How to Beat Broken: Jin Has More Than a Job

Here we are again

When we last met, Jin had run into an old acquaintance. Please join Jin for his first day of work.

'Jin, is that you?

It was the last time I checked, but who may I ask are you?

Jin exuded an air of unfamiliarity that his old acquaintance found shocking.  It was his natural inclination to repel anyone who attempted a sense of familiarity with him based on the assumption that they shared a past.

‘Oh! Is that the way it goes these days? You knew exactly who I was when I used to keep you from getting your ass kicked on the way home from school.  I guess short-term memory is the first thing to go. It’s Sandra! You know Sandra Allen, your first kiss, your first girlfriend, your first bodyguard, hell your first everything.  The gall of your acting as if you don't recognize me is nothing short of disrespectful.  I mean, you look good, but you will never look that good dear.’

For a moment, Jin thought of the best way to handle this misstep.  It was far too early in the morning for a verbal altercation, and his mind was still focused on the great impression he wanted to make on his first day.  Most of all, Jin took notice of Sandra’s bulky physique, the one she had developed long before the rest of the boys in school and one that looked as if she would still be able to rip him to pieces at her whim.

‘Listen, Sandra, my focus was on getting here on time and finding my destination.  You see, today is my first in this building. Please excuse my lapse in recognition, after all, it has been at least 7 years since I saw you last.’

‘Speaking of when you saw me last, Lil Jinny, remember how everyone would call you that? How funny! Like I was saying when you saw me last, do you remember that?  We never had a pretty important discussion.  You know I would…’

Knowing full well what the next words from her mouth would be, Jin interrupted Sandra before she could finish.

‘Sandra, it was nice to see you again, and I hate to be rude, but I really need to get upstairs.  I am doing my best not to be late for my first day of work, and this makeshift reunion is very ill-timed.  Perhaps we will run into each other again soon and pick this up then.’

Before she could respond, he was walking away at a pace that dared her to follow him.

The last thing I want this morning is converse with Sandra fucking Allen.  I mean really, who could forget that monster?  I can’t believe she thought it would be cute to strike up a conversation about old times at 830 a.m.  I have to put Sandra and her foolery out of my mind and focus on my working my magic. It’s time to shine baby!

As Jin neared the elevator bank, he scanned the directory hanging on the wall.  He quickly located Frontier Publishing on the 32nd floor, selected the button to go up and scrambled into the elevator as fashionably and as quickly as possible. When the floor indicator bell chimed, he exited the lift into an elegant hall, lined with black marble and chrome finishes.  The floor to ceiling doors gave the kind of majestic appeal designed to empress the dignity and lineage of the establishment on its visitors. Jin instantly felt like this was where he belonged.

Now, this is what I'm talking about.  This is the kind of place that fits one such as myself.  The decor could be updated, but all in all, I think that this will do nicely.

‘Hello sir, how can I help you?’

A tall thin man, who appeared to spend very little time outdoors, asked as Jin entered the waiting area.

‘That depends’, Jin said, ‘you part of my welcoming committee? I’m Jin D. Darwin, pleased to meet you.  Please let everyone know that I have arrived so that we can start the tour of the office and my day, thank you’.

‘Oh, is that what I should do?  I should let everyone know that you have arrived? Well, you just let me get right on that, I am sure that they have all been waiting with bated breath for your arrival.  I’m Paul, please take a seat in one of the chairs in the waiting area, and I will gather the parade’.

Paul gave a wry smile as he got up from his desk.  Filled with antagonistic glee, he made an about-face and glided swiftly down the hall to let Bayne, Jin’s new boss, know that he had arrived.

‘Bayne, your new star is in the waiting area expecting a full brass band to greet him and give him a tour of the office.  I sincerely hope he has the matching talent to accompany his obviously aggrandized opinion of himself.  I for one doubt it very seriously, but I am definitely here for the show.’

‘Thank you, Paul, will you let him know I will be there in the next five minutes,’ Bayne said without ever lifting his eyes from the monitor.

‘Oh gladly! I will let his majesty know it will be a few minutes, and that the parade was canceled.’

‘Mr. Darwin, Bayne will be with you momentarily, it will just be Bayne coming to see you. He and he alone will be the only one meeting with you this morning, except the regularly scheduled staff meeting at nine-thirty’.

‘Oh! Well, I guess I will wait here then’.

‘I suppose you will,' Paul chuckled to himself.

