A workplace Comedy
“Networking, you see how it’s all connected here?”
Nod, slight smile, noises of agreement.
“Yes, well even if you can’t grasp that just now, you’ll learn how to fit yourself in with the others here. It’s all about interconnectivity.”
Nod, slight smile, noises of agreement. No, don’t say anything. He won’t listen.
Walk, sit, type. Dirt water…I mean, “coffee”. Networking
The nondescript 9-5 job has undergone some major changes in the past few time. New boss, new policies, more networking. You sit, a stone, amongst the different and the new. A bright stone, resisting the flow of brown and grey stones conforming and parting around your…unfamiliarness. This isn’t productive behavior, says the fifth talking to that you just received from Clive Someone or Other. He is the head or your department. Your department used to be headless, you all used to run about on horseback, with different colored stones on your heads, terrorizing the market. Netting a profit. That is what networking is, what the hell does Clive think he knows?
Maybe the others are just better at pretending than you, they can’t love this as they seem to. You need to take the first step to getting back what you had. Something needs to be done about Clive.
You can’t do this. You can’t Network anymore. What the hell is networking anyways, right? Clive never gave a description.
You open the door, which seems to be hanging mostly by imagination, and give no greeting to the pet, which you are fairly certain, exists solely in the imagination. Whose imagination, though, you haven’t decided. Not yours, it is an ugly pet.
Why are you on the roof?
You sit in the hard smelling late afternoon; with the sun dilating into the blue of the sky. Tainting it orange, streaking it pink and purple as it scrabbles to stay above the horizon. Behind you, in the readily darkening ceiling of the globe, a cluster of storm clouds slouches grey and crackling.
Why are the clouds upset?
They weep, and bellow songs too low for you to understand. They don’t want to pour down the fresh clear rain. They want blood to shed, blood to cry from the heavens, red paint to cry down the buildings and the people, and Clive. They must be displeased with how you have dealt with things at the 9-5 job. “It has changed you” the clouds are saying. “We have nothing which we can wash away. No red, no heat, no danger. wheerrreee is your gut, your gumption, your grit? No steel, no biting, gnashing, listen to them ohhh listen, listen, listen.”
Why have you stopped?
This used to come to you like breath to a newborn. Like a man, like a knife, taking breath from a newborn. You got what you wanted. You got what they wanted. They got what you wanted. What they wanted you to want. Where are they now?
Congealing, creeping, dragging, preparing.
They need to be found, tonight, Clive needs to meet them. You call them. It’s been a long while. They don’t come. Not after you got them out last time, oh no. They’re touchy. You call them.
Seems like you will have to go hunting for them in the dark, in the crawling, in the drenched streets below. You don’t need to go far. You find them all curled into a heap in The Alley. They recognize you and make themselves welcome. You remember this fear, the clawing, cutting, killing, cold fear. You fight to keep them out, they don’t want to go, they fight back.
“We’ll deal with that later, you later, as a whole.”
“Yes, but you did come back looking for us.”
“He needs something.”
“You need something.”
“WWWHHHEERRRREEEE ISSSSSS HHEEEE?”
“He hasn’t changed much as you can tell.”
None of them has changed much.
“He has a point though, you need this Networking Clive dead?”
“Course he does, look at him”
“Can’t deal with basic social discomforts.”
“Dealing with things like us in order to make your life a bit more comfortable.”
“Thinks that we will help him like before”
“Don’t burn your bridges, mate.”
“Or backstab voices in your head, asshole.”
I’ll save you the pain and just tell you that this goes on for some time. They do, eventually, agree to help you in exchange for some undecided reward that probably won’t come back to bite you in the ass.
The side of Clive’s house has one word painted on it, in proud large letters. The symbol of his ethos, his Bronze eagle, around which he has built his life.
Oh yes, this is the right house.
They’re talking quite a bit, but I’ll save you the trouble.
You go inside, Clive didn’t even lock his door. You walk around a corner and see him sitting on a nearly transparent couch. Facing away from you, staring at a TV which is bleeding light and color around the small tidy room.
“What the hell is his couch made of?”
“Doesn’t matter, just do as we say.”
Step. Crouch. Quiet now.
You grab a length of razor wire between your hands, Clive leans his head back to look up at the ceiling. And closes his eyes.
“Almost as if he knows, do it now.”
You have always had trouble with this, the act. Once you get going you really don’t hold back. But this was always hard.
“Don’t whimp out you worthless killer.”
“We’ll kill you if you deny us this, after all the trouble we went through.”
“Kill him you bastard.”
You move quickly, you shut your eyes.
Gurgle. Struggle. Hands moving to brush against your face.
Clive stops, he is limp. He is no longer reaching up. He is no longer sitting up.
In many ways, he no longer exists at all.
Why did they make you feel so bad? The struggle, they should just die Their own fault really.
"Could have been faster, less hessitation next time?"
You ask about their payment.
“Oh we don’t want anything physical, obviously that would be worthless.”
“Emotions are so much sweeter.”
“Don’t you worry.”
“Now you have a 9-5 to get to.”
You have been up the whole night, you need to change and go to work.
Clive is gone, you are free. Finally, things can comfortably go back to the way they were. This really was the best choice; maybe they are not so bad.
You scrub the thickening red from your hands and change into a nice shirt. The blue on that you got from your mother before she…before you…it’s a nice shirt.
You arrive. Clock in. The voices have completely left and you have been enjoying the silence and lack of Networking. You walk into your department and see someone unfamiliar. They seem to be giving a speech to the rest of your department behind the glass door of a conference room. You go in.
“Glad you could join us.” The strange man turns and you see the label pinned to his shirt that defines his place here I this building but means nothing outside of these walls. “You’re just in time for my presentation.”
You look up at the board.
“Sit down; I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Clive.”
“Now as I was saying, Networking is going to be an extremely important part of how we plan to grow this…”