When Jim stopped sleeping, he knew something had to change. He was like Edward Norton in Fight Club, wandering around in a haze, losing pieces of his life. Sometimes when he was still awake at 3:00am on a Wednesday night, he would put on Fight Club, just to feel less alone in his insomnia. Watching the violence in Fight Club also made him feel better that his favorite movie was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So what if he had a thing for Kate Winslet? And Jim Carrey? Sometimes he just wanted to watch a movie about feelings. But not now. Now he wanted two men beating the crap out of each other.
Either way, watching movies all night helped him not think so much about Pam. The month of June had come and gone and now she was married. He had done everything that he could. He had told her that he loved her, he had kissed her, he had pleaded and begged but she wouldn't leave Roy and so he had gone to Australia and she had gotten married. Now he was back and he couldn't sleep.
Things with Pam were ruined and when he said ruined, he meant ruined. They didn't talk, they didn't joke, and he was pretty sure they weren't even friends anymore. She'd gotten so angry when he'd admitted his feelings to her. She had said, "I can't…" instead of 'I don't' and she'd kissed him back but then she'd pulled back and said in a quiet voice, "You're so selfish," and maybe she was right. Maybe if he had said something earlier things could have been different. As it was, she'd gone through with it. He could see she was prepared to wait it out until death did they part.
At first, Jim had thought it would be okay. He would go to Stamford and put all of this behind him but when the time came, when Jan needed a solid yes or a solid no, he'd declined. He didn't know why he couldn't go, couldn't throw all his things into big, black trash bags and drive away from all of this, but he couldn't. He was a glutton for punishment.
His roommate, Mark, came down for water. He looked sluggish and disoriented and Jim decided to take advantage of this.
"Mark, I want you to hit me as hard as you can," he said, standing.
"Get some sleep, fucktard," Mark said, climbing up the stairs with his bottle of Aquafina. "Or at least get a girlfriend."
Mark's comment felt like enough of a punch to the gut. Mark had been a good friend, willing to listen to Jim bemoan his Pam Beesly woes, but even Mark had his limit. Jim knew it was time for him to move on, he knew that it was over but he couldn't get past it. He was in the most painful holding pattern imaginable. Jim thought about what Michael had said on the boat. Engaged ain't married. But it hadn't been enough.
Jim watched the sunrise from his bedroom window, squinting.
He knew he looked more like hell than usual when he walked in from the way Pam eyes widened and then she immediately looked down. He didn't say anything to her as was their new custom. The ironic thing was that Jim's numbers had nearly doubled without Pam to distract him. He tried to fill the empty minutes they used to spend together. He called up old clients and goaded them into restocking and had taken to cold calling companies and rounding up business that way – just tried to be always on the phone. He was neck and neck with Dwight for the year. Dwight was pissed. Michael seemed happy but Michael was Michael and so it was hard to tell most days.
This went on for months. Nearly a year passed. Jim had gone to the doctor and they'd given him mild sleeping pills which helped. He thought that maybe he was hurting Pam, their mutual cold shoulders. If he surreptitiously watched her (something he rarely allowed himself to do), he could see that she wasn't happy either. She looked irritated and tired and confused. Roy really didn't come up to the office anymore and she didn't go down to the warehouse. She ate her mixed berries yogurt alone at her desk and the few times Jim tried to make a peace offering (usually involving a bag of French Onion Sun Chips), he was thoroughly rebuked.
Sometimes he went away for the weekend. It was only a two and a half hour drive to New York and he had a few college buddies there who liked to go out drinking. He wasn't much of a drinker, usually, past a few beers but his buddy Jamie had always been a club rat and Jim was learning to live the lifestyle. Driving to the city Friday night and nursing his hangover on the ride back Sunday afternoon. More than once he'd pulled over on the interstate to throw up out of the window.
No one said anything though. If anything, Michael was happier that Jim was too out of it to answer back. Michael would just talk at him for hours. Jim could last a long time – until the Chris Rock started. Then he would have to send Michael away. Usually pointing at Ryan did the trick. Michael's crush on Ryan only became more hilarious with time. Well, except to Ryan. Though Jim suspected that if Ryan were truly bothered, he would have asked for a new assignment long ago. He heard that Michael was actually going to hire him if he stayed on through Christmas.
