The Numbers Were Down

white graphing paper

Dwayne sat hunched over his computer monitor, looking at the screen. He had been sitting and staring at it for more than ten minutes. In that time, and no matter how hard he wanted it to be different, the numbers hadn’t changed.

They were down.

His course sales had fallen off dramatically. His online accountability club was losing memberships faster than he could gain them. Even his old friend, Tennessee said that things were looking grim. “It’s been a tough year Pard.”

“It sure has, Tennessee. What do you think can be done about it?”

“I don’t know for sure Pard, but maybe we ought to come clean and own our shit and admit we fucked up. Maybe we backed the wrong guys.”

Dwayne sat and thought about it long and hard.

“No Tennessee, I don’t think that’s the answer. I can’t do that. I’m just going to keep looking the other way and pretend that what happened didn’t happen.”

“I get it Pard, it’s hard to eat shit and then some. So what do we do?”

Dwayne felt an icy chill run down his back, he was thinking about how he had quit his job to focus on his online club and to making courses. His wife couldn’t work at the moment, she was in the final trimester of her pregnancy. She was eight months along and could go into labor at any moment. She had complications during the last pregnancy and their son had been born a month premature.

Dwayne pulled up a spreadsheet. It showed the amount of money they had in the bank versus the amount of money that they owed. The amount owed was much higher than what they had available.

Tennessee was staring at Dwayne intently, watching his every move. Normally the older man was a rock, steadfast. The lines of worry that crossed his face unsettled Dwayne, he was used to the older man being an anchor. It was scary seeing the older man in the shape he was; like a trapped animal.

“I don’t know just yet Tennessee, but I’ve got to figure something out, the mortgage is coming up, the truck payment is overdue, and then there’s Maggie…” He trailed off.

Tennessee nodded his head, sat back and sighed. Then he snapped his fingers and said, “I’ve got it!”

Dwayne looked at the older man eagerly.

“Hand me your laptop there Pard.”

Dwayne handed the laptop over to Tennessee. Tennessee then logged onto his social media account and typed, “All the guys who have met me and have talked to me have gotten their bang for their buck. Pure value, hands down.” Then he hit send.

Tennessee handed back the laptop to Dwayne with a smile. “There we go Pard, I think we’ll weather this storm.”

Dwayne put the laptop back on the kitchen table, and opened up his own social media account. “I hope you’re right Tennessee. I don’t know what I’m going to do if the course sales and the accountablity club keep dropping off. I would hate to have to go and ask for my job back.”

“I hear ya Pard.” Tennesse told Dwayne, patting him on the back.

Dwayne looked at his social media account. “Goddammit, why can’t these guys just fucking forget about the shit that happened before? Why can’t they just let it go?”

Already there were what seemed like thousands of mentions of Dwayne’s name and guys asking him why he was turning a blind eye to the antics of his online friends.

Tennesee looked and winced. “It’s getting pretty bad Pard, what are you going to say or do?”

Dwayne rubbed his hand across his face, feeling the stubble rasp under his palm.

“I know what to say,” he said. Then he began to type.

“Fatherhood is about taking care of business and handling your shit,” The keys on the keyboard clicked. “Here’s my son crushing it at the hockey game on Saturday.” Dwayne uploaded a photo of his oldest son in his jersey, with a hockey stick in hand. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.” Dwayne pressed send.

“We just keep ignoring it, Tennesse. We have to.” Dwayne said as he looked at his friend.

An alert on the computer grabbed Dwayne’s attention. He clicked over to his online club account to see what the notification was.

Another two members had unsubscribed.

Both wanted refunds.

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