After 30 minutes, Bayne arrived at the waiting area to receive Jin. ‘Jin, it's nice to see you again, walk with me and I will show you where you can set up shop. We have a very friendly environment here and we pride ourselves on our uniquely synergistic mentality. You will learn very quickly that we are very big on cooperative teamwork here.’ Bayne continued to give Jin the standard “new employee” speech without pausing for a response.

Surely he knows that I have heard all this beforeI am definitely all about teamwork, thought Jin, team me.

‘Here is were your desk, Jin. Feel free to drop off anything you do not want to carry around, during our walk-through, we are going to gather in the conference room to have a short staff meeting’.

‘Sure, I will just leave my valise here and we can see what else you have in store for me’.

Jin and Bayne toured the aisles, observing all the important locations and facilities he would need in the future. They visited the employees that Bayne thought would be most helpful with Jin’s transition onto the team.

‘Last stop, conference room. Go on in and take a seat, Jin. I am going to run to my desk to grab my agenda for the meeting before we begin’.

‘Thanks, Bayne, the tour was very informative, despite it’s being small and informal.  I just need to run to the gentlemen's room, before the meeting begins’.

‘Sure, just meet me back here so that we can begin on time.  There are some important things that I would like to cover, and I want to begin as promptly as possible’.

Jin gave Bayne a sardonic nod, and a smile that ended so abruptly it was more like punctuation than a polite gesture. He spun around on his heels and walked away briskly in one sweeping motion. By the time he returned from the restroom, the conference room had filled with all its attendees.  Jin entered the room with his head held high as if it were full of adoring fans.

‘Good morning everyone, I’m Jin Darwin, it is very nice to meet you all.  If you have any questions for me after the meeting, I will be happy to take a few moments to answer them’.

Just as the last few syllables left his lips, and the room began to fill with the low murmur of shock and laughter, Jin’s eyes landed on a familiar face. He saw a face that did not fill him with comfort, rather a familiar feeling of dread and nervousness encompassed him from head to toe.

What the fuck kind of shit show is this? Why is Sandra here? Is she following me? I didn't see her get on the elevators? This is impossible, why haven't they kicked her out of here? Just my fucking luck the only open chair in here is next to “San the Man”.  That’s right I remember your ass.  Girlfriend, hmph, you were a damn bully, and damned near a rapist is what you are!

Trying to hide his terror, and any indication that he knew Sandra, he took his seat. Childishly he rolled his chair as far away from her as he could without drawing attention to himself. This proved to be in vain. Sandra rolled her chair toward his in a silent effort to antagonize her new toy.

‘Listen, Jin,’ Sandra whispered as Bayne droned on about goals for the week, ‘there are a couple of ways we can do this. Just know that all the ways are mine. As a matter of fact, I want you to hear me well and remember what I have said.  I know who and what you are, and I know how you got here. This will be fun’.

How to Beat Broken: Lauren

Welcome home

Lauren Selma Burke was a 55-year-old woman with a medium complexion, short-cropped hair that denied anyone the privilege of guessing her age, and a body reminiscent of her thirties. She, much like her son Jin, was the type of woman who commanded and demanded attention. Lauren, better known as Selma to her handful of remaining friends, finally landed the bank account of her dreams irrespective of sentiment.

Jin, it’s me, I know you saw me calling you. You don’t know if I’m sick or what lawd! I could be on the floor writhing in pain, or worse.

See, this is how your kids do you when they grow up.

If you only knew what I have gone through for you, you would be willing to crawl over hot coals to answer the phone when I called, even if I didn’t want anything special. Well anyway, when you hear this message call your momma, I want to know if you can come over here and help me with this computer, bye.

This type of interaction is the typical dynamic between Jin and his mother. Lauren craves control, and when she feels the smallest bit of control beginning to escape her grasp she immediately panics. After leaving a message for Jin, she decided that it would be best that she go ahead and get her day started.

Royce! I know you hear me calling you!

What is wrong with these people today? It’s like they want to force me act ugly. This is what happens when you get your spiritual life in order, the devil comes to test you at every turn.

Royce! You want me to make you something to eat? Stop making me shout up these stairs, and get down here and have some breakfast. You have time to have an egg before you go.