Monday morning, early November, it started to snow. By 2:00pm, Kevin had turned on the radio to listen for the weather report and fifteen minutes later they were closing the roads. Jim had never been so relieved in his life. He shut his computer off just as Michael was coming to call it a half day and he waited until the office cleared before he put on his coat and walked down to his car. He was just coaxing the engine to start when someone knocked on his window.
"Pam?" he asked, rolling it down about half way. "What's up?"
"Roy didn't come in today and Angela was supposed to give me a ride home but she left already," Pam said, wrapping her arms around her self tightly, against the cold. She had beige gloves and a purple knit hat on. Her cheeks and nose were red.
"Get in," he said, immediately. She went around the back of the car and opened his door. Inside was a little warmer but not much. Jim had already scraped the ice off the windows and now they had to idle for a few minutes to let the engine warm up. He could hear Pam's teeth chattering.
"Thank you," she said. "I wouldn't have asked if…"
"You can always ask," he said. He was a year into talking himself into hating her but one second in the car alone and he was already overwhelmed with the urge to give her everything she'd ever wanted.
"Thank you," she said again. Jim put the car in gear and started driving. It became very apparent what was going to happen. Both swallowed convulsively as they moved closer and closer to Pam's apartment. Jim was driving fifteen miles per hour and he had to detour a few blocks where the police had already closed the roads.
"Jim, you might need to spend the night," Pam said, wishing that Jim would have said something first.
"Oh, no, I can make it just fine." He said. The radio announcer was saying that Scranton roads were officially closed and that drivers should find the closest safe place to spend the night.
"Jim, you live ten miles from here, you won't make it." she pressed.
"Pam, I'm not staying the night with you and Roy." he said. She pressed her lips together in frustration; they made a thin line.
"And I'm not going to let you drive off to freeze to death or get in some accident just because you and Roy don't get along!" she said, her voice rising. Jim thought that saying him and Roy didn't get alone was the understatement of the century but he kept this observation to himself. Jim slowed his car to five miles per hour and neither could see a thing.
"There," she said, pointing. "Pull in."
"The Best Western?" he asked, turning his wheel to follow her finger.
"We can at least wait it out. I don't even think I can get home now." she said. The detour Jim had been following had taken then nearly a half mile away from Pam's apartment and he knew that he was right. They bundled up and when Jim shut off the engine, they ran to the front office. A bored girl was sitting at the front desk, chewing gum.
"Do you have any rooms?" Jim asked. Pam was immediately shy around new people and stood behind Jim a little, watching the girl with big, open eyes.
"Yeah, most everyone booked has cancelled because of the storm," she said.
"We'll take two," he said, pulling out his wallet.
"Just one," she whispered. "It's too expensive."
"Don't worry," he said. "I got it." he looked back at the girl. "Do you have any adjoining rooms?"
"Sure," she said. Jim handed his credit card over and signed the slip. She gave him two plastic keycards and he handed one to Pam. Outside, they braved the cold again. Inside the room, Jim looked around. Tacky art and one double bed with a paisley bedspread. There was a moderately sized television in front of the bed and a tub in the bathroom. He unlocked and opened the door between their rooms and a few minutes later, Pam did the same.
"Hi," he said.
"Hey," she said, stepping daintily through to his room. "Put on the news," He moved to the night stand and tried to pick up the remote, but it was glued down to the stand and his expression made Pam laugh like she used to. He turned on the TV and each station said pretty much the same thing – the storm would last at least through the night.
"I'd better call Roy," she said, looking out the window. She could barely make out Jim's car, already covered with an inch of snow. She went back to her own room and he turned down the TV so he could eavesdrop. He saw her look at her cell phone and then set it down – his phone didn't have any reception in the storm either. The hotel phone still worked, however.
"Hi, it's me." she said. "The storm was too bad and I couldn't make it home. I'm at the Best Western room 114. Give me a call," she said and hung up. "Machine," she said to Jim who she knew was listening. "Maybe he's asleep."
