I am a flat lander. I crave landscapes of hills and valleys. When I move, I want to find a place high on a hill. My goal is to look out my north window and glimpse the rolling vista. At this moment within the confines of this office cubical, I let my mind wander to a distant place.

Just for a moment, I escape the limits of this existence. 25 years at this same job. Only recently I have been sequestered within the borders of this cubicle. The demotion did not help. I found out quickly the new boss is not a fan of practical jokes. Putting a fart pillow on the chair where she would sit while conducting the morning meeting. The laughter that erupted embarrassed her. She abruptly stood up and walked out of the room. Within the hour she had summoned one by one every employee that had been in the room.

Everyone knew it was me who placed the flatulence pillow. My wife had passed away last year. At this point of my life, I am considering early retirement. I have put away a large nest egg. I can well afford the lifestyle I am accustomed to.

I do my best thinking in a different sort of cubicle. As I walk down the corridor to the men’s room I notice a group of co-workers congregating near the elevators. My first thought was, they were waiting for the elevator. Once the doors opened and closed and no one moved to get on the elevator, I realized they were having a meeting of minds. That in itself is funny to me. Within this group of 6 humans, their minds combined would only make three-quarters of a mind.

I continued my journey to my private oasis. Newspaper tucked under my arm, I slid my slacks down, sat down, and started my own conversation within myself.

I always do my best thinking when I am eliminating, physically and mentally. The pros and cons of any situation can be gone through before I am done with the sports section.

As I finished the process, while at the sink washing my hands I hear loud voices. A woman screamed a man yelled to call 911. Glass shattering. I poked my head out the door to my utter surprise, John Killman who uses the cubicle next to mine was holding onto someone’s feet. From where I stood it looked like a woman’s foot. Clair the receptionist turned and saw me staring. She yelled “Mark! Do something! John has the boss by the ankles and is threatening to let go if she doesn’t promise to quit.”

Here is a hard decision should I yell “Let go!” I am the only one that thinks this is funny. Stepping out of the men’s room I slowly started to walk toward John. I was within 3 feet of him when he said “Fuck off Mark.” I said “No problem John. Just want to ask, is she worth prison time? Seems you have not thought this through. Your the only one that will be leaving this company. She may take a sabbatical, but she is ornery enough to come back.

John turned to me and said, “Yes she is worth it.” He then let go.

My knees turned to jello. My heart beat was ringing in my ears.

I could hear screams, shouts,crying. I could not distinguish between the sounds.

Once I caught my breath, my vision cleared John was sitting on the floor below the window, hands covering his face weeping uncontrollably. I sat next to him and said: “John what ever possessed you?”

John answered, “I asked for time off to be with my wife. She is in the last stages of colon cancer. The bitch said no! In fact, she said if I took off anytime other than being ill I would loose my job. Doris died this morning. I just received the call.”

I put my arm around John and realized I might have done the same thing.

The elevators opened police officers emerged. John wiped his eyes, laid on his stomach with his wrists crossed behind his back. He surrendered without being asked.

I stood watching them lead John out. A police officer remained behind. He turned to me and asked, “Did he say why he did it?”

I told the officer what John had told me. The officer shook his head and said: “It is a good thing the firemen got here first and had the escape pillow inflated he would be looking at murder.”

Right then and there I decided I would take the early retirement.

Short stories and poems website


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