Sunday, November 4, 2007

I've Got Family Issues

I've Got Family Issues

Well I'm finally getting a minute to post. This was supposed to be just a nice, relaxing weekend with the family. OK, weekends with my family are never really relaxing, but I guess I mean it would be a nice getaway for Ellie and I.

Let me get you caught up on the events of yesterday before I go into today's stupidity.

Like I mentioned in my last post, when Carrie drops me off, Ellie is staring at me, holding the shotgun I had loaded. I start panicking, because I bet she doesn't even realize it's loaded. I out a big breath when she sets it aside. It doesn't matter, her eyes are cutting into me like daggers. My brother Brad is sitting down near her with a smirk on his chiseled face. I love my brother, but he's got one of those good-boy faces that lets him get away with anything.

"Who the hell was she," snaps Ellie as I approach the porch.

"I'm really, really sorry," I say sheepishly. "It's a work emergency. We didn't want to intrude on everyone's day so we went over to a internet cafe downtown."

"Who is she," demands Ellie. "Don't give me this work crap. You're out of here before anyone is up, and you've ruined my whole day."

I hear a motor working up the hill to our cabin. Brad's wife Marcia is driving a huge black SUV. She parks it and steps out of the car, surveying the scene, with a smirk to match Brads.

"Who was that going down the hill," she asks.

"It's Alex's secret girlfriend," replies Brad.

Ellie howls.

"She's not my girlfriend," I yell. "I just met her yesterday. Come on, honey, you know I would never go out on you."

Ellie looks like she's about to explode.

"I don't know," says Marcia. "She looked kinda cute. You know, if you like those smart-looking girls. I bet she's really smart. Is she smart, Alex?"

This is another example of Marcia vs Ellie. They go after each other at every opportunity. I've tried to talk to Brad about it, but he just shrugs and tells me something like, "Yo, bro, you handle your woman, I'll handle mine." And of course trying to talk to Marcia is like trying to talk to the school principal. She listens carefully and then explains how you've been bad and what your punishment will be. She really hopes you do better next time.

Just then my father drives up. He immediately notices the commotion.

"Are you all at it already?"

"I hate you," shouts Ellie. "Don't ever talk to me again!" She turns and stomps into the cabin and up to her room.

I see Marcia laughing. My dad's shaking his head, and Brad just shrugs.

I heave a big sigh and head inside. I go up to our room. I hear Ellie crying, but when I try knocking softly, she just tells me to go away.

When I go back downstairs, my family is gathered around the sitting room.

"Listen, it's really just a work thing," I tell them. "I don't appreciate what you guys did. I didn't even get a chance to tell Ellie before you guys start in."

I think I need to tell you a little bit about these guys. My brother is about as All-American as you can get. High school quarterback and valedictorian, went to West Point just like my father did. He always dated the hottest and most attractive women I've ever seen. Served his stint in the Army, and now he's with some government agency. He never says what he does, and he never talks about his years in the Army. He has some kind of assignment in California this month, so he and Marcia will be living out of the cabin for a few weeks, including Thanksgiving.

Marcia is also some kind of ex-military person. I think she works in an agency like my brother's, if not the same place. Heck, I don't really know what they do. I think all they do is hob-nob with dignitaries or something. Face people for the USA.

My dad also served for a while, mostly in Vietnam. He now is part of a security consulting firm. I should probably talk to him about what's going on at Infinitae, but you need to understand something. Growing up in this kind of family has been difficult. I was always compared to my brother. I think I purposely eschewed athletics and academics, just to avoid the comparison. I basically spent my youth playing video games and hacking computers. Even in college I avoided ROTC and just did my own thing. So I guess I still have some resentment, and I don't want my family involved. I also think that if I involve them, they could be put in danger. I feel like this is something I've got to handle on my own.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe I feel like I have something to prove. My brother has a whole damn closet full of ribbons and trophies, his wife has even more. Dad has letters of commendation from two Presidents. I had put my heart and soul into my previous job, thinking that it was the real deal. When it failed, I could feel the laughter of my family. So I'm going to figure out this thing on my own, and only bring them in as a last resort.

