Ryan was ordering a tall coffee from a very famous green store when he received a call from his necessary evil; Lawyer Tom. Thomas wasn't really his personal lawyer, he was Ryan's family's, but the group rate they got was too good to resist. Ryan winced at the thought of talking to the greasy bastard.
Ryan hit the green button on his cell after taking a couple sips from his coffee.
The voice five-hundred miles away lit up.
"JACOBI! Babe! You're a hard guy to get a hold of."
"Blame that on yourself. I've learned not to answer my phone anymore."
He had been receiving harrassing calls for the past three years.
"Yeah, well it's for your own good. You gotta watch what you say, pal."
Ryan was annoyed at the mere thought of small talk with this cat. He was swirling around his coffee as he sat cross-legged at the table by the window, Chicago wildlife passing by with their designer bags, miniature poodles, and vacant stares. Ryan said nothing back and several uncomfortable moments passed.
"Errrr... Listen, Mel. I have some bad news."
His father? They hadn't talked in years. Ryan didn't care. His father didn't either. They were on good terms.
"What's the news, Tom?" He braced himself. Not really.
"Well, your old friend Mel passed on recently. I'm... sorry."
A decade's worth of lost memories found themselves wedged between everything else in Ryan's head at the mention of the name Mel. Mel, the grown-up friend. Mel, the first boss. Mel, the guy who would let you into Rated-R movies. Mel, the-
"Ry-boy, you there?"
Jacobi stopped spinning his now-cold coffee. He was lost, forgot where he was. Now, he felt like he was one of the many, with non-distinct features bleeding into the crowd. And, at the end, he was falling out.
"Cancer of the lung variety. Hell of a way to go... Jacobi? He mentioned you in his will."
Ryan snapped back to reality. What could Mel have left him? Last he heard, Mel was just barely making ends meet between child support and alcoholism.
"You're gonna have to come back to New Haven. He left you an envelope with specific instuctions yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill. Get your ass back here, man. We all miss you. Even your dad."
Ryan knew it was a lie, but he couldn't figure out Tom's motivation for lying. Perhaps it was the lawyer gene.
"Yeah, well I doubt that." Another few uncomfortable moments, eventually followed by a sigh.
"Lemee get some things squared away, take some vacation time. I'll hop the next plane I'm able."
"Super. I'll tell your folks." The l(iar)awyer practically beamed his feigned excitement over the phone.
"Before I go, Tom, could you tell me when the funeral will be?"
"Errr... As far as I know, champ, there's no service involved."
"I'm only coming if he gets a proper funeral, Tom, so make it happen."
"Alright, I'll get some people together, see what I can do."
Ryan hit the button and ended the call. His coffee was long since cold, not that he would have been able to drink it, anyway. The cup fell fast into the can and hit the bottom with a dull thud. He was already out the door and on the phone making a call.
Sixteen blocks away, a phone rang in the office of the lead editor to the Chicago Daily, a paper far eclipsed by the Tribune in terms of success and whose stories were often marred in sensationalism and retractions.
Not to say that it wasn't successful. It was.
Editor-in-chief Marcus LeRoy had worked there for more than three decadess. His tenure could be measured in the coffee rings scattered around his desk alone. He was a holdover from another era, when women were receptionists and the men had packages of Lucky Strikes rolled up into their sleeves. Rumor has it that he was a big shot at a big paper asking hard questions to hard people. Same rumor says that he asked the wrong question... to the wrong counselman's wife. Things didn't get ugly, but a certain individual was sent far away.
Th phone rang a final time as LeRoy looked at it. It's not customary for an editor-in-chief to not answer his phone, but it's hard to answer when you're a philanderer philandering during lunch break.
He- and she -let it go to message.
Fifteen blocks away, Ryan was smacking the phone shut and taking his seat on the middle-most
car of the L-Train. He didn't leave a message. Didn't like to. If Mark didn't want to speak to him right now, he'd show up for a face-to-face. He was a bastard and Ryan knew that. But the Daily was the only place that he could get a job. No one else could take him. Not that he could blame the other papers. He knew they didn't want controversy in a time of economic distress.
The train rattled his brain, jostled around his soul. He kept thinking of Mel, and of all the lost time. He needed a break. Time to talk to Terry.
Terry was the resident of the second floor of the C Street Laundromat, twenty minutes outside of Chicago in a depressingly small town called Freeport. Twenty years ago, his left hand was mangled in a car accident, ending his career as a guitarist. To compensate, he took up painting for the art-fickle and heroin. He was a candidate for an experimental surgery, for his schizophrenia, but was passed over after he came down with a hellacious bout of pneumonia. Naturally, this only exacerbated his problems and, as of last Tuesday, was trying to come up with new and exciting ways to kill himself and get attention.
Ryan trudged up the dirty stairs and pounded his fist upon the once-painted door.
At once, a gangly, paint-covered man opened the door, looking much like Jesus of Nazareth if Jesus had trackmarks and soft teeth. And smelled like a dead guy.
"I've been waiting," the dead man mumbled.
"Come off it, you cryptic fuck."
"Come into my dungeon. I have such sights for you to see." He waved Jacobi in.