The Mundane Life of Mark Diaz

tagnone

3

3

On the outside, everything was normal.

Alone in his office, a Filipino man with tired eyes looked out the window at the city in front of him. Below him, was the Interstate-10 freeway and the usual bustle of daily life: Kids going to school; people going to work; and regular people-

―Lucky people who in his eyes got to live their life ignorant of the things Mark Diaz had seen.

The lucky bastards.

A knock at the door.

“Mr. Diaz?” A young, red headed reporter would say, “I have a story that I wanted to run by you.”

“It better be original,” Diaz let out in a tired tone as he looked away from the window.

“What do you got for me?”

“Well, we got some more info on Trump-”

Diaz put his hand up. “Don’t fucking come back unless you have an original story. We’re not yelling into that void. Christ, close the door behind you before you go.”

The reporter would roll her eyes at him in annoyance. “Well, I did have this,” She said, passing him the manila folder in her arms.

She takes a seat.

Diaz sits behind his desk.

An ashtray and a cup of stale coffee in front of him from the night before sit in front of him. He takes the folder from her, opens it, and skims through it.

He closes it and passes it back to her.

“We can’t run this, either,” He says, “Look, what’s your name? Christie- Leslie?”

“Cassie…” She would say behind gritted teeth.

“Look, Jackie… That story is a legal nightmare and more than likely going to get us into more trouble than we already need to,” Diaz lets out, genuine concern coming from his tone rather than his usual brand of dry sarcasm.

“Legal said it came down to you,” Cassie says in a dejected tone, “And so far-”

“No. Good work though, appreciate it. I’ll make sure it goes in your file for the effort. I’m sure a promotion for you would be in order.”

Cassie nods and looks down, disappointment in her eyes. She sets the folder down in front of Diaz. The bags in her eyes speaks mountains over what she did to get the story, but for Diaz it was just another day in the office. As she goes to leave the room, Diaz looks back at the window.

“Close the door,” Diaz starts, “I did like your story about that dog village in Puerto Rico.”

Cassie stops in her tracks. “Oh. Thank you.”

“I’ll see to it you get a bonus this month for the work you put into that one. You deserve it, Cass. Happy Thanksgiving.” Diaz shoots her a grin.

Cassie nods, smiles, and finally steps out, closing the door behind her as she does.

Just another day in paradise.

Diaz looks back at the folder, dials a number, and picks up the phone receiver on his desk. “Hello? Ricky’s Pizza Castle? Yeah, I’m looking to order a pepperoni pizza, no rush on that. The location is going to be at the Associated Press office for a, Cassie Winters.”

His day would continue. Another “pizza” and another “incongruency” in his mind to be looked at by the suits, the company, the corporation, the guys who kept the world safe while those on the freeway below could continue their lives in sheer bliss. He jots down Cassie’s name on the top of the manila folder.

The lucky bastards.


Three hours later.

Mark pulled his Corolla into what he knew as Site-15. All he really knew for sure was that it held the incongruencies and had an entire military wing. It was the same routine he’d played out 24 other times. He was going “on assignment” and he would be back with some sanitized about some senator’s private life that someone would pass onto him.

He didn’t care, really. He always got notes for a story from someone else and would be the one to fill out those notes into an actual, publishable story which 80 percent of the time was “new groundbreaking knowledge” that he could’ve given less of a shit about.

Mark steps out of his car and brings out his black messenger bag with him. He would enter the facility’s doors, placing his hand against a scanner. A hole would open in a wall next to it. Diaz put his eye up to it.

“Welcome Mr. Diaz,” Greeted the entrance AI, “Please make sure to place any of your firearms in the designated lockbox.” The same message he’d heard hundreds of times before.

Mark enters the facility. A shift change was taking place and the rush of doctors, off duty security, and logistics employees were on their way out.

Quiet.

Diaz lets out a content sigh. He moves through the crowd and walks over to a security booth.

The guard, Randall Briar wears a Rhodesian patch on his arm. He would give a nod and gently presses a button. The locked door next to his booth would buzz and open to a room that read “Firearm Lockers”.

Mark would open the door and go into the room, locked up weapons in cases sat inside. Randall walked over to Mark who lets out a content sigh.

“What’s up, fuckface? You still pissed your girlfriend screwed a black guy?” Mark asks. He takes his pistol out of its holster and places it and its spare magazine inside of a lockbox and closes it.

“Waiting for that to happen to you still,” Randall would reply, “Anything cool going on out there?”

“Same bullshit, drinking, jerking off, and collecting a paycheck.” Mark closes the locker.

“Good to hear, they’ll probably be promoting me soon,” Randall replies.

“Yeah, whose dick you suck for that?”

Randall chuckles at that. “Long story. I’ll leave you to it, Mark.”

