I swear if that fucking chair squeaks one more time I’m going to grab a handful of comb over and drag that fat lump of useless from his desk. I swear.. I swear…
“Dammit Jim!!!” My shout cuts through the silence of the office and Jim turns around in his desk to face me, still with the same bewildered, half asleep look he always has. It could almost be a rubber mask, if not for the sweat that is constantly beading up at his sideburns.
The rampage scenario in my mind is ignored and I feel just a little less of a man, but I do finally say something.
“Please…” I take a calming breath and continue, “Will you stop leaning back and making your chair squeak, it is extremely distracting.”
Then I smile. I know it’s fake as hell, he knows it too, but society is happy.
Mary at the desk to my right gives me a worried glance. I can tell she’s wondering if I’ll be the next to snap and maybe she should ask for a seating change, so she isn’t near the fallout. There’s a small possibility Mary is actually caring, but I doubt it. She’s got her own shit life to worry about.
Jim stares a couple seconds, his chin bobs, and he turns back to his desk. It’s over.
I sigh and shuffle a random pile of paper to make me look and feel productive.
The truth is that my job takes a maximum of two hours to accomplish every day. I am forced to stretch it out to eight. I think it is actually harder than having to do actual work.
When I first started in this office, I would sit and write reports five times over, or day dream with my head bent staring at the paper.
Now the dreams have dried up and I just longingly gaze up at the small slit windows they put near the ceiling. Natural light without the distraction of nature.
I’m betting that the psychopath who designed this office also designs prisons.
Last week, to battle the boredom, I started this game where I tally up every time a noise happens in the room.
-23 phone calls
– 3 farts
-14 pencil tapping sessions
-10 whispered conversations
-41 chair squeaks (mostly Jim)
This was the beginning to my self-torture.
Once I started listening, I couldn’t stop hearing.
What started out fun, became annoying, then more and more painful to take. A little sound wave can slide through all the stagnant silence in the room to become like a tiny knife being jabbed into the base of my skull.
Yesterday wasn’t so bad because I snuck in a music player and wore one earbud in to keep my mind busy. But some asshole snitched and got me a demerit. Now I won’t be getting any raises this year and I am seriously contemplating puncturing my eardrums.
I know it seems extreme, ‘Just quit, right?’ I can’t though, my mom is sick and I pay for her food and rent.
‘Find another job.’ Nope, this one took me a year and a half to get and I need experience to move to another soul sucking company.
I am stuck.
That stupid motherfucker.
“Jim… You’re doiNG IT AGAIN!” I try to keep my cool but by the end of my sentence I am yelling.
Once again he looks back at me, but this time he says “Sorry Dennis” and as that mass of annoying flesh turns away… I see it.
The corner of his blubbery round cheek goes up with a smirk.
That diabolical fuckwad is doing it on purpose!
I stand and raise a clenched fist but in a moment my courage falters and I sink back into my chair.
I look over to see Mary’s eyes dart back to her own computer screen, I feel worse knowing that my lack of conviction was witnessed, even if only by her.
Two more hours to go before I can step back into the cities cacophony of background noise.
Two more hours of this episode of Twilight Zone that I am trapped in.
One hour and fifty minutes.
I begin to hum the theme song for Rick and Morty but only get partway through before six different people simultaneously shush me.
Someone has started having hiccups.
Good lord I can’t take the anxiety of waiting for the next spasm to strike my ears. It’s just too much.
I get up and briskly walk to the bathroom. A manager from the next office over is standing at the urinal waiting for his relief, so I beeline for the shitter. I know I can waste a good half hour on the toilet before anyone starts thinking of reporting me.
As I sit with my slacks pooled around my feet and cool air on my ass, I contemplate how to get over the obsession with sound that I’ve created.
Maybe I could get a doctors note that allows me to wear headphones while I work. Trouble is, it could take weeks to get into a therapist and then what if they refused me the Dr.s note. I need a solution now.
