Writing

Norman Drafts Another Death Letter

Norman sat alone, at a table for two, in what many patrons considered to be the most undesirable corner of the restaurant.

The table was right next to the kitchen, which smelled like fish and sounded like clanking dishes and angry Spanish cursing.

The door connecting the kitchen to the dining room was one of those double-sided jobs that swung in each direction, allowing for a steady stream of agitated waiters, belligerent busboys and panic-stricken hostesses to rush back and forth.

This steady woosh of motion created a mild breeze that swirled the few thin hairs on Norman’s head, and made him feel like it was only a matter of time before someone carrying a tray full of dishes collided with him.

Norman did not look like the type of man who could survive a head-on collision with a throw pillow, let alone a waiter carrying a tray full of dishes.

He was short, meek, 38 years old, balding, and in possession of a noticeable paunch at his midsection that jiggled when he moved like a bowl full of jellyfish. It might have jiggled when he laughed, too, but Norman didn’t laugh so much.

His eyes were gray and weary and ringed with circles. His clothes were nice-ish, but they showed the effects of too many washings and they didn’t fit just quite right, especially when it came to covering that jiggly paunch at his midsection.

This was not the first time Norman had come alone to this restaurant. He spent a lot of time in restaurants alone.

In fact, it was safe to say that Norman was alone most of the time. Holed up at his cubicle at work. Eating lunch at his desk. Riding the train to and from work, wrapped up in the cocoon of his headphones and books.

Back at his apartment, he spent more time home alone than McCauley Caulkin did in the 1990s. Watching TV alone. Cooking meals alone. Surfing the web alone. Listening to his records alone. Waiting for the sweet embrace of death alone.

In fact, it was on this Thursday night, at this lonely table in this far corner of the restaurant, that Norman had finally decided that he could no longer wait for death to come. He would have to meet it halfway.

Taking a few crumpled papers out of his workbag, he smoothed them out on the table and began to write.

“Dear Cruel World…” he started, then frowned and crossed it out.

“Goodbye cruel world…” he started again, then stopped. He crumpled up that piece of paper and tossed it in his bag.

“Too cliche…” he mumbled.

Taking a second piece of paper, he started writing again.

“To Whom It May Concern;

If you are reading this I am already gone.  Do not worry. I did not take my life out of anger, or despair, or of unbearable melancholy. I have simply decided that I don’t fit in.”

Norman was interrupted by a shout from a waiter behind him. “Hey Raoul! I need a re-fire on the sirloin for table four.”

He crinkled his brow and continued writing.

“I am one of the dreamers, the artists, the intellectuals. I am a giver. This world is for the takers. It is a world of raw physical aggression, of biceps and cologne, of button-down shirts and football games and high fives and internet hookup sites.”

“Dangers lurk everywhere. Terrorists on the subways. Muggers on the streets. Reality TV shows about suburban housewives on every channel.”

“How am I supposed to live in a world where country music outsells jazz? Where fast food restaurants can replace bread with chicken patties and no one blinks an eye? Where Lena Dunham has a TV show and a book deal?

“I can’t run fast. I can’t throw hard. I’m pretty sure I’ve never given a woman an authentic orgasm. I’ve had the same job for 15 years and I’ve never gotten a raise.”

Another shout thundered out from the kitchen: “Jose! Get your fucking ass back here and bring this shrimp to table two!”

Norman’s shoulders tensed and he glared back at the kitchen door. Could they not see that he was trying to write?

“Do not weep for me, dear friends. Weep for yourselves. For I have seen what this world has to offer, and I know it is not for me. I am going on to a better place.”

Sincerely yours, 
Norman.”

Norman signed his name with a flourish and read the letter over approvingly. This was his best work yet, he thought.

He had no intention of actually harming himself, of course. He had thought through all of the various options and couldn’t see anything that wouldn’t hurt or make him feel queasy.

Car exhaust? Yuck. Pills? Too hard to swallow plus he had acid reflux, so they might not stay down. Anything violent was out of the question because Norman didn’t like pain.

Norman reached into his workbag, pulled out a binder and flipped it open.

Inside, covered in smooth laminate sheets, were dozens and dozens of death letters, all written by hand, all carefully crafted and signed by Norman, all making claims about impending self-harm that would never be realized.

He took one last glance at his latest missive, and slid it into an open plastic sheet. Then he snapped the binder shut, slid it back in his bag, and started looking over the dessert menu.

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Writing

The Existential Angst of Subject 43415

You wake up in the same brightly lit, glass enclosed room that you have always woken up in.

The floor is littered with wads of cheap paper, and your bed is lumpy and hard. The only entertainment is some kind of bizarre self-powered exercise machine.

You blink and try to make sense of the lights and the noise, but nothing make sense. Nothing ever makes sense here.

Breakfast is a mash of mysterious brown and tan pellets in a bowl of tepid water. It’s disgusting, but it is all you ever have to eat, so you choke down as much of it as you can stand and then turn your back on it.

Once you are done eating, you begin your pacing. Every day you walk back and forth along the edge of the glass wall, searching for some kind of seam, some hidden doorway that will allow you to escape. But where to? What else is there?

These are tough questions. If pressed, you cannot provide a solid answer. You can’t say for sure that there is something else out there…

But there has to be, right? You aren’t just crazy?

Sometimes when you dream, you see green grass and open fields, and dark, soft corners where you can curl up and sleep without the relentless bright lights beating down on you.

Sometimes you dream of tastes that make your tongue tingle. You dream of the sound of air moving naturally through the trees, not of air being pumped through mechanical fans.

But then you wake up and you feel pain.

