Sunday, May 29, 2011


Ms. P sat in her office.  She was searching for something in the drawers of her desk and was getting increasingly frustrated. 

Ms. P: I know it's here somewhere.  He handed it over to me in here.  Or maybe he handed it to me in his office.  Always handing me something to handle.  Could still be in his office.  For all I know, he may have taken it with him.

The phone rang.  She hesitated as she continued to ponder.  Ms. P eventually picked it up.

Ms. P: LLX Systems Communications Division, this is P speaking.  Oh, hi, DD.  How are you?  Really?  Bronchitis?  My goodness.  I'm sorry to hear that.  Yes, I do give a crap.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Don't say that either.  Well, that's a little true.  Just kidding.  I said I was kidding.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  You keep saying that.  I do, too.  I was just kidding.  What do you mean you can't tell?  Of course, you can tell.  I can tell you can tell.  How?  How can I tell you can tell?  By the way I make it sound like I'm kidding.  I take the nasty edge off of it.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  For crap's sake.  Like I said about the crap that I give.  No.  No, not true.  I disagree.  I disagree.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  All right say that.  Go ahead and say that.  I give you crap.  I give you crap even though I give a great big crap about you, DD.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Fine.  Say that.  Fine, say that.  Go ahead and make yourself worse by saying that.  See if I give a crap.  I do give a crap.  Don't - OK.  OK - go ahead and say it all you want.  Keep talking yourself into the intensive care.  Is that what you want?  It sounds like that's what you want.  How's your carpal tunnel?  Worse?  See, it's because of how you talk and what you do to yourself.  Yes, I know.  It's your kids, too.  Just the older ones.  The little ones don't know any better.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Fine go ahead and say that.  All right, go ahead and say that.  See if I give a crap.  All right, fine, it's the little ones, too.  And your mother?  Anyone else you want to throw in and stir into the mix?  No?  I'm surprised.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I was just kidding.  All right, whatever, go ahead and say that.  Go right ahead and say that.  How's your back?  Really?  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  You are not that old.  You are not.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I'm the one getting old.  I am not kidding about that.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  How  am I trying to be better than you?  How am I trying to be better than you when I say I'm the one getting older?  Well, you are being immature when you make it worse by doing this to yourself.  Go ahead and deny it.  Go ahead and stay blind.  Stay blind and keep on walking through that minefield.  That's probably what happened to your back.  You walked right through that minefield with your blinders on when you could've taken a different path where you looked out for you and taken those blinders right off and thrown them away.  You could've thrown those blinders away or down the toilet and flushed them away.  You might've had no back problems now if you'd listened to me and flushed those blinders down the toilet.  Sure I'm saying this to you now, but this is nothing new.  This is nothing new.  I've been saying this for years.  Well, not in those exact words of flushing your blinders down the toilet, but I've been telling you to look out for yourself for a change for years.  I've been telling you.  For years.  Yes, for years.  How long?  We have not known each other that long.  No frigging way.  At least a year or two more than that.  Fine you believe what you want to believe.  You don't listen to me anyway.  You're afraid of change.  Yes, you are.  You are afraid.  You are petrified of change.  You'd pee your pants if you really made a change.  All right you have courage to live your life.  Fine you're the bravest person in the world.  I'll go out and buy you a medal and bring it to your place.  Yeah, I'll bring it to your place if it's not Grand Central Station over there.  You don't listen to me.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I don't have to listen to this.  After all the listening I do I don't have to listen to this.  I've got to go, DD.  I have something I need to do for my supervisor.  He left me a whole truckload of stuff to do and I have no idea how long it will take me.  I really have no idea.  You take care of yourself, sweetheart.  For a change.  Yes, I do give a crap.  DD, I've got to go.  Bye bye.

Ms. P hangs up the phone and heaves a considerable sigh.  She sits and rocks in her chair for a while.  She then continues looking through the drawers of her desk.  She finds a piece of paper and looks at it.  She starts to return it back into the drawer and then pulls it out again.  She looks at it and reads it silently to herself.  She then continues to read it out loud.

