Prompt: job interview that goes badly
“you don’t understand, sir, i really need this job!”
“you and a whole lot of other people. you aren’t what we’re looking for.”
“why? my age? my gender? what?”
“you aren’t what we’re looking for.”
“yeah, so you said. why?”
“all i am allowed to say is you’re not we’re looking for.”
“come on, sir, just you and me here. why am i not who you’re looking for? is it something i can correct? something i need to learn?”
“you’re correct – it is just the two of us here. you’re not what we’re looking for.”
“sir … please … look, i’ll kick part of my wages back to you …”
“what, you want a blow job? you want blow jobs on demand?”
“please, sir, i have a family. i need this job.”
“in no uncertain terms, no. now, i’m about to call security … what are you doing with that knife?”
“i didn’t want it to come to this, Carl Anderson, who lives at 1804 Wellington Way, with his wife, Eleanor, who works at the Midtown Library, and two children, Carl Jr. and Sandy, in first and third grades respectively, Montclair Elementary.
“either i get the job, or things are going to get very ugly for you and your family. if i get arrested? they get far worse. like i said, i have family, and not all of them live with me.”
there was a long moment of silence.
“you start Monday.”
Prompt: mysterious box shows up in your mail
half an hour after getting the mail, i still haven’t opened the box.
i’ve only lived here two days, didn’t bother filling out a change-of-address, no one cares where i am, no creditors to come calling. so who mailed this box, two feet square, to my new address that nobody knows?
three shots of bourbon later, i still haven’t opened it, and i’m not sure more bourbon is going to change things.
i examine the package again, fifth or sixth time. brown paper wrapping, professionally printed mailing label, machine postage, no stamps.
i didn’t notice anything shifting when i carried it in.
i shake it … maybe something papery sliding around inside.
a few slices with my pocket knife, and the paper’s off.
wooden box, very plain, and a note.
that’s all the note says. type-written.
so i have another shot, and then take the next logical step.
the box opens smoothly on brass hinges.
four almanacs … 2027, 2030, 2031, and 2036. i look at the publishers information. looks legit.
it’s September 2, 2017, a warm Saturday morning, and i have no clue what’s going on.
Prompt: we pull laughter from the skies
few things more embarrassing than making a fool out of yourself.
i am an overachiever in that regard. i’ve managed to do it in the middle of the quad between the four residential dorms at my small college.
loudly professing my love to a girl who doesn’t even know i exist.
only defense i have is, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Jose Cuervo said so, and he never … okay, hardly ever … sometimes … okay, Jose’s a lying son-of-a-bitch, but he’s my friend.
in the middle of a marathon masturbation episode, the kind i understand gets more difficult with age, Jose had said i should go out, right then and right there, and profess my undying love for Gwen Daniels. we shared an “introduction to Eastern literature” class, and she was perfection itself. long auburn hair, heart-shaped face, bounteous curves, lips of an angel.
not that i’m familiar with angel lips, but her were what i imagined an angels lips would be like.
“GWEN DANIELS, I ADORE YOU! I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE PERFECT!”
i don’t know what she thinks of my announcement, but response from the dorm windows facing the quad seem to be equal parts laughter and applause.
Prompt: (three nouns) man, picture, elevator
the portrait was ever-present at Winfield Investments.
Everett Winfield IV, beloved founder.
in the lobby.
every meeting room.
every break room.
every restroom – yes, my female coworkers confirmed it.
the only place you could, with minimal effort, see old Everett was the elevators.
there, you were treated to pithy business quotes from our esteemed Winfield IV.
a shifting collections of these quotes was also the only company-approved wallpaper and screensaver on company computers.
“we work hard for our investors, but win or lose, our cut comes off the top.”
“if you’re not remembering the last time you fucked over our competitors, you haven’t done so often enough.”
“the market consists of sharks, and chum. you better have fucking teeth.”
yeah, he was a font of constant bullshit.
so, one night all the associates were a little tipsy – okay, we were fuck near blind drunk – and we decided to … decorate … the portraits.
no, not mustaches, or some other Sharpie-based desecration.
we called up some artsy types from our friends lists – everybody knew a couple – we were going to do things right.
take the frame backs off, pull out the portraits, and let somewhat-talented, semi-professionals do their best.
Prompt: Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine
i watch him burn, fat popping, hair giving off a greasy, foul funk that spoils the burning pork odor.
as much product as he had on his hair, i’m surprised it didn’t go up all at once in a mushroom cloud.
26,000+ at his last service, lived in a 8500 square foot home, don’t even want to imagine its market value. four Mercedes, a jet Jesus told him to buy, perfect plastic wife, and carefully managed perfect plastic children.
he sold his church members the lie of prosperity – give to him, give to the church, and if their faith was strong enough, God would reward them with wealth and good fortune.
nobody had more faith than my mother.
nobody died poorer than my mother.
so i called up some friends from the old neighborhood, and we grabbed him.
i told him him if his God gave me a sign, any sign, i’d spare his life.
fucker was weeping, pleading, confessing it was all bullshit – like that would make things better.
i laughed as i lit the logs.
Prompt: looking at your own reflection
nobody likes the sound of their voice on a recording. everybody seems to love looking at themselves in the mirror.
at least, that’s the way it seems in the club’s restrooms every night, 6 til 2.
doing ‘toilet time’ was our least favorite duty, ask any of the bouncers. didn’t used to be a thing, but the new DA has a hard-on for the nightclub drug scene, and a club down the street had found out the hard way to expect undercover cops – especially when you least wanted them around.
so we got to stand in the johns, watching the beautiful people touch themselves up. listen for any suspicious sounds in the stalls. smell way more fucking piss and shit than we ever wanted to.
some people, swear to God, you put booze in them, their shit takes a detour to Jersey. fucking rank …
and we were invisible after the first few minutes.
once they saw us there, big and menacing, once they figured it was smarter to not try to put something past us?
we fucking disappear. we’re wallpaper. out of service toilets. service industry drones, and our buzz faded into the background soundtrack of their beautiful lives.
Prompt: what about the neighbors
we move a lot.
it has something to do with Daddy’s job.
not the one at the hardware store, or the clothing store, or the gas station.
the job before all those – the one he had when we had a nice house, and new clothes, and Mommy didn’t cry all the time.
now, we don’t have much at all.
it makes moving easier, i guess.
middle of the night, usually. the moving, i mean.
Daddy will come in, and tell Billy and i some dumb thing like “we’re going on vacation”, or “time to meet new people”, or “i got a new job”.
it all means the same. we’re moving again.
it’s always Daddy who tells us. Mommy cries more than ever at moving times.
so we close up the boxes – we’ve figured out not to unpack – carry them out to the minivan, and wait.
Daddy will bring out some trash bags full of stuff, and then herd Mommy out.
he lets her lay down in the back seat, Billy and i get to ride up front.
i never thought i’d get sick of mcdonald’s. that’s what we eat when we’re moving.
“in and out, quick as a blink.”
that’s what Daddy says.
i remember when policemen were our friends, back when we lived in the nice house.
now Daddy doesn’t want us talking to them … ever.
and Mommy just cries all the time.
listening to: “The Last Resort”, the Eagles, “Hotel California”
mood: mildly melancholy