We shall call him Dennis LoCusta.
Dennis was the manager of Chesapeake Knife and Tool in Crystal City. He was a high-tempered man with precious little insight for a man still living at home with his mother at age 33. Dennis had some things going for him; he was handsome, thin, and had a roguish wash of dapper red hair. As a salesperson, he did fairly well, but unfortunately, his ambition was always in some kind of overdrive mode which everyone assumed was due to his wretched mother. How he became a manager at that location was a story of its own. After he was an assistant manager at another store, he declared that if he didn't get promoted to manager, he was going to start looking elsewhere.
His boss was a woman named Tina. Tina had a non-nonsense attitude, sharp wit, and three kids by the age of 30 (one of them a teenager). Her husband, a trucker of no modest means, was barely her equal. She had some kind of Manassas soldier blood in her; almost too good for white trash, but she refused to have the country bred out of her. I could picture her with an infant in one arm, and shotgun in the other, and underneath the shade of a John Deere cap and pile of red hair was a set of large dark eyes and wry smile that would have impressed Tank Girl. Tina was the kind of woman you wanted to bring into battle as your general and also be your sous chef at a barbecue competition at the same time. The best of southern bell and bitch in one. So Dennis was no match for her, and she kept him in line with the same "don't you dare" stare she gave her own kids when caught climbing trees in their Sunday best.
So when Dennis gave Tina his demands, she just stared at him. I could see her eyes, so dark they were just oil blobs in a white pool lined with sun freckles, and poker smile that bought her some time to think of something REALLY smart to say. "So just what do you think a manager gets paid?" she asked. She could have asked him anything, like "what makes you think you are management material?" But she knew. She knew just how dumb Dennis was.
"Twelve thousand dollars!" He stated, holding his ground. "A year!"
"Okay," Tina said, and patted his shoulder. "Let's see what we can do."
Tina was also one mean hub of gossip. She knew a lot about the company, and given we only had 15 stores at the time, she knew pretty much everything without sparing much brainpan space to store tidbits of knowledge in. She knew that the Crystal City Underground location was a sinkhole of money for the company. It was situated right next to the Metro station entrance which SEEMED like an ideal spot, until you realize that people pass by the first few shops of that shopping mall before they had a look around. Our store was also in a darkened area, a divot away from the light, if you will. And given our store colors were brown and green, this sort of turned our store into a partial cave. The only thing that drew attention to it was a motorized Swiss Army Knife and a angry handwritten sign in the window that stated, WE DO NOT GIVE CHANGE WITHOUT A PURCHASE!! (actually, for years it said "WE DO NOT GIVE CHANGE, WITHOUT A PRUCHACE!!" before I fixed it). See, people would see our store after wandering around ritzy shops that made up the Crystal City Underground Mall, and think somehow we were a tobacconists, and had a cash register stocked fat with coins that could get for the Metro. They were also next to the restrooms, which meant homeless people would often come through and then on their way out, ask for change; the store was somehow the shop equivalent of a coin return slot on a payphone. Most employees went mental in this location because of the lack of sales, the homeless people, and the constant roar of the wind through the subterranean cavern one escalator deep under the city above.
The Crystal City location was what we call in retail, "a penalty box." This is the store someone will get demoted to in order to force them to quit. "Oh, we're not firing you," management would say. "We will send you to Crystal City to fix up that mess. It's a test to show your worthiness." But this dragon they sent you to was immortal and could not be slayed. Most managers got the message and quit. Some did not and got fired for not making sales quotas, which were the lowest in the chain, as it would be pointed out to you every day of you miserable existence in this dungeon. You couldn't win. They usually went through 2-3 managers a year. So Tina sent Dennis to this location to put him in his place. The fact he asked for a $12k/year salary demand was also a bonus, since managers actually started at 19k. Dennis would actually save the company money.
Tina later got promoted to my store where I was assistant manager, when my boss was called away due to Operation Desert Storm (in reality, he returned to school so he wouldn't get drafted; his National Guard Unit was called to duty and he bailed, claiming he was a full time college student). My boss didn't like Tina because he felt a woman as a manager, "especially a redneck," was not a good sales move for a masculine store such as Chesapeake Knife and Tool. But he needn't have worried; Tina and I got along great, and sales continued to rise. Tina had this cocky attitude and a lot of her customers came to our location from her old store. She also got along well with a lot of our customer base from Quantico, a local marine training base.
