Starving Artists and Shit

I Need a Goddamn Job ... For realz, yo

 

Months ago, I took a lay-off from a shitty local factory, and turned it into an opportunity to finally write that fucking book that I wanted to write ... and I did, and it's published, and now ... shit! Unemployment ran out! For the first time in a long, long time, I am without a solid means to help support my little family unit. Predictably, my self-published novel was not immediately a smash success, ha, and I have not won the goddamn lottery. So, in the interim, I must begin the search for yet another meaningless survival-job, and waiting to either sell some books or WIN THAT MOTHERFUCKING LOTTO MAX. 

I'm going to get around to putting more links on this thing to places where one might purchase said book, as soon as I can get my younger-and-therefore-more-computer-savvy girlfriend to do it for me. Seriously, HTML code and all that shit is like fucking Sanskrit to me.  I can't even place a fucking widget somewhere. The whole business makes Hulk want to SMASH. 

SO! Right! Story time! This one's relevant. It's called "The Interview."


I hate this fucking prick. I hate him so fucking MUCH. 

Doug watched as Hennings squinted at his resume across the cheap, phony little desk. The man tapped a clear Bic pen on his green ink blotter pad as he did so, thup-thup-thup-thup. Hennings frowned through the slim lenses of his glasses at the stapled papers in his hand, made low, unimpressed sounds in the back of his wattled neck - and fucking kept tapping that goddamned pen, a measured percussive accompaniment to his blatant disapproval.
 
"You haven't worked in a while, Mr. Armstrong," Hennings said. His voice was bright and crisp with antagonism. He looked up from the resume and jabbed Doug with a cold, fishy stare. "Why is that? Eight months go by and you haven't worked? Just riding the unemployment train, right? Getting in some couch time?"

 
He spat the questions out in a hard, rapid barrage. Each one was meant to be a slap in the face. Doug tried valiantly to keep his expression neutral. "I took some time off and wrote a book. A novel. It was something that I've always-"



"A book?" Hennings repeated, accusingly: he said "book" in the same tone one might use when uttering the word bullshit. "It doesn't say anything about being a novelist in your employment history, Mr. Armstrong. It says that you have experience in MIG welding, warehousing, and quality control. Nowhere on this resume did I see any reference to authorship of any kind." 

This fucking retard seems to be implying that I'm ... lying to him, somehow? Doug tried briefly to wrap his head around this, but failed. What the fuck?

"I apologize, Mr. Hennings, I didn't in any way mean to seem misleading on my resume ... I'll be sure to fix that and, uh, expand on what I've been doing since Tri-Tech closed its doors. I don't want it to seem like I've been sitting idly around for months on end, channel-surfing." Hennings said nothing, just stared at him, as if Doug were some sort of distasteful specimen that the Human Resources staffer had been unwillingly assigned to study and quantify. Clearing his throat, Doug ventured, " If you look on the second page, though, you'll see that I mention writing the book under the heading, "Interests". Truthfully, writing a full-length novel was a lot more challenging than any job or task that you'll see mentioned on my resume-"

"Second page?" Hennings interrupted again. "I never get to the "second page", Mr. Armstrong. It doesn't exist for me. If I don't see what I want to see on the first page, I'm done." Hennings dropped Doug's resume onto the green blotter. "Sitting on your duff, pecking at a keyboard while sucking away at the system doesn't seem very challenging to me - and if we're going to be honest with each other here, I'll tell you that I'm not sure if I like what I see here on your resume."

Doug was starting to sweat a little under the strain of keeping his teeth from gritting with mounting fury, and his fists from clenching on the plastic armrests of his chair, clenching into bony clubs. What was this guy's problem? What did it matter to this man if Doug had taken a few months off to do fucking whatever? He was applying for a job working on a manufacturing line. Any able-bodied person of average intelligence could do it with absolutely zero experience. And ... what the hell was that crap about "sucking away at the system"? The arrogant, dim-witted fuck was referring to government-enforced unemployment insurance that he, as a working man for most of his adult life, had been forced to pay into whether he wanted to or not. His blood was starting to pound in his head. Doug took a long breath in and, striving for mild neutrality, said "Oh? Can you tell me specifically why or what it is that bothers you on my resume?"

Hennings snorted. For a brief moment, Doug's fists clenched. "I'm talking about the eight months that you spent not gainfully employed. Why? To write a book? Do it in your spare time, man! Seriously, what are you ... thirty-seven or eight? I'd expect an idealistic college drop-out to do something of that nature, not a man of your age. The word 'shiftless' comes to mind."

His heart, pounding rapidly. Every sense razor sharp, every muscle alive with electric strength. Doug could smell the acrid sharpness of the man's cheap cologne, could see the faint beating of a pulse in a vein that ran across his high forehead. He could feel the man's essential frailty, like a predator. Doug bared his teeth at Hennings in an attempt to smile.

