#200 - "The Decisions to Be Made"

posted Aug 30, 2012, 10:06 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated May 2, 2015, 4:33 PM ]
Featuring:
Chris – Erick’s boyfriend
Steve – Erick’s old supervisor
Maryanne – Steve’s assistant
Jeremy – the CEO

Erick’s cell phone vibrates. Erick reaches his arm out from under the covers and blindly feels around for the phone. He grabs the phone and pulls it under the covers with him to answer the call.

“Hello?” he asks groggily, his eyes still closed.

“Davidson! It’s Steve. Are you working yet?”

“Nope.”

“Good. How would you like us to work together again?"

“That’d be great.”

“Good. How soon can you get to Sunset and Holloway?”

“Um…what time is it?”

“It’s 8:30.”

“Um…I guess I can be there by ten.”

“Great. I’ll text you the address. And don't dress up.”

“Thanks. Bye,” Erick says as he hangs up the phone. He lingers in bed for a few more moments before throwing the covers off, sliding out of bed one extremity at a time and staggering into the bathroom for a shower.

*******************************

Erick gets off the 2 bus at Sunset and Horn. He waits for the signal to change and crosses the street. He has walked by this building on the corner several times on his way to Larrabee’s or the occasional reading at the nearby Book Soup. Erick always thought how great it could be to work in this part of town – more or less.

“This is just what I need…to be even closer to Larrabee’s,” he thinks to himself.

Erick walks into the building and checks in with the security guard at the guest desk. “Good morning. Erick Davidson for Steve Harris.”

The security guard nods, looks up Steve’s number and dials it. “I have an Erick Dickerson down here to see you.”

“Davidson,” Erick corrects politely.

“4th Floor. Lurffmed, Inc,” the security guard says with a head nod toward the elevators.

“Lurffmed?”

“I don’t get it either.”

****************************** 

The fourth floor elevator opens up, revealing an eclectically arranged office Erick had only heard about in the trades. Desks of varying sizes, lengths and styles are arranged in a haphazard fashion. From the brightly colored walls hang paintings from several local artists. Instead of offices, there is a large conference room with several medium-sized tables arranged just as haphazardly as the desks.

Erick tentatively steps into Lurffmed, Inc. He looks around for a receptionist or even a front desk. Instead, a cheerful young chippie with Prell hair and obviously whitened teeth emerges from the sea of desks, bowed heads and slouching bodies sucked into the business at hand on their computers.

“You must be Erick. I’m Maryanne, Steve’s assistant. He’s so excited that you’re here,” she says as if wanting to give him a hug.

Erick offers his hand. “Erick. Erick Davidson. It’s nice to meet you, Maryanne.”

“I’ll take you over to Steve’s desk,” she says leading him deeper into the office. “Can I get you any coffee, water or soda?”  

“I’m sufficient, thanks,” Erick responds.

“Sufficient. I’ve never heard that before. I like it.”

Steve greets Erick halfway. “Thanks, Maryanne. I’ll take it from here.”

Maryanne nods and walks enthusiastically back to her desk.

“She’s quite the bundle of joy,” Erick observes dryly.

“Indeed,” Steve replies as he takes Erick over to his desk. “It’s a lot different than Lefty, isn’t it?”

“Very much so,” Erick answers as he looks around. “And different from every other job I’ve had.”

“Yes, which is why I told you not to dress up.”

“It was either this or jeans with a hole in the crotch and an old t-shirt,” Erick retorts as he pulls a chair up to Steve’s desk and sits down.

Steve laughs and sits down in his chair opposite Erick. “I’ll tell you up front that the job is yours if you want it.”

“Great….what’s the job?”

“Here, it’s everything from marketing to production to budgeting to acquisitions to development.”

“Great…now what does this company do?”

Lurffmed, Inc. creates, markets, produces and/or finances web series. It functions under the belief that the full potential of the web has yet to be realized. Therefore, monetization is secondary to the fostering of creative expression that has been all but abandoned from the major film studios and television networks.

Amazingly, it has been this mindset that Lurffmed, Inc. launched very well-funded. The company’s investors aren’t bottom-liners. They’re wealthy men with a creative heart – making a return very secondary to originality and productivity. With a home base in San Francisco, they opened up a Los Angeles office about a year ago but have been in a staffing frenzy as interest in web series has grown exponentially in that time.

