I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West
- "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
- "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
- "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
- "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
- "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
- "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
- "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
- "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest
Friday, August 31, 2007
human remains in my cubicle
I never liked August. Not a summer guy, so by August, I've just about had it.
This August was no exception. I got back from paradise, aka San Diego, on a Friday night. August 3rd. A day later, Sunday the 5th, I was awakened by the phone-- there was no staff in the exhibit I manage. I had to go to work.
The city is quiet and almost sort of holy on Sunday mornings. The streets are empty and everything has that clean, quiet look-- as if repentance itself has washed through and scoured everything from the sins of the weekend.
It takes me ten minutes to walk to my office. Every morning I pass the intersection of 20th and JFK, which crests a little rise, and where I once saw a man my age lying on his back in the street, looking at the sky, rescue crews milling around and looking at him with almost idle curiosity.
When I got to work, my first day back after six weeks, there was a human skeleton at my desk. The skeleton was wearing khaki pants, blue moccasins, an employee shirt, and a Santa hat. And she had no arms.
It's not as weird as it sounds. There are a lot of odd specimens where I work. We are an educational institution. The skeleton is just another teaching tool. Her arms were borrowed to do comparisons to dinosaur fossils, and never returned to her.
But, though this isn't as weird as it sounds, it is exactly as disturbing as it sounds.
The skeleton, the dead lady, gets moved around our office. She was in the lunchroom for a while. Sometimes she visits cubicles. She lives on a wheeled platform, suspended by a metal pole that ends in a screw that goes through her head. So, she is always upright, but shrugging, as if to say: Hey, I'm doing the best I can. Give me a break. I mean, Christ, I'm dead. She probably got wheeled into my cubicle while I was away, more for storage than for a prank. I've rolled her into empty cubicles myself, plenty of times.
Yet, though I have seen her many times, and, before I left for Clarion, had come to understand her almost as a silent co-worker-- her tense grimace expressing perhaps what all of us feel on occasion-- I was not prepared to encounter human remains on my first day back on the job.
Yes, the skeleton in the office is funny-- like the disco ball and the taxidermied snowshoe hares. But when I came back from Clarion, it hit me so powerfully that this is actually a dead person. It was a punch in the gut, seeing her at my desk, like discovering a crime scene. I recognized her at once as an omen-- or at the very least, just about the worst feng shui conceivable.
And sure enough, I did have a truly horrible month at work.
at 10:17 PM
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