My Blog List

  • - * 13 DOORS OF X* *Meeah Williams* The Barking Cat Press * 2015 Brooklyn, NY * Seattle, WA copyright 2015 Meeah Williams/The Barking Cat...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

=Geisha in the City of Death=

And so this is the way our story ends— 
not with a bang or a whimper,
but with an old joke. 

Knock knock who’s there?

“Ah Miss Kimble, do come in. Have a seat and--uh--close the door behind you, please.”

Neena, summoned, standing in the doorway of her supervisor’s corner office, resisted the quite natural urge to turn around, to look behind her, because Miss Kimble she was not, nor had she ever been, nor would ever she have thought so, at least not until now, that is, summoned and addressed as such in such an authoritative fashion. They couldn’t be suspected of making quite so elementary a mistake as that now, at this late date, could they? Softly she closed the door behind her, crossed the office on the quiet carpet, and sat down in the chair across from her boss, the Chief Interrogator.

He cleared his throat, brushed away an imaginary tear (the way you might a gnat), and began intoning the  prepared remarks which would be bound to bore us all should we record them here in their entirety, so we’ll skip recording them here in their entirety, each of us, by now, having been terminated at least once in our lives, we can all assume with reasonable assurance that we have heard—and suppressed a yawn while doing so—them all before.

In short, by these remarks, we are given to understand, quite absurdly it is hardly necessary to add, that the Company has been shouldering mightily through lean times, keeping you on against its own best interests, going so far as to put themselves at a disadvantage among their ruthless and conscienceless competitors, handicapping themselves amongst the fitter in the battle of capitalist survival, crippling themselves, all but condemning themselves to certain failure, committing a corporate form of hari-kari by insisting against all reason to be bound to your unprofitable economic carcass.

This course they’ve followed to the penultimate moment, but now, for god’s sake, sanity must prevail. To save the others, to follow a higher a good, difficult choices have to be made at last, and, as tough as this is for everyone involved, and you can see for yourself how tough it is in the picture of sadness embodied before you now in the personage of the floridly weeping Chief Interrogator. 

For it is he who must deliver the unfortunate news that Neena’s, that is, Ms. Jennifer Kimble's, not the person herself, mind you, but her position, specifically, her place in the world, has been eliminated. (But if her position in the world is eliminated, she thinks, isn’t she at the same time eliminated? How do you exist if you don’t have a position, a place in the world? These are questions it would only embarrass the Chief Interrogator to ask and it wouldn’t do to embarrass the Chief Interrogator, now would it? Why it never has before. And so Jennifer holds her tongue).

With hands clasped upon his bosom, the Chief Interrogator, his face a mask of tragic sorrow, keens on like a Greek chorus at a funeral in a play by Aeschylus, “We’re all extremely sorry. Extraordinarily sorry. Cosmically sorry, if that is not too much to say, if that is not too much sorrow for one man to express, channeling as he does the grief of an entire multinational corporation of sociopaths. Please surrender your card-key and security badge, your uniform, your flesh and blood, your nerves, your dreams, your intellectual property rights, your right-to-be, and your skeleton before leaving the building. Please accept our deepest regrets, our profound appreciation for your years of service, nothing lasts forever, you know. After a decent interval in which you may set your affairs in order, three days, shall we say, you will be burned at the stake, crucified, shot at dawn, you’ll be lethally-injected, hung, electrocuted, drawn-and-quartered, maybe even drowned a few times, stoning can’t be entirely ruled out, lions, especially of the proper temperament, are a little hard to come by nowadays, but pigs are plentiful, we’ve quite a lot of pigs, not that we have any idea what to do with them.  A-hem. Anywho, all of this is detailed in your Employee Handbook, somewhere near the end in a paragraph or two of contradictory legalese set in tiny typeface we don’t intend anyone to ever read upon their hiring.”

If I’m not Jennifer Kimble, Neena mused, while the above was being outlined for her by the Chief Interrogator, if such a thing could be proven, does that mean that I have not, in fact, been terminated? I don’t mean to split hairs, it might seem unseemly under the circumstances to suggest it, but all the same…what if there really were some kind of mistake?

Tentatively, she advances the possibility to the Chief Interrogator, knowing that the time has come at least to take one last chance, no matter how untimely, no matter how gauche.

The Chief Interrogator waves these meek, tentative queries away as if afflicted now by an entire cloud of gnats that have been attracted, even this high up in an hermetically-sealed office building, to his pink and tender tear-stained face.  He has been weeping so copiously over the last three minutes that Neena suspects that special effects may be involved. She is given to understand by his peremptory dismissal of her queries that whoever she is, it hardly matters, they want her gone, vamoosed, desk cleared out, and all this, upon further consideration, by end of day.

The Chief Interrogator rises to signal the end of the interview and delivers the following soliloquy, god only knows why, addressed to who knows who, a justification, perhaps, for future generations. We paraphrase:

“It’s not easy being a cold, heartless, and unfeeling bastard. I have to work hard at it, virtually all the time. You have no idea. The merest chink in the armor can be enough to let empathy squiggle in. That cold, wormlike thing, with the circular mouth of razor-teeth, like certain creatures, never seen, hypothesized, for the most part, artistically rendered, which are said to dwell in the hadal depths…one touch of sunlight and they explode to smithereens.”

He sits back down, exhausted.
Then, he shudders at the thought of the worm of empathy burrowing into his heart’s sweet meat…

Then, looking up pointedly towards the surveillance camera mounted high up in the corner of his corner office, he puts a long grey finger to his lips in warning, and asks Neena if there is anything she’d like to say. Taking the hint, if you could call such a melodramatic stage-gesture a “hint,” Neena says, “No sir” at which point, looking greatly relieved, the Chief Interrogator informs Neena that she is expected to put in an appearance upstairs in (wink) Human Resources.

“Thank you sir,” Neena says, offering her hand to the Chief Interrogator, who takes it with a creepy insinuation, like a sexual predator disguised as a palm reader,* a slimy, unmistakable, all-too-familiar gesture that Neena, still, even in these final moments the consummate professional, that is to say, survivor of childhood sexual abuse, decides it is best to ignore, concluding “it has been a pleasure working for you.”

“Pleasure, indeed,” the Chief Interrogator says, as if recalling someone or something that had once actually given him pleasure, but not remembering what or who it was or what it could possibly have been or felt like. And, then, dismissing altogether such a fanciful, preposterous concept.

Pleasure—after all, what is it without the screaming?

Read the complete novel here:

No comments:

Post a Comment