Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last Hope

When the diamond fell into Brother Matthias’s hands, he worried it might burn. But there was no fire, no pain. All was well. He looked at the steaming diamond, held it to the sun, turned it, and stared through. Cloudy at first, it became clear. Another world on another side in another time looked back. Or at least her face did, and that was enough for him to smile and shed a tear. She summed up that other place: Beautiful.

He understood then that we are all outcasts here. We are all alone. Glimpsing her face renewed faith, reminded him there was more to our larger existence than hot asphalt and hazy air, than the buzz of fluorescent lighting, and sleeping on a bed of litter beneath the overpass. There was something and someplace better, and he had been there before. He would return.

The woman inside the diamond smiled at him, and then she grew smaller. She lifted away, carried by wings of glass. He heard the ethereal tinkle of her feathers and closed his eyes. It was the most beautiful song he knew.

He missed her already.

He opened his crying eyes, and the diamond was gone. In its place was a Steel Reserve tallboy. He looked at his palms. They were blistered and red and black. Bits of skin peeled away and blisters burst as he dropped the can from his tight-fisted hand. His hands smelled like the barbecue rib joint down the block. He looked up to the hot August sun. He fumbled with swollen fingers, gasped as he reached into his tattered jeans’ pocket for a crumpled pack of USA Golds, lit a cigarette, and inhaled the bitter blend. He watched the cloud of smoke drift away and disperse until it resembled her shadow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My first day at the office, I noticed nothing foreboding. Sure my boss had a forked tail jutting out from the back of her skirt. My partner was a light shade of periwinkle blue and had horns covered in blood, but she had a nice smile. Still, no matter what, it beat my last job as a telemarketer. Besides, I had my very own desk, my very own cubicle. Who was I to complain?

My second day at the office, I asked them to turn the heat down. They laughed at me. I noticed the other guys weren’t wearing suits. Some of them only wore little loincloths to cover their red, wiry-muscled bodies. So, I decided business casual would work. A polo shirt beat a suit in that heat. The only fashion accessory that seemed a must was a pitchfork. I don’t even know where to get one of those. They don’t sell them at my local J.C. Penny’s. Maybe I’ll try asking at the farmer’s market this weekend?

A few weeks went by and I got the hang of things. I kept my inbox down to a comfortable level. Mostly I was in charge of proofing and writing out contracts. I had to close any open clauses. These were strange contracts, too. It appeared our most important commodity was souls. We bought souls. I don’t know how this company could turn a profit with just souls. I’m glad I decided against the stock option when I filled my benefit forms on my first day.

Months went by. I started dating my partner. We kept it a secret. We tried to hide it from our bosses. Her periwinkle blue skin was so sexy. She was so hot! No, I mean, she’s really hot. Like, on fire! She wanted me to cuddle her at night, and I would do it sometimes for a little while – at least until she fell asleep, but then I rolled over to my side of the bed and kicked off the covers. She always left me sweating. We got along fine, but I needed to find some better quality sheets. She charred her side of the bed. Perhaps a higher thread count would have lasted a little longer? She never asked me over to her place. I wonder why?

During my performance evaluation, I received high marks. Apparently my contracts were bullet-proof. I managed to have 100% retention on clients served with my paperwork. Every clause was tight. My manager began smiling at me. Her tail rubbed up and down my leg beneath her desk. It became clear she liked me. I worried this could become awkward. She was a very attractive woman, her purple skin was very nice, but blue had always been my favorite color.

My manager came to my cubicle at least once a day. She sat on my desk and crossed her legs next to me as I worked. Her forked tail ran through my hair. I tried to be polite, but she made me uncomfortable. I thought about reporting her to HR. My partner grew a little angry about it, I could tell, but she was helpless and didn’t want to rock the boat – not in this economy. Her performance evaluation was not as good as mine. I knew I had to complain. What choice did I have?

Apparently HR was at the center of a labyrinth in the basement. I went down there and found it very unpleasant. Many of my coworkers were doing a Zoomba class as part of a fitness initiative, and I got slapped by a forked tail and nearly stabbed by thrusting horns at every turn. I thought it was strange to do aerobics in a labyrinth, but I understood they didn’t have a formal workout room in the office. I guess they made due with what they had. Anyway, I made it through the maze and found the HR office. A large minotaur sat behind a metal desk surrounded by filing cabinets. I told him about my manager, that she was hitting on me and making me uncomfortable. The minotaur snorted steam through his nose and mooed. After a few minutes, I realized that was it. Our meeting was done. Now I had to wait.

My partner was skewered. I came into work one day and she was cut apart and put on a large metal shish kabob stick with a bunch of gigantic Portobello mushrooms and red onions. My manager was turning her over a large flame.

I turned in my two weeks’ notice.

I hated to be unemployed again, it took me seven months to find this job after my last layoff, but there are worse things than unemployment lines.