Ms. P: . . . to her and she'll turn it into a meal that serves 10.  Oh, brother.  Bring a wound to her and she will heal it and nurture and strengthen it into an arm that throws the winning touchdown.  Yeah, right.  Give her the most trampled seeds and she will grow it by her sweat and blood into a garden that could adorn and welcome you to the greatest institutions.  What a load.  Hand her the diminished and she will enhance it with her compassion, sensitivity, and words.  Words issue in the most poetic of language from her and result in all the artists, statesmen, architects, philosophers, doctors, and scientists.  I'll give you some language.  Been meaning to shred this.  Shredding things doesn't quite give the satisfaction one looks for in getting rid of stuff that's called "sensitive."  Sensitive information.  Holding on to things just because they give you a laugh.  Or you just sit here in this dead end not laughing at ridiculous words put together by people who make a living writing ridiculous words that create worlds that are unobtainable because they don't exist or you have to pretend you believe this stuff or act insensitive enough to ignore how ridiculous it all is.  Don't hope for anything.  Just want people to leave me alone.  Get's lonely in here after a while until it's interrupted by annoying friends.  Not really friends.  They just use you by taking advantage of your wisdom.  Actually, they don't apply any of that wisdom.  What a fool to keep showing up at the same damned business everyday.  Nothing better out there.  Not yet.  It'll never come so it just remains the same as it gets worse.  Less and less to give and lonelier and lonelier as the man looks over your shoulder all the time.  Glad he has his own office to keep him out of my hair.  Can't stand my hair.  Bad hair day today and yesterday and the day before that.  Should shave it all off and demonstrate that the barren skull will bring forth something fuller like this crappy hair that just gets tangled with lousy men.  Wants to be stiff?  I'll spray him with something to make him stiff or poison him.  Better off without him.  It's so quiet in here without the boss.  Him and his jokes.  They know how to use the jokes.  Nice and quiet in here.  This rocking feels comforting like that time not that time the other one I wish I could remember better.  I am getting older than her.  Much older and mature.  Lot of good that does with men who know all the jokes.  Ridiculous and they make you laugh and they leave you looking at them and how ridiculous they are.  Glad they're not here.  Glad no one's here.  Should go and shred and get some conversation.  Hard to have a conversation that shredder drowns it out.  The box is full with all that sensitive information.  Sensitive to them.  Just numbers and names.  Not really names just letters and what do they call them ac ac acro acronyms.  Just a lot of acronyms that are owed a lot of money that never gets paid.  Bills.  They want you to pay your bills and you see the stacks of bills they don't pay.  Pretty big stacks so much paper.  Should shred this crap of lies with all the other sheets in this box in these drawers.  These offices are like bigger boxes filled with paper and all kinds of sensitive information that should be shred.  Shredding drowns out conversation into smaller small talk get shredded paper caught in metallic teeth until it gets jammed and smokes and burns.  Still smell the last time it burned.  Burnt popcorn.  Burnt dinners.  Burnt houses.  Nasal memories.  Hard to remember things other ways.  Can't think of them at the moment.  Memory totaled like the last car.  Didn't get much reimbursement for that.  Never do.  Wanted me to buy the supervisor a new digital voice recorder because he broke the last one and didn't want to use his credit card because the company wouldn't pay for a new one.  He said he couldn't use his credit card for some reason that still doesn't make any sense to me.  I've never worked for any who it seems it's in his job description is to not make sense.  It's to his benefit not to make sense.  Avoid giving a straight answer to anything.  Makes me curious what kind of nonsense he comes up with on his latest dictation.

Ms. P starts looking again through her drawers.  She suddenly stops and looks up with a mixed uncertain realization. 

Ms. P: Did I really?  All this thinking about shredding.  I don't recall doing that, but then why would it come back to the surface of my mind?  No, I couldn't have.  Got rid of it.  Tried to.  I couldn't possibly.  Getting older and so mature with wisdom and all that gets ignored.

She gets up and goes over to her shred box tucked in the back corner of her office.  She sticks her hand in and begins to shuffle some papers around.

Ms. P: I wonder if no I did not.  Maybe under this batch.  Nothing there, of course, not there.  I could'nt have definitely no possible way.

Suddenly there is a small thud as her hand moves something against the side of the box.  She stops shuffling papers around.  She is quiet for a while as if contemplating a stubborn puzzle.  She pulls out the digital voice recorder.

Ms. P: So I did.  I'll be damned.  When was this? 

She takes the recorder over to her desk and sits back down in her chair. 

