Keen As Mustard

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
The workplace has become a no-holds-barred Colosseum devoid of compassion. Everybody wants to climb the career ladder. Tired of being a pen-pusher, we crave something to jar us from our fossilizing stasis - even though it might mean defenestrating our own human nature backwards through a window and watching the integral part of us impale itself on the railings below. We look back at all the tedium - and scream, yearn for 'that' something to make us feel alive again. But what if the motivation behind our new-found happiness has no soul or is at odds with our pious upbringing? What if we roll the dice . . . and get the double six . . . ?

The following is a montage to this dilemma . . .

Submitted: October 30, 2019

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Submitted: October 30, 2019

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My subeditor is a tough arachnid to please- (wait a minute, I see her moving after hours feasting on a mouse. Her actions are slow. Her appetite - satisfied for now). Frosted panels separate her from the hustle and bustle of the department. But the door to her office reminds me of the tiny globules of glass most homes have for a bathroom window. Each smooth droplet - raised on the pane - imprisons, miniaturizes and duplicates the workplace just beyond her Zen cube of aloof privacy.

So who am I? I am a greenhorn hack working for the periodical magazine Troy And Avoirdupois. Our business? to weigh the merits - the yin and yang of the outright BIZARRE! The front cover of our colour supplement even has a logo: two rebellious fingers giving the Harvey Smith salute to the structural and formulaic traditions within the cut and thrust world of investigative journalism. Because here, at Troy And Avoirdupois - we work off the cuff and on the hoof!

Something quite nasty happened at work yesterday. A fellow colleague - Brella - fell down our lift shaft and was sliced lengthways. Falling six storeys didn't kill her. Snagging her body on the counterweight on its way up, well, left a bit of a mess. When the doors opened, poor Brella fell flat on her face, albeit - a cardboard cutout of her. A destestable twit called Slipshod got to her first, proclaiming to everybody: Hey, guys, it's going to be okay - Brella's heart, lungs and stomach are still intact. Shit, and she still has a spinal cord! The poor girl couldn't stop vomiting blood. It was a miracle she was still alive. She really had been guillotined right down the middle and was still conscious but very much in shock. Beady-eyed Slipshod shouted out: Holy Christ, this is going to make a great scoop. I mean, it's right on my fuckin' doorstep - talk about serendipity! All this whilst the noisy fibrillation of Brella's heart and lungs reminded me of a discordant whoopee cushion. We all looked at Slipshod in silence and told him to shut up when he mentioned Damien Hirst and the possibility of re-animating Brella in an art installation of oxygenated formaldehyde. The boss advised us all to have the rest of the day off and to ponder profoundly on what had just happened . . . so we all went to the Spinning-Top Onion - our local pub and got really pissed!

The next day I got to work on my new article regarding a man who had lost everything and was tired of living without his wife. Because of mental breakdown, he loses his job and child to social services. Suicide? No, he opts for an induced coma, sells everything he has to fund his afterlife experience - so he can reunite with his beloved wife. And it's all done out of desperation and confusion:

He had scrimped and saved for this moment . . . and now it was time! No more flashbacks. no more nightmares. Awful: one year to the day, a car crash had decapitated his wife (he escaped the wreckage - very lucky to have survived). Haunted by the frozen rictus of that face - head spinning anticlockwise on the ground - and two little hand indentations pushing rhythmically against the inside of a pregnant belly (their unborn child - yes - still alive!) - paramedics, a doctor, a Caesarean - a freshly orphaned boy. Breakdown . . . baby goes in to foster care . . . loss of job . . . penury ensues. Awful, just awful!

There she goes agian: blowing the fluffy parachutes of a dandelion in his face. He smiles - caresses her. The jellyfish of his heart throbs inside its ribcage. The innocence in those eyes, her pulchritude - its perfect symmetry - he is in owe. Spellbound, telepathy, adrenaline, they blush, they can't stop laughing. Where are they, these two kindred spirits? They kiss - he is in the palm of her hand . . . she could crush him. He wants solace: I want pastachio ice cream . . . I want rice pudding! But his deceased grandmother (of twenty years) doesn't answer him . . . she is just a distant memory.

