Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: A Short Story About Conversation

Robin came in to the coffee shop while I was sitting in the back booth, sipping on an iced coffee and scribbling in my notebook.

“What are you doing?” she asked, slipping into the seat across from me and tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear.

“Writing a short story with lots of dialogue,” I said. “All my stories have tons of exposition and lots of description, but they’re always short on dialogue. So for this story I am trying to make it all about dialogue.”

Robin crinkled her nose. “Talking, eh? So what’s the story about?”

I sighed. “I’m not sure yet. I just know that it has to have a lot of dialogue.”

The waitress came by and Robin ordered an ice coffee. Then she refocused her attention on me. “So you decided that you wanted to write a story with lots of dialogue, but you have no idea what the story is about?”

“Correct” I said.

“You do realize that’s not how most people write stories, don’t you?”

“Yep,” I said. “But I want to make this work. You don’t grow unless you push yourself in new directions.”

Robin grinned. She had a way of grinning that cut through you like a katana blade. “Very profound, Confucius. Put that in your story somewhere: ‘You don’t grow unless you push yourself in new directions.’ Maybe you can have your protagonist say that before he starts off on his journey.”

The waitress returned with Robin’s iced coffee and she took a sip without taking her eyes off me. I felt like I was being cross-examined at a murder trial.

“So who is your protagonist, anyway?” she asked, that familiar glass-cutting grin creeping up at the corners of her mouth. “Let me guess…he’s a guy about your age, about your height, about your build, who maybe sets overly ambitious goals for himself?”

I flushed deep red. Could she see directly into my brain? Or was I really that transparent? It was time for a counterattack. “Maybe it’s about a know-it-all brunette girl who always puts her iced coffee on my tab.”

She grinned and took a long lingering sip, batting her eyelashes at me like a 1950s movie star. “Thanks for the iced coffee, dah-ling.”

One more sip and she continued. “Look, Mr. Touchy-Pants. All I am saying is that you can’t just set out to write a story with lots of dialogue unless you know that you have a story that calls for a lot of dialogue. Otherwise it is just going to sound forced.”

I groaned. “I know. It’s not really working for me.” I snapped my notebook shut. “Why is dialogue so hard? People talk all the time! I’ve been talking for longer than I’ve been writing. I’ve been talking for longer than I’ve been walking. This should be easy. But it’s not. My characters never have anything to say.”

Robin leaned across the table and smiled. This wasn’t another of her saber-toothed grins, thankfully. This smile had genuine warmth.

“My advice is to start slow,” she said. “Pick a realistic situation where two characters would be talking…like, say a coffee shop. Then introduce a protagonist who is desperately trying to achieve a goal, say you trying to write this story. Then add conflict, maybe by introducing an antagonist in the form of a beautiful girl who knows far too much about far too many things.” She beamed. “And then have them start talking and see what happens.”

I shrugged. “Sounds easy when you say it that way. But it will never work.”

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Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: Even Black Knights Get the Blues Sometime (Part 1)

It was sometime during the battle of Sherwood that the Black Knight started to feel the first twinges of what could he would later describe as ennui.

Maybe it was burnout. Maybe it was overstimulation.

Maybe it was lower levels of testosterone resulting from the inevitable march of Father Time.

But for some reason, the idea of smashing a peasant’s head in with a mace just didn’t hold the same appeal as it once did.

There was a time when the Black Knight reveled in every aspect of his work. The intimidating. The brutalizing. The bullying. The swordsmanship. The cocksmanship. The taking of liberties. The demanding of royalties.

But lately, as he rode his dark black steed into battle, with his finely honed black armor glinting in the sun, he didn’t feel the same stirring in his heart that he once did when terrorizing the countryside.

Whereas before he would giggle with glee, the Black Knight now found himself sighing as he went about his grim business, hacking and slashing his way through another mediocre peasant uprising. Lopping off arms and burning down houses. Punching cows and hurling insults at children.

Time was taking a physical toll, too. When the Black Knight removed his armor after a battle, he couldn’t help but notice a slight paunch in his midsection. He probably wasn’t doing enough core work anymore. His legs sometimes got stiff from riding in the saddle all day. And every so often, the tendons in his sword hand would ache. The Black Knight hoped that wasn’t the beginning of carpal tunnel syndrome.

He tried different things to rekindle the spark that he felt when he first started his work. Jousting with the White Knight (cheating as usual). Looting and pillaging. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Stealing from everyone and keeping it for himself.

But nothing seemed to work.