Lauren, quite pleased with herself crossed the freshly waxed marble floor in her newly minted custom kitchen. Royce, her latest husband, had built a life that was quite comfortable for the two of them. Lauren removed a previously boiled egg from its cellophane wrapper, sliced it in half, and placed it onto a saucer. She then quickly toasted a couple sliced of bread, prior to coating them with a generous portion of the “special” butter that Royce required for his hypertension.

Royce entered the kitchen and had a seat at the table in front of the heart-healthy breakfast that Lauren prepared.

Lauren on patrol

Thank you for breakfast hon, Royce said as he sipped the black coffee found to the left of his plate. What do you plan to do with yourself today? Are you going to do your cardio circuit with the girls?

No, not today, Arlene had to go to court for that courtesy clerk that she nipped with her bumper last week. Savannah is taking her mother to dialysis, they had to reschedule her mom’s normal appointment time. Can you believe that the both didn’t bother to call and tell me that they were not able to go walking until last night? People are so disrespectful. You know that’s how people can be sometimes, but I didn’t say anything. I just told them both that they could have let me know sooner. I had already ironed my tracksuit and everything.

Anyway, I think I will just go down to the Penny’s. The last time I was there a really nice young woman was there, and she is holding a towel set for me. It was the last one, and it was on sale. Royce! Did you hear me say it was on sale?

Yes, doll I heard you. That’s good. I can’t believe it. What will you do after that? Have you heard from Jin?

In fact, Royce had not heard anything that Lauren said. Royce learned very early if he were to have any chance at happiness and remaining uninjured, his obedience and attention were both primary.

I called him this morning, but you know he didn’t answer. What’s wrong with that boy? I have done all I can to give him a happy life. Now he’s got this little piece of job, he is so busy. I will call him again this evening and give him a piece of my mind.

Oh, that will be nice. Well, it’s about time for me to head out. I will see you this evening, and I hope you have a good day.

Royce placed a sweet kiss on Lauren’s face and exited through the garage door at the rear of the kitchen.

Lauren, still proud of her morning’s performance as a wife, left the table. She decided to head upstairs to dress and start her daily routine of shopping and plotting. On her way to her private dressing room, she stopped to admire the ornately designed interior of her home.

It’s amazing how beautiful this house is. To think that I decorated it all myself! No wonder the ladies at the church always giving me a little side eye during the offering, they know they can’t compete. I just pray that the Lord will heal their jealous hearts.

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How to Beat Broken: Jin

Good Morning

Jin awoke to the smell of last night. Every one of his muscles sore, with remnants tension making, is morning stretch more tenuous than normal. The aroma of stale pleasure brought a smile to his face instantly and made it slightly more difficult to rouse himself from the bed. The memories imprinted on his mind made the soreness worthwhile. While attempting to separate his lips, which had been sealed previously with the residue of yesterday, the banter of “Fox Good Day's Lauren and Tim," alerts him.

Damn, I slept through my alarm, I am going to have to cut my routine short this morning. I need to hurry because this new job will be my ticket to do everything I have planned. Shit, they better be fine with whatever time I get there. Although, it would be nice to be on time for my first day at a minimum. Seriously, the folks at Frontier Publishers are so lucky to have me.

I will show them how young and fresh talent can reinvigorate the dusty annals of a stale publishing firm. They should realize that, between my looks and my skills, they hired me for a steal. Ha! I shouldn't think things like that. I know it's true, but I have to show them I'm a marketing beast first. Besides, I may accidentally say them out loud. It finally seems like things are falling into place for me. Even though I dread being so close to the "parentals”, moving home to Texas should be good for my career.

As he hurried to the shower, Jin realized that the excessive buzzing of all the missed calls caused his phone to work its way onto the floor.

Damn, how many calls have I missed? All of these calls are from Leo! “The old man” has really been beating the "I'm your dad" drum lately, Jin thought, as he looked at 6 missed calls from his father. I don’t want to hear anything he has to say unless he has that $200 I asked him for. Why does he keep calling? He will either give it to me or he won't, that's really what it is Leo.

Jin always had the tendency to call his father by his first name, more-so when he felt especially disconnected from their relationship.

This small loan is a simple test he should pass. It’s evident that Leo doesn't know me at all. I would never depend on a man who is too afraid to live independently, or raise a family he created, to make sure my car is maintained. Hell, I don’t even really want or need the money. I want to know what his intentions are more than anything else.

If I can’t depend on you for a simple favor, you can’t exist in my world as anything more than an acquaintance. I have no interest in playing family with you, I forget her name at the moment and her family. Not to mention she doesn't like me anyway. I hope she knows the feeling is mutual.

