Dave Halprin, editor of Blogging the Boys sat on the edge of his bed, scrunching his bare toes in the carpet. And sighed. He knew everything after this.....Everything from the time his toes lifted from the carpet.....Everything from this perfect moment on, for the rest of the day, would be downhill.
Reluctantly, Dave rose from his private nirvana. His hunched shoulders projected years far advanced from the actual number. The flecks of grey enhancing the stubble on his face weren't there a few short summers ago. Mr. Halprin paused in front of the mirror and leaned forward. Again, he sighed.
"Cripes, look what they've done to me," he groaned. Dave slowly turned and glared venomously at his computer, shaking his head. They're in there. Plotting. He could feel them, waiting in ambush to devour the very essence of his soul. Soon, he thought. Soon, you ravenous piranha. What flesh remained from yesterday's fleecing would shortly be yours.
Dave dragged his creaking frame into the bathroom. Again, a mirror mocked him. Leaning wearily on the vanity, the bedraggled editor white-knuckled a hair dryer and looked yearnfully at the bathtub, contemplating a solution to his woes. Could this be the day? Maybe. A glimmer of doubt stayed his hand and Dave gently layed the instrument of death aside. Not this way, though. Something a little less.....graphic.
A shower and a shave? Might help. As the hot water rained down on him, Dave beat his head against the tile for several minutes. A steady, methodical rhythm. Each thump brought him closer to the realization of what lay ahead.....Of what awaited in the other room. They waited. Patiently. Predators, one and all. And Dave Halprin's sanity was their prey.
He stood in front of the mirror, lathering for a shave. As Dave prepared for the first stroke across his neck, the razor trembled in his hand. Just a little more pressure than usual on the tender flesh and all would be well. He would be in a place where they couldn't reach him. He would be free of the harassment.....and endless squabbles.....and petty bickering. No more "he said" this or "she said" that. Just peace and serenity.
The trembling stopped, and Mr. Halprin carefully scraped away the stubble under his chin. Again, not like this. Eventually they would force his hand, he knew. But something more.....poetic. Yes. That was more his style.
After throwing on some clothes, Dave Halprin eyed his computer bitterly. Something in his stomach first might help. Of course, a bite or two may have the opposite effect and come flooding back up when he gets knee-deep in the chaos. Always a toss-up. Lately it's been 50/50. He decided to go light. Dave sat at the table and poured a bowl of something high in fiber. Still, there were plenty of cleaning supplies under the sink. He could get creative and manufacture a concoction that would blend nicely with the chunks of bark over which he was currently pouring milk. That's how the romantics in the stories always seemed to do it. A few swallows of the magic elixir and.....Temptation is a fickle fillie. She wraps those long fingers around your throat and squeezes. At the last second, her grip loosens and she kisses you on the cheek. Fickle.
Mr. Halprin pushed aside the half-empty bowl. Making the decision to face the throng, Dave drew in a shakey breath and rose from the chair. He had a hard time getting his feet started. They felt like blocks of cement. If only there was a deep watering hole nearby. Nah. That would be a little too Godfather.
The editor crashed heavily into a seat facing his computer. It was time. Anxiety. Trepidation. Mind-numbing fear. After all these years, the same emotions come boiling to the surface everytime he sits in that chair. What new Hell will greet him today? What horror awaits inside that devilish machine? How can his psyche possibly survive another day of their unyeilding assault? Shook his head. Must be nuts to subject himself to this, he thought. Everyday. Craziness doesn't begin to describe what was driving him forward. Nothing short of a morbid fascination with self-mutilation could accurately explain the daily abuse Dave delivers on himself. Silent screams echoed in his head.
Dave reached for the keyboard. And so it begins.....Again.
A cursory scan showed the usual suspects were responsible for the bulk of the electronic correspondence. There was no point in reading the ones from OCC. Dave learned long ago they were indecipherable. Consisted of nothing but line after line of 1's and 0's. Mr. Halprin had a suspicion his lead writer did it just to hasten the breakdown that would ultimately claim his sanity. That unbalanced German was plain sadistic.
Likewise, Tom Ryle's emails were best left alone. There's only so many different pictures of cheerleaders he can send. Dave was a normal guy. He had no problem flipping through a scrapbook of attractive ladies in flashy, semi-revealing uniforms. But, for crying out loud, Piney brought it to a new level.
Coty. Oh, Coty. Dave deeply appreciated Saxman's technical expertise. His knowledge of programming had been instrumental in many informative and user-participating articles. But, Dave swore, how many times was the kid told, "You can't publish a front page article in Japanese". The nonstop begging was bordering on destructively obsessive.
KD Drummond terrified Mr. Halprin beyond description. KD was a good guy who could be relied upon to submit well-written, classy articles. But his insistance on changing BTB to a video-only blog has reached new heights. His emails have gotten creepy. Dave had recurring nightmares of KD storming his house with incense burning in the dreads, swinging a scimitar and howling like a pirate. Frightening.
Where KD wants an all-video blog, Rabblerousr wants an all-fanpost blog. Dave understood that's where Rabble made his bones, but to suggest relieving all the front page writers of their duties and turning the asylum over to the inmates is---pardon the pun---insane. Incessant isn't a strong enough word to describe his fixation.
As far as Archie's concerned, Dave couldn't get over the fact that he used to call himself ChiaCrack. What in the name of all that is Holy is a "ChiaCrack"? And how can you take anything he says seriously? Especially when that entitles an all-draft blog. Everyone wants their own interests to supercede those of everyone else's. Archie puts in the time and always comes through with flying colors, but these writers and their obsessions were just more nails in Dave's coffin.
And the moderaters? Dave dry-heaved. He didn't have the strength or internal fortitude to open their emails. One self-absorbed complaint after another. That's what flashed before him on the screen. That's what was hidden behind those names. Misery.
Dave Halprin turned the screen away. At last, he had had enough. With a purposeful sigh, he pushed away from the desk and rose to his feet. Surprisingly, Dave's legs were quiver-free. The realization that he had come to a final decision gave him strength.....And a peaceful sensation he hadn't felt in years. Relief forced the corners of his mouth to rise. A smile. Pure. Honest.
He turned and sprinted, diving through the glass of the window, laughing as the ground came screaming towards him.....
Dave bolted upright in bed, covered in a thin film of sweat. My God, he thought. These dreams were getting worse. Everytime he gets closer to the ground. He scratched his head and sat on the edge of his bed, scrunching his bare toes in the carpet. And sighed. He knew everything after this.....Everything from the time his toes lifted from the carpet.....Everything from this perfect moment on, for the rest of the day, would be downhill.....