Tuesday began with twenty missed calls and eight voicemails, which Samer Kalaf happily ignored and deleted. Screw Professor Thom's, ran his thinking, a jukebox without Trinidad James is no jukebox of mine. This was the second week Samer had blown off Monday Night Football viewing parties with his colleagues, but he had good reasons for doing so: for starters, he couldn't stand Ley, who insisted on serious analysis over liquored conversation; Barry was borderline alcoholic and had once confronted Samer in a Jaeger-fueled rage; like everyone else, he hated Eifling and felt indifferent towards Dom; Kyle and Reuben were only okay and always left parties early; Newell was perhaps the least despicable, but his wife was a crazy lush; and finally, Craggs was his boss, and Samer maintained a rigorous policy against seeing one's superiors in social settings.
It wasn't that Samer had an entrenched animadversion for his editor. On the contrary, he knew Craggs liked his work, and he appreciated being given more long-form assignments. Still, Samer sensed that Craggs wanted to keep him tethered to the evening beat for reasons he couldn't understand. I'm the best writer in the room, Samer knew, and he's still got me working Thursday nights!
Lamenting his wasted talent, Samer hunted through his closet for the day's ensemble: a Red Sox cap, natch; a "DRINK WITH GOMES" v-neck; $100 Calvin Klein jeans; and sized 10 Lacoste Europas—red and black today. Pecunious in most areas of life, Samer splurged on wardrobe.
Dressed and ready, Kalaf ambled into the living room and found his roommate passed out on the futon—again. V8 cans lay strewn about the floor, and surgeon's textbooks littered the coffee table. What a disaster, he mulled, what time did he get in this morning? They kept opposite hours, and Kalaf couldn't remember the last time he had seen the young doctor alert and awake. What was he working on? Samer knew better than to wake a sleeping resident physician, so he left his apartment without noticing the scalpel protruding from his flat-mate's ribs.
Since he lived in Manhattan, Kalaf's walk to work was pleasantly short, and after a quick dönner for lunch, he entered Deadspin's offices at 11:48 AM.
Christ, what's that smell? seized his thoughts, and he was about to inquire to that end when Petchesky's acid stare stopped him.
"Is there a problem, Barry?" Samer asked guardedly.
"Yeah, Samer, where in fuck's name were you last night?" Barry spat. He jumped from his chair and was in Samer's face after three strides. "What makes you so fucking special, Kalaf?"
Samer stumbled backward, arms out, pushing Petchesky away. "What the hell, dude? Get off me!" Barry wasn't having any of it. He pushed Samer to the floor and stood over him.
"You're gonna answer my goddamn question!" Barry shouted, "where were you, you sketchy little shit?" By now everyone in the office was standing and staring. Samer looked to Callie, desperate, apoplectic. What's going on here? Callie's face was unreadable. Goddamn one night stands …
"Samer," Craggs now, softly, evenly. "Come with me." The editor placed a hand on Barry's shoulder and flicked his head toward the basement stairs. "Barry, get back to work."
Samer picked himself up and followed his editor to Kyle and Reuben's basement closet. He felt icy stares from all directions. Outside the apartment, Craggs held the door for Samer; as he came into the room, Dr. Matt's sunglasses sent him into hysterics. "Ha! What's up, McCarthy? One too many Fernets last night? Nice aviators, chucko." Samer scoffed. He had always liked McCarthy, a singular exception among his peers. To his consternation, McCarthy sat on the bed, motionless and unhearing. Samer turned to Craggs, "What's with—woah!"
The editor's .45 was pointed directly at Kalaf's nose; the cobalt steel menacing and hard. "Christ, chief," Samer exhaled, "what's going on here today?"
"Sit down, Kalaf," Craggs ordered. Samer sat on the bed next to McCarthy's feet. The doctor didn't move.
"Sir, I—" Samer started, but the editor cut him off with a wave. Craggs seated himself calmly at a small card table across the room and laid the gun down, still pointed at Samer's chest. He sparked a cigarette.
"Will you please tell me where you've been the past two Mondays?" he asked equitably. It made Samer nervous.
"Sir, I …" Samer hesitated, "I've been …" He didn't want to express his loathing for his co-workers, not here, not with a loaded firearm in the room. Craggs uncrossed then re-crossed his legs. He dragged the Pall Mall and cocked the gun. Click.
"Where have you been the past two Mondays?" He repeated, impatience building in his voice.
Samer's head dropped. "I can't stand them, sir. Barry, Tom, Eifling. To a man I can't stand them. I'd rather be fisted by Shaq every day for a year than step foot in Professor Thom's on a Monday night. That's it." Samer glanced at Craggs, then the .45.
Craggs exhaled a cloud of blue smoke, which hung in the dim air. He pursed his lips, regarding Samer, but gave nothing away. "McCarthy was murdered last night," he said without emotion, "I know you didn't do it. The work's too clean, too experienced."
"Then what's with the fucking gun—with all due respect—chief?" asked Samer. He turned toward Dr. Matt and immediately felt sick. I'm sitting next to a dead man, Samer groaned and vomited. So much for that dönner ...
"… to be sure you weren't hiding anything from us. I find this to be a very persuasive device," Craggs was saying, caressing the gun. "Now I'm going to need your help. We have a man flying in from Tampa in a couple hours, and you are going to pick him up at LaGuardia. Yes?"
Samer's head was spinning. Sure, chief, whatever you need, he heard himself say. As if under water, he watched Craggs stand, holster the gun, and adjust his tie.
"He lands at 3:05," Craggs said, "Pull yourself together and come see me for instructions." With that, the editor turned heel and left the cramped apartment. Samer Kalaf, the cream of Deadspin's talent, put his head in his hands and wept. I hate this fucking job.