“Get out of here, liar. You don’t know.”
Ethan didn’t move. Carter’s dark eyes stared through him with anger. Ethan softly responded. “Carter, I’ve been where you are. I had nothing but a forlorn life ahead of me. I lost my job at the same technology company that you did. They fired all the senior developers and replaced us with kids from other countries. A few managed to hang on to their jobs, but I had nothing.”
Carter buried himself under his threadbare blanket. “See, what do you know. I was an accountant. We ain’t nothing alike.”
Ethan was undeterred. He would not allow Carter’s hopelessness, or the cold night penetrating his ski jacket, to drive him away until his mission was a success. Ethan sat down and scooted against Carter inside the cold doorway.
“What do you think you’re doing, man?” protested Carter.
“Trying to stay warm.” Ethan answered honestly.
“Just get out of here. Go back to your warm fancy car and forget about me. There’s nothing here for you.”
Ethan shook his head, and answered. “Not a chance. I want you to hear me out. I lost my job a month after you did. I wanted to give up. My wife left me too, shortly after the severance pay ran out. Nobody believed I just wanted to be a programmer. They all assumed I was over qualified and would run away once a better job popped up. So the managers of junior level jobs wouldn’t hire me. The senior level jobs were hard to come by, and to be honest, they wanted younger blood. I was in a no man’s land. I wanted to give up too.”
Carter threw the blanket over his head and shivered. His voice was muffled and gruff. “So, what? You’re just here to show me that you’re better than me? Fine, good for you. Now, leave!”
Ethan answered, “No, that’s not the point. I was exactly where you are now, I just hadn’t lost my house yet. Then I decided to start my own company. I decided to do something really different and get back into computer hardware. There aren’t many computer repair places around anymore that are just for consumers. The retailers have them, but nobody is happy with their service. Consumers just go there because they don’t have choice. So, I started a computer repair and custom build shop only for consumers. My gamble paid off after two years, and we are starting to grow. I need an accountant. I have spent the past month tracking you down. I remember how good you were. You can be good again.”
Carter peeked above his covers and spoke. “Look, man. I wish I could. I’ve spent the past two years, or however long it has been, in what ever cheap bottle I can find. I don’t know if there is enough of my brain left to function.”
“What if I cover any training you might need? I mean, you can still balance a checkbook, right?”
Carter smiled, nodded, and then said, “Yes, but it’s not like that. I have to be able to check your margins and make sure your growth and spending don’t exceed your income. I’ll need to walk through your books to date, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to follow your logic. There are investors to deal with. Are you going to just keep hiring people, or are you planning to franchise if demand exceeds your ability to keep up?”
Ethan laughed and smacked Carter on the shoulder. “You see, you are an accountant. You just need to get back in the saddle. I’ve got everything arranged. I bought a two bedroom apartment and have Frank living there. Do you remember him? He was our internal IT guy in the company.”
Carter’s voice strengthened. “Yes. Frank’s a great guy. They cut him too?”
Ethan nodded and said, “Most of the senior people have gone away in the last year. I’m using the apartment as a sort of recruiting station. When I need somebody, I try and find the old teammates needing jobs and bring them on board. If they need a place to live, they stay at the apartment until arrangements can be made. Frank’s excited to have you as a roommate.”
Carter looked down at his blanket and sniffed it. “He hasn’t smelled me yet.”
Ethan laughed and said, “You’ll have your own shower. What do you say? Are you going to stay buried in your forlorn future and hopeless condition, or are you going to come with me and live again?”
Both men sat there in silence. Carter’s black eyes glistened and he wiped away the tear that leaked out. “I never thought I would see hope again. If you think you can handle helping me climb out of this hole, I’m willing to do it.”
Ethan stood and reached out his right hand. Carter pulled his dirty, dried hand out from under the blanket and took Ethan’s. He rose up in the doorway with Ethan’s help. Ethan could see Carter had not changed clothes in probably a month. He picked the blanket off the ground and covered Carter’s shoulders.
“My car is just down the street.”
Ethan put his arm around Carter and the two walked down the block and towards their future together.
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