"Mr. Hennings, I have a wife and two children, and all the commotion and bustle that goes along with being a family man. Spare time? If you're working a full-time job, with over-time to boot, and two young kids, and a household to maintain on top of everything else - well, there's no such thing as spare time, okay? I had just been laid off from Tri-Tech ... and just it seemed like a good chance to finally do it. Completing a book in that period of time was a feat unto itself. I edited the thing myself, and formatted it for publication. All that, in eight crazy, sleepless months-"

Doug stopped talking, not believing the ignorant audacity of the man sitting across the desk from him - the officious, sagging old fuck in his garish maroon tie was actually fucking clapping at him, slowly, sarcastically - clap. clap. clap. He gave up the ghost on trying to be congenial, at that point. There was just no fucking way. The feeling was coming on him, now. It was a surge of sweet, hot rage that enveloped him, as it always did, in a fevered velvet glove of murder-lust.

"Bravo, Armstrong, great - writer, editor, and everything. Why are you telling me this? Am I looking for a secretary to proof my correspondence?" Hennings began to drum the pen against the desk blotter again. "No, I'm not. What I need is few people who can reliably show up every day and give one-hundred percent, each and every day, six days a week -"

Oh, fuck, that PEN, he's tapping that fucking PEN-

"-not a day-dreamer that's going to miss days, and even more importantly, miss defects in the product," tap-tap-tap, "because this company's reputation for quality control precedes us." Tap-tap-tap-tap-TAP-TAP-TAP- 

Now. Right fucking NOW.

"FFFFFUUCK!" Doug roared, and he sprang forward from his chair like a panther. As he cleared the desk, Doug swiped the pen from the startled man's hand and stuck it into his right eye, all in one fluid motion. He slammed into Hennings and knocked him backwards onto the ground, chair and all. The older man struggled to scream, but the wind was knocked out of him. His hands found the half of the pen that protruded from his ruined eye socket. Doug could see that he was trying to shriek, "My eye! My eye!", but only a pained whistle was issuing from his loose, blabbering mouth. Doug straddled the prone man and, with the flat of his palm, he drove the pen home, all the way to the hilt. It made an wet, indistinct tearing sound. Hennings spasmed and kicked, his gray-trousered legs sticking straight up because of the chair that was still beneath him. Doug pinned his thrashing with a grip of maniacal steel.

"I didn't tell you what the book is about," Doug hissed down at the man. "It's about a guy who has poor self-control, sometimes. It's kind of an autobiography, really." 

"Why?" Hennings tried to ask, but it was just a wheeze. Blood was coursing in a steady stream from his eye socket. It leaked into his mouth, and he choked.

"Don't blame me. Don't even bother trying. It just wasn't your day, buddy, that's all. You piece of shit." He slammed his fist down into Hennings' protruding Adam's apple. It crunched, and the hapless man bucked beneath him wildly, gurgling and coughing blood. Doug pinned him and waited it out. When his struggles were weak enough, Doug let him go. The murder-lust was gone. It was time to boogie.

He opened the door and walked out into the reception room. It was after five, and the secretary was either on a break or had gone home. The line of plastic chairs against the wall was empty -  he'd been the last interviewee of the day. Doug flipped up the big hood of his jacket and walked briskly out into the hall, the heavy door locking shut behind him. If the secretary didn't come back and find the mess, the cleaning staff soon would. In the hall, a few workers were bustling out through a man-door onto the production floor. They were obviously in a hurry to get back to work from an illicit smoke break, and paid him no attention.

Doug strolled, nonchalantly, out a metal door and into the huge parking lot, just some unremarkable Joe on his way out to his unremarkable car. He left Jeffrey Armstrong behind him, trapped on the paper of a blood-spattered resume. The cops would find the resume, a Hotmail account, a pilfered Social Insurance Number, and not much else. The grainy footage from the CCTV cams would show a hooded man of average height and build, getting into a Ford Focus. Neither the security guard at the gate or the distraught secretary would be able to provide much more information, just the vague description of an average Caucasian man in a blue hooded windbreaker and jeans. As a fellow who had very little control over his murderous impulses, Doug had learned how to be unremarkable long ago. It was an art. Multiple identities and anonymity were a necessity, to maintain the intricate web of deceit that was the framework of his life. It was taxing, unpredictable way to live, and keeping his story straight could sometimes be a bitch - but it was better than taking shit from people like Hennings.

When he got home from the long commute, Doug's wife asked him how things went. Doug explained regretfully that he didn't make the interview. Tire blew. Had to put the spare on.

"Oh, hun, that's crappy! Shit ... well, maybe if you call them and explain, they'll give you another interview."

"Ah, I don't think so, babe. I think I'll just forget them, and go on to the next one, y'know?"

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