Ms. P: Why does it seem like it never happened or happened so long ago over years and decades even?  A lifetime of forgetting about things that you try to get rid of, but never do until you remember.  Now that's sensitive information.  Sensitive information scraping at sensitive nerves on the verge of snapping.  Snapping.  Don't pick it up where you left off.  Don't press the button.  Don't be pushing buttons.  Those buttons buttons he's so good at pushing buttons those buttons that clever bastard knows what to press.  Don't pick up where you left off you know now now you know where you left off.  You've got the button now and don't have to press it but you have to type it up and make sense of his nonsense or make more nonsense out of it and hide more of what he's trying to hide or just expose him the incompetent rat fink.  The yes man who can't take no for an answer and has no problem passing on the answer no to all of us.  Don't pick up where you left off.  Have the button.  Don't let him press the button.  Out of town and out of mind but at the touch of a button.  Don't pick up where you left off cut off cut it off. I can understand those women who cut off all that dictation.  Just one long stream of nonsense that keeps streaming out.  Don't pick up where you left off.  Have the button.  Do we have to finish it?  Do we have to finish it at all?  Can I finish this ridiculous communication and put enough fragments together and leave all of his so funny jokes and double meanings out in the holes of my forgetfulness and keep it out of the holes of my memory the holes of my body you bastard don't pick up where you left off.  Might need to remind rewind just a little to get just enough to finish the mess.  Rewind enough or rewind all the way to the beginning before the beginning of his breathing his life his existence his voice that voice his meanings his double meanings his ridiculous meaningless meanings and jokes so unfunny they make one laugh make too many laugh that ignore his nonsense or put up with it.  Fastforward away from where you left off cut off cut it off make him bleed.  That would be poetic justice not very poetic and there is no justice.  Could fast forward, but who knows where it ends?Who knows where it ends?  Rewind rewind enough, but when do you know enough is enough?  Rewind to before the beginning can't read the read out the display is broken and misleading like my mirrors where objects don't appear as they are.  Rewind just enough to have enough buffer to get enough material to finish this.  Not finish this.  It is finished.  You're finished.  I'm finished.  Finish this rewind enough don't pick up where you left off.  Rewind to a time before the beginning that place can't bring it clearly enough to the surface in my mind some kind of property when there was a property two or three stories stories with only half finished scenes in them pretty dresses sweaters and afternoon light glowing softly through the material plenty of material and then it gets erased.  Erase all of it and let him do the damn thing himself wouldn't know what to do helpless little fuck floundering behind his words and his nonsense and his jokes can't make up his mind and rewind with enough of a buffer a flash of something that used to be steep a bluff or something where was that?  Smell the ocean.  Smell doesn't last when things get burned up and burned down.  Rewind enough don't rewind at all at all erase it all.

Ms. P rewinds the recorder and stops it.  She hesitates and rewinds some more. 

Ms. P: Don't trouble with it don't trouble yourself erase it all.

She rewinds some more and plays it.

Supervisor's Voice:  . . . figures.  An analysis that analyzes the figures for communication's expenses show what appears to be an increase, but is actually a decrease if you refer to the copy of that report I was expecting from JR.  He promised it to me last week and I will get that from him before the end of next week when I get back.  His numbers reflect more accurately the expense total.  Not like the initial analysis where the reflection of the expense figures do not appear as they actually are like those mirrors on some cars.  Ha ha ha. 

Ms. P stops the recorder. 

Ms. P: Get to the button before he does with his jokes.  He's reaching for it.  Just erase it all.  Have enough.  Trample it underfoot and tell him it broke again and he'll just have to fend for himself and fall out of the nest.  He'd probably catch a branch on his way down and be saved.  Its ones like him that always get saved and never crash.  What is that?  Circumstances always missing schmucks like him so that his team can keep him propped up and making our work make him look good for the ones who remain invisible and when we see their faces at last we no longer want to set our eyes on them ever again.  Erase it all. 

Ms. P plays some more.

Supervisor's Voice: . . . ha ha what was it those mirrors say?  Objects in mirror appear not as they are or further away or closer whatever.  Mirrors lie.  Just like I bet they lie about how I look ha ha ha -

Ms. P stops the recorder and lifts her arm to throw it and hesitates as she cries out.

Ms. P: Told you.  Told you why won't you take your own advice your own wisdom that you can't seem to gain enough wisdom enough to not pick it up where you left off got to finish it finish this mess and go home to the burning smell erase it all rewind before the beginning of the whole sordid story stories erased ruined by them erase it all fast forward, but who knows where it ends?

- Max Stoltenberg

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