Wednesday, August 25, 2010



“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Dennis swished his head back and forth, shaking himself from his gaze of a monumentally and pleasantly colorful flower display in the Merriam Distributors Inc.’s gigantic lobby. People scurried across the entry room floor like a swarm of misguided ants. He turned his attention once again to the receptionist desk and the gorgeous looking red head with the low cut green sweater that occupied it.
     “They’re ready for you upstairs sir. Your new office is on the 13th floor, the elevators are around the corner over that way,” she pointed to her left and Dennis caught a quick glimpse of her delicately red painted fingernails. Red fingernails and a green sweater, not exactly the colors I’d coordinate in July, he thought. “Someone will be up there to greet you,” she continued, “Good luck.”
     “Thank you,” Dennis said. He nodded his head to her, catching one final glimpse of her cavernous cleavage. Always a good way to start your day, especially a day that begins with a new job and hopefully a promising career.
     As he walked away, the receptionist stopped him once more. He turned and smiled, glad for the opportunity to see her pretty young face one more time. “I really do mean good luck to you sir, the last few people didn’t last longer than a day before they…they…well all I really mean to say is watch yourself.”
     With the smile ripped from his face, he gave her an awkward thank you, turned about face, and made his way to the elevators.


The elevator chimed 13 times before coming to a graceful halt. Dennis’ insides shifted up and down slightly as the lift box ascended and stopped. The combination of a large breakfast he made for himself (consisting of fried eggs, bacon, buttered toast, and sausage links), his “odd” conversation with the pleasant looking red head downstairs, and now the god forsaken motions of the elevator made Dennis’ stomach uneasy. Not such a good start after all.
     As the doors opened to just a sliver, he could already make out the man waiting for him on the other side. He wore a universally dark blue suit, black shoes, and a red twist tie…very much like what Dennis wore today. As the door opened to its full extent, the stranger took one glance at him and said, “So you got the memo.”
     Dennis looked at him puzzled, “I’m sorry…memo?”
     “It’s a joke,” the man in the blue suit pointed towards Dennis’ clothing, “we’re basically wearing the same thing."
     Dennis glanced down and finally made the connection. “I see.”
     “But anyway, welcome to Merriam Distributors. My name is Gary. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your office.” They walked out of the entry way that consisted of one window to the left and a table with two chairs in the corner. At the end of the brief corridor they came to a row of single offices that circled the perimeter of the building and overlooked the valley of cubicles within. Everything was in perfect condition and in a perfect grid formation. I think I’m going to like this, Dennis thought, being the man of perfection and precision that he was.
     Gary turned towards Dennis and began to walk backwards, “Your office is just down this way, can I get you anything? Water? Coffee?”     Dennis shook his head, “No I’m fine thank you. I’d just like to settle in and get to work.”
     “Ah, a workin’ man’s man. I like that. Merriam likes that.”
     Gary stopped at an office that was two doors down from the fabled “corner office”. Gary turned to Dennis one last time and said, “Now if there’s anything you need, call Jane at extension 101. She will be able to get it for you. If you have any other questions, feel free to call me at 208 or stop over there,” Gary pointed across the grove of cubicles to the offices on the far side, “I’m the fifth one from the corner.”
     “Thank you,” said Dennis, “I appreciate it. I think I’ll be ok for awhile.”
     “Well then, good luck to you. We’re very happy that you could come on such short notice. On behalf of everyone here at Merriam Distributors, we hope to have you here for a very long time.” He motioned Dennis into his new office, the office numbered 4266. The last place Dennis would ever see.


     The office was a fairly standard office complete with a giant picture window facing out towards the massive cityscape. The desk faced away from the window towards the door. The desk itself was a maple construction with a glossy finish that made it shine brilliantly in the sun. There was a twenty inch flat screen monitor atop the desk with an ergonomic keyboard seated below it. In front of the desk sat two red dressed chairs, also maple construction to match the desk. In terms of offices, this one would be your basic management model but to Dennis it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.
     He had started where we all do, on the bottom rung of the ladder alongside all the other mice working diligently but finally after slaving days, nights, weekends, he’d finally achieved what he’d always hoped for. His very own office with a window.
     The window is what really sold it. Dennis was immediately caught in its grip and after placing his briefcase on one of the red dressed chairs he approached it. The sun shone down on the bustling city below glittering its brilliance off of freshly cleaned window panes, a flock of birds shot out from below and seemingly flew into the horizon and into eternity, and he caught glimpse of a brilliantly blooming flower garden on a rooftop across the street. The colors and layout of this garden far exceeded the quality of the flower bed in the Merriam Distributors’ lobby. “This is what God must feel like,” Dennis whispered to himself. A single tear began to form in his right eye…

…and the phone rang.