And then, like a bolt of refreshing black in an otherwise dull white world, she appeared.

A female Black Knight. A Knightress, perhaps? She appeared from the glen on the opposite side of the Avon River, riding a sleek gray horse.

And the cruelty! Oh, how his heart skipped as the thought of the way she had threaded her way through the farmers’ guild, swinging and slicing her sword through peasant after peasant. Cool and calm and detached. Lithe like a panther.

The Black Knight had always seen the opposite sex as weak. Something to be enjoyed and discarded. Sure, he’d had his share of peasant girls. And a few countesses, baronesses and earl-ettes, too. Whenever he strode up to the castle, the ladies of the court sent him sly, knowing looks. They wouldn’t dare be seen with him in public, but in private they were his for the taking. Ladies love a bad boy.

But now, things were different. The Black Knight had never thought that he would find a woman that could help him with his work. He never though about settling down and raising a Knight family.

At night, when the Black Knight curled up to sleep, he imagined the two of them riding into battle side by side, their two swords reining blows down on the defenseless population.

But as soon as Black Knight found a reason to live, he also found reasons to worry.

He started to get self conscious about his physique, and began doing crunches at night after dinner, trying to reduce the size of his paunch.

He started thinking that maybe he should cut down on the mutton and the mead, too. Was there such thing as zero calorie diet mead? It was something to look into.

He started to have panicked, jealous thoughts about the White Knight. That hapless turd was usually too little, too late. He always played by the rules, and the Black Knight always broke the rules. That meant he usually won.

But what if she ended up falling for him? The embarrassment! The humiliation! Think about how all the other Knights would laugh at him! No, that couldn’t come to pass.

(To Be Continued)

Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: It’s Natural to Be Afraid

{Editor’s note: This week your humble Monkey is trying a new experiment in which he is using song titles as creative writing prompts. The inspiration for this came after your Monkey reviewed a list of particularly evocative song titles from the instrumental guitar band Explosions in the Sky. This title is from a song on their album “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone.” Kind of ironic that a band without lyrics would have a knack for coming up with great song names, but your Monkey digresses.}

It’s Natural to Be Afraid

Don’t worry, Virginia, it’s natural to be afraid of the dark.

Children your age are always afraid when the lights go out.

Your mother and I can understand why you’d cultivate some concerns about the monster that lives in your closet, that great green beast who pants and slobbers and sneers from behind the door while you sleep.

We can’t blame you for being anxious about the giant snakes that live under your bed, that slither and slide across the carpet while you snooze, just waiting for you to step down onto the floor so they can grab you and squeeze the life out of you.

It would hardly surprise us if you had some pangs of anxiety about the Great Glumbering Galoot, the pale gray man who paces and moans outside your window, tapping at the glass and asking over and over again for you to let him in.

There’s no shame in being uneasy about the skittery scratching sounds being made by the thousand centipedes that crawl around the attic at night, or worry about the way the wind howls and moans through the walls of the house, working its way into your room and whispering needles into your ears.

It seems prudent to be petrified of the bathroom, for you and I both know that when the lights go out, the rats come up through the pipes and thrash and snarl in the toilet bowl, searching for something to sink their teeth into.

There’s sound logic in steering clear of the kitchen as well, because nasty things happen in the refrigerator when the lights go out. The milk goes sour, the grapes get fuzzy and the Brussels sprouts bare their sharp little teeth. If you open the door to get a drink, the sprouts will come tumbling out and eat you up like a school of piranhas.

It’s also smart to stay away from the living room, because if you sit on the couch after midnight, the creases between the cushions grow deeper and fill with quicksand. If you aren’t careful, you’ll fall down through the cracks and be trapped inside until there’s no air left to breathe.

It’s natural to be afraid of these things, Virginia.

In fact, sometimes your mother and I wonder how you can sleep at all.

Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: A Tough Day to Be A Bank Robber

{Dear erstwhile readers of the Grumpy Monkey Blog — It’s been a while since your benevolent primate has graced you with some of his pithy prose, but you can stop all of your lamentations, bribery attempts and animal sacrifices. Your new story is here. This one is about bank robbers, and it took your not-so-humble Monkey a good chunk of time to write. We hope you enjoy, and if you do enjoy, that you go ahead and click the “like” button so we can talk your overly sensitive Monkey out of jumping off a tall building tomorrow.}

A Tough Day to Be A Bank Robber

Gus slid the note underneath the protective glass and turned his gaze towards the teller, careful to keep his expression cool.

