Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thank You for Holding

Jason never understood why people complained about having to work in the corporate world. He couldn't imagine a more perfect job. The massive herds of bodies moving through the building each day increased the average percentage of stupid the company employed, detracting attention from his own work ethic. He learned early on it was all about knowing the system: clock in and out on time and don't leave the phone on unavailable and they would hand you a customer service award.

He laced his fingers together behind his head and reclined in his ergonomic chair admiring the certificates tacked to the cubical wall. His cube mate Brian had tied him in number of awards the previous week and he was anxious to reclaim his title of master of the cubical.

"Are you ready to have a powerful day?" Brian asked grabbing his headset off the charger.

"My positive attitude says yes I am!" The plethora of motivational posters in break rooms around the building had become integrated into their daily conversations.

A flashing red light on Brian's phone chirped. "Looks like I'm up first!" He settled into his chair and cracked his knuckles. "It's a beautiful day a Wholesome Foods! My name is Taser, how can I help you?"

He started opening bookmarks on his desktop. "Wow you don't say? A human finger? How interesting. Do you have the packaging in front of you?"

Jason turned his full attention to Brian's call. They hadn't received an "I found a body part in my cereal" call in quite a while.

Brian grinned at his cohort knowing he had scored. "Alright sir, if you could be so kind to examine the package for me and check the front of the box. Now is this one of the specially marked packages marked "surprise inside"? Oh, it's not? There should be an ingredient list on the side panel. Yes, that's the one. Uh huh. Now do you see in the list the words "human finger"? No? It may be more generalized and listed as "human parts". Of course I'm being sincere, sir. Here at Wholesome Foods we care about quality control and all ingredients should be properly labeled. If that finger isn't on the list then we have some restructuring to look into. Hello?"

Bryan shook his head. "Two minutes? Lame. That call was gold! That was at least five minutes handed to you!"

"Nah, dude was sketched out from the beginning. Why do they try body parts? Don't they realized they stand a better chance saying it's a mouse or a roach?"

Before Jason could respond his phone lit up with an incoming call. "My turn!" He pressed the button on his ear piece and connected the call. "The Wholesome Foods family is so glad you called today! My name is Suzy, how can I make your day brighter? ... Sorry about that, I have a bit of a chest cold and it seems my voice is a little husky...Well thank you so much. I hope to feel better soon, too. What can I do for you today?"

A new email popped up in Brian's inbox and he groaned.


Brian started a game of Tetris, waiting for his next call. Jason would kill this call easily and probably get her to take the survey at the end.

"I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed your recent purchase of Oaty O's. You must have the palate of a starving Ugandan toddler. Those kids will eat anything."

Jason spun his chair around and held up his hands to ask what Brian was doing.

"That's wonderful that you donate to starving children. You should consider shipping them a box of that sawdust flavored garbage you purchased...I'm sorry, this cold has me in such a snit. Oh thank you, thank you dear. Now lets get back to you. Oh could you excuse me for one moment?" Without moving the headset, Brian started to clear phlegm in his throat. "Oh, I'm sorry. Just one more moment."

He continued his less than hygienic purge as a wad of paper sailed past his head. He stifled a laugh as Brian mouthed the word 'nasty' at him.

"Alright dearie, I think we've discussed your fondness for Oaty O's to the point of slow painful death. Would you care to speak to the soulless automated system and provide feedback? Wonderful, just hold the line while I connect you."

He transferred the call and gave Brian a smug grin. "Three minutes, so that counts and I'm golden for another five before I get another call. And that is why I am Master of the Cubical."

"Not right now you aren't. I'll get ahead this time, too."

"Good morning boys! How are my superstars today?" The shrill pep of Mindy the supervisor descended upon them.

"Shining bright as ever, Mindy!" Brian answered.

"Mindy, you look great today." Jason added.

"Oh my, thank you so much, Jason. You always say the sweetest things."

"Normally I would call that shade of green vomit, but on you its more of an avocado. Very lovely." Jason flashed a wide smile as Mindy fumbled for a response.

A waving hand a few cubes over saved her. "Gotta get back to work! You boys never need a supervisor intervention. Makes my job so much easier." She scuttled off to help whoever belonged to the frantic hand and Brian's phone indicated a new victim.

"It's a glorious day at Wholesome Foods. Zeus would be happy to listen to your mortal complaint or compliment."

Jason shook his head and laughed. Wouldn't be long until Brian was offering to decimate fools with thunderbolts to right the caller's wrongs.

"Hey Jason," a less than enthused voice greeted.

"Sup, girl. How's it going?"

Sheila leaned against the frame to the cubical wall and blew her bangs out of her face. "I'm going on break. Wanna come with me?"

"We've only been here twenty minutes."

