Am I a man anymore? Am I human? Or am I something else entirely? I am not sure. So much has happened.
I’m sorry. Again, I am hesitating to just stay with the events. I promise you, if you humor me this one last time, that I will not be reflective again. This is the last time I stop the steady progression of my story as it ticks away, moment by moment, to this very point. But I don’t know what I did, and in some way this exercise of relating all these events is just some attempt on my part to finally see myself. Everything changes in a moment. After years of following a long, winding, branchless road, I found myself at the intersection of my life, ironically to be decided by the choice of a green or a red button.
I walked to the couch and upon sitting down, the first (and of course most sensible) thought that occurred to me was “I would have to be crazy to take it.” There was no mention of pay. Most likely it was a sales-type telemarketing job or (to contrast dull with sinister) it could be some mob-related business. The note had a lot of words, but really didn’t say anything. It didn’t even say whether the job was downtown or on the moon. It just seemed like a stupid thing to do. It was a simple choice of risk with no real expectation of reward, or safety… with no real expectation of ever really achieving anything.
There was something to be said for taking a risk. The prospects of staying in this current situation were pathetic at best. Could I really continue to face a slurping Mr. Daniels five days a week for thirty or forty years and then retire? And what would I do then? What had I really built for myself? And what if I pressed the green button? I wasn’t signing anything. If I didn’t like it I could quit. Really, where was the harm in pressing the button? The blitbox must just be some kind of pager. I could just say I wanted to ask him some questions. If it was mob-related I could go informant. Nowadays the mob didn’t seem as dangerous as they had been. But the thought of the mob and bombs under my car and kneecaps blown off frightened me.
Then all my thoughts became jumbled up together. After struggling towards no conclusion, I decided to sleep on it. Distraction did not seem the appropriate action, however. I went back to the study and did a search on Bud Holligan but found nothing. Holligan was not a particularly common name, but it was far from unique. It must be a derivative of the Scottish name Holigan.
A search for EARA was more fruitful, but of the organizations bearing that title, none made much sense: Eastern Airlines Retirees Association, Egypt Amateurs Radio Assembly, Environmental Auditors Registration Association, Equipment Authorization Review Activity, European Asbestos Removal Association, European Association for Research on Adolescence, European Association for Research in Astronomy
I quickly grew tired of this, though it did allow me to distance myself from the actual reality of the crisis I faced. I went back to the sofa and turned on the TV. Watching until late, I finally was tired enough to try my hand at sleep. It was a restless night, filled with half-thoughts among a murky cloud of possibilities. One moment I was trying to convince myself to take the job, then at the first sign of inclination, I argued instead that it would be the worst mistake possible. Yet no matter how often the rational argument won out, the inner desperation crept out.
I was awake as dawn began to break, and I looked out of my bedroom window to see a sick-strange green sky, like I imagine the deadly sky of an approaching hurricane at sea might look then headed towards the bathroom and then the kitchen. I looked at the blitbox innocuously resting on the counter. It almost seemed alive to me. I was in my pajamas. I went to back to my room and put on some sweatpants and a tee-shirt.
Back in the kitchen, I was again looking at the blitbox. I picked it up. It fit well in the hand. The buttons were perfectly placed so that the thumb rested right between them. I thumbed the two large buttons. I shook the object vigorously. It seemed light and hollow. My thumb went from button to button. Feeling strangely calm I walked back into the living area, stood in front of the poster and the sofa, and I pressed the green button with my thumb.
At that moment I was only thinking of one thing. I needed to ask Bud some more questions. This situation was to strange. If I did not press the button this would always remain a mystery to me. The button did not yield immediately. I really had to push hard to depress the button. Then it sunk in with a click and I felt a sting. I dropped the box and lifted my thumb to my mouth. Before I had managed to open my mouth I had collapsed to the floor completely unconscious.