Before Erick’s layoff in January, Steve had been his supervisor at Lefty. But Steve was hotly pursued by Jeremy Baum, who founded Lurffmed, Inc. and remains its very well-respected CEO. Though Steve had wanted to remain loyal to Lefty, Baum finally made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – the role of Ace (Lurffmed, Inc. prefers not to indulge in traditional titling). Steve’s first order of business was to help him staff up.

Erick and Steve had a great working relationship with each other but it wasn’t until Erick’s birthday party a week prior that he thought about bringing him into the fold. He discussed the possibility with Jeremy, who likes to conduct his own research on candidates. The evening prior, Steve and Jeremy ironed out the specifics of their offer to Erick – sight unseen and without any known interest from Erick.

Steve hands Erick a sealed envelope. “This is our offer package.”

“Already?”

“Jeremy doesn’t like to waste time – especially when I can vouch for someone,” Steve explains. “So take a couple of days to look it over and call me with any questions.”

“I will.”

Steve leans back in his chair. “How was the rest of your birthday?”

“It was great. I was still in shock the morning after the surprise party. I really appreciate you coming out for it.”

“Of course. I had a great time. Plus it was great to see John, Andrine and Dana.”

“It was. I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of you all that much.”

“That’s okay. Your mother and grandmother more than represented you,” Steve teases.

“They usually do,” Erick responds, looking down at his package. “So when would you need me to start?”

“Within the week.”

“That’s reasonable.”

“Great. Now how about a late morning coffee?” Steve asks.

“Sounds good. My treat.”

“Nonsense,” Steve replies as he gets up and walks toward the elevator with Erick following closely behind. “Your coming in is thanks enough.”

“Ok, good. I was hoping you’d say that -- which is why I offered in the first place.”

*************************

For Erick’s birthday last year, Chris took him out to dinner at Houston’s Steakhouse in Century City – where he brought up the possibility of moving in together sometime in the near future.

That brief discussion was a bit of a surprise for Erick – not because it wasn’t anything he hadn’t thought about, he just had no idea Chris was thinking about it as well. After all, they had been together less than a year at the time.

Those conversations resumed over the last few months as Chris started actively looking for a house. While Erick still wasn’t sure they were ready to live together, particularly given his current jobless situation, Chris still wanted to include Erick in his decision – just in case. Either way, Chris wanted Erick to have a place to move into whenever he was ready.

“So what do you think?” Chris asks as Erick at an open house that evening.

Erick shrugs. “I’m not sure.”

“It’s just a rental, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“That’s not it.”

“Then what’s wrong?”

“It’s going to be pretty far from work.”

“What do you mean?”

“I kinda got a job today.”

“You did!” Chris exclaims as he pulls Erick into a hug. “That’s great!”

“Yeah, but it’s strange,” Erick responds as he rests his head on Chris’s chest. “I’ve never been out of work this long before. Now that I might be going back, I'm not sure how to feel.”

“Well, I’ll feel great for you.”

Erick chuckles. “Thanks.”

“Where is it?”

Erick sits down in the middle of the floor. Chris, still in his work suit, does the same. “It’s with Steve, my supervisor from Lefty. He’s working at a web series company on Sunset just east of San Vicente and he wants me to work with him again.”

“This sounds like a great opportunity – as opposed to just a job.”

“I think so too. And it’s nice to be wanted.”

Chris places a hand on Erick’s knee. “I always want you.”

“I know,” Erick replies with a snicker. “But not professionally.”

Chris looks around the house for a minute. “There are other places we can check out.”

“I like this, but yeah…can we?”

“Absolutely. Here’s a listing of the open houses I wanted to check out tonight. Are any of them near your new job?”

Erick scans the list. “A few of them.”

“Then let’s go,” Chris says with a smile as he and Erick get up and walk out.

******************************

The next morning, Erick’s cell phone vibrates. He reaches his arm out from under the covers and blindly feels around for the phone. He grabs the phone and pulls it under the covers with him to answer the call.

“Hello?” Erick says groggily, his eyes still closed.

“Hello, Erick. This is Jeremy Baum from Lurffmed, Inc. I know you saw Steve yesterday and the job offer still stands, but would you mind meeting up with me today?”

“Um…sure. What time would you like me to be there?” Erick asks.

“Let’s do a cheap lunch. What’s near you?”

“There’s Tiago on LaBrea and Hollywood.”

“Perfect. High noon?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Great. See you then. Goodbye.”

Jeremy hangs up before Erick can return a goodbye. Erick checks the clock radio in his bedroom that he’s used since high school. “Seven-thirty? I hope he doesn’t work as late as he does early.”

