Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Kick In The...

There he sat, glaring daggers that shredded the air. Watching as the sausagey fingers of his sworn enemy hovered above a shared foe. This peaceable union would never last. It was a simple matter to slay the metaphorical Jabberwock between them and then go galumphing back to a meaningless and antagonistic coexistence.

With a smooth, practiced hand, the enemy of his enemy plunged that mightiest-of-all-weapons downward. Dry scratching filled the room as the wicked instrument of doom worked back and forth, grinding relentlessly until black blood stained in a pattern that was pleasing to the manipulator. Even so, the tragedy was not the sacrifice on the mahogany altar, but the tick, tick, ticking of the round observer on the wall, forever lost down the rabbit hole and funneled directly into Tick Storage Room A.

With a final snicker-snack, it was over.

"I've gone ahead and marked your performance as satisfactory for this quarter."

The Boss spoke in a flat monotone. His dry, ashen hair had all but deserted the apex of his head, growing ever thicker as one moved downward to where salt and pepper whisker battled with trembling jowl. Two chins rounded out a face schooled in multiples. Even the beady brown eyes seemed a copy of each other, as if only one had been faxed in by God with instructions to "go ahead and take care of that."

"Thank you, sir," Damian heard himself reply.

Now is your chance, Damian! Press onward!

He had named the voice in his head Inigo. Or perhaps the voice had named itself, he couldn't remember. It had been a constant companion of his since grade school. Either way, the name fit with the Spanish accent that the Spirit of Bravado wielded in his head.

"Is there anything you'd like to add?" The Boss asked.

Damian was pretty sure The Boss had a name too. He could dredge it up from his memory, but that would require effort, and he was loathe to give the man even that. It was rumored that, translated from its native Swahili, the name would roughly mean Door Mat. In English, likely it was Jim. Weren't all bosses named Jim?

"No, sir. Thank you."

The Boss nodded, pleased with the stability of the boat. "Back to work, then."

Damian felt himself nod. He watched from afar as he stood up and exited the office with its nice wood paneled walls, bright lights, and luxurious view of the corn fields that surrounded the compound. Feeling began its tingling return to his extremities only after the door was slammed shut behind him.

Once again, your cowardice shames me, Inigo said.

Damian frowned. It's not my fault, Inigo. There was nothing I could have done.

Lies! Inquiring about the raise you are due would surely have been an appropriate action.

At least I have a job. I should just be thankful. Besides, no one is getting raises, Inigo. The economy is down right now, that's just how it works. And you heard his review. "Satisfactory" does not translate to "raise." Even in Spanish.

Damian, you and I both know that Benjamin just got one last week.

Shhh, Damian hissed in his head, we're not supposed to know that. He stalked down the hallway, frustrated both with the voice in his head and with himself. Mostly with himself. It's all political, anyway. Ben has been here longer than I have.

Inigo snorted. Yes, a paltry six months, and he does nothing whilst you work.

"You all right, Gardner?"

The voice startled Damian. It belonged to his cube-mate, Ben Windsor. Tall, dark, and handsome, Ben seemed to lead a semi-charmed kind of life, riding the coattails of his suave demeanor and striking looks to success. Damian was only slightly jealous.

Ben raised a black eyebrow. Damian echoed his puzzlement at first, but then realized he'd been standing at the entrance to their desk area, mumbling to himself. Heat rose to his cheeks.

"Yeah, we're fine," he replied casually, cursing himself as he noticed the slip in personal pronoun postmortem. It had been a rough day.

Ben shrugged and shoved his ear bud back in. "Whatever, man."

The young man spun around in his chair to return his attentions to the glowing screen. Over one of Ben's muscular shoulders, Damian could clearly see the You Tube video playing. It looked like one of the denizens in the clip was about too... yep. Gratuitous nut shot. Ben let out a guffaw, oblivious to the various shades of work going on around him.

Inigo piped up. See?


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