n i c k    a n t o s c a



Nick Antosca, a fictional character, feels tired all the time. People ask him to do things (not just things like favors; not just selfish requests and unreasonable demands on his time; mostly in fact it's friendly invitations, like "Want to go to the lobster bar?") and he explains in an angry voice that he's tired. "I'm tired," he'll say. "I'm tired all the time." Angry voice. He isn't tired at all. People know it's not that he's tired.

Eventually he, too, understands that he isn't tired. "I'm not even a little bit tired," he realizes. "Why so angry?"

Nick Antosca is angry because every day is the same.

Okay, go one day without speaking.

Saturday. Stay in, blissful muteness, don't talk to roommates. The phone rings. Ex-girlfriend. Feel anxious. Can't answer it. A tragedy.

In the week that follows his day of silence, Nick Antosca, a fictional character, feels less tired. At his office he smiles—a wry, comradely, sorry-I'm-a-bastard-to-manage-sometimes smile—at his supervisor and from a rare bigness of the heart restrains himself from being openly contemptuous toward the Fat Girl Who Loves Gossip.

Okay, this time, try two days of silence. Saturday and Sunday.

It is bliss. New spots of pleasure in his brain are somehow stimulated by this behavior. Silence is pleasing. Silence is lovely. It is secret and a little erotic in the way that all secrecy has a hint of the delicious.

The following week is also pleasant—easier.

Okay, now try four days.

Can't confine the silence to the weekend now. Four consecutive days. Have to be silent at work for two of them. Supervisor nonplussed. The phone rings. Headhunters calling—they want to renegotiate the contract. Contract nonnegotiable—no need to answer. It can be handled by email. Senior coworker enters office, nitpicks minor point of largely irrelevant protocol for forty-some minutes. Nick Antosca, fictional character, nods at regular intervals.

Feels so good, don't stop at four days. Keep it going for the fifth day. Now sixth day. Coworkers concerned. Supervisor's supervisor calls Nick Antosca into office, which is a corner office and affords, from two enormous windows, extroardinary views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the Conde Nast building, and even New Jersey. Seagulls wheel amid skyscrapers. The moon, an insignificant pale smudge, is visible in the sundrenched sky. Nick Antosca's office does not have a window; it just has a morbid temp who never speaks. Nick Antosca's supervisor's supervisor says, "What's going on?" Nick Antosca points at his throat. "What, laryngitis?" the supervisor's supervisor asks. Nick Antosca, fictional character, nods.

"I hope it goes away soon," the supervisor's supervisor says, and he does not smile.

Next week, on Monday, Nick Antosca's supervisor gives him some work. "Coordinate with Naveen in India," she, his supervisor, says. "And with Mischa in FinOp. There may be some infrastructure in place already on the back end that can help you disambiguate this discrepency between the direct and indirect costs. It could require some digging in the expenses database." Nick Antosca does not sigh dramatically or nod. "Okay," Nick Antosca says out loud. He feels tired. From his supervisor's one somewhat large window, one can see white smoke rising over New Jersey. Nick Antosca's ex-girlfriend is getting married in New Jersey. Sometimes strange smells—maple syrup, tires burning—emanate from New Jersey and invade Manhattan for a whole afternoon. That happens maybe every six months. In a year Nick Antosca will still be working in this job, publishing occasional stories in literary journals. His salary is, for an assistant, pretty good. In Iraq a roadside bomb goes off. "Okay," Nick Antosca, a fictional character, says again. "I'll set up a conference call with Naveen and Mischa." On reality TV, sad lonely computer geeks expecting to meet 12-year-old girls encounter a stern news anchor and are handcuffed while facedown on an asphalt driveway. All assistants and supervisors eventually die. Fossil fuels are finally exhausted. Fifty million humans die in a ten-year heat wave. A tiny, frail, albino flower grows on the moon. The existence of the Higgs particle is never proven or disproven.



NICK ANTOSCA's stories have appeared in Nerve, Identity Theory, The New York Tyrant, The Antietam Review, Hustler, Opium, elimae, and others. His first novel Fires was published in 2007 by Impetus Press. His website is brothercyst.