The Drowning Gull 1 - Page 26


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