By the time she came to my store, however, Dennis was already in trouble. But the company didn't want to fire Dennis; they felt that Dennis needed to stay there until they got another troubled manager to replace him, and so far, all the other managers were doing really well. So Tina was sort of Dennis' boss as well as mine. Often I would be her go-between of Dennis and his shenanigans, which were often spouts of terrible ideas born from the mouth of a very pushy mother stuck in a 1950s version of a general store. "TELL THEM THEY SHOULD SELL TIES; MEN LIKE TIES! YOU SHOULD ALSO SELL MOTOR OIL, ALMOST EVERYONE DRIVES A CAR AROUND HERE THESE DAYS! BE A MAN FOR GOD'S SAKE AND DEMAND A RAISE!"
"Hey Tina," I once had to say, "Dennis' mother said he needs a raise."
Tina would roll her eyes. Often she spent time wondering about Dennis and how to keep him in line when she wasn't around, because she hated visiting that store. Often she sent me in her place to fix something. Sometimes I worked there when Dennis was away for some reason. Eventually, we got Dennis an assistant, a friend of mine from sci fi conventions named Beth.
Beth as a good choice for Tina to hire for Dennis. Beth was a born-again Pagan straight out of the broom closet. She had short curly hair, a strong jaw, and a quiet power around her that could keep Dennis in line. But she had one other "it" factor; she insisted on being allowed to wear her pentacle to work. A big, fat, round, ostensible star in a circle that glinted in the halogen lighting like Wiccan bling bling. It was larger than most pentacles, it was probably about the size of a silver dollar. And it scared Dennis to no end. He was afraid of Beth and her witchy ways, but at the same time, incredibly curious about her "powers." Beth thought this was the best thing ever, and while she thought Dennis was a complete screwball, she was grateful I had gotten her the job. This would pay off for me later on.
So Tina communicated with Dennis via Beth and me, and Beth would spend hours telling me about Dennis and his recent misadventures. The worst was his name, "LoCusta," which while I made that up, his real name was also incredibly close to sounding like an insect with a foreign accent. So he'd try to separate it as "Dennis Lo Custa" on business cards and stationery, but customers would always ask for "Dennis the Locust." So that's what Tina started to call him, too. It wasn't that we disliked Dennis, because he was sometimes fun to be with. It was just we had to put up with his random moments of temper tantrums and screwball ideas. He was kind of like "our scamp."
So one day, while some friends were in town, I decided to pull a prank on Dennis. This requires a little explanation.
In the knife industry, we prided ourselves on steel quality. There are many blends of quality steel; carbon steels and stainless steels with numbers like 440, 425, and 410. There are folded steels and rolled steels. There are blends, alloys, and forging techniques. It's kind of like being a wine snob about what boils down to a mixture of iron, carbon, chrome, and just a hint of other trace minerals. But while some knife makers will disagree to the point of red-faced anger about crystal size and edge angles, almost everyone agrees that serrated knifes suck. A serrated knife is really a form of saw, and it's used by the cheapest knife mills to try and compensate for crappy steel quality that can't hold an edge. Those Ginsu knives? Serrated metal that is barely considered a consumer-grade stainless. Sure they can cut through an aluminum can and then slice a tomato paper thin. For a while. Then the tiny little "laser cut" serrated teeth wear down and then the knife couldn't cut through warm butter even if it was on fire. Cheese slicing wire had a better edge than these things. That's why $19.95 will buy you 5 of them. Heck, even then, it probably only costs them $1.50 worth of plastic and metal. They are also dangerous in the hands of the stupid because the metal is brittle, and if you try to pry things with them (which you should never do, but morons do this anyway), the blade will snap like pasta and send jagged pieces of shrapnel into anything nearby, including that matching set of mason jar novelty mugs and Mickey wide-mouths you have been collecting to put your chaw in. Plus, they "never need sharpening" because you CAN'T sharpen them.
Suffice to say, among knife snobs, serrated knives are the knives of the unwashed peasant class. Don't try and disagree with me, because my monocle will drop into my cup of imported tea. My word.
So my best friend Neal was in town with his brother Glenn from Texas. We were bored and hanging around DC, just being silly. While on the Metro, we hatched a strange plan to try and see how gullible Dennis was (he was still trying to find a dictionary that did not have the word "gullible" defined in it to prove a counterpoint). So we got off at Crystal City and sent in Glenn to do an errand while we hid in the restrooms next door.
