I snapped the cigarette in half and threw it angrily at the window. I felt my entire body shake, and my heart began to pound in my chest. I felt the beginning of sweat beads collecting on my brow, and there was a sudden crushing weight on my chest. I closed my eyes, took in deep breaths and let them out in long exhales. Slowly, my heart’s beating returned to normal, and the weight on my chest lifted.
You’re going to kill yourself.
I knew that, but had no clue what I was going to do about it.
My phone rang, and I turned my head lazily to see who was calling. The word MOM flashed on my caller ID, and at that precise moment, I knew what I needed to do.
You’re kidding, right?”
Dennis stood angrily at the threshold of my bedroom door, watching as I packed my bags. I had called him right after hanging up with my mother, and he had wasted no time driving over and trying to talk some sense into me.
“Nope,” I replied. “I’m serious as a heart attack.”
“You can’t just fucking take off,” Dennis said. “Not now. Not with everything that we have going on.
“I can,” I said. “And I will.”
Dennis threw his hands up in the air and finally stepped into the room, grabbing my arm and stopping me in the middle of packing. “You can’t leave,” he said, stressing on each word as if he were talking to a lunatic. I thought it was sweet, if he didn’t look like a complete moron doing it. He reminded me of the kid I spent four years of college with.
“I’m not leaving forever,” I replied. “It’s a break. I need a break.”
Dennis shook his head quickly. “You don’t need a break, you need a second opinion,” he said. “You said it yourself, the doctor was an ass. Who knows what he would say just to scare you a bit. He probably has something against rich and successful people.”
“So if I was poor he wouldn’t have told me I was killing myself.” I shook my head and went back into my wal
k-in closet to get a second pair of jeans.
“I saw the results, Dennis,” I said, holding up my hands in defeat. “It’s not a lie. It’s not a trick. This whole thing.” I paused, gesturing around me. “This is getting to me, man. It’s going to kill me if I don’t ease up a bit.”
“Then stop the drinking, quit smoking, and do some fucking exercise,” Dennis suggested. “Just don’t leave Austin. You can’t leave the company in the middle of what’s going on. We have shareholders breathing down our necks, clients constantly asking for updates and sending in requests, and three new products hitting the market in the next few weeks.”
I didn’t respond. I couldn’t because I didn’t know what else to say.
“Chance, could you just stop and fucking listen to me?” Dennis shouted.
“I am!” I yelled back, slamming my fist into the wall.
Dennis winced and took an involuntary step back. I felt my heartbeat pick up tenfold, and I gasped for air. I leaned against the closet door, closed my eyes and tried to control my breathing.
“Okay, fine, I’m sorry, Jesus,” Dennis said.
I waved his apology away. “Forget it,” I said. “Listen, I get it, okay? I know you’re worried, but that’s why you’re here. You can do what I can do, and you know everything there is to know about the company. Keep the ship afloat until I come back, and then we can think about my future life changes. But right now, I need to get away from everything if I want to hit that restart button.”
His voice softened a bit as the reality of the situation set in. “You actually think this is going to help?”
I shrugged, feeling my heartbeat return to normal as I took a few deep breaths. “All I know is that the company’s stressing me out. It’s probably why I’m drinking the way I am, why I’m smoking the way I am. I just need to get it out of the equation for just a little bit, and maybe I can kick everything else. Just a few weeks, that’s all I’m asking. Nothing too serious.”
Dennis looked at me, and it seemed like we stayed like that forever before he finally nodded. Sighing and running a hand through his hair, he looked at my bag, then at me.
“So, Booth, Texas, here comes Chance,” he said, unimpressed.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been home,” I replied, finally finding the jeans and stuffing them in the bag with everything else.
“So, your father dies, and you don’t go back, but a doctor says you might have a heart attack, and it’s home, home on the range?”
“Don’t be a dick.” I frowned and cocked my head to a side. “And don’t get too comfortable in my chair. I’ll be back before you know it.”