"Maybe," Jim said. He lingered in the doorway between their rooms, one hand loosening his tie. She set the phone back in its cradle and tried not to look at the line of his body pressed against the doorframe. She realized that they were stuck there together with only a door between them. For a moment she wanted to shut hers and turn the lock defiantly but he was looking at her with a steady gaze and she knew that shutting a door wasn't enough to keep Jim away from her.
Even when he was gone, he was there.
Pam's dad had left when she was twelve; just on the edge of being a woman. The year between twelve and thirteen, she would start her period, get her first bra, and sneak into the bathroom while her mother was away to shave her legs in secret. She'd been too shy to ask her mother to teach her about the pink Lady Bic that sat on the edge of the tub and so she'd taught her self, leaving her ankles nicked and bleeding. The morning her dad had gone, she'd been in bed with a stomachache, convincing enough to stay home from school. She heard her mother start the steel gray Volvo and drive away and then she'd heard her father opening drawers and closing them again frantically. His foot steps were heavy past her door several times before they stopped and her door opened slowly. She'd kept her eyes closed, feigning sleep.
"Bye, Pammy," he'd said and his voice was thick and soft, like cotton. She never saw him again. Now, watching Jim watch her, it occurred to her that Roy was capable of leaving and never coming back. She didn't think Jim was.
"What do you want to do?" asked Pam.
"Whatever," he said, stepping through to her room tentatively.
"Maybe something good is on TV," she said, moving to the set, ignoring the glued-down remote. She pressed the buttons until she'd made the rotation twice.
"So, pretty much either a rerun of Friends or Law & Order," Jim said. "Pretty depressing,"
"There was that Sandra Bullock movie," Pam said, shrugging.
"Please," Jim said, shaking his head. "Please no." Pam put it back onto the news and turned the volume down low. "If I were home, I'd be watching a rerun of CSI."
"God bless Spike TV," Pam agreed. "Roy doesn't like the blood and guts."
"Tell me," Jim said. "What does Roy like?" The way he said it, though, and Pam's expression meant that Jim was picking a fight, an old fight.
"Plenty," Pam said, wishing she'd gone to Jim's room so she could leave. There was no polite way to kick him out. The fight was forgotten when the lights flickered and the TV shut off. They'd lost power. "Great, now we're never getting out of here." Jim stood up to open the curtains to let the last of the daylight in.
"Maybe the front desk has flashlights or candles. I'll go check." He offered.
"Thanks," she said. He went into his own room to put on his jacket and his hat. The wind was loud and ominous when he opened the door and it shut loudly behind him. She took several deep breaths and the oxygen made her light headed. She took off her shoes and sat down, wishing she had something more comfortable than a skirt and button down shirt to wear. Pants might have been warmer, at least. The room was getting cold, fast.
Jim came back through his door and into her room holding a lighter and two white candles.
"All they had," he said, setting them on the dresser in front of the mirror. He lit them carefully, holding the flame at the wick for several seconds, coaxing the new wicks to ignite. In front on the mirror, the light reflected and was made a little brighter. Pam smiled and hugged herself. "You're cold," he said.
"Nah," she said.
"Here, my jacket is down, it will be warmer," he said, sliding it off and handing it to her. She put it on and it was still warm from her body. He sat next to her on the bed, a good amount of space between them.
"Thank you," she said. She watched the flame for a moment. "Roy probably isn't sleeping."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"He didn't answer because he isn't there. He isn't there because he isn't sick. He lied to me." she said.
"Maybe he was in the shower." Jim said.
"This isn't how I thought things would happen." she admitted, her laughter a little shaky.
"Pam, I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "But maybe I'm not the best person to confide in." Her face registered shock and he looked away, had to look away.
"Oh," she said. "Right,"
"It isn't that I don't care," he said.
"It doesn't matter," she cut him off.
"It's that I care too much," he finished, anyway, his voice trailing off. She sighed.
"You make everything hard, Jim, you just make everything hard." She stood up. "I'm going to take a bath."
