The Drowning Gull 1 - Page 26

SPILL

by Thaddeus Rutkowski

My work comes out wrong. There are mistakes all over the place. Even my name, signed on the document I’ve created, disintegrates into random letters-- then, into a series of dots.

I make a phone call to check a fact, and the person on the other end says, “Don’t you remember me? I used to work there.”

I don’t remember, but I don’t say so. We continue to talk, our voices muffled.

At a staff meeting, I want to speak, but someone else is talking, raising my hopes and dashing them. Every few minutes, I blurt out a syllablea “What?” or a “How?”then another voice starts, and I have to shut up.

Finally, I say, “It’s not my fault; it’s the computer’s fault. I tried to connect but lacked a link.”

Later, a colleague says to me, “It is your fault.”

When I walk into my work area, my shirt and jacket are rumpled, my pants slightly wrinkled, and I apologize to my colleagues by saying, “My trousers have static cling.”

"Does that mean you have hairy legs?” one of my coworkers asks.

And the thought of hair-- of legs and hair, of fabric rubbing against legs and hair-- triggers my mania. I begin to count, second by second, the time that remains until the lunch whistle blows.

One of my colleagues, a designer who likes to wear sunglasses, threatens to go on a shooting spree. I see him looking down at me from a high window.

“I will not work!” he announces.

I search for low places to hide.

After 5 o’clock, my co-workers let off steam by riding a mail cart down the street. I see them rolling and teetering when I come through the revolving door. A couple of blocks away, the cart overturns, and they spill out.

The Drowning Gull

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