The note, carefully handwritten in his car before coming into the bank, said “There is a gun in my pocket. Fill a bag with all the money in your drawer and no one gets hurt. Don’t make a sound. Don’t sound any alarms.”

The bank teller, an attractive brunette in her 20s, took a look at the note and looked up at Gus.

Gus expected to see her go through the usual emotional cycle of fear, panic and acceptance as she absorbed the contents of his note, and maybe for her hands to shake a little as she filled up the bag with the cash in her drawer.

But instead, all he saw was bewilderment.

“You’re robbing us?” she asked. Then she nodded over at the next window. “But he’s already robbing us.”

Gus looked to his right.

Standing at the front of the next teller line, holding his hand inside his gray hooded sweatshirt and gesturing angrily at another teller, was Raphael.

Gus groaned. “Oh, come on.”

Raphael shot a glance in his direction, momentarily forgetting about his attempted heist. “Gus?”

“Raphael? What are you doing here?” Gus grumbled. “This is my job.”

Raphael sighed and struggled to keep his composure. The two men were so used to their holdup routines that running into each other in the middle of a bank job was like two actors from different plays ending up on the same stage.

“What you do mean, ‘what am I doing here?'” Raphael snapped back. “I was here first. Robbery in progress. Beat it. Hit the fucking bricks.”

From behind them, Gus and Raphael heard a rustling sound, and then a loud bang as a briefcase dropped to the floor with a clatter.

The two bank robbers turned around in time to see a tall man in a trench coat pull his jacket open at the waist and reveal a vest made of dynamite.

“Everyone stay calm,” the man said. “I have a bomb and this is a robbery.”

Gus rolled his eyes. “For crying out loud. John.”

John’s eyes widened in recognition. His face, at first a hard mask of anger, fell quickly into soft dejection. “Aw, come on.” he said. “I’ve been planning this heist for months. What’s going on? When did you guys team up?”

“We didn’t team up.” Raphael hissed back. “Gus was just leaving. You are just leaving, too. This is my score.”

All three stick-up men looked at each other in uncomfortable silence.

None of them wanted to give in, though none of them really had a way to enforce their will. Raphael knew that Gus never carried a gun—he just pretended that he had one and trusted the teller not to make trouble.

Gus knew that the gun-shaped lump in Raphael’s sweatshirt was actually his nephew’s toy cap gun.  Raphael figured that by using a fake gun on a heist job, he could avoid facing an actual armed robbery charge if he ever got caught (Raphael, as you may have guessed, wasn’t exactly a lawyer).

And John, well John was not what you’d call an explosives expert. He had purchased a bunch of novelty dynamite-shaped firestarters from a outdoor goods catalog and taped them to an old Army surplus vest to make it look like he was wired to explode.

In the new, post 9-11 world of suicide bombers, this fake-out tactic had worked surprisingly well, though Gus knew that John had a better chance of spontaneously combusting than he did of wiring an explosive device that would take down a bank.

Gus sighed and tried to weigh his options. The fault, he thought, was not totally with them.

Sure, from the outside it was easy to see this as a case of bank robber greed gone bad. Surely all three of them didn’t have to rob the same bank at the same time.

But the real culprit, Gus knew, was bank consolidation. As smaller banks merged into medium-sized banks, and medium-sized banks were gobbled up by mega banks, there were less and less places where common stick-up men like himself, Raphael and John could ply their trade.

In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before two of them crossed paths.

But for all three of them to show up at the same bank, at the same time, well that spoke to a deep dysfunction within the system.

“This will never do,” Gus said. “All three of us can’t go around robbing the same bank.”

“Right,” said Raphael. “And since I was here first, this is my heist. So you two beat it, and you”—he shifted his gaze in the direction of the bank teller working his window–“start loading up the bag with cash.”

“Look,” Gus said. “Maybe you were here first. But didn’t you just hit up First National Bank last week? Is it really fair for you to get this heist, too? I mean, just because you picked a shorter line?”

“You know the bank robber’s code,” Raphael snarled. “First man in gets the dough.”

“There isn’t any bank robber’s code,” John countered from the back. Gus knew from experience that this was just the type of argument John liked to start.

John continued. “We aren’t in a trade union. We’re criminals and we’re independent contractors. You just made that code stuff up because it makes you the winner.”

John shifted uncomfortably in his faux bomb vest. His voice took on a more petulant tone. “I’ve been setting up this job for weeks. And I haven’t had a score since the Credit Union job back in April. Gus, you just hit up King’s Bank two weeks ago. I remember reading about it in the paper. This one should go to me.”