"I'll just get out of your hair," he said, taking one of the candles from the dresser and disappearing into his room. He closed the door behind him.
In trying not to think about Pam in the bath in the next room, all he could think about was Pam in the bath in the next room. He wished he could watch TV instead of letting his mind wander. He blew out his candle, content to be in the dark. When he got too cold, he kicked off his shoes, took off his tie completely, removed his pants and button down shirt, and climbed under the covers in nothing but his undershirt and his boxers. He tried to lie still, allowing his body to warm the bed and soon his eyes became heavy. He let them close, but wasn't really asleep. He dozed lightly.
Pam's knock made him sit up straight.
"Come in," he called, and the door opened. She was back in her skirt and button down shirt, but her stockings were gone and her hair was wet and put into a pony tail. She looked natural and young.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Nah," he said.
"I just wanted you to know," she said.
"It's okay," he said. "Really,"
"No," she said. "Things aren't." Her face crumpled into tears and she put her hands on her face. Her wedding ring was heavy and the small diamond slid to the side. Her shoulders shook and Jim got out of bed and walked over to her. She moved easily into his arms and pushed her face into his warm t-shirt while he rubbed his hands up and down her back.
"Shh," he said. "It's all going to be okay." He didn't know if this was true; he thought that it probably wasn't, but he wanted her to feel soothed. "Oh, Pam,"
She had her small arms around his waist and they stood there long enough for Jim to get cold. He actually appreciated the cold. Being this close to Pam was dangerous for him, especially in nothing but a thin white t-shirt and blue boxer shorts. His shorts were flannel with little white snow flakes – a gift from his mother. He was almost 30 and his mother still sent him socks and underwear twice a year.
Pam had stopped crying but she didn't let go. Her arms moved from his waist to around his neck and she looked up at him with watery cheeks and red eyes. He looked down at her in the same way that he always looked at her. Adoringly, and intensely.
"I thought that being married was what I wanted," she whispered. He knew it was wrong, but he kissed her anyway.
They woke up sometime near morning when the television came back on loudly, as well as all the lights. They hadn't been asleep long, and Pam felt safe in Jim's long, lanky arms. Pam reached blindly to the remote on the nightstand and pushed buttons until the noise went away. Neither of them was willing to get out of the warm bed to turn off the lights and when Jim opened his eyes to look at the clock, he learned it wasn't even six am yet. They could still sleep, call Michael eventually, and go to work a few hours late. Even with less than two hours of sleep under his belt, the feeling of Pam's naked body against his made him a little crazy with desire. His hands began to wander, kneading and cupping until she woke up and rolled over to face him. He kissed her before she could speak and moved over her. She looked for a moment like she was going to object by the light of day, but the expression faltered and then passed.
They moved from the bed to the shower and when they were finally clean, they got dressed quietly. Jim stood as close to Pam as he could and buttoned her blouse up for her while she watched his face.
"I'll take you home," he said. The snow had stopped some time in the night and the roads had been plowed. There was nearly a foot of snow on Jim's car and Pam got into the driver's seat to start the engine while Jim worked on scraping the ice from the windshield. Even though it was freezing in the car, Pam felt heat still flashing through her. She couldn't believe that she'd spent the night with Jim, that she had sex with him; lots of times.
She thought about Roy and she felt guilty but she knew the amount guilt she felt was not enough to stop her from sleeping with Jim again. She slid over the center console easily when he opened the door to get in the car. He looked at her.
"Can I kiss you?" he asked. "Before we go?"
"Sure," she said leaning into him. His face was cold and she could tell that he thought this was the last time. Pam thought, however, that she could be with Roy and still sleep with Jim. Things could be okay, she thought, like this.
Roy calmed down a bit when Pam had assured him that she and Jim had gotten separate rooms, which wasn't a lie. Roy had been stuck in the bar for the majority of the night anyway and Pam thought that even though Roy complained, he had been pretty happy about the situation.
"We got free buffalo wings," he said, when he'd stopped badmouthing Jim. "It was awesome."
"We have to go to work," Pam said, changing the subject.