A searing pain, in fact, right below your shoulders.

They do this from time to time. They drug you and they burn you and then they come in every day and stare at the burn on your back and mutter to themselves.

It hurts like hell, but in a way you don’t want it to stop. As long as it still hurts, they won’t burn you again. It’s when the hurting stops that you start to worry.

Just the thought of being burned is enough to make you want to throw up. It is not so much the pain that troubles you, as it is the anticipation of pain.

It gives you the chills. The shivers. The sweats. The shakes.

The burning is bad, but there are others who have it worse. Some of them get shocked over and over again. Some get drugged and have a leg removed. Some of them even get sewn together into bizarre creatures that have no chance of surviving.

You can always tell when a subject has had enough. The light goes out of their eyes. They get a faraway look. They stop eating. Stop moving around. They usually die not long after.

Some die like that.

Others are euthanized and cut up for spare parts, though you don’t know why they need so many parts, or where they are going. Sometimes they will dissect another subject right in front of you. As if to convince you that resistance is futile.

You want to fight back.
You want to escape.
You want to show them that you won’t stand for this.
But you can’t.

You are subject 43415.
You are a mouse.

Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: Even the Black Knights Get The Blues Sometime, Part II

Part II of our continuing saga featuring a lovesick Black Knight in a cruel Medieval World. Never before has such fierce passion and such grand adventure flared across the pages of this monkey-authored blog!

(P.S. If you missed part 1, you may want to catch it here)

The Black Knight shook himself awake. His hand instinctively went for his sword, but as his senses returned, he knew he was alone. Of course he was alone. He was always alone. The Black Knight groaned.

It was not the first time this week that he had awoken in a cold sweat, and not the first time he woke feeling flushed, excited and embarrassed all at the same time.

Black Knights are supposed to dream of fierce battles in dark forests, of the clank of steel against steel, of splintering shields and anguished cries. They are supposed to dream of bloodshed and glory and of besting the White Knight.

They don’t dream of beautiful nameless women and potentially awkward first encounters.

But yet, it happened.  He had dreamed of her again. The Black Knightress. The woman who had haunted his dreams for the past fortnight, ever since she had appeared during the Battle of Sherwood.

Morgana. he thought. Her name must be Morgana. He had never spoken to the lithe female creature in black armor that swept across the battlefield that day. He had never seen the face underneath the mask, nor the body under the armor.

But he had already decided many things about her.

The first thing that he decided was that her name was Morgana. It just made sense. It seemed like the kind of name that a ruthless female knight would have during the Middle Ages. She wouldn’t be a Linda, that was for sure. Her name would be timeless and legendary. Morgana. Delicious.

The second thing the Black Knight decided was that underneath her armor, Morgana was beautiful. She had to be beautiful. Ugly women didn’t ride horses and swing swords like she did. Everyone knew that.

Morgana was beautiful and she had pale skin and long raven black hair. A sleek body with full bosom and curved hips. A face as calm and cool and dispassionate as the way she rode her horse, and eyes as lethal as her sword strike. And perhaps, a slight scar across one cheek to make her slightly exotic.

Third, the Black Knight had to believe that she had noticed him that day. How could she not have noticed him? He was, after all, the Black Knight. Not just any old Knight wearing dull gray armor. Not just a mercenary for hire. But the Black Knight. The most feared man in the forest. Voted the most consistently cruel by his peers for six years in a row. A legendary figure of intimidation and brutality. She must have noticed him, right?

It was unlike the Black Knight to doubt himself, or to wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming about anything but violence.

But he now found that he was second-guessing his every action and filled with self-doubt. Had he been aggressive enough in battle that day? Was his clubbing and bludgeoning up to par? Was his body still in courting shape? There was that troubling paunch around his midsection. Would she like his beard? Was his hair too long?

And—most troubling of all—what would he say to her the next time they met?

The Black Knight had tried to envision their first conversation a thousand times already, but the words just wouldn’t come.

He didn’t want to come on too strong, like the notorious Molester of Manchester. He also didn’t want to come off too soft, like that simpering lovesick sap the White Knight. That guy was always leaping off his horse and squatting in the mud to profess his fidelity to some lumpy peasant girl.

What would he, the Black Knight, say to her, the Knightress? “Hello, I’m the Black Knight.” No, that wouldn’t do. Of course she would know he was the Black Knight.

“Beautiful day to quell a peasant uprising, eh?” No, that didn’t work either. Black Knights didn’t stop to appreciate the weather.

Maybe, he thought, words would not be necessary. Maybe their eyes would lock across the opposite ends of a battlefield, and an animal-like lust would seize them. After dispatching with whatever sub-standard competition they were facing, they would fall upon each other and make passionate love.

Of course, there were logistical problems to consider with that scenario. One didn’t just leap from one’s horse and start making love when one was wearing armor. Getting out of his steel suit required at least a half hour of assistance from his squire, and he suspected that it was a similar scenario for her.

So there would be a lot of awkward standing around, and of course he didn’t look his most svelte when he was half in and half out of his armor, sweating profusely and hopping about on one leg while his squire pulled at a stuck boot.

No, the Black Knight knew he would somehow have to meet his Knightress on the battlefield, charm her with his skill and his words, and then arrange a meeting at another time and place. That made the most sense.

But even this scenario posed problems. This was not how things were done in the Middle Ages, for crying out loud. One did go around asking one’s fellow knights out on dates, did they? If that ever got out, he would be the laughing stock of the castle. Even the White Knight might feel entitled to giggle at him.

The Black Knight sighed. No wonder it was hard to sleep.

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: 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?