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Dex: A Short Novel 

I have a friend, let's call him Dex, who's depressed. That's nothing unusual, 90 percent of everybody is, but Dex's depression is specific. "Look," he told me, "maybe I should move to Mexico until this whole Bush thing blows over."

I was confused, "What Bush thing?"

"Well, I can't get a job," Dex said vehemently. "Every job I apply for, there are 50 candidates better qualified than me." Dex, you see, is a graduate of one of our better humanities programs: He is a Master of the Fine Art of Writing.

"Well, I don't see how that's got anything to do with Bush," I said. "He didn't tell you to go into a field for rich people and aspiring cab drivers."

Dex had to admit it, but now things got worse. If he couldn't even blame Bush for his problems, then he had to keep looking for another reason for his depression, and he was too depressed to do that. "Thanks, friend," he said, "maybe I should just kill myself."

"No, no," I said, "let's look at this thing, maybe you're right. Years ago, when Clinton was King, there were all kinds of jobs for writers in the field of computers. Why, Microsoft was hiring people straight out of the writing academies to write interactive novels. Back then, writers were something! How could you know that the market would dry up? Think how much better off you are! Those writers had jobs and lost them. You never even had a chance! So, it's all Clinton's fault, really, for encouraging unrealistic expectations! You're a Clinton victim!"

Even Dex could see that this was tenuous. Besides, he had bigger issues with President Bush. He didn't like the war in Iraq. That depressed him. He was afraid to download any more music from the Internet because he might be caught. That was a total downer. Going to occasional porn sites was out because of John Ashcroft. He was even afraid to wear his Dead Kennedys T-shirt, his totally absolute favorite vintage garment, because he might be stopped and questioned. Really, there were only two options: Mexico and suicide.

"You could," I suggested tentatively, "get involved in politics and work to bring back Clinton in five years, and then you can get a job and wear your favorite shirt."

"Too long," Dex said mournfully, "How am I going to pay the rent for all those years?"

"There may be another alternative then," the ever-optimistic me said, "you could study something there is actually some demand for, like nursing or accounting."

That was the end of our exchange. Dex bolted out the door, but not to study nursing, that's for sure. He needed nursing himself. As for accounting, I'd never seen him put a receipt in his wallet.

That was two weeks ago, and he's either dead or in Mexico.

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