. . . Terry had a few little fixations over the next year or so, a waitress here, a nurse at the hospital, but he never got beyond the phase of chattering to me and Russell about them. Russell was a new friend of ours. He enjoyed the same things we did: going out to cafes or bars after our late shift ended, partying lightly on the weekends, and smoking cigarettes and talking about television, movies. Russell was a quiet person with a wife who overpowered him in the everyday experiences of life–conversation, routine comings and goings, and the like. Russell worked in billing, in an office in the same basement hallway, across from our door.
In the months following the Jesse Incident, Terry’s personal system of propaganda against “females” rose to a higher tenor. Often it was sarcastic, and almost as often, quite acidic. First among us three male friends, then in the office at large, he came to be known for his invectives against women: how he did not want or need them, how they were irrational. I resigned myself to avoiding subjects that triggered the rants. I could feel one coming whenever Russell brought up something that bugged him about his wife. For, there was this metrical predictability to Terry’s aversion. Though it took some time, you began to get used to his diatribes. You stopped harboring nervousness that he might explode any second. Russell argued in favor of the females, to which Terry responded all the more viciously. I had given up. Whenever Terry claimed to have erased Jesse, he put his fingers to his forehead, like he was about to offer a salute. He said “zip,” and smiled sourly at me, snapping his fingers into the air. “Gone.” Then everyone laughed.
If it were anyone but Terry and myself to whom Andrea happened, there would be nothing to tell—or a more amiable story. As it really did happen, our war was a cold one from the beginning. It never had a chance of being otherwise.
A pretty girl with incredible poise, Andrea had just graduated with her BA. She was between serious episodes of a grander pursuit in life, and would stall there among the manila folders and Emergency Room Reports for a shorter stint than any of the rest of us. She was so composed as to seem cool on everyone—except that the bigness and sincerity of her brown eyes offset that frigidity. She got used to us as and would break into our conversations suddenly, with rationality and mannered drops of goofy humor. Occasionally her passions would be riled—if you fought her stubbornly on a point of fact, say. From the beginning Russell and Terry loved having her to talk to at work, for she was a new person our age, and a pretty woman. Despite himself, Terry especially liked having her around.
My duties at this time took me out of the basement into the upper regions of the hospital, so I was the last to come to know her. I knew this much: her degree was in forensic anthropology and she was single. Her real career aspirations were to deal with bodies, to uncover causes of death. To this day I do not think she is aware of how her personal life—entertainment choices anyway—complemented her choice of profession. There too she is a purveyor of the undead, a zombie fan and reader of vampire books. Like Terry, she would make fun of herself for her strange interests. Though she was less likely to admit it, she was interested in the occult; magic, the undead, the metempsychotic. Unlike Jesse, Andrea is not a woman to, as they say, beat around the bush. . . .