There are deaths that are unthinkable not because they are impossible or even implausible, but only because we haven’t thought of them. Jaime had belonged to Aaron’s old life, a phrase that assumed he’d constructed a new one since. It wasn’t that Aaron never thought about those days, but he didn’t think of them as susceptible to change. He could fathom the four years since he’d last seen Jaime, since they’d spoken about anything other than affidavits and depositions. But he thought of Jaime in amber the whole time, imagining he could pick up the phone at any point and pick up their friendship again mid-conversation. Yesterday that might have been true. He’d lost Jaime four years ago, but only now, with Mavet mercilessly printing out details of Jaime’s death, did Aaron realize the loss.
The University of Chicago had made them roommates and it was more of an effort not to talk to Jaime than to become friends. Although he came from money, Jaime never made an issue of it. Aaron, with his abysmal transcripts and off-the-chart test scores, had earned a special scholarship at his admissions interview. Halfway through the interview, he came around the interviewer’s desk, displacing her from her ergonomic chair, and, in under twenty minutes, designed a program that effectively automated two-thirds of the undergraduate admissions process. The strange thing was, if this program had been used to sort Aaron’s application, he’d be languishing at a state school instead of sharing a dorm room with a trust fund kid. Despite their economic disparity, Aaron found himself won over by Jaime’s largesse and spent more nights eating out on Jaime’s dime than gagging down the dining hall fare his subsidized meal plan afforded him. Just as Aaron’s presence at U of C depended on keeping up his grades for the scholarship committee, if Jaime’s GPA were to drop, bank accounts would freeze faster than the edges of the lake.
“There’s no word for failure in Spanish,” Jaime told him once.
“Fracaso,” Aaron said.
“Well,” replied Jaime, “there’s no word for failure in Chilean.”
Aaron tried to remember the last time he’d heard anything in the news about Jaime’s case against Eric and InterEm. When Jaime first filed the suit, almost immediately after he and Aaron had been cut out of the company, it had received a fair amount of press in all the publications that followed legal disputes about websites. Four years ago, that kind of thing was interesting. But now, companies formed with the sole intention of filing frivolous lawsuits against Internet giants, exploiting the dated vagaries of patent law in the hopes of earning hush money. As the years passed with Jaime’s legal team gaining little headway and InterEm becoming ever more ubiquitous, Jaime’s case began to look like one more nuisance suit. Six months ago, Aaron received yet another letter from one of Jaime’s lawyers, practically begging him to agree to a deposition, if not join in the suit. The language of the letter, and the fact it came on the grainy Xeroxed letterhead of Wolfram & Hart, a Chicago law firm whose name Aaron had seen on ads in El cars, indicated the end of the case was near.
There’s no word for failure in Chilean, Aaron thought, dropping the paper on the floor.