A woman standing in line for the ATM cleared her throat. “Excuse me,” she said. “But I’m a preschool teacher, and one of the things that we talk about with our students is the importance of taking turns. If Raphael robbed a bank last week, and Gus robbed a bank two weeks ago, then I think this heist should go to John.”

“Exactly,” John said.

Gus and Raphael glared at her. “How do we know you aren’t working with him?” Raphael snapped. “Awful convenient for you to be standing in the bank right now.”

A man in a business suit holding a copy of the Wall Street journal piped in. “Pardon me, ” he said. “I’m a tax accountant and I can’t help but notice that it’s coming up on the end of the fiscal year. Why not total up your earnings from heists over the past year, and then the one who is furthest behind gets to keep the cash from the robbery today. That seems fair to me.”

Gus and Raphael again rolled their eyes. John was by far the least successful criminal of the three of them. If they agreed to the terms proposed by the tax accountant, the heist would go to John, too.

“Look,” Gus said. “With all due respect to everyone in the bank. We don’t need your help in figuring this out. We’re robbing a bank here, not holding a group therapy session.”

Gus looked imploringly at John and Raphael. “If we sit here arguing any longer, the cops are going to come and no one is going to get the score. I say we all walk away from this empty-handed and figure out how to stay out of each other’s way from now on.”

“Easy for you to say,” John whined back. “You guys have all the dough.”

“No way, bro,” Raphael glared at Gus. “I didn’t get into this business to back down.”

In the distance, Gus suddenly heard the faint sound of a police siren. He had particularly good hearing, a trait that had served him well in past bank robberies. A cold shiver of fear crept down his back. It was the same way he felt every time he heard that sound.

But with the fear came a flash of inspiration. If he, Raphael and John truly were independent contractors, then maybe he could work this situation to his advantage.

Gus spoke with a gleam in his eye. “Ok,” he said. “You guys win. I do all right for myself. I’m going to let this one go. But you two–” he shook his head sympathetically. “I don’t know how you’re ever going to figure it out. John needs the money. But Raphael was here first. It makes for a tough call. Glad I don’t have to make it.”

Gus tipped his cap sympathetically, and with a casual whistle, turned away from the bank window and walked out the front door.

As the glass doors swung shut behind him, he could hear John and Raphael pick up the argument again. Both voices sounded heated, and Gus knew neither man would give an inch.

Taking a casual seat on a bench across the street from the bank, Gus watched as police cruisers came rolling up en masse, and heavily armed police officers stormed inside the bank doors with their guns drawn.

Gus shook his head in amusement and then headed off in the direction of his parked car.

With John and Raphael doing hard time for this heist and out of the picture for the next few years, the next bank job would be all his.

 

Writing

Fast Fiction: Memos from the Corporation in Control of Arnold’s Life

Subject Name: Arnold Zimmerman
Age: 38
Height: 5’6″
Weight: 160 lbs
Project Objectives: To keep suspect in continuous state of dread and unease. To convince subject that the world is out to get him, but to provide no solid proof. To counterbalance small victories with major defeats.

Memo: May 25

Bonuses were handed out to all members of the Committee for Housing Insecurity this morning after a subject A signed the lease on a particularly ill-advised studio apartment in a bad part of town.

Subcommittee members gleefully report that building is plagued by terrible smells, criminal individuals, and a general lack of respect for personal space and privacy. Tentative plans call for smoking, shouting and drinking go on at all hours of the night, and numerous attempts will be made to break in to subject’s apartment through the rear windows.

Memo: July 1

This is the fourth straight day of temperatures in the mid-90s and subject appears to be maintaining sanity.

The excess heat has caused him to sweat through his shirts at work, leaving unsightly wet patches, and it has made him feel nauseous and winded when walking outside. However, the anticipated suffering does not meet our second quarter expectations.

The Subcommittee on Climate Inconvenience believes it may be time to up the pressure by short-circuiting subject’s air conditioner or hiding rotten food somewhere in his apartment.

Also, subliminal whispering will be employed at night to encourage subject to worry constantly about global warming, and to believe that his apartment is likely to catch on fire while he is at work.

Memo: August 23

The Subcommittee on Career Control reported in today that subject A has accepted a new position that is going to pay him substantially more than his previous job.

The subcommittee chairman has alerted the executive committee about a troubling new sense of peace and well being in subject A, as subject now believes that his financial worries have been resolved.

Accordingly the subcommittee will begin cost inflation adjustment accordingly to restore subject to state of constant worry.

