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Every addict is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I’m no different.

The first flight had been cancelled. Two hours before takeoff.

No doubt the work of the Feds, I think to myself. 

A week prior, I’d sold old company laptops to a Middle Eastern guy on Craigslist.

The next day, I entered a diner during lunch.

The food took longer than normal – and I was soon joined by two obvious spooks and a Homeland Security agent decked out in full riot gear. 

That couldn’t have been a coincidence.

Or perhaps Congo CEO Julian Barre was behind the cancellation.

He knew of my work with Negotiator, the company that was going to disrupt the eCommerce world and bring Congo to its knees.

The same way Congo had brought Crossings, Okes and Bales, and countless other book retailers to their knees years before. 

Definitely Barre. I affirmed to myself silently.

Perhaps in conjunction with the Feds. Congo had that kind of power these days.

I was lying on my friend’s couch.

Reclining in a position so that my head wouldn’t be exposed to sniper fire from the outside.

Two glass doors provided ample lanes for an execution to prevent me from fleeing town. 

Dawn’s darkness was still in full force.

In my possession was a backpack filled with hastily packed clothes, a plane ticket to San Francisco, and a few thousand bucks to my name. 

The podcast I had just appeared on was entitled, The Mindful Millennial.

A week after cutting the interview I was fully in the throes of amphetamine psychosis. 

Every addict is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I’m no different. 

My name is [redacted]. I am 31 years old.

Two Days Later

Alyssa takes me through the woods. We walk at a brisk pace next to each other.

We’re in San Francisco, hiking through a nature preserve at her insistence. 

We reach our destination – a cliff overlooking an expanse of the Pacific.

Beautiful, blue ocean. Calm washes over me.  

As Alyssa takes a seat next to me, I turn to thank her. 

“I knew what your heart needed.” She responds. 

Right as she finishes the sentence, the crowd around us gasps.

A majestic whale emerges from the frothy ocean to the shock and delight of everyone on the cliff.

We hail a Lyft back to her place downtown.

On the way back, I confess that I’m not mentally well.

She tells me she already knows.

I tell her I’m leaving town the morning. 

She exits the Lyft, starts walking toward her apartment. 


She turns around and comes back to the car. 

“Oh wait, I thought you should see this.”

She hands me her phone through the open window.

I look at the screen, glowing iridescent in the San Francisco night.

It reads, “In Native American lore the whale symbolizes wisdom, spiritual awareness, good fortune, and long-lasting love.” 

As a hardcore amphetamine addict who had essentially lied to myself every single day while I used, I take that as a good omen.

The very next day I check myself into the Western Psychiatric Institute of Pennsylvania. 

Every addict is an egomaniac with an