Rain pelted the windshield of Marcie’s fifteen-year-old sports car as she turned into the driveway of the subterranean parking lot. Some of the rain was virtually snow, translucent splatter sticking to the glass before a wiper blade cast it aside with other unwanted water. As she descended the steep ramp into darkness, Marcie’s thoughts drifted back to her annual review meeting that morning. As usual, her numbers weren’t great, and her supervisor had hounded her about setting a new round of goals she really didn’t care to meet. She’d spent the afternoon updating her resume.Continue reading
Janet passed the third bookcase and turned down the self-help aisle. “Brad?”
“Janet!” said Brad, slipping the book he’d been browsing behind his back. “What a surprise.”
“It’s been a long time,” said Janet. “I hardly recognized you with the beard. And something’s different with your hair?”
“Yeah, wearing it a bit longer,” said Brad, sheepish about his thinning pate. “And you look great. Coming from the gym?”
“Zumba,” she said.
“Nice,” he said, and then after a brief pause, “So, how’s Mr. Right?”
Janet raised her eyebrows slightly. “He’s fine. Enjoys his job. He just got promoted, VP of something. He’s off in Davos right now.”
“Oh, yeah, all the money people. I’ve been hearing about that on the news. That’s a pretty big deal.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she said.
He noticed her lack of enthusiasm. “Economics not your thing?”Continue reading
Walter returned from the bathroom and struggled to remount his barstool. He gripped the bar with both hands, threw one pudgy leg onto the padded seat, and wriggled and scooted his way up like a seal on the beach. When he had finally resumed his seat, a bead of sweat trickled down his temple, out from under greasy, badly-cut hair. In need of refreshment, he sucked at the straw in his fruity mixed-drink, temporarily lodging the peak of the paper umbrella in his left nostril.
Eugene smirked from the next stool over. “Wasn’t sure you were going to make it,” he said.
“Shut up,” said Walter. “Don’t you hate these work functions?”
“I don’t know,” said Eugene, “they’re all right. Free drinks.”
“If the boss didn’t treat them like loyalty litmus tests, I’d totally skip,” said Walter. His eyes drifted to the dance floor as he drew again on his straw. “Look at Mitch,” he said.
“What about him?” said Eugene, turning his attention to the man Walter had fixed on.Continue reading
Momma threw the first handful on the coffin, and then we all done the same. Black dirt. Just like the coal. There we were, throwin’ dirt in our Sunday best, just come from church. After that, the boys from down the hill started in with the shovels, and by God, Pop was all covered up in no more than fifteen minutes. Smellin’ that dirt set me coughin’ and hackin’. Up come some slime and I spit it out, black too, drippin’ and slimin’ down the grass blades, all thick and slow.
I remember the day I come home and told Pop school wasn’t for me. Too much readin’ and writin’, too much talkin’ and thinkin’. I wasn’t fifteen, but I’d had enough of it to know. What I wanted, I told him, was to work in the mine, to pull out the coal, to do a man’s job. Sittin’ in a chair all day, staring at some woman scribblin’ on a chalkboard, everyone talk, talk, talkin’. No sir, wasn’t for me. I got the fever for that coal, I says to him, standin’ over him, tall and proud, him sittin’ there on the porch, in his rockin’ chair, black dust from the day still in the cracks of his face, under his eyes, between his mouth and his cheeks. Wanna be like my Pop, I told him.Continue reading