It was time for a coffee break and that's when Slipshod came over and thrust his features in to my face. I could tell he'd already had way too much caffeine - an agitated smugness made his eyeballs jiggle. And he'd placed his greasy palms on my fuckin' workstation. Before he said anything, he kept looking sideways at the janitor in grey overalls using a carpet scrubber just where Brella's almost-complete exsanguination occured. All very Tom and Jerry, don't you think, that nasty business with Brella? She really did herself a mischief. Rumour has it they've put her in to cryofreeze until they find a suitable back donor . . . And all this after her thyroid cancer went in to remission. I remember that goitrous tumor in her neck, yes, everybody said she'd swallowed a cannonball! He smiled and waited for me to say something. What was the point - to feed his pathetic sense of self-aggrandizement? Look, this was a guy whose doting mother - an obsequious woman with a harelip and lisp - insisted on bringing in his pack lunch and flask of homemade soup. Slipshod wore a red leather John Paul Gaultier tie - with designer craquelure on its tip. You could smell him downwind because he wore too much Old Spice! And right now, I was looking at the bulbous ridge of that parson's nose! He didn't like me scrutinizing him under the hum of the unforgiving arc lighting - a moment of weakness - perhaps aware of his skin damage; an embarrassing history with teenage acne and stubborn blackheads . . . So he drummed his fingers on my desk and casually walked off - using a Kleenex tissue to dab the sebaceous oily sheen of his forehead. What an asshole . . . what a complete tool! I went back to reading my book of abstract poetry by Dccclxsaxinnu Nepprtroo.

Lunch break over. I continued with my article about said guy who lost everything:

He relished the virtual reality awaiting him. His car - he had sold. All other worldly possessions - of any worth - he had pawned. Two brand new acquisitions were now desperately in need of use: a medical ventilator and a 1000-gallon barel of pentobarbitol. On a 6-foot block of foam he would sleep - his body covered head-to-toe in Vaseline (to prevent bed sores). The drip-feed was ready. Catherter - good to go! Colostomy bag connected! And the baby dung beetles would do their job of eating any superfluous waste.

The prospect of slipping into a medically-induced coma made him excited. What to expect? Don't rightly know. Maybe Saffron - his wife - will greet him with outstretched arms . . . with that little finger looking more like the shriveled tail of a dried anchovy (she broke it when she was eight, never healed back properly - a compassionate tear appears from his eye). All grown up: a soldier? an athlete? his son, Jeremiah - calls out his father's name. Can't wait! - the scenario gives this broken man butterflies.

His consciousness on Earth would have an avatar: the host, a mouse - its generic template had been programmed to accept the DNA of an orangutan. The rodent was now the size of a fully-grown chihuahua. London Zoo had provided the excrement from which the genetic code had been extracted. Of course they asked why? ". . . I'm a gardener. Faeces make very good compost." They believed him and allowed him the required amount.

Oh, to roam on all-fours. To explore life's nooks and crannies au naturel! Beyond the terrestrial anchor of my physical stasis, I wonder, what oceans, what mountains wait for my astral self to soar over? Up in the urano - the heavens - am I to be a Sky-Father; a Caesar of the elements: juvenescent, bronzed, glabrous - walking the travertine hallways of an ivory palace and wearing the crown of a king?

This, I do know: Niobe-grief . . . for it is a cruel, melliferous kind of melancholy . . . a glaceed udder a cracked soul is destined forever to suckle! But the pleasure to sniff is all mine! I will live those crepuscular adventures at break-neck speed - evading the razor-sharp swipe of a cat's paw . . . and I will never ever THINK again, will not historically remember all my emotional pain. The prisoner is free from his oubliette of skin!

Zeno Benteen looked up at the ceiling, smiled - and closed his eyes . . .

And the Dccclxsaxinnu Nepprtroo piece I was reading was Albescent Zeros:

The Nil of the sunless planet had no owl or cockrel to herald night nor day. Time could not be measured by the ticking hands of clocks. Space, distance - by cubic feet or miles. Black was omnipresent - indivisible from subject, object and circumstance. The Nil breathed BLACK, quenched his or her thirst by drinking BLACK. Black was eaten to satisfy the pangs of hunger. The Nil spoke in black, dreamt in black - felt black when sad and black when happy. Yesterday, now, and what came next was no blacker than before or anytime thereafter. There was no interval between the past and present tense - no seconds, minutes, hours, days . . . JUST BLACK!


© Copyright 2020 Jobe Rubens. All rights reserved.

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