"Fuck that," Roy said. "I'm calling in sick again, you can take the truck." He sat down on the sofa and reached for the remote. Pam was strangely relieved to hear that Roy wouldn't be there when she and Jim were at work together. Pam feared it would be awkward and that Roy would notice something.
Jim wasn't there when she arrived and started listening to the 27 messages. Most were customers calling to complain about their shipments not arriving. Pam would have to call each customer back and explain about the storm and Scranton's roads being closed for the majority of the night. It sounded dreadful. She was on the phone when Jim came in and he gave her a small smile. She gave him a friendly wave though she could feel herself flushing at the erotic memory of what they had done together. She would have to learn to look at him and not blush.
She watched him boot up his computer, watched him put a bent paper clip inside Dwight's stapler, watched Dwight arrive. She was glad it was Friday and spent a lot of time watching the clock. She ate her lunch at her desk and Jim came over with his sandwich and sat on the couch in the reception area without saying a word.
"Hey," she said, folding the foil top of her yogurt into a tiny triangle before throwing it away. She used her clear plastic spoon to mix the yogurt, bringing the fruit from the bottom to the top. She also had a baggie of baby carrots and a Diet Coke. Pam had started bringing the small lunch as soon as Roy proposed so she would stay skinny for the wedding but now the wedding had passed and she didn't know why she was still starving herself. She was always hungry and she eyed Jim's ham and cheese sandwich enviously.
"Hi," he said. "How is your day so far?"
"PAMALA!" Michael's voice cut through their timid conversation and he appeared in front of her desk smiling. His tie was horrible today – bright green with orange diamonds. It made his skin look jaundiced but she just looked at him steadily, keeping the line of her vision above his neck.
"Did you need something?" she asked. He looked at her smiling, holding the gaze for too long. This was Michael, thought, and she could see that the camera was now on them both and she inwardly shuddered. Michael with the camera on him was never a good sign. There were only a few more months of filming and though the camera crew was nice, she'd be happy when they were gone. She dreaded the final product.
"Any faxes?" he asked.
"Nope," she said, relaxing, realizing he was just bored and lonely in his office. He didn't have anything planned.
"Eating your lunch?" he asked.
"Yep," she said, looking at the camera. Paul, the sound guy, just shrugged.
"All righty," he said. "Keep it real, Jimbo."
"Oh, I am." Jim said. Michael walked away toward the break room where the majority of the Dunder-Mifflin employees had gathered. The camera followed.
"I think we should talk about what happened," Jim said, peeling the crust off of half of his sandwich nervously. He also had a pudding cup and a Mountain Dew. She saw him eat his bag of cool ranch Doritos earlier. She really wanted his lunch.
"Um," Pam said. "Okay, but later."
"Definitely," he said, looking at Paul who was looking over his shoulder at the pair interestedly. "Not here."
"Roy was sick again today," she said. "Maybe you could drive me home?"
"Sure," he said. "I can do that." She saw the relief on his face as he shoved the sandwich in his mouth and chewed. He looked like a young boy with the crusts torn off his sandwich and the paper bag next to him on the sofa. She wished she could kiss him right now. She ate her yogurt and nibbled on her carrots, waiting for the passage of time.
"Can we go to your place?" She asked, once they were situated in Jim's car and driving away from Dunder-Mifflin.
"What?" he asked.
"I don't want to go home yet." she said, evenly. "Do you mind if we hang out for a while?"
"Uh, yeah," he said. "Mark is probably at home."
"I like Mark," she said. "He won't mind if you have company?"
"Nah," Jim said. Mark would be relieved to see Jim happy but when Pam left, the questions would begin and Jim would have to admit that Roy was not yet out of the picture. Mark had an incredible knack of making Jim feel guilty. This would be no exception.
Jim pulled his car into the driveway next to Mark's Honda and they hurried through the snow to the front door. Jim unlocked it and a wall of warm air hit them as they walked into the narrow hallway of the townhouse.
"Hey, dude," Mark called from the living room. "We get free porn for the weekend."
Pam snickered and Jim blushed. He held up a finger.
"Wait here." he said and walked down the hall into the living room. "Porn?"