"Yeah, but its been a real shitty twenty minutes. I need a smoke."

"Nah, I'm good for a bit."

Sheila shrugged and turned to leave when she heard Brian tell his caller 'Zeus does not forgive such pathetic mistakes'. She raised an eyebrow at Jason. "I will never understand how you two weren't out on your asses months ago."

"Zeus will smite the incompetent oaf that dares to disappoint you!"  Brian waved to Sheila as she rolled her eyes at him.

"It's all about the charm. We've got more than we can handle."

Sheila snorted. "Charm, sure. If that's what you call it." She turned and walked off, then immediately changed direction to avoid Mindy.

Jason's phone alerted another call and he smiled. Five minutes was up and time to earn five more.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A little tug adjusted the platinum blonde bangs of Addie's wig to where she wanted. Smoothing out the last of the large curls around her face, she decided she would be a redhead before the day was over.

The reflection in the yellowing mirror of her tiny bathroom was as flat as the expression gazing into it. Addie watched herself as she took a final drag of her cigarette and blew the smoke into her face. She plunked the butt down the sink and tugged her mini skirt into a more reasonable position and strutted out the door.

Matt was waiting in the hall. She never let him wait inside the apartment. His response as she walked out was brighter than she wanted, and she realized too late the skirt was a poor choice. She chewed the inside of her cheek and silently berated herself for such an obvious oversight.

She led him out to the late morning air towards the small diner on the corner. Matt followed behind, hands in his pockets, eyes fixed on the movement of her skirt slowly climbing up the back of her thighs with each step.

She slid into the sticky vinyl booth that grabbed at the back of her legs. Matt smiled at her and cleared his throat about to speak, but Abbie cut him off.

"I got you a present." She rummaged in her large canvas shoulder bag and produced a plastic hula dancer and stood her in the center of the table. She bobbled back and forth pouting a painted pink smile at her new owner.

Matt leaned back and half smiled with confusion and amusement. "A dashboard hula girl?"

"Uh huh."

"But you know I have a motorcycle."


"Where exactly does one place a dashboard hula girl on a motorcycle?"

"Oh fuck if I know, Matt. It's a gift. Just accept it and use your creativity." She waved off his question with a flick of her hand and sipped on the near stale coffee in front of her.

Matt tapped the tiny dancer and started her repetitive sway again. "Thanks for the present."

Addie exhaled her irritation and returned Matt's grin. "I think I'm moving to Montana."

The warmth chilled in Matt's eyes as his mouth fell open. "What are you talking about?"

"Montana. I think I'm moving there," she repeated as plainly as if she was reading the greasy menu on the table.

She politely waited for whatever question Matt had next, but he could only stare at her while he processed her statement.

Addie grew tired of lingering silence."Do you think there are farmers or cowboys there?"


"Montana. Did we start discussing somewhere else?"

"I've never been to Montana, but I'm sure it's not like some Steinbeck novel you read."

"You're thinking of Oklahoma. Why would I want to go there?"

Matt let out an incredulous laugh and gripped his hair in his hands. "Why the hell would you want to go to Montana? Why do you want to leave at all?"

"Why not?"

Her tone was sincere and stunned Matt as much as her original declaration. He pinched the bridge of his nose trying to find something of substance to grasp in the discussion. "Uh, because people don't just pick up and move to Montana. What's in Montana?"

"I'm not sure. Bears maybe? Mountains? Not a lot of people though. I'm sick of so many bodies everywhere."

"And when did you come up with this idea?"

"On the way over here. I just realized nobody talks about Montana, so maybe it's some big secret. Like I'm missing something."

"Or maybe nobody talks about it because there's nothing to discuss. Did that occur to you?"

Addie considered this for a moment before deciding. "People don't share good secrets. You have to find out for yourself." She examined Matt's face, uncertain of the expression. Addie distracted herself by springing a stray curl in front of her face. She pulled the lock straight against her nose and chin and released it four times before speaking. "I'm leaving today, or maybe tomorrow. Depends on the bus schedules. I just have to go before Frank comes around collecting rent."

She jumped as Matt brought his fist against the chipped laminate table top. "Addie, knock it off! You aren't going anywhere so stop with all this bullshit!"

Tiny embers of fury prickled up the sides of Addie's neck, creeping into her face and flushing her cheeks. She hissed through clenched teeth, "Just because I let you screw me a few times doesn't give you the right to tell me what to do."

Matt leaned across the table, his eyes sparked with the same angry fire. Addie felt his hands grip her knees and slowly pull them apart. She didn't flinch or try to pull away as his hands slid up her legs, thumbs pressing into the soft flesh of her thighs. "You let me screw you?" The pressure under his thumbs increased. "I don't remember you complaining. I do recall you coming back for seconds though."