Anyways, we wind up spending most of the day watching college football. I try to talk to Ellie a couple times but she won't budge. My brother brags about his new fancy sports car, and Marcia goes off to work on her laptop. My dad wants to know about how my new job is going, but right now I don't feel like talking up Infinitae.

"So Dad," I say casually. "Infinitae has been on the cutting edge of user privacy and security. What's your industry's view on us?"

My dad has maintained his crew cut since 'Nam. It's turned grey, but the guy runs like 6 miles a day before breakfast. I think he picked this cabin because of all trails around here, and of course we're all avid skiiers (well actually I'm a snowboarder).

Marcia walks in to hear my dad's reply. It seems like everyone is interested in hearing about my company.

"Well, we just love it. Unlike a lot of those crackpot services out there, Infinitae really knows how to keep things to itself."

"Oh yeah," agrees Marcia surprisingly. "And I heard you just got put on some hot project." She squinted her eyes when she said "hot".

"Yeah, well, as you can tell from this morning, it's been a little too hot."

"I bet," she says with a knowing look. "Are you sure you can handle it?"

I look at her quizzically. "I can handle anything."

"Think fast." My brother throws a football at me that hits me square in the nose.

"Ow, you stupid fuck!" Stupid Brad is always pulling shit like that. He's been tormenting me my whole life.

"Bradley, you made him bleed," yells my dad.

I look down and sure enough there are some spots of blood on my sweatpants. Except I suddenly realize it's not my blood, it must have been from the Professor. No one noticed until now. I hold my nose as I run upstairs.

I pound on our door and reluctantly Ellie lets me in. I still hold my nose even though there's no blood.

"Oh my god, sweetie, what happened," she says, trying to pry my fingers away. I shake my head and head for the bathroom. Closing the door behind me, I look around for something I can use to make bloody kleenex with. I soon realize I've got nothing.

I'm faced with a choice. Either make myself bleed or find some way to hide the evidence.

My nose feels fine, I only got a glancing blow, but I keep making "Ow" sounds. Ellie knocks on the door, wanting to come in and see.

I flush the toilet, pretending to be flushing bloody rags. I take off my sweatpants and look for other possible blood spots on my body. I ask Ellie to bring me some clean pants. I stuff a bunch of tissues up my nostrils and let her in.

She examines my nose for a moment. "I don't think it's broken. But your family are real jerks. This is why I hate coming up here when they're around. I don't know why you put up with it."

"Please, honey. They still see me as a little kid sometimes."

"Well they're the ones acting like children."

We sit down on the bed and I take Ellie's hands. "I'm sorry about earlier. I wish I had waken you and explained everything. I had hoped to bring back breakfast but things just took way too long. Let's have a nice day on the boat tomorrow."

Ellie looks at me for a moment with her dark eyes. "It's just...I feel you've been hiding something from me, Alex. I know it may just be a stupid girl fear, but I need to know you're telling me everything."

I squeeze her hands. "Nothing's going on. There have been a lot of changes at work, and I guess that's really be turning me upside down. Hopefully things will calm down soon."

She pulls a strand of hair from her eyes. "I'm sorry too, Alex. Maybe I overreacted a little. Are you going to be working with her? What's her deal?"

"I guess," I reply. Might as well get some of the truth out. "This project has taken a new direction and she's involved. I've got an early planning meeting with her on Monday, I'm just letting you know. Once we have the situation under control, hopefully all these 'emergencies' will go away. Besides, she's no where as cute as you."

Ellie smiles at me, then tickles my belly. I would love nothing more than have a good session with her right now, but with my family right downstairs it feels a little awkward. I think also the memory of the professor dying in front of me had put a damper on my mood.

"Ow, ow, I need to check my nose," I say.

"Okay." She kisses my cheek gently. This is the Ellie I really like.

Well the rest of the day went ok. I'll throw this up here and then catch you up on today later.

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