"Yeah, the cable company has some sort of preview incentive package or something for the weekend. It's awesome." Mark took a swig of his beer. On the screen, two women made out while a pizza delivery guy started to unbutton his shirt.
"Wow," Jim said. "And Carrie is cool with this?"
"She's at her Mom's for the weekend. Never tell." Mark said.
"Got it," Jim said. "So, um, I'm just gonna be in my room for the night."
Mark looked up at him with a horrified expression.
"Free. Porn. Dude, sit your ass down."
"First, I love you man, but I don't want to watch porn with you. Secondly, I have… it's weird, and we can talk about it later, but Pam's here and under no circumstances should you knock on my door at anytime." Jim blurted.
"Whoa, the Pam?" Mark asked, lowering his voice.
"Later," Jim assured him, leaving the room. Pam stood by the stairs with her jacket in her hands. "Let's go upstairs," Jim said, following her up the carpeted steps. She went straight into his bedroom and he closed the door behind them.
"Do you make your bed every morning?" Pam asked, dropping her coat on his desk chair.
"Yeah. I didn't even ask you if you wanted anything to drink or food or anything," he said, pointing to the closed door.
"Nope," she said, walking toward him. His heart began to race. She grabbed his tie and pulled him down to her, kissing him squarely. His arms snaked around her and held her close. He spun them around until her back was against the door and he lifted her a little so that her legs could wrap around him. He skirt rode up a little and he pushed his hips into her. She groaned, reaching down to undo his belt and lower his zipper. She yanked his pants down and he pushed the crotch of her underwear aside so he could push himself into her with a loud moan.
Hopefully Mark would just think it was the free porn.
With every thrust, Jim grunted and this noise made Pam see stars. The position was awkward and her spine against the wall was painful but despite all that she was so close. Within a few seconds, she was gasping and writhing and he was sucking on her neck as he emptied into her. Finally, he let her slide down and stand on her own two very wobbly feet. He was still pinning her to the wall so she didn't fall. His lips were still moving against her neck and her head lolled to one side, feeling delicious and sated.
She hadn't known sex could be… well, good! Now she was craving it like a sixteen-year-old. With Roy, she laid in bed and watched the ceiling, waiting for it to be over and she'd done that for ten years. Now Pandora's box was open and she couldn't go back, she wouldn't.
Jim's fingers were working the buttons of her blouse apart and then the hook and zipper of her skirt were undone until she was in nothing but her white lace bra and soiled underpants that was currently collecting the remains of their lovemaking. It didn't matter that it was sticky and uncomfortable because the way he was looking at her was amazing.
"You're so beautiful," he said, but it sounded like an accusation.
"Thank you," she said. Roy didn't tell her things like that anymore.
"Pam," he said, like he wanted to say something important, but she was there, loosening the knot of his tie and pushing his pants off his body completely.
After, Pam was dozing and Jim was watching the ceiling with his arm around her. He needed to tell her that he couldn't do this but he didn't know how. After years, he'd gotten what he finally wanted and it was going to be the hardest thing he would have to do – giving up Pam.
"Hi," she said, opening her eyes and looking up at him.
"You should get dressed," he said, sitting up. She rolled of him and held the sheet to her chest.
"Okay," she said, uncertainly.
"I mean it's getting dark and…" he didn't finish the thought.
"I get it," she said. When she dressed, she turned her back to him.
In the car, she crossed her ankles and kept her hands in her lap.
"Pam," Jim said. "I need to tell you something."
"You can tell me anything," she said. The heater vents were on full blast and she raised her voice to be heard over the air.
"I can't see you like this… anymore." he said.
"What?" she asked.
"I can't sleep with you when you're still with Roy."
"You already have." she accused.
"It isn't fair." he said.
"Since when do you care about Roy?" she asked.
"It isn't fair to me, Pam." He pulled up in front of their little townhouse on the street. He cut the engine and the car was eerily quiet. She could see the light of the television coming through the blinds and she could see Roy's truck in the drive, slowly gathering snow.
"We were supposed to get a tree this weekend, but I doubt we will." she said.
"Why not?" he asked, playing along.