“You too, Randall.”

Mark steps out of the room and walks past plain clothed guards. Then, he would make his way down the hall past a set of metal double doors.

Another security line.

Mark sighed as he ran his messenger bag and belt through the metal detector. He’d walk through a separate one. A scientist next to him was getting a pat down. Mark would give him a momentary glance, and put his belt and messenger bag back on. Diaz would continue down the hallway passing less Department of Energy guards and more of the MSTs that he knew and recognized. Scientists and MSTs would escort the CSDs through the hall.

Mark would continue past another set of double doors. The nuclear plant was covered by a mountain, and due to its design was deceiving to any outsiders. Walking escalators made up the large hallway, janitors on utility carts would drive by-

Mark recognized one of them.

“Seňor!” He shouted toward one of the janitors driving a utility cart. Mark took out a crisp 20 dollar bill out of his wallet as he did, grinning while he did so.

The janitor stopped, turned around, and grinned at him.

“Seňor Mark,” He said with a strong Mexican accent, a grin on his face, “The ootherr janeetors tell me to stop giving you rides. That they’re going to write me up for it. ‘For disability, emergency, and medical’ they tell me.”

“Even for a 20?” Mark asked, sliding one over to him.

“Alright, Seňor. Fine.” The janitor took the 20.

“Gracias Seňor Hermasillo,” Mark would say, getting a ride on the back of the utility cart, “Office 1211.”

“Eyy Seňor, when are you gonna get me some of that lechon? I look it up on the computer with mis hermanos and we were curious when you were going to hook us up.” The two would drive past a running intelligence agent. He looked as if he was in a rush, manila file folder

“He running late?” asks Hermasillo, “I think we should stop, he might need a ride.”

“Didn’t he knock over a trash can in front of you and call you a dirty beaner?” asks Mark.

“Yeah and the HR lady said she couldn’t understand me.”

The two look back at each other and give a nod of approval.

The glasses clad intelligence agent continues to run past. “Hey, wait!” He shouts.

Mark smiles at his pain and flips two middle fingers at him.

“You gonna get in trouble again, Seňor Diaz?”

“Nothing I’m not already used to.”

The figure of the running intelligence agent would grow smaller as the utility cart stopped.

“Thanks again, Manuel,” Diaz said as the two waved each other off. Marco would drive off in his utility cart, leaving Diaz in front of Room 1211. Diaz lets out a sigh as he stands outside of it and takes a deep breath.

He puts his hand on the door knob.

He was going to get yelled at again for something that he probably did. He probably had a death on his record that was attributed to some bad intel, he probably led an MST team into an ambush, and he did trust and verify if the intelligence was legit. He probably was attributed to the death of an-

Mark opens the door, pushing those thoughts out of his head.

An MST guard in a plate carrier stood in the front of the room. Mark’s boss, Jack Kelly, stood there next to him.

“Mark,” Kelly would greet.

“Mr. Kelly.”

Mark would take a seat, getting his laptop alongside his notepad and pen out of their respective backpacks. He booted up his laptop, getting his notes out. He would sit in the back of the class. As safe as the facility was, Mark felt more comfortable with his back to a wall and being able to watch people coming in. His experiences had solidified these feelings-

The intelligence agent from earlier, Michael Miller, enters the room, a tired look on his face.

“Miller,” Kelly would say, “You’re late.”

“I’m sorry sir, no excuses.” Miller shoots a glare at Mark.

Kelly gives a look of confusion, as if to put together what’s going on for a moment.

He stops-

“Oh… Alright,” He starts, “Now that we have everyone here.” Kelly takes a sip from a bottle of water on his podium.

“Just gotta get some administrative things out of the way. First off, I won’t name names, but let’s stop hitching rides with the janitors to get to meetings. They have things to do, and places to go, and so do you. Let’s stop making their job harder, and yes, slipping a 20 to them is a good way to get a company audit filed against you and that person. Everyone good with that?” He gives a very specific glare to Mark.

No reply from anyone in the meeting room.

“Good,” He continues, “Anyway, let’s share what we’ve found in our circles starting with you, Mark.” Mark stands up and reaches into the manila file folder that Cassie had passed him earlier.

“Subject’s name is Cassie Winters, she’s a reporter for the Associated Press office out of Phoenix. She ran this story on my desk and after telling her that I wouldn’t run it, she was content with just leaving it there as is. I don’t see her as a threat but watching her Youtube accounts and any social media wouldn’t be a bad thing. I would most definitely advise amnestics for her. The story is some weird anarcho-primitivist militia up in Payson. I’d recommend having our guys look into that.” Mark walks to the podium and passes the manila file folder over to Kelly.

Kelly nods. “Good work, Mark, we’ll pass this along and see where it goes,” He says, as Mark takes a seat in the back again.