If you really want to make amends, start by explaining where the hell you were while I was struggling to pay tuition. Those boxes of ramen don't count as support bruh. Honestly, this is just the latest in a long succession of attempts to assuage his guilt. I am 25 years old, and I don’t need a father, look at me. I am the picture of potential and perfection, he said while admiring his espresso complexion in the mirror.

On my way

Jin exited the shower, dried, dressed, and was out the door within 20 minutes. The convenience of his uptown apartment made his commute convenient while making it inconvenient for him to receive unwanted company. He enjoyed the proximity to old friends and old hangouts but despised the new access his parents to visit him on a whim. As he began the six block commute to his new office, feelings of excitement began to brew. While prematurely patting himself on the back for his impending success, he admired the reflection of his 5ft 9in frame in each mirrored high-rise he passed. The cut of his suit, the trail of Creed’s Royal Mayfair, and the sound of his Magnani loafers as they assaulted the pavement in quick succession alerted everyone he passed, that he was neither shy or subtle.

I worked hard for this body, and if this week goes well I will play hard. Who am I kidding? I am going to play hard regardless. After all, it’s my public duty to give the public access to my personal monument.

While approaching the building he felt the vibration of his phone in the breast pocket of his favorite slim cut blazer. He removed the phone from his pocket to see Lauren, his mother, was calling.

As usual, my mother is calling at the worst possible time. Guess who doesn't have time or patience for another one of her episodes, it's me. I will just have to endure “Guiltfest / Pity-party 2016” when I call her back this evening. I wonder how much money she will ask for.

Upon entering the building, Jin heard a voice beckoning to him from across the lobby. At first, he thought it was a mistake, but when he turned around, there was no mistaking the shape and the sashay quickly approaching him. Jin is that you??

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How to Beat Broken: Leo


My son is 25 now. It seems like I think of him at the same time every day and thankfully, I talk to him more often than I ever thought possible. His new job starts in the afternoon, and I find myself waiting for his calls, for any sign that he needs me. I still remember the look of disappointment in his eyes the last day.

The distance between us seems to be decreasing, but I’m not sure if it’s real. I am hoping that he really has forgiven me and that I am not exposing myself to another failed relationship. I have to try this if there is any chance that he will let me be part of his life now. Sure, he only calls when he needs $20 dollars for gas, or help with car repairs, but that’s what dads are for, right?

In fact, it’s a miracle that’s he calls at all, considering the things his mother has probably told him about me. She always did have a foul mouth and worse attitude. I know what she said to some of our friends, so their conversations can’t have been better.

I was a decent husband, I mean, who hasn’t had a few “indiscretions” right? I’m a great dad, contrary to popular opinion. I was there when it mattered, came home every night and worked my ass off. Never did I complain about the constant fatigue from a job I hated, or that his mother spent more of my check on hair extensions than she did on bills. We had food, a place to live, and we usually kept the car payment from being more than 45 days past due.

I wonder exactly how much he knows.

Fuck it, he doesn’t know my version, I was the one making everything work. That’s not what matters now. Now, I need to figure out how to show him love without digging up the past.

I kind of got it wrong with the first two kids, but I really tried with this one. I don’t even want to think about those first two baby mammas. This time he will know that from here on out, I’m here for him no matter what. We don’t have to discuss that childhood stuff besides, all that other stuff is my business.

I want to help him out, but $200? That sure is a lot to repair such a small car. I know Jin needs the help, but there have to be other options. I’m trying not to complain; my son needs me. Damn, it hurts to give up these extra coins though. I still have to look good and keep this cut fresh, but I don’t want him to think I don’t care.

The real problem is the child support kicking my ass but that’s not my son’s fault.  I’ll just get one outfit and one pair shoes this time, then ole girl at work will kick me some extra change if I do it right. That should leave me with enough cash to loan and enough to last me until next payday.

Next time I’ll just text him, find out what the ask is first, then if I have the money, cool. If not, I’ll tell him I’m in a meeting and text him back when I get the dough.


That’s it. Damn, I’m good.

The excerpt that you have just read is our new upcoming series How to Beat Broken.  You just met Leo, an estranged father, attempting to figure out the mess he calls a life.  Join me over the coming weeks as we reveal more of this gripping story, and unveil more of the engaging and familiar characters to you.