Irene and I are still at work even though it’s 10 pm on a Friday night.
“Why do I keep dating assholes?” She asks.
“Because you have low self-esteem.” I reply.
She glares at me, “I do not.”
“I told you not to date people you work with.” I say smugly.
“But you dated Jennifer!” She replies.
“I dated her after she announced she was leaving in 30 days. And she wasn’t on my team. In fact, she didn’t even work on the same floor as me. You on the other hand sit right beside your ex. How’s that working out for you?”
“Horrible. Why can’t I find a nice guy to be with? Where are all the nice guys?”
“They’re behind the assholes that keep finishing first.”
“What?” She looks confused.
“Because nice guys finish last…” I explain very slowly. “And assholes finish first… therefore nice guys are behind the assholes… which is why you can’t see them… makes sense?”
“You’re not the brightest bulb in the chandelier are you?” I laugh.
“Assholes like you are the reason it’s hard to find nice guys.” She says.
Nice guys, in my experience, are easy to make money out of. I take the train to work everyday and if I don’t feel like reading a book, I’m usually playing poker with other passengers that take the train regularly. The nice guys I play poker with are predictable, risk-averse, and extremely easy to read. They can also be bitter and passive-aggressive.
But what I find fascinating is that whenever these nice guys I play poker with are doing well and have made a lot of money, they always keep playing until they lose everything. They’re never content with what they’ve won and I don’t think it’s because they’re greedy and they want to win more, the real reason is that they have low self-esteem and they truly believe that they don’t deserve to win. It’s sad right? They believe they’re losers and they keep playing until that belief is confirmed.
“Don’t blame me.” I reply. “You had a perfectly nice boyfriend in high school. Until he started sleeping with his sister.”
She cringes, “Why did you bring that up?”
“Do you remember walking in on them–”
“And the best part was when they went to Comic Con dressed up as Jamie and Cersei!” I laugh.
“I hope they burn in hell.” She says, her voice full of venom.
Irene and I have a lot of work to catch up on since we were on vacation last week. We were with our school friends in Las Vegas. Our trip wasn’t as crazy as the movie Hangover, nobody stole a tiger or got beaten up by a naked Asian guy. But it had been so long since we’d all been together so we just played cards and partied hard. Irene got so drunk one night that she paid a cabbie with a thousand dollar bill instead of a hundred. She realized her mistake the next day. She’s the only one in our social circle who doesn’t gamble but she lost more money in Vegas than all of us combined.
We work quietly for the next half an hour.
“Do you know about the girl who was killed in this building?” Irene asks, breaking the silence.
“How do you know about that?”
“I came across an old news article when I was googling our office.” She says.
“It’s a horrific story.” I say.
“The article I read was too short.” She says. “All I know is that a long time ago there was a girl who wanted to become an artist but her father wanted her to become a doctor. She wouldn’t obey him so he murdered her.”
“Well, that’s all there is to it.” I reply.
“You’re a terrible liar.”
“Okay fine. Jennifer told me the whole story. It’s dreadful.”
“You don’t think I can handle it?” She looks at me fiercely.
“It’s not that. It’s just that if I tell you, I’ll have to relive the whole thing.”
“Just tell me.” She demands.
“Okay.” I sigh. “So a long time ago this office building was a residential building. In one of the apartments there lived a girl who was exceptionally talented at drawing. Her dream was to go to art school. Her room was filled with her paintings. She wasn’t allowed to keep any of her work in any other part of the apartment because her father disapproved of her artistic pursuits. He was a doctor and wanted his daughter to become a doctor as well. He was obsessed with raising the best doctor the medical field had ever seen because his wife had died in childbirth and he couldn’t save her, despite his best efforts. He wanted his daughter to become a better doctor than him. But she didn’t care about medicine and just kept drawing.”
I pause for a moment before continuing, “One day he walked into her room and saw her standing in front of a blank canvas. She was getting ready to draw something. He lost his temper. He started beating her. He punched her in the nose and her blood splattered onto the blank canvas. Then he said, “That looks better than anything you’ve ever drawn.” Then he kept beating her until her face was unrecognizable. Her body looked like butchered meat by the time he was finished.”
“What happened to him after?” Irene asks.
“He called the police and confessed to murder. He waived his right to have a lawyer. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death.”
“Poor girl. But I’ve heard worse.” Irene says.
“Yeah but what makes this disturbing is that the murder took place in this very building. Maybe the apartment she lived in was on the same floor as us. Maybe her bedroom where she was murdered was right here where we sit and work every day.”
“Okay, that is a creepy thought.”
Irene and I continue working.
I have so many emails to read. That’s the worst part about going on vacation, you have to come back to hundreds of unread emails and some of them are as long as the essays I wrote in school. I hate reading too much on a computer screen. It bothers my eyes. I decide to print out one of the longer emails.
But there’s no paper in the printer. Fortunately I always keep printer paper at the bottom of my drawer. I open my drawer only to be greeted by an assortment of stationery. There are notes, staplers, scissors, tape, files, binders, clips, pens and pencils. As I go through the mess in my drawer, I finally find the printer paper, which is still unopened and neatly packaged. I open the package and take out a blank sheet of paper.
Then I see something out of place.
There’s blood on the paper.