One week later, Becky and Clement were packing their apartment in silence. There was a knock at the door. Emperor Don poked his head inside. Becky smiled and said hello. Clement groaned.
“I wanted to stop by before you move,” chimed Emperor Don.
“That’s sweet of you,” replied Becky.
Clement buried himself in his bedroom closet.
“Actually,” said Don, looking for Clement, “I wanted to thank you for helping me out of a bad situation.”
Clement rolled his eyes. “Thank Special Ed and Alabama Hanna.”
“From what I’m told, you were the one that brought the video forward and secured my release,” said Don.
“It was more like extortion,” grumbled Clement.
Becky joined the others in the bedroom. “I’m curious, what’s gonna happen to George and Durable Mike?” she asked.
A smile spread across Emperor Don’s face. “Not much. I got my share of the family inheritance back, but I refused to press charges. No sense adding insult to injury.”
Clement grumbled. “So I’m the only one who gets punished. Marvelous.”
“Nobody’s punishing you, Clement. I came by to also let you know I’m picking up the cost of your move.”
“That’s amazing. Thank you so much. Clement, isn’t that amazing?” gushed Becky. She gave Emperor Don a big hug.
Clement stared at Don. “All I see is someone in a hurry to get rid of us.”
The vitriol spewed at Don made him cringe. “I have no desire to get rid of you.”
“Special Ed sure acts like he does.”
“He’s overprotective. He’ll settle down eventually. If you really want to stay, it’s your choice. You’re more than welcome here,” said Emperor Don.
Clement held his hands up in surrender. “No, no. I’ve had enough of this city. It’s time to go home.”
Emperor Don smiled. “Isn’t it funny how often we have to leave home before we learn to appreciate it?”
The next day was Clement’s last day at work. Ivan was visibly agitated.
“You okay?” asked Clement.
“No!” shouted Ivan.
Clement hesitated to ask, but it didn’t matter. Ivan was more than willing to expound on his anger.
“I”m sick and tired of being unappreciated,” he explained.
“Who doesn’t appreciate you?”
Ivan glared at Clement. “You, for one. The butterfly freak for another. Don’t even get me started about Linda.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Clement, defensively.
“You all go off, living your dreams. Well, that’s just great. For you to run off means somebody’s gotta stay behind and do the ordinary, everyday stuff.”
“Do you think it’s anybody’s hope to collect garbage, work in some greasy spoon, or be a middle manager at a bank? We do what we do so you can live your selfish dreams,” complained Ivan.
“Are you crazy? My life’s been a nightmare,” Clement shot back.
“Nightmares are dreams, too. Think about it. You came to the city so you can eventually earn enough to move back to the country. Aren’t you lucky. You do everything wrong and still get what you want,” said Ivan.
“What do you want from me?” demanded Clement.
“Understanding. And thanks.”
Clement grumbled. “Thanks for explaining things to me.”