[Fiction] Spotlight

Tie

George looked forward to the Christmas party each year at the office. He had worked at Schaffer’s for twenty years in the accounting department, poring over numbers from 8am to 5pm. On Wednesdays, he hit the gym for an hour, just enough to keep him vaguely in healthy shape. He wore nondescript dress clothes in the tan to mahogany hues his father used to favor, keeping a kind of nostalgic camouflage. But tonight (he checked himself in the bathroom mirror) he was going cheetah.

“Hi George,” Patty greeted him when he entered the party. She slid one manicured crimson nail down his spectacularly spotted tie. “Leopard this year?”

“Cheetah.” George smiled.

“Feline tonight, eh?” said John joining their group. He clasped George on the shoulder and called over his own shoulder to Lenny, the Director’s Assistant. “You owe me 20 bucks, Len!”

Lenny came shuffling over, plastic cup of beer in hand. “And here I was sure you’d go zebra, George!”

George laughed. “Yeah, well, I still have the rest of the zoo to go through.”

They made small talk; inquisitive, prying eyes seemed to find George ever so often conveying a confiding, sly humor. He soaked the attention in like a plant thirsty for sunlight, grinned into his glass, and started planning his next pattern.

[Fiction] The Lists

The problem with online booklists, Lissel thought, was that they made you conscious about not only what other people were reading, but how fast they were doing so, and how many friends had decided to discuss their literary aspirations with them. A place that fostered nerdish fraternity, a niche for the language-inclined, became a comparison chart. And it became increasingly distressing, downright mortifying, to know that a book, well-loved, and well-lauded (in no less than an average of 5 out of 5 stars!) by the mass public made one yawn and want to hang oneself. There was persecution and then there was willing self-immolation, and Lissel was through with both. She couldn’t quite chuck her laptop in the trash though, and so resigned herself to peeping between her fingers if she happened to (accidentally, I assure you!) land on anything remotely related to the Lists.

Lady of the House

My lady is a pearl they say
born in muck and grime
a woman of humble means
who never turned to crime

She caught a married man’s eye
by the virtuosity of her plight;
He thought he saw a halo
and dumped his dumpy wife

But when I was a girl
and before I was a maid
I knew a woman who lingered
by the lamppost on bitter nights

T’was her, that they called Susan
who dolled herself up fine
and how she has now risen
this wily mistress mine!