Deep in thought, I’m startled by a ‘Tap. Tap. Tap.’ on the stall door.
“I’m in here.” I say in a monotone voice.
“I am aware.” The man answers.
“You will have to go up to floor eleven’s bathroom. I’m gonna be a while.”
“We both know you’re not actually using the toilet, so come on out.” The tone has high authority.
“Listen pal!..” I begin, but then see the expensive loafers and silk suit pants that show from under the stall door. Shit! Only CEOs wear that caliber of clothing.
“Just a minute, I’ll be right out.” I say in my Suck-up/Yes Sir voice. The man clears his throat and steps away as I exit the stall.
I hold open the door, “It’s all yours Sir.”
The well coiffed BigWig just looks at me and then the toilet.
He chuckles a moment and says, “No, I don’t need to use the toilet. I want to talk to you Dennis.”
My stomach sinks as I turn to wash my hands, stalling as long as I can. I look around and realize we are alone, then ask, “Oh? Me?”
“Yes… you. I’m Mr. B.A. Sahbub and I’ve been watching you for a while now. I think that you might be just the employee I’m looking for.”
I smile at the complement and feel the hope of being saved from my personal hell rise in my chest.
“Really? What company do you work with?” I ask.
“We aren’t so much a company as a global institution of like minded individuals working towards a common goal. Almost like a family.”
His description is a little ‘off’ but I’d heard of CEO’s creating PR images of their companies as family workplaces. It wasn’t totally a surprise. I smile like a moron and nod.
The man’s steel colored eyes caught my own muddy browns and I couldn’t look away as he was speaking to me.
“Now the work I’d have you doing is a little unorthodox but you’ll be able to travel from time to time. It’s also been noted many times that we offer a warm work environment… Now it won’t be all fun and lollipops, but there are great benefits and a 401K. I’m willing to match your salary and throw in ten thousand more a year. What do you say?”
“I’m in!” I say without missing a beat and break into a giant grin.
From his coat pocket he produces a legal draft and a W2. “This position starts immediately and I’m afraid there won’t be time to give your two weeks. Is that alright with you Dennis?”
“I think they’ll be able to find someone soon enough.” I agree and sign the papers right there on the bathroom counter.
He mirthfully laughs and rolls the documents up to tuck them it into his pocket once more.
I laugh along with him because I am happy for my turn in good luck. I am not entirely sure why he is laughing though.
“Now you do realize…” Mr. Sahbub begins to say but is interrupted by Jim walking into the bathroom.
Jim sees me, completely ignores the man standing next to me and the fact that the gentleman is already speaking, to say, “Dennis! I just reported you for taking too long in the toilet, you’d better…”
The very second Jim places his meaty paw on my shoulder, he freezes up mid sentence, drops to the floor, and proceeds to turn blue.
“Can’t say that’s a loss to the human race.” Mr. Sahbub shrugs and continues his original sentence. “Now you do realize that you have to change your last name to Reaper now, hope that’s alright?”
Completely in shock, I shake my head yes, but relent, “What! No. Reaper? Why?”
“That’s what you are now, you get the names I provide and give a little touch; boom they’ll be deader than this guy on the floor here. I did say it was an unorthodox position didn’t I? Yes, I believe I did. Anyway, you’ve signed the contract and so it is so.”
“What! But I didn’t know… what am I going to do now?”
“I would suggest you go on home and tell your mother the good news on your salary raise. I don’t suggest a congratulatory hug though. You know… since you’ve got the death touch and all.”
“What the fuck!” I scream at him, “You have to be messing with me right?” I give Jim a little kick with my loafer, no response. He’s definitely dead.
Mr Sahbub holds his hands up and walks to the bathroom door. “Go ahead and try it out on who ever else you want to kill. I’ll be in touch tomorrow morning. I expect you to be calm and ready to work by then, Dennis Reaper.”
As he walks out the door and it swings shut I shout at him.
“That’s not my name!”