“They’re sinners and all of them will go to hell for this!” The raging old woman said over the radio. She was talking about the scandal at the company that I worked for. In fact, everyone was talking about it. Protestors have been looking for anything to stir up into a riot recently so it was business as usual. Except this time it was different. This time it was personal. And this was the last time I’d ever go back to that wretched place. There wasn’t a way to sweep a scandal like this under the rug like we’d usually do in these situations, the media was already covering the story. We were already too far gone.
My speedometer read one hundred and twenty-two miles. At least, somewhere around that number, I was far too drunk to see it. I furiously chugged more as I raced uptown to my job. I set out to rid myself of that hellhole and all of the utter tripe that I had to put up with there. I was being irrational. I needed to escape from my old life, and no one was going to stop me. Looking back, I wish someone grabbed me by the shoulders, smacked me around and told me to be thankful for what I had. It was this decision that set a sequence of dreadful events in my life.
I pulled into the parking lot of Pescall offices and parked my Porsche out front. This was going to be a quick stop, my mind was already made up. I pushed those glass doors open and stomped inside the building. A flood of people nearly blocked my way. Everyone was screaming in their phones so their clients could hear them. It was a madhouse as usual. As I dodged my coworkers they gave me glances as I shoved my way past them. Most were too busy making sure their money was still intact. Just like any other day, with plenty more strange looks exchanged.
I marched my way to the CEO’s office, Carl Satin. When his assistant saw me, she immediately rushed to his room door and formed a blockade while saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry, Mr. Satin isn’t seeing any employees at this time.”
“I’m not going to be an employee in a minute.” I said shoving her to the side, barging my way into the door.
Mr. Satin, was hunched over his desk on the phone when I came in. Packets of paper and computer monitors stacked nearly blinding his view from the door.
“Satin!” I said. He told his client on the phone that he had to go and looked up at me.
“Let me guess, you’re quitting. Again.” He said in a sarcastic voice.
“You read my mind. This time I’m serious.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I’ll pack up my office on my way out.”
“You listen to me Ben. This is your mess, not the company’s. I shouldn’t have to deal with the press because of you, Mrs. Flint, or your little harem of sex addicts. You chose to get involved. This company has risen you from being a bum on the street to an actual somebody. Quit crying and pull yourself together.”
I had a similar ‘inspirational’ talk from Satin before back when I was living in my mom’s basement with dreams of becoming a famous guitarist. I was a pizza delivery driver, and Carl made the mistake of tipping me far too much. I called him out on it, and he liked my honesty enough to hire me as his first employee for his brokerage firm. Strangely enough, I was good at it.
The company grew, which lead to moving from my mother’s basement in Pittsburg to a fancy townhouse in Phoenix. It was a new branch with better benefits. I told myself that I’d go back to playing once I bought a house, then a Porsche, then six figures to fall back on just in case the music thing didn’t work out. After I fell for Candace, I couldn’t even play stairway to heaven. I already had the girl so what was the point in playing anymore. It was as if life kicked into fast forward and I couldn’t slow it down.
“You guys need me more than I’ll ever need you. I do all the work and research here anyway. I practically ran this whole operation myself just fine before we went public. All you’re doing is trying to keep the investors happy. I could probably start my own firm by now. We had some good times Carl, but I can’t do it. I’m out.” I said.
Mr. Satin calmly got up from his chair and steadily walked to my side. He gave me an endearing pat on the back.
“Ben, we both know that this is about Candace. The board knows that you two have a... “fondness” for each other. I know it must be hard on you that she is making headlines from a video of her sleeping with another guy, but don’t be naive. She is married, Ben. Consider yourself lucky you aren’t the damned fool in the video. An indiscretion like that never disappears.”
“You don’t understand how humiliating this is.” I responded.
“I’ll act like the last few minutes didn’t happen and I’m going to let you have the next two weeks off.” He said looking down at me. I looked back in disbelief.
“I like you Benjamin. I know I act hard on you in front of the team, but I need the other guys to fall in line. You’re my best analyst, and you’ve covered my ass plenty of times. Take your time off and forget about Candace Flint. It’ll all be blown over by the time you get back.”
Satin was known as a charitable man. Most startup executives like him would push their family to the side while they went to work all day and snorted coke all night. That wasn’t him. He’d take days off to be with his kids and drive them to Disney on the weekends. He was far from perfect, but he was a damn good dad. If I were ever in trouble, I was sure that he’d be there for me in a heartbeat.
