tagNovels and NovellasA Snapshot of Jack's Life Ch. 01

A Snapshot of Jack's Life Ch. 01


"You're still an asshole."

Jack stared wearily at his computer screen. The e-mails always ended with, "You're still an asshole."

He could feel the bile rise in his throat. He popped another four Tums and chewed them furiously. His stomach hurt. He was positive he had an ulcer, all thanks to that bitch of a secretary. He hit delete and turned off the computer screen.

He sat at his desk, staring at the darkened computer screen. He thought to himself, "How in the name of God did I get to this point? Just one short year ago my life was normal. Sure it was predictable, but it was peaceful. What the fuck was I thinking?!"


Jack had been with the same law firm for over 25 years. He began his career at the firm straight out of law school. As was expected, he put in a tremendous amount of time, sweat and billable hours as an associate before his hard work was rewarded. He worked his way to the top and was now a senior partner at Johnson, Smith & Donald, LLP. As stressful as his job was, he enjoyed what he did. It gave him purpose and paid him very well. At work he was well liked, respected and everyone thought highly of him.

Stan Johnson, one of the firm's founding partners and Jack's boss, was an exacting man. Stan tolerated no excuses, no failures and certainly no whiners. He gave Jack a tremendous amount of work and responsibility. His boss expected him to finish what was assigned, and then ask for more. Saying "no" or "I can't" was unacceptable. As it was, Jack had a tremendous fear of saying no. Saying no was like dying. The minute you stopped being useful, well you could pretty much imagine. He couldn't even bring himself to ask for help. No matter how much was on his plate, if he was asked to do something else he would smile and say, "Of course. No problem."

He sat on many committees, both personally and professionally. He chaired the school board at his daughter's private school, was technology advisor and choir director at his parish and finance chair for his university alumni advisory committee. He even organized his neighborhood watch committee. At work, he chaired no less than seven committees. They ranged from Employee Council, to other important committees, such as the Diversity Committee and Pro Bono Committee.

Jack attended the right university, worked for the right firm, lived in the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, had the perfect wife, a charming daughter, two well behaved dogs, and of course, was the perfect dutiful son.

His wife knew she struck gold when she married him. No other man would provide as well financially as he did, yet also be willing to do the floors on Saturday mornings.

He loved order and peace in his life. He structured his days carefully. He rose quietly each morning, so as to not awaken his wife, at precisely 4:45 a.m. He began each morning by performing his spiritual and physical exercises. He showered, dressed and then drank a cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. After he finished the paper he would pack a lunch for his wife and daughter. He never packed a lunch for himself.

Jack monitored what he ate as carefully as he monitored his monthly billing logs. Mistakes were not allowed. He didn't want to become one of those middle aged men with a humongous gut that hung to his knees. Each day he would eat a small salad and soup, with water as his choice of beverage. His luxuries in life were a great dinner and a good beer every once in a while. Although he monitored his weight meticulously, he loved cooking and often tried out new recipes.

Friday nights were reserved for dinner or a movie, or if he and his wife were feeling adventurous, a drink at the local bar. On weekends, his routine varied slightly. He would do chores instead of heading off to work as he normally did.

Saturday mornings were reserved for his floors. He did them every week without fail. After the floors were done, he would shower and take a short nap if the mood struck him. Every Saturday afternoon he would travel to the same health food store and purchase just enough groceries to last the week. He would prepare dinner and clean up the kitchen, just as he did every night. He would then read or watch television until it was time for bed.

On Sunday's he would attend Mass in the morning, have brunch with his family, tinker around the house and then prepare dinner. He would go to bed and the next morning his routine would begin once more. On holiday or during vacation there might be slight variations but for the most part, this was his routine. He never tired, never strayed, never wondered why or what if? For this was his life. Simple and comfortable, it was who he was at his most basic.

His only fault, if one could call it a fault, was frugality. While the other partners at the firm drove luxury cars and dressed in Armani, he bought his suits straight from the Sears catalog and drove an economy car. His parents had not only instilled a sense of honor, trust and civility in their son, but had taught him the value of saving. And save he did.

His parents had comfortably retired years ago. They traveled often and were enjoying the huge retirement their own frugality had given them. He learned well and at his age had already doubled the amount his parents' had socked away in their own retirement fund.

Lest we forget, above all, Jack hated unseemly emotions. He did what was expected, what was right, and never caused waves. Growing up his parents loved him the best way they knew how, but love wasn't readily discussed, much less shown. You didn't argue or fight, or kiss and make up. You sat quietly at dinner, politely discussing current affairs, provided they weren't too controversial, and when finished, asked to be excused from the table. He did everything "right" and expected to be rewarded with a pleasant life that didn't get tangled up with ugly emotional dilemmas.

Yes, looking at Jack's well structured, peaceful and vanilla life, one would assume he had it all. He managed this way, well enough for many years. And then she came along.


To be continued...

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