Other financial adjustment tactics will include forcing subject to pay several hundred dollars to repair timing belt in car, sending subject on a series of expensive but ultimately unproductive dates with women who are too attractive for him, and increasing the finance charges on subject’s credit card without any notice.

Memo: September 5

The Subcommittee on Sexual Response reported in today that Subject A has taken tentative steps toward starting a new sexual relationship, which has him feeling pretty good about his appearance and desirability.

Initiating Tactical Response Plan 1B, in which subject will suddenly be seized by a crippling fear of unplanned pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted disease.

Memo: November 13

General status report meeting of all subcommittees and stakeholders involved in Project A indicates that subject A has reached generally desirable levels of fear, anxiety, uncertainty and self-doubt.

High fives were exchanged all around the boardroom, and plans for the company party were discussed.

Just a reminder that frozen turkeys will be distributed next Friday following the weekly ice cream social.

Memo: December 9

Annual performance reviews are due at the end of the week.

Anyone who has been implicated in any of Subject A’s goal achievements over the past year (the new job, decision to seek therapy, the attempt to maintain a more positive life outlook) will be expected to present a full accounting of their failures.

Those with two or more lapses in oversight on their work record will be asked to report to corporate headquarters for additional “re-training.”

Memo: December 20

The final touches on next year’s strategic plan were approved by the Board of Trustees prior to the long holiday break.

Among the initiatives for the coming fiscal year will be to have have subject’s car stolen just as he has accumulated enough money for a down payment on a house, and to have subject believe that friends and family secretly dislike him.

Other long term strategic plans include an increase in male pattern baldness and early onset erectile dysfunction.

Have a great holiday season everyone!

Shameless self indulgence, Writing

Fast Fiction: The Fury of Burt

Burt stripped down to his boxer shorts, stood in front of his full length mirror, and grinned.

Ever since he had taken up steroids, he never got tired of looking at his massive physique. The muscles were literally popping off of him at this point. Swollen biceps, giant delts, massive pecs. Quads like tree trunks. Calves like, well, smaller tree trunks.

Burt took pride in the precise, military-like way that his muscles aligned themselves on his body, and part of each morning’s ritual was to stand in front of the mirror and call each platoon into action.

“Grrrr” he growled at his reflection as he mobilized the pecs brigade.

“Rrrrrrr” he rumbled as he turned around and spread out his lats.

“Arrrrr” he snarled, closing one eye like a pirate as he raised each arm and popped out his biceps. The muscles swelling up from the crooks of his arms looked like Easter Eggs.

Burt glared and glimmered at his reflection, looking for some small sign of weakness, some imperfection in his frame. But there was nothing to be found.

Finally satisfied, he slipped a tight white t-shirt and a pair of jeans over his swollen frame.

Once dressed, he took another look in the mirror, noting with pleasure the way his muscles rippled underneath the cotton tee.

“Fucking all right,” he said.

Then he grabbed his wallet and keys and headed out the door.

Steroids, it turns out, were the best thing that ever happened to Burt. Having grown up a skinny weakling who was pushed around and pounded on during high school, he had spent the first half of his adult life trying—and pretty much failing—to become a dominant physical presence.

Sure, he went to the gym every day. Sure, he lifted and lifted and sweated and strained and grunted. Sure, he maintained good form and rotated between muscle groups and took his proper rest days.

But it was those goddamn genetics.

There was some genetic bear trap buried deep within him that wanted him to be small and weak and pathetic. No matter how much he lifted, there was always someone in the gym who was bigger and stronger, who handled the weights with more ease.

And if for some reason Burt had to miss a week of lifting, he could feel the small muscles that he had developed fleeing his body like rats from a sinking ship. It was only the highest level of discipline and total dedication to perfect form that kept him from turning back into a total pussy.

Weakness, it seemed, had been wired into his DNA.

But that all changed the day he met Sal.

Sal with the steroids.

Sal who explained what cycling on and cycling off was, who told Burt how to use the clean and the clear, who showed him how to  get the maximum blast.

The first time Burt had stood naked in his bathroom and injected the steroids into his veins, he knew that he had finally come home.

Maybe it was his imagination, but the clear liquid being pumped through the syringe felt like white hot lightning shooting into his body. Within two weeks, he was starting to see and feel the results.

Before the roids, Burt would get tired and sore after working out. Now, his arms and legs crackled with latent energy even after he got done blasting them at the gym. He always wanted to lift more.