“Don’t feel like you owe me any favors. I already told you that I’m not going to tell anyone about the situation with your secretary. You have my word on that.” I said.
Even though he was a great dad, Mr. Satin and his wife were never on good terms. She frequently had a sour attitude that turned off a man like Carl. He made the mistake of marrying his High school sweetheart too early. The two grew to nearly detest each other’s existence. He grew to have a fondness for his assistant.
“You do a lot more talking when you should be listening. This isn’t me paying back a debt. Everyone deserves an escape once in awhile. I did my best to keep names out of the press. Nothing should link back to you. Get outta dodge, meet a girl, do something. Come back strong and sober.” He said leading me out of his office. “Now I have a mess that I need to clean up. I’ll see you next month.”
When I arrived back home later that evening, my roommate, Jackson was in the living room packing bags. He had all different kinds of hiking gear and camping materials. Old cameras, hiking boots, maps, gloves, fishing rods, and condoms. He looked up at me with excitement.
Jackson wasn’t anything short of a modern Indiana Jones. He has a problem with staying still in the same place for longer than a week before he’s on a new adventure. Whether it’s road tripping through the continental United States or backpacking through Paris, he was always on the move. Adventure seems to follow him, for better or for worse.
“There you are, I called you earlier, I need to borrow your car.”
“Sure.” I said throwing him the keys, “I definitely shouldn’t be driving anyway.”
“Not the Porsche this time. Your prized possession, Shelby.” He said.
Shelby, what Jackson was referring to as my prized possession was a forest green 1966 Volkzwagon bus. They used to tell me to get a crappy car as your first one because eventually you’ll crash it, but I didn’t crash Shelby. It had terrible mileage, but it drove like a tank. It was in almost pristine shape aside from a long white strip on the right side of it. Although the strip was covered by our mounted surfboards. I used to drive it every day to work but that changed to just beach trips.
“Why?” I asked
“It’s for that trip to Bitterroot up in Montana I told you about remember?”
“Sure I suppose. Montana isn’t too far. You might as well keep her since I’m never leaving this apartment for the rest of my life. Oh, when you come back can you bring some groceries, maybe even some bleach to drown myself in.”
“Come on man, what did you expect dating the CFO of your company. Believe me, I would do anything to get up the corporate ladder too, but you must’ve known that she hooked up with other guys if she was willing to hook up with you. Think about it this way, she pretty much got what she deserved.”
I bent over and picked up a Phoenix Times newspaper off of our cluttered coffee table. The headliner read PESCAL GROUP SCANDAL” It went into detail about my recent lover (Or at least what I thought was my recent lover) Candace Flint and her sexual escapades. There was a video of her getting penetrated in an executive’s corner office. There were only two things to be glad about in that moment of time. Firstly, my name wasn’t mentioned at all. secondly, newspapers can’t play video.
Jackson read over my shoulder and gave me a lackadaisical pat on the back.
“Looks like Phoenix Times doesn’t have much to write about these days. Hey, but at least your company is famous. All publicity is good publicity.” He said.
I threw the paper down and walked over to the kitchen,
“Wait. I know how to get you back on track!” He called. I was taking out a bottle of whiskey from the cabinet and forcing it down my gullet. Jackson quickly stopped me, pulling the bottle away from my grip.
“Not with alcohol this time.” He said. I went to grab for it, but Jack held it away at my advances. “Come to Montana, with Penny and me.” He exclaimed.
“Oh, what joy.” I said sarcastically “I get to go on a camping trip listening to you two mambo in a tent practically right next to me. Not to mention constantly waking up in the middle of the night to check if anyone got mauled by bears yet. No thanks, Jack.”
“What if I told you that you didn’t have to deal with either. We got a cabin.”
“That doesn’t count as camping.” I said quickly snatching the bottle back from him and taking another drink. He snatched it back after I finished my swig.
“Come on, it’ll be great. I’ll even bring one of Penny’s friends for you to shack up with. You just need to get the poison out. Before you know it, the name Candace won’t even ring a bell. She’ll be dead and gone.”