"Roy doesn't like to go out in the snow." Pam said.
"I would take you out in the snow."
"Jim," she said.
"I would buy you a tree in the snow. I would buy you a house with a terrace and I would set you up a little room for you to paint in and I would drive you to New York every weekend so you could take that art training program and I would have married you a thousand times by now."
"Stop it." she said, already crying.
"I would listen to you when you talked. I would give you anything you wanted."
"Stop!" she said.
"Don't stay with him," he said.
"Screw you, Jim." she said, throwing open the car door.
"No, wait!" he said, but she slammed the door and he watched her go up the walk and bang on the door. Roy opened it and they disappeared inside.
Mark was, unsurprisingly, still watching porn.
"Hey," Jim said, sitting down on the couch next to him.
"Hey," Mark said, glancing at him.
"Do you think we could turn off the porn for a few?" Jim asked. "I think I'm having a nervous breakdown."
Mark turned off the TV and tossed the remote onto the coffee table.
"I'm gonna get you a beer." Mark said.
"Yeah, that's probably not going to cut it." Jim said. He heard Mark rummage around in the kitchen and he came back with a half full bottle of Smirnoff and two shot glasses.
"Cheap Vodka," Mark offered. "All we got."
"All we need," he said, unscrewing the bottle and taking a swig out of it, bypassing the shot glass all together.
"So," Mark said. "Pam."
"Pam," Jim said.
"Did you fuck her?" Mark asked.
"Yep," Jim said, pouring a shot for Mark and taking another swig from the bottle.
"Did she leave what's his name?" Mark asked.
"Nope," Jim said, kicking off his shoes.
"Is she going to?" he asked.
"I really don't think so." Jim said and as he said it, he knew it was what he believed.
"That's rough." Mark said. "What are you going to do?"
"I think I'm going to leave." Jim said. He drank more but the pleasant warmth that usually accompanied alcohol was remaining elusive.
"Stamford?" Mark asked.
"No," Jim said. "I think I need to go farther."
"What will you do?" Mark asked.
"Not be here." Jim said.
"Well, I guess that's a start." Mark said, finally drinking his shot.
Jim didn't come to work the next day or for the rest of the week. Michael couldn't get a hold of him by telephone and sent Dwight to his place to find out what was the matter. When Dwight came back, Pam ambushed him.
"Was he there?" she asked.
"No," Dwight said. "His roommate said he left."
"Left?" she asked, her voice high.
"Yeah, I even looked in his bedroom but nothing was there except a mattress and an empty desk."
"He just left?" Pam asked.
"He wont be getting a good recommendation from this company." Dwight said, gleefully.
"Did he leave an address or anything?" Pam asked.
"I didn't ask," Dwight said, wandering back to his desk. Pam looked down at her hands and felt a little panicked. She realized the only e-mail address she had for him was his Dunder-Mifflin company address and so she picked up her phone and dialed his cell number but the number had been disconnected and she felt a stab of devastation go through her. After all, her last words to him had been Screw you, Jim and Jim was the kind of guy who took stuff seriously when it was important to him.
Was he really gone?
She put on her coat, gathered her things, and left without even putting the phone on voicemail.
Michael came out after the phone rang and rang to see Pam was gone.
"What is with today?" he asked loudly, but of course, no one answered.
Mark answered the door and frowned when he saw her.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi," he said, uncomfortably.
"I just… is Jim here?" she asked, nursing her last small spark of hope.
"Nah," Mark said. "He moved out."
"Did he… did he leave an address or anything for me?" she asked, her voice kind of cracking in the middle.
"Look, Pam," Mark said, leaning against the doorframe. "I promised him I wouldn't help you find him. You broke his heart like… eight million times."
"But," she said, her face crumpling a little
"Sorry," he said, but he wasn't because she'd driven his best friend away, after all. He closed the door.
She sat on the front stoop, letting the cold soak through her jacket and her skirt and her skin.
She looked at her wedding ring and felt like spitting. She drove home and when Roy got in from work, wondering what the hell had happened and why she'd taken the truck and stranded him, she locked herself in the bathroom and filled her aching lungs with hot steam.