The meeting would go on, the other intelligence agents from different aspects of the world from military intelligence, to corporate spies, to political secretaries. Anyone who knew anything about anyone on the west coast of the United States would gather in this room and share their findings. At the end of it, Mark would have a story he could bring back to his company about some politician, some scandal, or some military figure that would be hot off the press, and no one would be the wiser.

All of this, of course, vetted by the others.

Despite all this, however, Mark felt out of place. Those around him were truly accomplished while Mark felt that he was a hack who had forced his way into a place that he had no belonging to someone like him.

The meeting ended, the same way it ended 20-something times as it did before. With some cheesy quote and something that ended with a phrase to the effect of, “so others may live".

The meeting would wrap up.

“Ladies and gentlemen, just remember you are the finest group of intelligence agents I have had the opportunity and chance to work with,” Kelly started, “If you have anything, anything at all that’s bothering you, feel free to call me at any time of day. You all have my number and I have an open door policy for any issues that might arise. You’re all dismissed for the day.”

The group would step out of the room, and while they had the opportunity to go home, Mark would be more keen on getting some food from the cafeteria. It was mainly due to the fact that the few friends he did have would be going on their lunch breaks shortly and a girl he had a crush on.

With dinner approaching, a majority of the work force that weren’t actively working would be going in to get something to eat. Mark would look at his phone, and in the process, bump into a tall, and angry looking Polish man that smelled of whiskey.

“Watch it gook!” Oliver Wiśniewski says, “Open those eyes next time.”

“What, they let you out of the showers early today?” asks Mark.

“You look fairly relaxed for someone who just walked off the death march yourself.”

“They gave me a little extra water this time, what can I say?”

The two of them would walk toward the cafeteria. Mark would clock the disapproving look of Katherine Hughes, the HR representative that pushed to have him fired constantly.

“A wonderful lady, your three and closing,” Oliver would say behind a suppressed cough, letting out their personal code for "HR lady". Mark looked to his right side, and went quiet, not wanting another write up or another negative counseling.

They would walk into the cafeteria and wait in line.

"So, Katie…" Oliver would start, "You two talking yet?"

Mark would shake his head at that.

"You should. She always eats alone and looks at her phone. Kinda like you."

"Oliver, shut the fuck up," Mark would say, taking a tray, "I will talk to her when I'm ready."

"Alright, well don't be surprised when Chad takes her, gets her pregnant, and makes her a single mom."

Mark's eyes widen. His expression changes and he gives Oliver a glare.

"Too far?" Oliver asks. Mark nods in response.

"My bad," Oliver says, a look of guilt showing on his face.

Mark orders his usual: White rice and broccoli beef with some ice cream on the side. He sits with Oliver and the rest of the tradesmen, facing the entrance. The tradesmen, electricians, plumbers, and welders all sat at the same table. With Mark being an ex mechanic, they allowed him in, though he was only there as it gave him a good look at McKinnon, the ASF officer. Her helmet off, he would watch her lower her hair out of her bun and chow down on her meal.

Her blue eyes would shine in the lit room and Mark would tune out everything else. He would eat his food and watch her, unsure of how to approach her, and constantly afraid that if he did approach her she would immediately push him away for just being him.

Her radio would go off. “McKinnon to Section 1202, we have a situation,” The deep male voice on the other end would say.

Kate would roll her eyes. “God damn, feckin’…” She would say and let out a sigh. Mark would look down and try to pretend as if he was focusing on his food. He watches Kate throw away her trash and walk out of the cafeteria.

Mark feels a pat on the back. “Any luck this time?” Oliver would ask and take a seat.

“Uh, no,” Mark replied.

“Sorry to hear.” Oliver would eat his food. “You should really try and talk to her. She seems nice enough.”

“I guess, yeah.”

Mark would continue to eat. His mind would run as he would think of alternate scenarios. He would stare at where she was sitting, going into a trance and developing a look of sadness in his eyes.

You fucking idiot.

God damn it, she doesn’t like you. Stop fucking trying.

It wouldn’t work out if you wanted it to, Mark.

She hates your fucking guts.

Women like her aren’t for guys like you.

“Hey Mark?” Oliver would start, “You okay, dude?”

Mark would snap out of his trance.

“Yeah, I’ll live,” Mark would shoot back, finishing his food, “I’m gonna head home for the day. Have a good one, Oliver.”

“You too, fuckface.”

He would walk through the hallway of the facility, and would watch as Kate would run down the hall as she did many times before, though this time Officer Adebayo would follow behind her. They would enter a room and the door would close behind them.

Mark would walk out of the site, and get into his car starting it, and putting the site into his rear view mirror.

Despite how he felt, he still wouldn’t give this up for anything else in the world.

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