Monday, March 10, 2014

The Wanderer by Vito Racanelli

George wore his favorite suit, his only suit, for the interview. It was brown corduroy. He’d owned it for years, though he hadn’t much call to use it. It had been in style before The Collapse.

His counselor, Andrea, from Back on Your Feet Each Day!, said not to be nervous. He hadn’t had a job in a long time but still he wasn’t nervous.

Mrs. Rose Landry met him on the 24th floor. He’d been told it was a bank, but there were no tellers. It wasn’t even on the first floor, so he wondered how customers would be able to get their money. But they might give him a job so he didn’t ask any questions.

“George Willoughby,” she said with a smile, but also as a question.

“Yes,” he said and smiled back.

She was older, slim and well dressed. She had on a black pantsuit and wore a lot of make up. It must take her a lot of time to do that, he thought.

“Follow me,” she said, and they walked into a giant room full of people, mostly men, sitting at dozens of desks, each with three or four blinking computer screens. Many of them were barking into their phones, as if there was something wrong with the phones. No one paid attention to George or Mrs. Landry.

“This is the trading room,” she said. Once you start working you’ll be coming through here a lot. Don’t get to close to the animals, though.”

George laughed but he didn’t know what she meant. He looked for animals but saw none. They went down a long corridor, until they reached a scratched up metal double door. Mrs. Landry stopped, opening one of the doors wide enough for George to peek into the room too.

“Mr. Fallon, I have George from BYFED,” she said.

George couldn’t see him but he saw a few older men working at tables, sorting mail. It looked like fun and that was what he wanted to do, too. He hoped they would give him the job.

“I’ll be 15 minutes. OK?” Mr. Fallon said.

“He’ll be in Room A,” Mrs. Landry said. She turned to George. “He’s going to be your new boss,” she said with a smile. “He’s nice.”

George smiled too.

She put him in a small conference room with a view of the Hudson, and asked him if he wanted a coffee or water. George wasn’t thirsty but said he needed to use the men’s room.

Standing in the doorway, she said, “Down the hall, third door on the right,” and pointed the direction.

After she left, George rose and moved down the hall toward the men’s room. He saw people, mostly women, in glass walled cubicles looking at him and smile. He smiled back.

He passed another conference room, Room B, and saw two people in there, one, a very pretty woman sitting at the table and working a laptop, and another, a man in a shiny blue suit, very close to the door. The man seemed nervous and expectant.

When the man saw George stop for a moment at the door, his eyes brightened.

“Mr. Willoughby?” he said.

“Yes,” George answered, surprised that the man knew his name. He thought maybe this was Mr. Fallon.

Immediately, he came out of the room to shake George’s hand. “Bill Struther, from Struther Software. Good to finally put a face with a voice. I’m so glad you made some time for us. Hope we’re not too early,” he said, still shaking George’s hand vigorously. The man had on a big smile, very wide, and pulled George into the room.

George looked back in the direction of Room A and wondered about this. The man, however, would not let go.

“Take the head of the table and we’ll get started,” Bill said.

George sat. The woman, he noticed, also had on a lot of make up. But it looked better on her. He didn’t know why. She wore a green dress and smiled at him.

“Maggie. Maggie Lister,” she said, extending her hand. “Director of marketing.”

George shook it.

“I love your suit,” she said. “It’s so Mad Men.”

George said, “Thank you.”  He didn’t think he was mad.

She hit some keys on the computer and the large screen in the far corner came to life. There were a lot of colorful graphs on it.

Bill spoke, using a red dot pointer. The software they were offering would save George’s department hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as man hours.

George didn’t understand “man hours,” but he nodded his head anyway. It sounded like a good thing.

Andrea had told him to be polite and nod his head a lot to get the job.

After about 20 minutes, Bill, who’d been talking the whole time—though George didn’t really understand most of it—finished.

“What do you think?” Bill asked.

“I like it,” George said, smiling. “Very much.”

“Great,” Bill said. “That’s really great. You’re not going to regret this,” and he came over to shake George’s hand again. He and Maggie seemed happy, and George was happy at that too.

Just then, Mrs. Landry walked by quickly. She stopped abruptly and moved to the door. “There you are.”

“Yes,” George said.

Mrs. Landry looked at Maggie and Bill. They seemed confused.

“George is here to see about a mailroom job,” she said to them. “I’ll have to collect him now.”

“Oh,” Maggie said. She smiled and seemed embarrassed. She looked away. Bill said nothing but his face got red. He slumped down into a seat opposite Maggie.

Mrs. Landry brought George back to Room A, where Mr. Fallon was waiting.

“Hi, George,” he said, shaking George’s hand.

“We’ve been having an adventure,” Mrs. Landry said to Mr. Fallon, with eyebrows raised, not looking at George.

“Everything ok?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Yes,” George said.

“Well,” Mr. Fallon said, his fingers tapping the table. “Let’s get started, shall we?”

Vito Racanelli's short fiction has been published in The Literarian and The Boiler Literary Journal and performed at Liar’s League NYC at KGB’s. He is a 2013 Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Story Prize finalist and a participant in the 2013 Pen World Festival. He's currently working on a book of short stories and recently finished a novel about a terrorist attack that took place 30 years ago in Italy, where he lived for four years. 

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