Chapter 29

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It had been a week since the filming of Pitch Deck. Megan moved out before David returned from Los Angeles and the apartment felt like a ghost town. Everything that made the place feel quaint and warm had been stripped away. David rarely bothered to put on pants any more. His beard had turned from "well-groomed hipster" into "scruffy hobo."

"You have to clean this place up," said Andrew, pushing a few pieces of trash aside as he slipped in the front door. "This is just gross."

"Don't worry, I can't afford this place by myself. I already missed a couple rent payments. Just waiting for the inevitable," said David morosely.

"Buddy, I know things are bad right now, but things will turn around."

Andrew started picking up the trash and putting it into an overstuffed trash can.

"You don't have to do that," said David.

Andrew continued without arguing.

David reached out and grabbed Andrew's arm. "Explain it to me again, Andrew. Why didn't we just say yes to the investor's offer? Why did we get greedy?"

"Stop beating yourself up. Pick yourself up and move on."

"Okay, Mary Poppins."

Andrew picked up a chair that had fallen over and pulled it up to the foldaway card table that David had set up in the middle of the apartment. Megan had taken their old dining room table and moved in with Monica. Andrew pointed at the table and ordered David to sit down. David scoffed and came toward the table, but did not sit.

"You remember Jeni from MochaToca, right?" said Andrew.

"Yeah."

"You know we've been on a few dates, right?" David nodded. "Well things have been heating up between us lately. I mean, I think I really like her."

"Great."

"No, I don't mean to rub it in your face. I just want you to know, I think I love her, David. And we're exclusive now."

"Good for you."

"I get it, you're depressed. But can't you be happy for me?"

"Sure, I'm happy for you, yay, let's pull out the party hats. Now can we get back to work?"

David turned around and started to the kitchen. Andrew got up and pulled on David's arm to turn him around.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Will you sit down for a minute?"

David knew exactly where this was going. He had been expecting this conversation for a few days now. He wasn't planning on making it any easier for his best friend to say it out loud, though.

"I'm fine, I don't want to sit. What do you want to tell me?"

Andrew looked at the floor.

"The thing is, Jeni also helped me get a job." Andrew paused. "At MochaToca."

David said nothing. Andrew clearly was trying to read David's face, but David wasn't giving any clues. He just kept a dead stare into nothingness.

Andrew continued: "The thing is, it's just a day job. Nine to five. To pay the bills. I am still one hundred percent in on Cryptobit, I just need to shift to working in the evenings."

David still said nothing.

Andrew continued, "This is probably for the better. I think we need to regroup and rethink what's next for Cryptobit. Clearly what we have been working on isn't right yet."

David mumbled something.

"What?" asked Andrew.

"I," David said louder.

"I what?"

"Not 'we need to regroup,' Andrew. I. I need to regroup and rethink. Not we."

David pulled away from Andrew's hand, which was still grasping his bicep. He went over to the sink and started filling a kettle with water.

"I am still fully committed to Cryptobit, David. I just can't afford to do it as my full-time job anymore."

"Do what you want and who you want," said David. "Just don't pretend you are still in it with me when you aren't. The minute things get hard, my best friend abandons me. I guess I deserve it."

"I'm sorry you feel that way. The world isn't so black and white, you know. You could get a day job too. We could keep working on Cryptobit on the side until it's viable to do it full time again."

"Now is the opportunity. We are so close and there is so much demand. If we both got day jobs, it would wither up and die. I can't let this go, this is all I have going for me right now. Without Cryptobit, I have nothing."

David scrounged coffee beans from a few nearly empty bags lying on the kitchen counter. He dropped what he could find into the burr grinder and started cranking.

"I get it, you need money, you're in love with Jeni. I am happy for you. Really, I am. You need to do what is right for you. And I need to do what is right for me, too."

Andrew didn't respond. He sat at the card table and began staring out the window.

"I'm not mad at you, Andrew. You have to look out for number one. Just go."

Andrew walked out the front door and the screen door bounced three times before settling. A cold winter breeze crept in.

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