"I would like a Heinkels Knife serrator, please," Glenn asked Dennis with the air of a seasoned kitchen expert. Glenn had been briefed on the gauche nature of such a request, so he played it up with the air of a redneck who just heard the word "college degree," and considered himself edjumukated. "I have some Heinkel's Four-star blades and would like them serrated so they can cut my tomatoes paper-thin like they have on the TEEvee."
Dennis, in his kindest manner possible, restrained his twitching and informed this obvious lunatic that a fine German manufacturer like Heinkels would not toss away their 400 year old reputation as a knife maker on a device, if it even existed in our universe. Glenn hammed it up, and said that Chesapeake Knife and Tool was advertising a special with a coupon in today's Washington Post, something else we never did. In fact, Glenn went a little overboard in his act, and when he finally left in a huff at Dennis' stark rudeness and refusal to admit the offer, he told us how it boiled down. After ten minutes of giggling, we hand to alter our plan to match Glenn's outrageous behavior.
We sent in Neal, who made the same request. Neal took on the air of your typical local conservative who wears knitted vests and donates money to the Audubon society and local auto club. Dennis was now perplexed. He sputtered and lost composure. He admitted that Neal was "the second person in the last hour who asked about this preposterous item," and so he called the home office. The home office consisted of four people in a shared warehouse, and Dave, our purchasing agent picked up the emergency phone. Since Dennis had a habit of calling the home office with his wacky ideas far too often, Dave politely assured Dennis that no such object or promotion ever existed and probably laughed quietly and shook his head when he hung up. But Neal insisted it was in the Style section, and would go back to his garden apartment and fetch the ad, which had assured him that he didn't need to bring the coupon as long as it was only one per customer.
So then he returned to the restrooms and we discussed the next idea. I went into the store out of breath and said, "Dennis! Oh my God, do you have any of those Heinkels Knife serrators left? I swear to God, all the other stores are out of them, and Tina sent me to get what you have left." This was a common practice, since Crystal City stock was almost a secondary storage method due to little sales.
But what I was not told was Beth was in the store. "You mean such a thing DOES exist??" she asked with incredible googly eyes. I suddenly felt bad because I didn't mean to pull the joke on BETH, but oh well. Dennis was also shocked and quickly became upset and the declining values of German knife manufacturers, and started going on a rant about it. That's when Neal and Glenn came in, and Dennis looked at them and said, "I am so sorry, I was told that we do carry them, but nobody sent me any, and NOBODY TELLS ME ANYTHING IN THIS COMPANY!"
That's when I looked at Beth and went, "Nawww... I am just kidding Dennis. There's no such thing, these are friends from out of town. HAAAH..." Now I recall Dennis going, "Oh. Well, that makes sense. Okay then. Joke's on me." I thought he handled it rather well, albeit he didn't seem to think it was funny or act relived as much as I would have guessed. But Dennis was like that sometimes.
Glenn later went to write for Bob Ocri, and has a hand in scripts of "Fringe" and "Alias." So now you know THAT connection with me. Neal is a linguistics professor, and I am sure he tells his students about the lack of value in knife serration.
But Dennis did not take it well. In fact, Dennis fumed after I left. Beth told me that Dennis was so angry, he went ballistic and started throwing things. Said I made a fool of him. Not like the kind of fool I wanted him to think, like a mild Candid Camera moment, but Dennis apparently thought I had cut his ego brutally and then sliced a tomato paper-thin.
I would rue the day. I would pay. But more on that later.
I want to tell you about some more of the people who usually frequent the Crystal City Underground. Many were mentally unstable, and the questioning of putting a place that sold available weapons right next to restrooms and an exit to public access tunnels was brought up more than once. In fact, due to the troglodyte nature of some of the occupants, the Crystal City Underground Mall closed at sundown (ironic, since you can't see the sun down there), and stayed closed during the weekends. I remember closing the store at 6pm and seeing how dark the mall got after everyone's gates went down.