I knew there was some catch to Jackson’s offer. There always was with him. He was less like a friend but more of an enemy I was polite with at times. But I decided to tag along with him. I was tired of Phoenix and the sound of construction at seven o’clock in the morning ruining my sleep. Montana wasn’t far, and the place Jackson mentioned was at the very least, remote. If I was far enough from Candace, I knew she wouldn’t be able to talk me back into her good Grace’s as she always did. ‘Not this time.’ I kept telling myself as I packed my things. I didn’t want to go, I needed to go. If I didn’t, I wasn’t sure if i’d be alive when he got back in my mental state.
The next morning I was exhausted, after yesterday I only had time to grab the essentials. I managed to get a few changes of clothes, a razor, (the cutthroat type since I’m classy) and a toothbrush before running outside to go pick up Jackson and his girlfriend from her house in Arcadia. I was running late and had already been annoyed of the constant “ding” that was coming from my right pocket. I was too bothered even to look. I started up Shelby, and made my way north.
Jackson’s girlfriend Penelope (or Penny, as we like to call her) thankfully lived in the direction we were going. She often had a way of guilting him into driving the thirty miles to her parent’s house just to kill a spider in her room. Maybe that was an excuse to get him to come over; Anything for love, right?
I was stuck on driving duty. I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of either Jackson or Penny driving the car. Their car arguments had lead to irrational swerving on the highway in the past. Not that I’m any role model, I just didn’t want to die on my work break. Plus, driving took my mind off of things.
“Hey!” Jackson said while the front gates started to slide open, revealing the breathtaking modern Bauhaus house inside. The modern, aristocratic home was a daunting sight. I once believed that moving to an upscale area such as Arcadia would fill some void that I had inside of me. All it did was remind me of how wealthy I wasn’t.
“Pull her inside, and watch the statue, they just got it fixed.” I slowly rode to the front. Through the glass pane walls of the residence, and could see the group grabbing their bags excitedly. All four of them came out and hopped into the back of the car giving me a “Hello” as they sat on the couch. After a few moments of listening to one girl go on and on about how excited she was about going, Jackson came out and climbed into the passenger.
“I was surprised you actually came.” He answered.
“I don’t know these people.” I said in my hushed hungover voice.
“Oh, I’ll introduce you.” He said. After he got their attention, he gave his typical half-assed introduction where he tells me the names of the people in question but fails to mention mine.
Their names were Amy; The vexatious girl that was “so excited” to be going even though it would be her third time there. Paul; the stoic one that probably chopped logs in his free time. Lastly, there was Eliza, who looked to be on some hallucinogen judging by her popping invisible bubbles in the air. I recognized their faces from events Jackson invited to in the past. Especially Penelope’s since she has spent the night in our apartment a few times. But now I was going to have to be their best friend for the next few days. I was less than excited.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a reserved person, but being forced into a long car ride with strangers challenged my soul. I tried my best to focus on the road, the hills of giant dark green pine trees, the deer that herded by, the stenchy farmlands, and even the hellish songs that played on Jackson’s speaker, but nothing could stop the endless screeching that was supposed to serve as words from Amy’s mouth. She must have had a fear of silence because there was almost no end to her barrage of stories. Unfortunately, I was too polite to tell her to shutup. She just talked fast, and never stopped.
Paul was quiet. Although he looked like he just escaped the marine base on Paris island, he was very kind. He seemed as uninterested as I was. Like me, Paul was forced into the trip by his girlfriend, Eliza. His vessel was there, but his face said that he’d rather be kicking back at home knocking back a couple of beers while watching men in helmets slam into each other for a ball.
Eliza fawned over him. She regularly went between cuddling with him, playing guitar, and spiritual meditation. Her messy bohemian black hair blew in the wind through the open window. She was one of the new age Buddhists that you’d meet in a coffee shop dressed in flowy clothes and you couldn’t be sure if they are homeless or not. I never understood people like her, but they appeared to be far happier than me so there must be some truth to all the spiritual awareness she always touted. Even though she looked harmless, she was acquainted with pain. From the ears down to her toes, her smooth olive skin was plentifully bestrewn with colorful tattoos.
When we were around twenty miles out of Phoenix, we stopped at a little gas station to fill up. It was a typical drive-by town. The red and yellow paint on the walls became discoloured through age. It felt as if we stepped back in time. Even the LED’s for the gas prices were only half working. Amy was starting up another story, so I went inside with Jackson to pay for everything we needed.