Before, Burt would plateau at the same weight for weeks on end, sometimes even slipping back down by 5 or 10 pounds when his joints grew weary from straining and struggling to make his reps. Now, his muscles felt insatiable. All he wanted to do was lift and grow and dominate.

Before, when he went to the gym, Burt would avoid the stares of other men, worried that they would sense the weakness that was buried in his core, just waiting for the chance to get out.

Now, he strutted around the weight room like a peacock, seething and sneering as he watched lesser men struggle with smaller weights.

He liked to wait and watch for someone to fail at a certain weight, then set up next to them and blast through that weight like it was nothing. The failed men would look over at him and their bodies would damn near pucker in defeat.

Burt almost felt like he could see their balls crawling back into their bodies.

It was his gym, and this was his time.

Writing

Fast Fiction: Gary Gets Mad, Kevin Gets Let Go, and a Monkey Compromises His Morals

{Dear Humble Grumpiest Monkey Reader — Please accept this latest offering as a companion piece to last week’s rather poorly done story about Kevin’s talking butthole. In fact, it will probably help your understanding of this tale to read that one first. Not that your Monkey wanted to continue crafting his prose in this admittedly crass vein, but he can only write what the muse tells him to write about. And right now it is office politics and buttholes. All apologies. }

Gary sighed and let his eyes drift over to his computer as another email dinged his inbox.

It was not even 9 o’clock in the morning and already Barry from accounting wanted a phone call about unpaid invoices, Bill from IT wanted to talk about new lead generation software, and Steve from human resources wanted to run some applications by him for new sales reps. There was shit to do.

But what was he doing? Listening as some sad-eyed paper pusher named Kevin went on and on with some ridiculous sob story about how he had discovered the meaning of his life with the help of his talking butthole, or something like that.

Gary had to admit that the whole talking butthole thing was a new twist, but it was the same old story. Every so often one of the sales reps would come into his office with a quavering voice and tell him they were leaving because it was time to go hike the Appalachian Trail or churn butter or fuck llamas or some other hippie dippie bullshit.

Every one of these jackasses would walk out of his office thinking they were going to go on rule the world, and every time they sent him a desperate email a few weeks later saying they made a terrible mistake, asking for another chance because the job market was bad and it was tough to get insurance.

Gary enjoyed deleting those emails without a reply.

“…I guess, that, you know, it’s time for me to do something other than work here,” Kevin was droning on in the background. “And I think what happened this morning helped me realize that.”

Gary grunted. “What’s that? This morning? The talking butthole thing? Yeah, sure. Sounds great.” He shuffled through some papers on his desk. “Look, ummm….Kevin. Your sales figures pretty much suck. I have one….two….three….looks like four separate sexual harassment complaints filed against you by Erica up in reception. I think we can agree to call it a day.”

But of course, Kevin couldn’t call it a day just yet. There were some protestations, some outright denials, some cries of “if only I had known she felt uncomfortable!” Gary had heard it all before. All it did was delay the inevitable.

Finally, Kevin gathered up his stuff, and he and his magic talking butthole started making their way to the door. Kevin reached his hand out for a final goodbye shake, but all that butthole talk had set Gary’s germ phobia on edge. “Just go, OK?”

At last, the door was shut. And Gary was alone to bask in the greatness that was his to create when other people weren’t holding him back.

If there was one thing that Gary hated, it was wasting fucking time. And if there was one thing the world was conspiring to do, it was waste his time.

Gary had sales figures to reach, phone calls to make, a staff to discipline, deals and discounts to negotiate. He didn’t have time for Kevin and his stupid talking butthole or Erica and her sorry HR complaints or any of the other distractions that ate up his hours.

These days there were time-suckers were everywhere. People who took five fucking minutes to put sugar and cream in their coffee at Starbucks.

Clueless assholes who shuffled in aimless circles on the sidewalk while they buried their faces in their smart phones.

Wrinkled old fucks doddering back and forth on their way to doctor’s appointments that would only prolong their inevitable demise. “Just die already,” Gary would mutter as he sprinted around them on his way into the office.

At work, the meetings that he didn’t take the lead on seemed to go on and on forever. It was like no one else had anything to do but waste his time. Gary would tap his pencil against the table and check his phone and check his phone and check his phone until someone got the message that it was time to wrap it the fuck up.

And now Gary was going to have to find someone to take over Kevin’s sales territory and follow up on his emails and answer his phone calls. Someone he could trust to tell them that Kevin had left, but not say anything about the psychotic break that had led the poor bastard to think his butthole was talking to him.

It never seemed to end. How was a man supposed to get ahead when the whole world was holding him back?