Beth had one customer who was "testing" the edge of a blade. There was a company called Blackjack that made a kukri knife called, "The Mamba." It was one of their more experimental pieces with a new kind of edge at the time called a "rolled edge" called "hamaguri-ba" (God, why do I still remember this?) Most knives have an edge like the letter V. But the Mamba has an edge more like a thin letter U. Thus the final edge is the intersection of two arcs, creating a very sharp edge with more metal behind it than the standard V-edge. The advantage was that it wouldn't dull as fast, was very chip and nick resistant, and had substantial heft: a slashing blade to clear through brush, bone, or Ginsu knives. The disadvantage was it couldn't be sharpened on a whetstone, and it *deceptively* looked dull. It was a dangerous thing to discover, as this one Mickey wide-mouth customer found out.
One of the weirdest things we would see as knife sellers were people who thought the quality of an edge could be determined if it could shave off arm hair. "Oh yeah," they'd say, looking at a bald patch that they'd have to explain to their goodly wife later, "that's sharp." Yes, but that's also THIN. Thus, not a chopping or stabbing blade. I guarantee the edge of your chef's knife wouldn't cut off arm hair unless it also has more nicks than Lindsey Buckingham.
So this gent is attempting to shave the hair off the back of his hand, and failing, because if there's one thing the Afghanis don't do, it is shaving. Thus hefty kukri blades tend to be more geared to cutting the legs out from under an enemy's horse. This man does not see the wisdom in shorter horses or knife safety in general for that matter, as he adjusts to a steeper angle to show those stubborn arm hairs why a $129 knife can--oh, dear...!
The gore Beth described became legendary. I wish I could repeat the story the same way she did. It involved comparing muscles and window shades. It was a story that painted a crimson fountain of imagery that EMTs can only dream about when they see a huge pool of blood as an aftermath. "Spurting" is an accurate term, but somehow too clinical to Beth's dismay. But what happened next was even more amazing, and I used it to this day to explain how some people react to shock.
As rivulets of life fluid poured down his hand and splattered on the glass counter ("Which I had JUST cleaned!" Beth would state indignantly), the man stood back and hand the knife back to Beth as a matter of factly, "Nahh... I don't think I will be purchasing this instrument of death today. This method of blood donation is not to my taste."
"Let me call 911!" Beth explained in shock.
"Oh no no..." the man explained, as if this event was a daily occurrence, twice daily during peak season. "I am fine."
This was a new definition of "fine" Beth was not aware of. She used words like "stuck pig" and "out of control water pick" as similes to describe the carnage that was dotting the display cases and forming a growing puddle where the man stood. But it seemed like the customer was worried he'd look like a fool in front of a woman with a "funny Jewish Star" around her neck (yes, customers usually thought she was REALLY Jewish; I guess so intensely so, she only needed a 5-pointed star). He pooh-poohed Beth's offering to get an ambulance and I think he thought that merely covering the gushing crimson torrents from his other hand would cover up the peeled layers of skin, muscle, and bone. "'Tis but a flesh wound." Machismo at its finest.
But he was quickly growing pale and weaving as his brain caught up with the sudden drop in blood pressure and reassessed the situation.
"Listen, if you won't let me call an ambulance, I will call mall security, and THEY will call an ambulance."
The man relented, because you know, who ever wants to see mall cops? And so the Arlington medics took the man to a proper medical facility where machismo is measured in how neat and parallel sutures are. The blood had to be removed from the display case and worse, the cracks between the glass and brass edges. And Beth was closing alone that day. And to the day that store closed, one corner of the shop's rug had a faded brown stain to mark the day that a brave man did not buy a horse leg shortening kukri.
I had one scary customer; a homeless guy. On a day I was working alone (Beth was on lunch break, I think), a guy came in who looked like a DEAD ringer for Charles Manson. Everything but the swastika on his forehead. He had the stare, the beard, the hair, and and was wearing a trench coat and a knitted cap. I was with a customer at the time, and the guy was so spooky looking, BOTH of us turned pale at the sight of this villain lurking around our shop. The customer quickly left, and I was alone. This guy was definitely mentally unstable, and Beth had warned me about someone like him that wandered around the subway tunnels.
"I wanna see that knife," he said. He pointed to the largest knife we had; a 12" Wusthoff chef's knife. It was so big, it was almost unreal. It was practically a cartoon-sized knife welded by a crazed cook who had just caught his girlfriend cheating on his with his sous chef and a Heinkels knife serrator coupon. And now it was the object of focus by a man who probably refused to take his medication because it makes the voice of God stop sending him valuable messages to keep away the bats.
