Ben tapped his pencil against his desk. He was stuck in one of those damnable cubicles. It was bad enough he had to work on a Saturday, on a day when half the city was out at a huge outdoor party for the opening of the new museum. But he also had to endure his damned cubicle.
He had never minded working in a small space before, but those three weak walls served to sever his contact with his co-workers, making him feel like a caged animal in a zoo. He knew, he just knew, someone was watching him, too. Oh, sure, there weren't any security cameras that he could see. But that didn't mean they weren't there. Someone must have been watching him. If no one was watching him, then what was the point of sealing him up like this?
Of course, every cloud has a silver lining. Ben had to admit that this particular lining was very thin, very poor, and very tarnished, but it was there at least. It was this: the cubicle walls didn't reach the ceiling. There was a small amount of space between the peak of the wall and the ceiling of the office building. That meant that he was able to speak, and be heard by the person in the cubicle next to him. He could hold a limited conversation, even if he couldn't see the other person's face.
Ben put the pencil down. He was about to venture to give it a shot. His boss occasionally walked past the cubicle doors (or openings, rather) to see that his employees weren't slacking off. That meant those conversations with his prison mates always had to be short and discreet. It was a pain in the ass.
He opened his mouth, and was just about to shout over his shoulder when he heard the clump of a footstep, and a shadow darkened the floor. Ben snapped his mouth shut and started clacking away at his computer. His boss poked her head in.
"How's it going, Ben?" she asked pleasantly.
"Oh, it's coming along, it's coming along."
"Good work," she said, and started to step out, but paused, "You've been doing real well lately Ben. I'm thinking of putting you in for a promotion."
Ben was stunned. He was usually a decent worker, but today he'd been doing nothing but wasting time all day. Here he'd been, lollygagging around, and his boss had been thinking of how diligent he was.
"Thank you...thank you very much."
"You're welcome. You deserve it."
She smiled and walked out. He gave a little wave after she had gone (he was still in a slight daze). Then a voice wafted over from the space between the cubicles.
"You're a lucky guy, Goldberg," his neighbor said.
"You might call it luck, Martinez, but I call it hard work paying off."
"You never worked hard a day in your life. You're a bum."
"Don't you call me that!" Ben snapped crossly, "I'll bash your head in."
Then Annie Martinez heard Ben standing up and moving closer to the talking space. He did this so he wouldn't have to speak so loudly. It generally meant he was going to say something off color.
"Hey, Annie," he whispered confidentially, "What's the difference between someone who’s unemployed and a sack of shit?
Annie had to contain herself from bursting out laughing.
"Hey, did you hear this one?" she began.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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