“Who was that?” a freshly showered Chris asks, coming out of the bathroom and into Erick’s bedroom wearing just a towel wrapped around his waist.

“That was Jeremy, the CEO of Lurffmed. He wants to meet with me today.”

“I thought you already had the job.”

“I did. Maybe he just wants to see my face so he’ll recognize it next week when I start.”

“Have you formally accepted the offer yet?”

“No.”

“That could be another reason why he wants to meet with you.”

“True. I guess I should be prepared to say yes.”

“Or no, if you don’t want the job,” Chris asserts as he starts getting dressed. “By the way, what’s a Lurffmed?”

“I haven’t a clue, but I should probably find that out before I accept – just in case it’s something against any one of the five minorority groups of which I consider myself to be a part.”

“I understand the black and the gay,” Chris responds. “But claiming short, loud and balding as minority groups is questionable.”

******************************** 

Erick walks up to the front patio of the Tiago Café and starts looking around for Jeremy – with no idea as to what he looks like. A tall, slender fortysomething with his legs crossed waves his lengthy arm. The arm catches Erick’s attention and motions him over to his table.

“I wouldn’t be upset if you weren’t, but I hope you’re Jeremy,” Erick states by way of an introduction.

 “I’m glad and I am,” Jeremy replies as he stands up to greet Erick with a handshake.

“How did you know it was me?” Erick asks as he and Jeremy sit down.

“I do my research. Plus Steve gave me a spot-on description.”

“What did he say?” Erick asks curiously.

“And I quote – ‘a short, black guy who walks into an area as if waiting for spontaneous applause.’”

“That sounds about right,” Erick responds proudly.

“The reason I asked you here is because I have a proposition for you,” Jeremy begins.

Erick raises an eyebrow but suppresses the urge to say, “Does it come with dinner first?”

“I’ll be honest with you,” Jeremy continues. “I had another candidate in mind for the position we offered to you, but Steve lobbied hard on your behalf.”

“I appreciate the honesty,” Erick replies stoically, though slightly deflated.

“I like to operate under complete transparency. That builds trust, good will and all that other bullshit. The other candidate originally declined my offer. But while you were in the office yesterday, he called and we worked things out.”

Erick nods his head. “I see. And I appreciate you telling me this…sorta.”

“I understand. It’s an awkward position for you.”

“Not really. These things happen. It’s just the day and age we live in.”

“Yes and no. I went along with Steve’s recommendation mainly because of the other candidate’s decision. I actually had you in mind for another position.”

Erick perks up. “What’s the other position?”

“It’s a step up from what we offered you yesterday.”

“That sounds good.”

“But it’s in our San Francisco office. However, in the interest of fairness, the job here is still yours if you want it.”

Several thoughts cram into Erick’s mind simultaneously: San Francisco, Chris, a job, Chris, income, Chris, moving, Chris and…well, Chris.

“It’s a big decision so think about it for a few more days,” Jeremy says as he rises from his chair. “In the meantime, I owe you lunch. Feel free to pepper me with questions while we eat.”

Erick rises and walks with Jeremy into the café to order.

****************************** 

“So what do you think?” Chris asks Erick at another walk-through later that day.

Erick paces through the main area of the house. Several times. Back and forth. Forth and back. Walking forth toward Chris, his face screams, “I love the house!” Walking back away from Chris, his face whispers, “Can we take it with us to San Francisco?”

“Are you okay, Erick?”

“I’m fine, but haven’t we seen this house before?”

“Yes. It just came back on the market.”

“I love it.”

“I remember. That’s why I put an offer on it.”

Erick’s eyes widen. “Oh shit,” he says.

“Oh shit good or oh shit bad?” Chris asks.

Erick sits down on the floor. “I have to talk to you about something.”

Chris joins him on the floor, once again in his work suit. “Your new floor fetish will save us a lot of money on living room furniture,” he jokes.

Erick smiles faintly. “I met with the CEO from Lurffmed today.”

“Did you accept the position?”

“No.”

“Oh?”

“Not technically. I was going to, but a candidate he wanted for the position I was ultimately offered expressed an interest. So they offered me a better position with more money.”

“That’s great!”

“In San Francisco.”

“That’s…good.”

“But if I want the position down here, it’s mine. He just thinks I would be better suited for the one in San Francisco.”

Chris looks up and around at the house. “It looks like you have a decision to make.”

“We. We have a decision to make.”

“Nope. This one is on you. And I’ll go along with whatever you decide.”

“But I have no idea what to do.”

“Start with what do you want to do….and we’ll take it from there.”