My word count is a little low tonight. It was a long day and I was tired. I even considered just letting it go for a day, but I haven’t missed a day yet and I didn’t want to start now. I managed to add another 850 words, which keeps me above par. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can pick up the pace again tomorrow.

Marshall Cooper

Day 19 – 32420/50,000 words

Anne had slightly darker and curlier hair than Marshall.  She kept if at shoulder length, which nicely accented her roundish face. She had always been the athletic one in the family, and even as she approached her forties, she still ran three miles every day. Dressed in shorts and a light blue t-shirt, she looked ready for a run right that moment. She even had on her Nikes. Marshall pictured her running along the beach, right where the sand was wet and reasonably solid from the waves. Marshall could not picture himself running on the beach. He liked to walk along the beach, but there was never a single point in his life that he could remember, in which he looked forward to the idea of running. It was a speed that Marshall was not Comfortable living at.

Charlie shared her basic philosophy, but he was not a runner. Charlie played tennis. He liked to talk about how, when he was a teenager, there had been talk of him playing professionally. Marshall tended to doubt that, but Charlie had managed to win his country club’s doubles tournament three years ago, and he proudly displayed the trophy in his den. Marshall also never played tennis by choice, doing so only when assigned the task in school. The only sport that had ever attracted Marshall was bowling. At one point, he had been a reasonably good bowler, and played in a league for a few years, but that had tapered off long ago. The league he was in had switched nights, and the new night had interfered with Marshall’s television watching. Marshall had been a very avid TV fan. He not only watched the shows, but would go online and debate the episodes after they aired. He had been a big fan of Breaking Bad. Marshall missed television a little, but not as much as he had thought he would. He missed movies more than TV, but even then, he didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Charlie complimented him on his weight. “You look like you’ve lost a few more pounds,” he said happily.

Anne was not quite as approving. She asked him what he weighed not, and Marshall said, “Around 200.” This was actually not too far from the truth. 10 days of forcing weight gain drinks into his body and pushed his weight back up a few pounds. He didn’t have a scale, but he felt like he might be back at 200.

“That’s too fast,” Anne said. She turned to Catrin. “Does he eat?”

Catrin had been coached about answering questions like that. She knew not to discuss the food poisoning or even the weight gain powder. She said breezily, “Last night we went to the Olive Garden. We had the endless soup and salad. I’m pretty sure we got our money’s worth.”

Anne didn’t seem particularly satisfied. “You need to keep an eye on him,” she said. “He won’t let me do it anymore.”

“I’m doing fine,” Marshall said. I even start a new job next week.

“What?” Anne said.

“Well,” Marshall said, “Pending approval from the city council.”

The offer had come two days ago. Sheriff Dwight had called him again and asked him to come by the office. This time, with his ankle healthy, Marshall had simply walked to the police station. Once he was there, Dwight had sat him down and made an offer. “Look,” he said, “I get that you can’t spend all day staring at a screen. Hell, I can’t stand to do it either. What I need though, is for somebody to be in charge of this thing. I need somebody who can keep things running, and not just the databases. What I want is for you to be the IT Manager.”

Marshall, had of course, said no. He said no once, and then twice, but the third time he said, “We can give it a try.”

“Are you sure you can handle a full time job,” Anne said after he explained the position. “That sounds like a lot for you to be taking on.”

In this particular instance, he did not hold his sisters doubts against her. Looking back at the decision, Marshall could not quite figure out why he said yes. He knew it wasn’t a particularly good idea. He was not under the illusion that it was less stressful to be the boss, or that he could manage to do the job without stating at a computer for more hours than he could handle. In the end, it boiled down to the idea that he felt needed, and he liked that feeling. The sheriff wasn’t giving him a job for any other reason than that he thought he could make a difference.

“I’m giving it a try,” he told his sister. “You may well be right, but they really need somebody, and even if I can’t handle it forever, as manager I can recruit some people who might be able to keep them on track. If necessary, I can even find my own replacement.”

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