said she’s leaving you and not coming back. Do you want me to read you back the minutes.”
“6:45 am: Sylvia wakes up.
6:46 am: Sylvia takes a swig from the whiskey bottle on the nightstand.
6:47 am: Sylvia takes another swig—”
“Please stop,” I whimper, lying back down. I’m not angry. I can’t blame her for leaving. Our situation here is a tad unconventional.
“She threw an alarm clock at me, Bill,” the secretary says, “An honest-to-God alarm clock.”
He looks at me with doe eyes, fidgeting with his hands like they were made of grenades.
“If I may,” interrupts the president, “I think it’s important that we remain optimistic. Focus on the positives.”
“What positives? My wife just left me.”
“Well, for one, I never though you two were right for each other,” goes the president, “And secondly, I’m not sure you were aware of this Bill, but over the past couple of years she has grown increasingly more hostile towards us.”
“It’s true, Bill,” the steward chimes in, “In fact, just the other day, she shoved me. I wasn’t even doing anything. Just standing there. Harmless as a fly. Watching her pee.”
“Look, guys, she’s been under a lot of stress lately. Ever since I lost my job—”
“A shame that was,” goes the steward.
“A travesty.” The treasurer shakes his head.
“The greatest crime against humanity I’ve ever been witness to,” adds the secretary. “Makes me want to vomit, how they treated you, Bill. I want to puke my guts out all over the bedroom.”
The secretary dry heaves, but swallows most of it back down. I feel a wave of relief. It’s the little things, I guess.
“Your boss was completely out of line that day,” goes the president. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. There’s plenty of opportunities out there for a guy as talented as you.”
“Yeah, maybe,” I say, “Though I feel like if you guys would’ve stayed in my office like I asked, I could’ve smoothed things over a little better.”
“You call that an office, Bill?” the steward says.
“More like a cubicle,” goes the treasurer.
“And a small cubicle at that,” adds the secretary.
“I agree. We barely had enough room to erect our shrine,” says the president, “Perhaps if they gave you a proper space in which to work, the fire wouldn’t have spread so quickly.”
“Who knew fiberglass was so flammable?” the steward says.
“Not I,” goes the treasurer
“I’m not even 100% sure what fiberglass is,” adds the secretary.
“It’s a composite material used to strengthen plastic,” I tell him.
“There you go,” says the secretary, “Who in their right mind would design an office complex out of plastic? In my opinion, it was a disaster waiting to happen.”
“You should take it easy, Bill,” goes the president, “Sort things out. Prioritize. This isn’t the end for us. It’s a new beginning. Hell, you never know – losing your job, wife, friends and family may be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“And don’t forget the apartment,” the treasurer adds. “He’s losing the apartment, too.”
“Do you want us to make you breakfast, Bill?” asks the steward.
“Too late,” says the steward, placing a tray of pancakes on my lap. I pick up the fork and eat.
“I just want you to know,” the president says, giving me a gum-lipped grin, “No matter what happens, we will support you, Bill.”
“We believe in you.” The steward nods.
“We love you,” says the treasurer.
“We’re here for you, Bill,” adds the secretary, “And we always will be.”