“Please tell me this place sells booze,” I said walking over to the stained refrigerators. Jackson grabbed some fancy overpriced water bottles. I got a six-pack.
“Just to let you know,” Jackson said, coming close to me as I closed the refrigerator door. “Amy is single, she is a sure thing if you want to make up for lost time.”
“If I have to listen to her for another second, we are leaving her on the side of the road.”
“Come on; I did you a huge favor on this one. She’s all yours to bone for the next couple days. Not everything has to be love Ben, sex is great, revenge sex is even better.”
“Don’t you pretend that this was some favor to me. Clearly, everyone else had dates and you guys needed someone to distract her.” I said pointing to her out the window. I could hear her voice even from inside the station.
“Okay, you caught me, but it looks like everybody wins to me. She’s gorgeous! If you don’t take her, I might.” He said giving her a perverted glance.
I sighed and walked over to the register to pay. I waited for a moment. The cashier was on the phone with some girl telling him how much he loved her while scanning the items we placed on the counter. He was a short but well-built kid that looked like he should be on television in an Abercrombie & Fitch commercial.
“Sorry man, just another one of the ladies, you gotta keep them in check. I’m sure you get it.” He said giving me a smirk while bagging my things. I stoically gave him my card, not responding to his comment.
“Thirty on pump two please.” I said. The kid felt talkative and went on.
“I don’t know what to do man, should I stay with her, should I not. I like her, but soon I’m gonna be a million miles away from her at ASU. One thing leads to another you know? I just wanna live.”
Jackson wasn’t paying much attention as he was on his phone swiping away. That Texaco worker could have been talking straight to him and he would still ignore him. It’s almost as if he could erase other people from his reality if they didn’t have enough figures in their bank account. He walked out without paying for his items and the kid didn’t even notice.
“Break up with her,” I replied.
He looked at me puzzled.
“Just break her heart now, save everyone the trouble kid.” I took our stuff and stormed to the car. It wasn’t his fault that he caught me on a bad day, but the girl would probably have been better off without him. Amy got in the driver seat while I pumped. When I finished, she poked her head out looking at me.
“I stole your seat huh? Maybe I should get a go at the wheel,” She said smiling while turning the wheel playfully.
Her smile sparked my memory of the time we first met. We spoke briefly few months back, at a bar for Penelope’s twenty-first birthday. She spilled her drink on me, and I laughed it off even though my suit was a rental. We told a few jokes, drunk enough to even laugh at the dumb ones. I remembered that our first time together was cut very short. I left early telling everyone that I was feeling sick. The real reason I escaped was because I needed to get to Candace’s hotel for one of our classified affairs.
“Keep it, take it easy on her though, she’s an old girl.” I replied.
The idea of anyone else driving Shelby worried me, but at that point, I’d do anything to shut her up. My head was pounding with pain. Eliza serenaded us with her acoustic Guitar playing. She didn’t sing at all; she didn’t need to. Her finger plucking told a story on its own. There was sorrow in the notes she played as if she was translating the echoing sound of the hollow void where my heart was supposed to be. She occasionally stopped and tried to put away the guitar back in the case, but we pleaded for her to go on.
When we reached Utah, there was a herd of cattle that stretched out a great distance along the road ahead of us. The cow parade forced everyone to come to a stop. The ground around it was uneven and muddy due to some rain that must have fallen for the past few days. Long green bushes ran alongside the most of the road. A car tried going around them but got stuck in the mud. The cattle nudged against our cars as we waited for them to pass but they weren’t moving much. There wasn’t a rancher in sight.
We were stuck waiting in the middle of nowhere for a seemingly endless amount of time. Paul and I tried helping the family that got their car stuck in the mud but the tires just shot wet mud all over the place. There was another family behind us that started a barbecue right in the middle of the freeway. They were kind enough to let other travelers join them. We ate with them and listened to some stories from a husband of the family. He was a Vietnam veteran. His stories started from when he was drafted and all the countries he’s been to since. He made it sound fun, but I could tell by the look in his eye that it wasn’t.
“You ever have to kill someone?” Paul asked. They were the first words to leave his mouth since we left the gas station. Eliza plucked him for asking such a personal question.
“No, it’s all alright. Yes. I did. When you’re out there you think of your family, and what you’d give to see them again. These people weren’t like you or me; they were savages. If you weren’t strong enough, you die. ” The old timer said. His eyes drifted off, as his mind was back to the war.