To this day, I wonder why I gave it to him. I guess the thought of telling this guy "no" in a room full of weapons would not end well. Maybe placating him and seeing his reaction would be a tactic of some sort, but as I try and rethink, "why the heck did you not refuse to give him the knife?" I get back my 23-year-old memory (desperately wanting to see age 24) babbling something about poor customer service and the validation of a statement like, "I am sorry sir, I make it a point not to give large knives to crazy-looking people." I mean, that's insulting! But I was scared. I was probably pale, and I recall mentally marking all the possible exits and recalling all the stories I heard about eviscerated soldiers holding in their spilled guts with their hands as they ran from the battlefields. He looked at the price sticker.
"Two hundred and seven dollars, huh?" he asked. He was mulling something over, and I pretty much felt a betting man would place odds on the next move being either a grab and run, or a what in D&D we called a "claw claw bite" routine. But what he did next was astounding. "Ring 'er up," he said as he started searching his pockets. From one pocket, he uncurled a $10 bill. From the next pocket, he found a few $5 bills. Then a $20 bill from under his hat. Then a $20 and some ones from his shoe. Slowly the crumpled and rolled bills and scattered coins added up to whatever $207 was with tax.
"Can I refuse to sell a knife to a man who pays cash and looks crazy?" I kept wondering.
"Don't wrap it up," he said, and grabbed the knife, and darted to the restrooms. I watched the double doors of the restrooms slowly close shut behind him and a silence more deafening the the white noise of the subway escalators hung in the air. Then I suddenly came to my senses and called mall security. They searched the restrooms, but found no one. They took down the description and events, and as they were finishing up, Beth strolled in to relieve me.
"What happened?" she asked. "You look awful."
I recounted the events, and the mall security said they would hang around for a while. They knew this guy, and they didn't have a good feeling. And I left. On the Metro ride home, wondered if I sold a potential murder weapon.
My fears were confirmed months later when I got a call at my store. Tina said some detective someone-or-another was on the phone, and she seemed a little odd about it. So I took the call. Earlier in the week, there was a brutal murder that took place in Silver Spring where an entire family (husband, wife, kids) were killed in a brutal assault. It had been in the news, and the assailant was possibly a family member they couldn't locate. This detective said that all details were not released to the media, but they found a receipt for a knife, possibly the murder weapon, that was traced back to our Crystal City store, and Dennis had said I was working that day. Did I remember anyone buying a huge knife?
I was crestfallen. I did. I explained the whole story, and he said that I was the best lead they had because I was the only one who could confirm a positive ID on this family member. They insisted on complete silence, especially to the media, because they were worried about my safety. I got a name and number to call back if I thought of anything else. They would be in touch shortly.
"What was that about?" Tina asked. She seemed oddly cheerful. I told her I had to take a walk. "Okay," she said. My whole world was in slow motion, as I considered my poor decision to sell the very murder weapon to someone. I fought with myself, and found I could not eat. I felt ashamed at not standing up to this guy, but the other part of me thought, "How can you deny a sale to someone just because they look creepy?" I wondered if I would be charged with any crime. My stomach fells further and further. I felt sick and decided to leave work early. Tina was very concerned, and said I looked awful. Did I want to talk about it? Nope.
takayla was very supportive. We decided to call the police back and talk to them. So I called the number back, but it didn't go through; it just kept going to dead air. So I looked up the number for Montgomery County Police, called them, and asked for the name given to me. They said he wasn't in, but his partner was. So I got his partner, who was working in juvenile delinquency cases. He was very confused as to why I called him. His parter, also in juvenile, was not on this case, either and his name only sounded similar to the name I gave him. So he sent me to to the correct detective. I explained who I was and who I spoke to. This guy was REALLY interested, and said he wanted to speak with me some more.
The next day, I had a lunch meeting with them. But as I explained the situation, both of us got more and more confused. "Who called you? That's not even a number in our directory. But yes, but you described the murder weapon as being one we're not familiar with. What did the guy look like?" After the meeting, we both had the feeling we had been set up by someone connected TO the crime, but we weren't sure how all the pieces fit together. Eventually, they sent a policeman I knew (his beat included our mall), and they said that the lead was most likely a red herring.