     The ringing snapped him out of his hypnotic trance. He quickly disposed of the almost tear with a flick of his hand. He turned to pick up the phone, turned so fast in fact that he tripped over his left foot and crashed to the ground, splitting his lip. The phone continued to ring. Dennis got to his feet, grabbed the receiver, and pressed the side of his face and lips (now slightly covered in blood) against it. “Merriam Distributors, this is Dennis, how can I help you?”
Dial tone.

     Dennis pulled the phone away from his face and looked at it…no, looked through it. “Hmm…must of just missed it.” He set the phone back down and as his hand left the receiver the device rang again. Without missing his chance this time, he reached out with the reflexes of a cobra and pulled up at the receiver. “Merriam Dist-”

Dial tone.

     He set the receiver back into its home and took a step back. He thought to himself a moment then picked up the receiver again. He punched the number 1 and followed it with 0 and 1. Jane. Gary did say if he needed anything she would get it for him.

Dial tone.

     He tried again. Dial tone. “What the hell is wrong with this stupid thing?” Dennis put the receiver down and walked to the door. He stretched his arm out, grabbed the knob, and twisted. and twisted. and twisted. “What the fuck?” He took one step to the left towards the window facing the cubicles and waited patiently for someone to walk by. For such a busy office there sure aren’t many people walking around. Dennis put fist to glass and pounded three times. Nobody poked their head up or came out of their cubbyholes curious about the noise. He tried again, this time pounding and screaming…
…and the phone rang.

     He turned, this time with a hint of horror on his face. He didn’t want to pick it up. He wanted out of this office. This place that only moments ago felt like heaven has just slipped down, deep down…into hell. He moved slowly towards the ringing phone, checking behind him to see if anyone had come to his rescue. No one did. He traveled to the far side of the desk and cautiously picked up the receiver.

And of course…dial tone.

     This sent Dennis into a vicious rage. He slammed the receiver down as hard as he could, nearly breaking the phone into pieces. It held firm despite his attempt. He threw his hands up in the air, “What the hell is going on here!?”
     The phone rang one final time. He threw it up, held the receiver in front of his face, and shouted into the mouth piece, “Who are you? What kind of sick joke is this? I’ll have your ass on a platter for this you little coc-”
     “I’m sorry Dennis.” The voice cut off Dennis before he could finish. Dennis immediately picked up on the familiarity of the voice traveling through the hardwire speaker.
     “Gary, is that you?”
     “Yes Dennis, I’m sorry for what has happened and what’s about to happen.”
     “What are you talking about?” Dennis tensed up, fearing what Gary might have to say. Did he miss something? Was this all a test and he’s failed? Is he unemployed yet again? Please God, please let everything be ok.
“I’m sorry Dennis. We thought you were the perfect man for the job but you were not. Your application says you are a calm individual that holds up against pressure. The last few minutes seem to have proved otherwise.”
     “What? You did all this?”
     “No, Dennis, I did not. Merriam did. Merriam chooses applicants by certain criteria, criteria he thought you met. But you do not. You lied. Merriam is ultimately the one who decides who can work here and who can not. And you…can not.”
     Dennis suddenly felt pressure on his body. It felt as if his very essence were being sucked into a deep void, a black hole.
     “It won’t take long. Merriam also has to eat. Fortunately for everyone else, you and the last few applicants will sustain him for a very long time. We can only hope the next person has what it takes.”
     Dennis couldn’t speak. The only sound he made was a short gasp for air. It took all of his energy to even try. Slowly his entire body began to shrivel and collapse upon itself. It lifted off the ground and up, up into the receiver. After the last of Dennis’ being, his very existence disappeared into the phone, the receiver fell out of the air and landed perfectly back in its place.
     From across the building, Gary put his phone down, looked across the sea of cubicles at office #4266, and whispered, “We can only hope.”

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