After an hour there was a loud thunderous sound from down the freeway. It got louder as we saw yellow lights gaining on us, coming closer as we all looked to see. It was a fleet of motorcycles. I have seen plenty of bikers in my life, but these weren’t your average weekend warrior’s that just wanted some time to kill on the road. They were brawny, most of them covered in menacing tattoos and scars as if they were Spartans. They came in with their patched denim jackets, American flag bandanas, and typical sunglasses, stepping off their bikes and strutting towards the group like they owned the place; In some territorial biker gangway, they probably did.
A few of the people that came out to join us went back inside of their cars. Their presence silenced us as all of our attention was on them. A few of the civilians watched them in disgust, but it was mostly fear of what they might demand. I stood there continuing to eat as our numbers dwindled. An older biker walked right up to us and spat in our presence. He gave me an intimidating look for a quick moment and asked.
“Whats with all the goddamn cattle in the road?”
I wasn’t sure if the question was directed at me, but no one else spoke. As I got a better look at him, I noticed a firearm held in a holster on his hip. I was afraid, but I knew that there wasn’t a definitive reason for any of the bikers to hurt us, at least not yet. There was a stillness in the air as I anxiously conversed with him.
“They’ve been there for awhile, I was half hoping you guys would scare them off with your bikes, but I suppose cows are too badass for any of us.”
He took a long hard pause while analyzing me. And after a few seconds, he began laughing, which kick-started the group of bikers behind him to laugh. The chain reaction lead to our group laughing uncomfortably with fear. The one line made our situation look less like a standoff. The laughter faded away quickly, so it was back to silence.
“Do you guys want to stay for dinner?” I asked. When I glanced back at the group, I could see that they were all thinking I was an idiot for asking a gang of armed bikers such a question. It might have looked brave to some, but I could feel my palms shaking. I was one terrible joke away from being tied from the neck to one of their bikes and being taken for a bloody backseat ride to Canada, where a ditch would be waiting for me.
He looked back at his posse, and they all looked at each other with squinted eyes. You’d easily believe they were plotting on how fast they could massacre the lot of us by their appearance. I was half ready to run when the brawny biker spoke.
“You got any mustard for those hotdogs?”
For another hour we spoke with them like old friends. The group of them that joined were kind and notably well managed. There was another half of the group that just sat on their bikes away from us smoking and drinking, trying their best to keep it away from the children. That earned my respect. I suppose when you aren’t trying to wane in on their territory or attempting to separate them from their drugs or liquor, you’re naturally set as a good person in their books.
Amy was sitting alone when she called me away from the group to speak to me. She was relaxing on one the lawn chairs, basking in the sunlight. When I came up to her, she signaled me to come close as she whispered in my ear.
“Nice job talking to those Bikers hero, they had me scared for a bit. Did you see their guns?” She asked. I sat down next to her on the pavement.
“I saw the guns; I don’t think we should be too worried about them though, they don’t want to hurt anybody, they seem just to be hungry, is all” I responded.
“I know I wouldn’t have done that. You’ve got balls.” She laughed.
“Are you excited for Bitterroot? I know you said you’d been there before.”
“I’m so excited for it.” She responded happily. “I love nature, all the wildlife, and the trails, and especially the hot springs. Did you bring bug spray? Because if you didn’t, you’re not going to have a great time.”
“I’m sure Jack brought enough to bathe in.” I responded. Although, I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to have a good time either way.
“I’m glad we have a cabin. We don’t have to worry too much about the bears eating all our food... or us.” She said, playfully grabbing at me.
“Are bears an issue there?” I asked. I could reason with bikers, but I don’t think bears had the same temperament. I never thought about the real danger of the trip, so the thought of potentially having an altercation with a bear was equally intriguing as it was terrifying.
“There are bears, but it isn’t something that you should worry about. They always say to keep your eyes out for them. Never go near them of course.” She said. She was still cheerful but was serious about that rule.
“What if they break in the cabin in our sleep?” I asked jokingly.
“Not gonna happen, they couldn’t possibly fit through the door. They’re huge!”
“How sad, I was excited to wrestle a couple of bears.”
“I’m sure you could, after the way you handled those bikers.”