But during this time, the corporate office had been contacted by the police, wondering why we had sold their suspect a knife, and informed them that an investigation was on the way. Wait, I was told this was a red herring? The company talked to me, stating that I wasn't allowed to talk to ANYONE until they gave me a lawyer and I should have come to them IMMEDIATELY instead of dealing with this alone! Then they spoke to Tina, who looked very alarmed said she would take care of everything, and not to mention this incident to anyone else! Her reaction was incredibly bizarre, and she told Beth that all this talk about knives and murder weapons had to stop. This was getting to be confusing. Beth wasn't very talkative about this, and said I had been involved in a "bad mistake" she said with gritted teeth.
Bad mistake, you think?? I sold a murder weapon. Then Arlington County sent some more officers to my house, who were very pleasant, and when we got the whole thing settled, it was established that someone in Montgomery County must have contacted me in error, and that my description of the weapon I sold did not match the knife wounds and so on. I felt a lot better. So now I had a tangle of two police departments, corporate, and a bunch of friends who said, "Gees, what a mess, Grig."
Then, an odd thing happened. I got a call from a friend of mine who worked for a huge company in the local area. He said the following, "Man, I heard that someone down in the mailroom scared the [poop] out of some dweeb in your company." He then described EXACTLY what had happened to me. I had been had, and in the most crafty way. When I explained the dweeb was me, he sort of confessed he knew, but made me promise I would never tell on him. So I will keep my promise! :D
See, the "mailroom guy" who came to my store did look exactly like Charles Manson (I saw him a year later at a friend's wedding, and he's actually a nice and funny guy). This was a practical joke set up by Dennis and a friend, and they did their research! They actually waited until a real murder case to pretend to be the police. But a lot of details were poorly thought out, and now the real police thought this was involved with a real case, the corporate office was panicking, and when it was all over, Dennis was in a lot of trouble. A LOT of trouble. Everyone said this was an incredibly tasteless joke, and Dennis was pretty much ostracized from that point on. His only defense was the Heinkels Knife serrator joke I pulled on him months before. Tina was aware Dennis had done some kind of prank, but would have never agreed to one that was this horrifically traumatic. Beth also knew, but Dennis threatened to fire her if she told. Beth apologized to me profusely, but it strained our friendship and I haven't really seen her since then. Beth, wherever you are, I forgive you.
So was Dennis just going to let me think, for the rest of my life, I contributed to the murder of two adults and three children? Yes. Yes he was. Joke would have been on me, I guess. Of course it's not much of a joke if I didn't find out it was a prank. Tina thought that Dennis may have had a plan to let me in on the prank, but he didn't count on the police actually getting involved and he panicked into silence.
Was Dennis scared of being fired? Yes. Was he angry I had found out? Yes. But you know what really got to him? Dennis was convinced I was some black-magic occult priest of some kind, and was TERRIFIED I was going to get him back in some ... voodoo curse way, I guess. This was probably encouraged a little by Tina and Beth, who were massively pissed about Dennis' backfired prank and senseless bad taste. Tina told me (with glee) that he turned white when she informed him that I knew about the joke and the details. For months, Dennis kept asking people if I was going to put a hex on him. Because I was a friend of Beth and hung out with other Pagans... maybe I had a voodoo connection.
Sadly, this was picked up by other management who made all kinds of jokes about me turning people into frogs. And if Dennis was a joke before, now he was the ultimate target of mockery and derision. Eventually, I was sent to work at his store more and more. But what I didn't know was that I wasn't sent there to take up his slack.
One of the last things Beth and I spoke about was how she thought that I was being set up to be fired. The company had opened up a "superstore" in Landmark Mall, and it was a dismal flop. The mall had structural problems, the recession had hit us, and the company started to have financial problems on top of suddenly having a giant black hole like Landmark. They sent me to Crystal City to get disparaged and quit, but that didn't work out so well, since I had a lot of loyal customers, like some local chefs who were VERY happy I moved closer to them, location wise. So instead of not making quota, I was blowing it away. But they couldn't afford to pay me, so they wrote me off the schedule hoping I'd quit. But I didn't. Eventually, after 30 days of "not having enough hours" I filed unemployment, which they contested, but I won because the state of Virginia considers "not being scheduled to work for 30 days" was "the same as unemployed."
Dennis was eventually fired. Tina left the company soon after. And this started my two years of unemployment. Later I would bump into Dennis at a mutual friend's wedding, where I also met "Charles Manson." That was awkward, and we did not speak. I think he figured out that some of his friend were also friends of mine, and that's probably how I found out, and he looked like a damn fool.