Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The guys nicknamed me Horseradish because I turned bitter once outside. I was the jovial cigar-smoking whiskey-swilling character at the interrogation-lighting card table, a table-turning, scowling, madman cartoon once I was performing Company work. As I aged, it got difficult separating the two, maintaining two lives. I acquired a family. I stopped sleeping as well despite fewer nights out, fewer cigars and drinks. My family wasn’t sure who I was. I’d get home and work life mixed up, brandishing my gun at the dinner table, stopping just before clonking arguing heads together. I went to my boss, nicknamed Pecan, who said, this is a common problem. You either ditch your family or this job, he said. I told him the job. He said, okay but we need to have a funeral. We say sayonara to Horseradish, you go back to who you were. So this happened. A secluded section in a graveyard, a tombstone marked simply “Horseradish,” a hole in the ground. Nearby there were other markers: Pistachio, Wasabi, Jicama. The gang was gathered in suits. Pecan said, adios, Horseradish, and tossed in a jar of horseradish. The other guys did the same then broke out in laughter. Some slaps on the back, handshakes. Something lifted from me. I felt one again.