“Bikers, bears, evildoers. I can handle any of em.” I jested.
After another half hour of speaking with the biker gang, ranchers began herding the cattle away from the road. The gang shook our hands, thanked us and went off on their way. We got in the wagon, laughed about it a bit, then started back on our journey.
Everyone looked out the van windows as we viewed the elegant trees and snowcapped mountains in the distance. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by it all. Usually, trips with Jackson lead to fancy 5-star hotels and restaurants. We lived near plenty of national parks, and Bitterroot didn’t seem that much different. I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it would be more than trees. Soon the wildlife started to appear. Grey elk ran alongside the road as we drove. They were incredibly larger than I pictured them being. It’s difficult to understand the full scale when looking at the photos online. Their strong legs few them forward at ludicrous speed.
We passed by a couple of campgrounds, as we headed deeper into the western section of the national park. Jackson always says that “Privacy is Luxury” so he specifically paid extra to rent out a cabin dozens of miles away from the camps. He made it a mission to get away from civilization as much as possible. The group started to get antsy with excitement when we got to the check-in. I had to go to the bathroom, and I was secretly holding it in since we left so I was just as excited to stop somewhere finally. I parked the car on the gravel next to the wooden building and practically jumped out of it. Penny and Jackson came with.
We went inside, and I bolted to the bathroom. I went to open it, but the knob wouldn’t turn. As I knocked on the door, a voice came from inside.
“Occupied, be right out.” The voice said.
I stood against the wall impatiently as I watched Jackson and Penny talking to the receptionist in the front. He had his hand on the small of her back as they were both smiling down at the helpful lady. Despite all the arguments between them on the way there, they looked like newlyweds honeymooning.
I stood back as a ranger the size of a giant stepped out. His tall black boots put him a few inches over me. He looked down, and gave me a nod and walked over to the front room, where the receptionist was still tending to Jackson and Penny. I was quick, when I finished up, I walked out and saw the ranger laughing with Jackson and Penny about something. I walked over to see what all the commotion was about.
“Well, Y’all don’t have to worry none. If anything is wrong, you can call here, and I’ll be down real quick. Just make sure you ’member to put your fires out. Don’t go burnin down no tree’s ya hear?”
“We will sir, I’ll be sure of it.” Jackson responded
“Call me Bill.”
“Thank you, Bill.” Penny said.
He shook our hands and told us to have a pleasant time then walked over to a room next to the desk. The three of us got back in the car and drove off to find the cabin. It was further west than we expected. It took us a half hour to find it since it was out of the way from the main road. There were practically no cars driving in the area either. It’s seclusion made it the perfect place to get away from life for awhile. At least, that is what I wanted at the time.
The cabin was bigger than I expected. It sat all the way at the end of the long dirt road on the side of a misty grass ridge. It was old and wooden with a black triangular roof. It resembled a house in the suburbs but a tad smaller with a brown silhouette. Above the door sat a large ax held on the wall which fueled the Evil Dead ambience. The furnishings were less impressive though. There was a porch swing chair for two outside that looked like it was going to break with any amount of pressure on it. There were couches inside that were definitely from the last century. There was only one room with a full-sized bed, that went to Jackson and Penny. The rest of the rooms held twin sized beds that had a peculiar odor. The kitchen was good enough, but the worst part was that there was only one bathroom. Jackson loved his bathroom sessions of looking at himself while he groomed. Nevertheless, it was much better than a tent.
There were three rooms in total. The master went to the planners of the trip, Jackson and Penny, Eliza and Paul shared one while Amy and I shared the third. Luckily, our beds were separate, and we didn’t have to fight over who got the top bunk. As I unpacked my things, my reality set in. I started to think of what will I do for the next week while being stranded here in the middle of the forest with a group of people I barely knew. Penny came in and grabbed my attention.
“Hey, are you coming out?”
“Yeah, I just need a second.”
“Okay. We are making dinner if you want some.” She said walking out and closing the door.
I sat on the bed and turned my phone back on for the first time since leaving the station. Within a few seconds, all the messages and posts came in at once. My phone was practically useless. There was no reception no matter how high I lifted it. I had to find a place to make a phone call if there was an emergency. I couldn’t help but notice that I had phone calls from a few of my co-workers. The one that stood out the most was from Candace. The worst part was that she called just a few minutes after I went to sleep the night before. She left a voice message.