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The Vax Pack

mask 14

Sorkin was a player in the games who always wore a mask, long after the epidemic. He had done so long before it as well. Some of the other players made fun of him before, others during, but now a specific set made fun of him now. This group of ridiculers also seemed a little angrier than the others before.

The whole thing always made me uncomfortable, so one day I asked Sorkin, who had since added a hoodie, “why do you still wear the mask, honestly?”

Maybe he smiled or he didn’t, I couldn’t be sure, but behind his sunglasses his eyes probably lit up, and he said something.

I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but it clearly sounded very smart.

From then on I told the crew of furious anti-maskers to bug off when they complained about him, because clearly the mask had no effect for them, all while our friend Sorkin benefitted from it.

Anyway, one day I went to the charity room to play cards. They had strictly no hat rule after some gang activity, and even sunglasses were rumored to be on the ban list soon for identification purposes.

So I barely recognized Sorkin when he silently sat down at my table wearing only a light facial mask. The other players frowned, but Sorkin had been healthy so long who could doubt that there was something in it?

As usual, Sorkin won but left early and without saying a word. “Always on a schedule,” I said, thinking it might even ingratiate me with his grumpy critics.

However, my offering didn’t satisfy them. “I hate maskers,” one grumbled. “It’s like they’re hiding something.”

“Their face!” one wag said, to some laughter.

“Masks don’t work, there are studies that prove it.”

“And the opposite,” the dealer added quietly.

I had had enough. “If Sorkin feels he benefits from it, why shouldn’t he do it? If it makes you uncomfortable, you just have to get over it.”

The table grumbled and most of them didn’t speak to me afterward. Marky stopped drinking with me after the games, and Headache Dan didn’t buy my action. My invites to the Saturday Howler in the basement stopped, true, but after the robbery at gunpoint had happened, I was less interested anyway. (They never found out who did it, which bothered some.) Later I found a new room to play in.

I had gotten my way and solved an imaginary problem. All it takes is a little subtle social understanding, I realized, and the wrong people end up going away. There’s always a clear solution, in my view. I see Sorkin here and there, but I’m not sure he knows my name yet.

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