Addie stared him down, refusing to acknowledge anything beyond his words. The firm grip on her thighs was just less than painful, and quite familiar. She moved further to the edge of the bench in his direction.

Matt recognized the challenge and released her legs. He leaned back against his seat and crossed his arms. "And you sleeping in my arms afterwards each night? Did you let me do that to? All just for my benefit?"

Addie considered the answer he needed to hear most. She carefully watched his face as she broke his heart with a simple, "Yes."

Painful surprise registered in his eyes and he suddenly became fascinated by the grimy salt shaker at the edge of the table. "Then I hope you figure out the secret to Montana."

Addie nodded and pulled the strap of her bag over her head. She peeled herself off the ratty vinyl bench and got to her feet.

Matt heard the clomp of her heeled boots against the floor, refusing to see her go. The bench next to him sank under the weight of Addie's knee. He imagined each curve he had explored with his hands and his mouth as she pressed her body against his side.

"Please stay, Adelaide." His voice barely broke a whisper, but the words pierced and stung. He felt her body shrink from its usual confidence and found his own to look at her again. With his face turned to hers, he pressed his forehead against hers, the errant blonde curl brushing against his cheek. "You can't keep running away. Whatever you are hiding from will catch up to you eventually."

She allowed a small sigh past her lips. "It already did."

She pulled herself back to her feet and adjusted her skirt. Matt kept his eyes lowered, focused on the tops of her knee high boots.

Addie reached over and tapped the hula girl again. She rocked back and forth to the rhythm of Addie's steps as she left the diner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Would you like some guilt with that cake?

So I'm about to do that thing I said I wouldn't do, but its my birthday so I'm giving myself a pass.

I felt I needed to check in on my little home here. Its a little sad and dull, but I have an amazing friend who is on board with taking some pictures for me to liven the place up. However she is currently gimping around on crutches after a freak injury chasing down Frankie Munoz...I mean  Channing Tatum. It was totally Channing Tatum, because who tries to run down Frankie Munoz for a picture? Nobody I know, that's for sure.


It may look neglected, but I think about it regularly and I'm disappointed I haven't managed to produce more as I had originally intended. Of course I thought I would be able to put out a story each week, and quickly realized that was a lot of stress. I get stressed and my creativity collapses.

So I figured every two weeks was reasonable, which it is, until something bigger creeps into my mind. I have only neglected this space because not one, but two new seeds have sprouted into what might one day grow into actual books. Its early yet. I usually get fired up about a story and plow away for some time until I wake up one day and realize its terrible.

Its the inevitable fourth chapter. Its my nemesis. Its scarier than clowns. You know clowns are creepy as hell, thank you Tim Curry and Stephen King. I do find it ironic that Tim Curry as a clown is much scarier than him portraying a demon in Legend, even with the bad ass make up. The green goblin dude though...stuff nightmares are made of. Kinda like chapter four.  When I reach that milestone I just don't know where to go with it. Its too early for an actual crux in the story, but if I don't move something along it will be be at a dragging pace. I am refusing to let chapter four kill me this time.

I've made an arrangement with a friend that is also trying to get back into writing. Every two weeks as of May first we  have to hand in something to each other to prove we have been making progress. It won't be about critiques and such, just giving each other deadlines.

I know part of it is procrastination, but there is more to it. Fear. I want this to work so much that the thought of it not working scares me. (See goblin/clown reference above and multiply by a full sized Easter bunny costume. Yeah, that scary.) I have a huge admiration for people who know what they want and charge with no intention of taking prisoners let alone the words "I can't".

I have an amazing friend who took her first scary leap, and she will succeed because she is one of those people. She wants to write, and needs to be writing. She needed inspiration one day, so I found a prompt consisting of four words. In under an hour she killed it. See for yourself:

When she tells a story, there is something so honest and moving in her words I can't help but be engaged and fully invested in what I'm reading. She has other stories in her blog too. Go check them out and tell her I sent you with a gallon sized Starbucks.

So, with her bravery as inspiration and a new deadline I'm laying another one down here. Back to two stories a month, that includes April. I slacked so I have to cowgirl up and get it done. I'm telling all of you so the guilt alone will motivate me, but feel free to send a snide remark my way now and again.

In the spirit of all this, I might possibly be taking a writing class this fall. Through a serious of totally random events (which is pretty much how everything happens in my world) I discovered a class in the fall being taught by a professor I know. Why is she so special? Well, this woman stopped me in the middle of campus one day to tell me that I needed to do something with my writing and not let it go to waste. That will stick to you like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth. Its not a definite, but I know she's full of tough love and that's what I need.

At this point I just need to keep moving forward.

This rant has been brought to you by the birthday angst of "oh great another year and still nothing."