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from Harvester by Tom Mohler

Brenner & Billings

More than twenty minutes late yet again. Annie did her best to get me up and moving before she left for work this morning, but I just couldn’t get myself together. I must look so disheveled to my coworkers— running into the office with my shirt only half tucked into my wrinkled khakis and my shoelaces practically untied. Combine that with my unkempt balding head and the pair of swollen black bags sagging solemnly beneath my sunken in eyes and you’ve got a drop-dead looker on your hands— real GQ material. These people have got to think I’m crazy, drunk, or on drugs. Probably all of the above, but that'd be a fairly accurate assessment. Should I care what they think of me? I hate this fucking job but damn do I need it.

It doesn’t get much better than working for a company that has you cold calling old ladies, trying to convince them to buy premium life insurance to cover their final expenses. Take them for all they’re worth before they're on their death bed— that’s our motto. What a noble pursuit. At any rate, my numbers have been horrible lately and my recent paychecks have certainly shown it. Can’t put bread on the table if I don’t manage to swindle more grannies out of their social security checks.

There’re about thirty new emails sitting in my inbox. Corporate reinforcement of sexual harassment protocol because a customer heard someone refer to women as chicks over the phone, a limited time incentive program to sell more policies before the end of the quarter by tacking on burial plot packages at a discounted rate, phone number listings for new residents of nursing homes and assisted living communities within our territory, a ‘CC all’ from our boss’s secretary, Janet, telling us that Mr. Brenner’s birthday is next Tuesday and we should all remember to wish him a happy one, etcetera, etcetera. 

The subject lines of the emails all blur together, flowing like waves as I struggle to focus my eyes and read them. The tapping of keyboards, the hum of fluorescent lights, and the chattering mouths of conniving parakeets all collectively bombard my ears while my head throbs like a drum being beaten in some tribal ritual. 

I swallow a couple extra strength acetaminophen (generic) along with a healthy swig of Davy from the stash-flask I keep tucked away in my filing cabinet when someone walks up behind me.

“Hittin’ the sauce a little early today, aren’t we bud?” Thank God it’s ...






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