"Best. Frites Stand. Ever."
That was Otto's motto when he hatched the plot for Otto's.
"My name is gonna be synonymous with Belgian fries. After last call, some guy's gonna say, Anyone up for some Otto's? And everyone will know what he's talking about."
His enthusiasm was infectious. Freddy couldn't help but offer up the five grand from his inheritance when Otto asked for an investment.
"I think Otto is really gonna take this Frite thing all the way," he'd told his girlfriend.
"How much did your Dad leave you again?" she'd asked. They were in bed at the time. Her head was on his chest. This was two years ago, when she was still on the fence about giving up dance.
"95,000 dollars. Hey, you don't think I should be putting that money away for in case we wanna get a house and kids or something do you?"
Emma sighed. "Don't."
Her head was just the right weight on his chest. No need to go filling it up with big ideas.
"I don't know what the fuck. All right? I don't know."
Otto couldn't give Freddy an answer.
"But Otto I saw your financials."
Otto looked so much older. There was a deep pocket of shadow under each eye. Though he hadn't been injured, he appeared to walk with a limp. This was a year ago.
"Look, no one bought the fucking fries! What do you want me to say?"
Freddy wanted Otto to say how great his next plan was. How he's going to change the way people think about snow cones or bicycle cabs. He wanted Otto to radiate with the unmitigated optimism he had when Freddy signed his name to a five thousand dollar check. Freddy would have handed over whatever cash Otto needed if he knew he was going to walk out of his apartment feeling the contact high of someone who just can't fail.
"I'm sorry about your five grand dude. I bet Emma thinks I'm a real shithead."
Emma didn't think anything about it. Freddy wasn't sure if she'd heard him when he told her that Otto's would be shuttered soon. She had been leafing through a booklet at the time, trying to pick an LSAT prep course to take.
Law School was her new plan. In the three months since her last show she'd thrown herself into the process of picking schools and getting applications in order. Freddy had 55,000 dollars left.
"I can help you out. Pay for a year maybe."
"Don't be silly," she'd said. "I'll get loans."
Giving up dance had awoken something in her. She was throwing effort into every moment, seemingly in memoriam for the time she'd already wasted. She was less ruminative. She spent less time with her head on Freddy's chest, which he missed, but he was glad she was happier.
Freddy realized that the twinge of panic in his belly started when Otto mentioned Emma's name. It was in the same moment that he realized Otto was smoking a cigarette.
"I thought you quit."
"I did," Otto said before letting fly a plume from his lips. "You still got money left Freddy?"
Freddy stiffened. "A good hunk of it, yeah."
"What you gonna do with it?"
He said, "Emma might need some for Law School." He said it because he didn't want to just shrug and shake his head.
This was last week. It was in a letter.
…don't have a second to breathe. I hope you're…
Freddy has twelve thousand dollars left. It should buy him four to six months before he has to look for something full-time. He'd put off looking until last week when he received the letter.
…not a good time right now. The first year's the worst and I'll be so…
His whole work history is here. It would have been a lot more difficult to start up again out in California. Especially with the two year gap in his resume. This way, he can fill in the gap and save up a bit more for next year.
…glad I'm so busy or else I'd just sit around missing you…
The news is on mute on the TV. Just like Emma used to like it when she was filling in her applications. It's going to be a lot easier to save now with Emma away. Freddy never knew what to spend on. He's thinking he might shut off the cable, to save a bit more money. Buy himself a little more time.
…Christmas isn't that far away. We'll finally be…
Freddy can't wait until Christmas. It's not that far away.
Happy Otto's Day!