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Back to the Rabbit Hole
By Luke Pergiel

I can't believe it's back! I can feel it swirling around in the back of my head like the smoke released from burning greens. After all these months of peace and normality the longing is back as strongly as if I had gotten out yesterday. I mean sure I zone out from time to time and am admittedly easily distracted by most anything but I don't understand how I was suddenly hit by that urge after all this time of working hard and diligently. I have never denied that the horrible life of not caring, rule breaking and relaxation makes the days easy, but it's just not worth it. Right? No, no I can't start thinking like that or I'll lose everything I've worked for.

I shake my head and try to focus back on the Frank's PowerPoint. What was it he was talking about again? The advantage of expanding overseas? No, it was something involving materials. After another five minutes I realize I still don't know what he is talking about. Oh well Jake will fill me in later. Jake always pays attention and has always been good about helping me when I fall behind. Even after my time in There he helped me get back on my feet and on the right path.

Maybe it is because of that special connection I feel with him for rescuing me from my ward but there was just something about Jake that helps me focus and not drift toward Wonderland as he talked even about the most boring things. Now if only this loser Frank could get the trait from him. As I sit here and stare at him I notice a layer of sweat coating him. Disgusting. This "man" has had no real world experiences, he has no idea what it's really like. Even as I think this I catch myself and go over the memorized steps. He knows plenty, what I have done is something to be proud of but something to forget and leave behind. Deep Breath. Wow it has been a long time since I had to do that...I guess I'm worse than I thought. I push all this away and try to focus again but I cannot help and ask myself, why is he putting us through this again? At least twice a week for the last three months he has called me, Jake, and the other 20 guys who work on this floor into the stuffy conference room and made us listen as he lectured us on everything from how to turn on the computer to how to speak to potential customers on the phone.

The only thing he seems to not be able to explain in that monotone voice of his is why anything we are doing in our worthless cubicles matter. Agh what is going on with me today? I have got to stop thinking like that, even if our jobs here at LUC Co. are not life changing they matter because someone has to do them.

 I can't help it though I am twitching and sweating with the effort of staying in my seat, with not just walking out that door and never coming back. Frank's voice seems to drift to me from a great distance, "and that is what I expect from now on. Well I think we're done here. Be back at eight."

As Frank flicks the lights back on I try not to sign too deeply. A hand spins my chair around and there is Jake somehow still smiling. "Are you in the mood for some dinner? Annabell wants to try out that new place over on third." I of course would love to do something different however I cannot help but to look over Jake's head at Polly. We aren't officially dating or anything, co-workers dating is frowned upon in this company as we are constantly reminded, but there is something between us. Jake as always knows what I am looking at. Up he does and within seconds he has his coat and is walking for the door. "Polly, dinner, let's go." Without waiting for her response out he goes. Polly looks at me with a small smile and quickly follows.

In Jake's car, we carpool, I stare at the oncoming head lights and begin to worry about that desire itching in the back of my head. I can't remember when I first got into the mind set of not caring but once I was in I couldn't get back out. It's not the knowledge of not having any work to do that got me, no, what got me was all the things that suddenly were available in that time. During that time I could paint, dance, conduct experiments, and my favorite, boat out under the moon. But alas while life itself does become easier everything else gets so much more difficult. Things lose their luster and doing normal chores like working become an impossible task. I know all of this, I had to tell myself these arguments a thousand times while trying to accumulate back into respectable society, yet even now as I am trying to put my fears to rest I cannot help but long for the ease and adventure of a life that revolves around selfish desires and short-lived impulses.

My thoughts are cut off as we pull up to the restaurant. The place is pretty busy but of course someone has called ahead and made reservations, so we go right in. We order, sip our drinks, and start up the usual polite conversation; work, sports, money. Nothing at all that could lead to a stimulating, deep conversation. I notice Polly has slowly been getting closer and closer but I take no advantage of the situation. For some reason as she moves to put her hand on mine I reach for my glass and take another drink. Jake gives me a dark look with suspicions eyes and I try to breath. Why am I being like this? Yesterday I would have killed to get this chance. As I look at her it hits me, this isn't exciting. Looking at her I feel something sure, but it is nothing like I felt with the girls before. Quickly I excuse myself and head out front to get some fresh air.

The thick, warm air does nothing to clear my head but I try to take several deep breaths anyways. I cannot do this again, I can't be that person anymore. Finally gaining a measure of control I turn to go back in and see a man walking toward me in a custom tailored suit. "Joey? Is that you?"

A rich, deep throated laugh echoes through the night. "Well I'll be damned. How have you been?" I cannot speak out of shock. Joey has always been a fun guy but seeing him in a suit worth easily a couple hundred dollars just makes no sense. I remember him as the kind of guy you have to fight to collect on his debts, not like this suit that looks as though he owns several professional collectors. The last time I saw him was as he was hitchhiking alongside the road after dropping out of high school. He seems to know what I'm thinking for he laughs again. "How do you like my new look?"

All I can get out is, "How?"

"Well you see I played the lottery a couple of years back and would you believe it, I won! First thing I did was throw away most of the money. Before I knew it all that was left was a couple thousand bucks, so I figured I better find some way to make what was left breed so I invested in the first thing I saw. This LUC Co. has done nothing but grow and grow and I haven't worked a day since. We talk for several minutes before he hands me a business card and says, "I'd love to stay and talk but I really have got to be going, you ever need anything though just give me a shout."

Standing here watching him walk away I can't help it, I feel all the reservations I had only moments ago about letting go be washed away. Joey obviously has given up on doing things the "proper" way and he is stinking rich. Much richer then I could ever be working at my very respectable job.

As I head inside I absently rip off my tie and ponder this. As our table comes into view it hits me, why bother when there is absolutely no gain in any of this? I'm not going to even bother saying goodbye I never really liked them anyways. But oh no here comes Jake.

"Hey what's going on?"I don't bother to answer just shoot him a bird and turn to leave. Jake manages to grab the sleeve however and he asks, "What's going on? Is everything ok?" I can hear the condescending note in his voice and I don't feel sorry as I turn and punch him in the face.

I run though the streets till I get to the park. I slowly walk down to the lake, then around its dark edges. I keep walking till I see what I'm looking for. Clustered on the end of a short dock I see a group of people standing about talking. I recognize one of them as an old supplier of fun from back when this was my life and quickly make my way over to him.

5 minutes later I'm walking toward a new looking boar house, a pair of bolt cutters in my hands and the man's mocking words still ringing in my head; I knew you'd be back. They won't be there much longer though, as soon as that lock is cut there's no more worry and sure enough they vanish forgotten as the metal clatters to the concert below.

Soon the boat is floating in the middle of the lake and I am floating through the shinning water with it. Looking at the moon I can see every ridge and crater on its surface, things none of those busy bodies at the office have ever seen and suddenly a happiness like no other envelops me. I have to get up. I need to dance, to yell, to sing, or I will burst. Laughing I stand and jump about. "Hahah I win you fools. The world is not cold and dark but wonderful and beautiful oh so beautiful"

Then I feel the boat tip and the water welcomes me. First everything is fine but then something changes. This is not how it is meant to be. The water is too cold and my lungs are screaming at me. Why isn't the moon helping me? But oh it is beautiful why am I struggling? Everything will work out just fine, it always does. So now I will stop fighting the wonderful water and just stare up at the glowing moon from under the peaceful lake.

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