August 21, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
With a sigh of bleak acceptance, Mrs. Wilkinsonson picked up the next file on the stack and stood up from her desk. Stepping out of her cubicle and into a semi-crowded waiting area, she glanced at the file and she called out a name. “Mr. Murphy..?”
A disheveled-looking man with jagged hair and a torn shirt raised his hand in response, revealing a coffee stain on his pants. “That’s me,” he confessed.
With barely a second look, Mrs. Wilkinsonson told him, “Follow me, please,” and turned abruptly, stepping back into her cubicle.
Murphy obediently stood, dropping his magazine onto the side table. This caused an adjacent stack of magazines to tip, releasing a cascade of periodicals onto the floor. Embarrassed, Murphy followed Mrs. Winkinsonson. As he stumbled out of the waiting area, other people moved their feet to let him by, and in doing so three of them managed to kick each other in the shins.
Sitting at her desk, Mrs. Wilkinsonson gestured to the chair opposite. “Please, have a seat, Mr. Murphy. I’m Mrs. Wilkinsonson.” As Murphy lowered himself onto the chair, it creaked slightly then collapsed to one side, dumping him on the floor. Murphy picked himself up and gingerly balanced on the remains of the chair, smiling a weak smile.
Mrs. Wilkinsonson patiently watched his performance until he nodded to assure her that he was settled, then she opened the file, giving it the most cursory of glances. “So, Mr. Murphy, tell me why you left your previous place of employment.”
Being careful not to shift his weight, Murphy sighed and explained, “I’m cursed. I’ve got bad mojo. Things just wrong around me. Stuff breaks, things fall apart. When the company’s national computer network crashed, they let me go.”
“The national computer network… crashed?” confirmed Mrs. Wilkinsonson. “And the blamed you?”
“Of course,” nodded Murphy.
“Mr. Murphy,” began Mrs. Wilkinsonson, patiently, “computer networks crash all the time. That hardly means…”
“Well, I say crashed,” clarified Murphy, with a depressed chuckle, “but it was more along the lines of the main server caught fire. Gutted the office. Destroyed all the new products in development. The warehouse… exploded. It was… It was bad.”
Mrs. Wilkinsonson paused and blinked three times. “Ah. I see.” She turned to her computer, tapping a few keys on the keyboard. “Well, we’ll just…” She stopped, confusion settling on her face as she stared at the computer monitor. She fiddled with the mouse and tapped a few more keys on the keyboard. “That’s odd,” she murmured, thumping the mouse on the desk a couple of times.
Smoke began wafting up from the monitor.
“Yeah, that’d be me,” admitted Murphy, sheepishly. That’s the kind of thing that tends to happen around me.”
Flames licked upward from the back of the monitor.
“All right, then…” said Mrs. Wilkinsonson as she calmly reached under her desk, removed a small fire extinguisher, and coated the monitor in powder. Giving it one extra blast of powder just to be sure, she smiled in satisfaction and turned back to Mr. Murphy. “There. Okay, Mr. Murphy, I think we’ll start you out in our Competitive Strategies department. Basically, your job will be–”
Suddenly the keyboard let out a high pitched squeal and several keys popped out, scattering across the desk. Mrs. Wilkinsonson looked curiously at them for a moment.
“Hm. Anyway, as I was saying, your job will be to attend trade shows and visit the product demonstrations by our competition. Just sort of stand nearby and let things happen as they may.”
Murphy considered for a moment. “I… I think I could do that.”
Mrs. Wilkinson began writing on a small pad of paper. “I’m going to set you up with one of our mojo counselors and– Damn, my pencil broke.” She stared at the pencil for a moment, then looked at Mr. Murphy. She slowly shook her head as a broad smile crept across her face. “You’re good, Mr. Murphy, very good. I think you’re going to do well here.”
Murphy looked at her for a moment with an apologetic grin, then the rest of the chair collapsed under him and he fell to the floor. Choosing to just remain there for the moment, he weakly croaked, “Thank you.”
Try to be nice to each other.