Sunday, February 26, 2017

Job Interview

The face in the mirror wasn’t too bad for such a quick turnaround. And the outfit was clean, professional and covered the tattoos. Her spiky hair brushed out nicely for once and it was tossed up in a neat blonde bun. A quick check showed only the slightest pink and green streaks. Party Kelly had been  put away and replaced with a professional, responsible young woman, ready to take on any and all public relations nightmares.

This was the first real job interview in a while, six months at least. Yeah, she’d heard all about the slow economy and whatnot. Everyone thought she was doomed to wait tables the rest of her life. After all, it was all she had done since high school.

It was time to prove them wrong.

The job offer was weird, though. And how it came was weirder. The old man wandering in before closing last night. Balding, with grey fringe, he seemed OK for an old guy. There was a twinkle in his eye. Maybe Santa on his day off? At least he wasn’t a drunk. Suchita had finished her side work and offered to take him. But the man had requested her to wait on him. The coffee only order made things easier. Oh, there were a couple of lame flirting attempts. Kelly just laughed. He might be a sweet old man, but no way she was going home with him. She wasn’t that dumb, or that lonely.

But the voice! She could listen to it all night. Morgan Freeman mixed with vodka. It thrilled her  to her core.Since he was the only customer left, there was plenty of time to talk

His name was Luke. He had traveled far and wide Stories of Europe and Asia took her mind to all sorts of places. Never married, though. Said women would just have tied him down, although he hinted at more that  few hot nights. . All this said with a wink and a smile. Kelly spoke of her family and the lack of opportunities in the small town and her loser boyfriend. Her contribution to the conversation made her depressed. But Luke smiled and that made her feel better.

The last hour flew. Last call came and the old man handed Kelly a piece of paper. Said a friend of his had a job needing her expertise and she should be their at 9:00 AM. He turned at went out the door as Kelly’s widened green eyes stared as he disappeared into the night..

Expertise? What expertise? She was the friendly waitress with the rainbow spikes and gap-tooth smile. The only thing she had done since high school really was party, and she had the scars to prove it. But she did admit she had a way with her customers. They were better than her family toward her. Always asking how she was doing and tipping her well.

Without thinking, she looked at the paper. DQ Communications, 666 Dominion Street. Odd, no phone number was included. The street name wasn’t familiar. Must be in the fancy part of town. What if she got lost? She did have the GPS Daddy gave her. It will get her there. She hustled to finish up. Got to get some sleep if she was ever going to escape this place.

The sun was in her eyes while she looked for the address. Traffic seemed really light for a morning rush hour.

"Turn left. Your destination is 100 yards on the right..."

The voice on the GPS always reminded her of fingernails on a chalkboard. She only used it in times like these, where getting there important. To Kelly, getting lost was part of the fun of traveling. How else would you find new places? Waiting for the light, she looked at her destination

Grey glass looming high over the street. 666 Dominion Street was an impressive place. Must be twenty stories or more.  A small sign at the curb noted the existence of DQ Communications. Parking the car, she took one last look in the mirror. No smudges, nothing between her teeth, nothing that indicated she was just another girl with broken dreams. Taking a deep breath, she opened the car door and walked confidently into the building.

The lobby was impressive, paneled in brushed metal and wood. A reception desk was centered in front of two elevator. The red coated woman  smiled in recognition and handed her a visitors badge..

“Kelly, right? We have been expecting you. Please take the car to your right.”

Unlike most elevators, this one only had a scan pad. Passing the badge her hand over pad caused  the doors to snick open, showing a mirrored interior. A feeling of unease came over her as she stepped in. Soft, relaxing music played as the doors closed. The elevator began descending. Descending? The friend’s  office was in the basement? The car come to a halt.

The doors reopened showing a stark white room with a small desk in the center. There were chairs on each side. Luke's disembodied voice called out.

"Good Morning, Kelly. So glad you could make it. Please have a seat and I'll will be out shortly."

Her apprehension grew as she stepped out. Where had the voice come from? No speakers were visible anywhere. This had to be a mistake. Turning back to the elevator, the doors were gone, replaced with another blank white wall. Holding out her hand, it was cold to the touch.

"Don't worry, Kelly. There has been no mistake. Please. Sit down."

As she turned back, there was Luke. He was now dressed in a black suit with a contrasting red vest.

"I'm so glad you could make it. It isn't often I get pretty ladies here."

Kelly's eyes widened.

“An explanation is order. While I did introduce myself as Luke last night, my full name is Lucifer J. Beezelbub. I am the founder and CEO of Devil's Quill Communications. We use the initials DQ to fly under the radar, so to speak."

Noticing the fear on her face, he tried to calm her.

"It's not what you think, Dear. You haven't gone to Hell. That is only for the really bad ones that fail the evaluation. No, we are under contract with The Maker to run quality control on those whose time has come."

Curiosity overcame fear.

"My time has come? You mean I’ve...   Wouldn't I have known something about that?"

Beezelbub laughed.

"Not likely. Not many people know it, but everyone comes out of Maker Industries with an expiration date tattooed underneath the hairline on the back of the neck. Even when you put your hair up, like you have it now, it usually stays hidden. The only ones I have ever known to find it are chemotherapy patients and even then their rarely recognize the date. Since you are here, let me show you yours."

He shuffled around a drawer in his desk and brought out a two piece hairdressing mirror. Putting it up to Kelly's head, she could clearly see yesterday's date underneath mousy brown roots. She began to cry. Lucifer put his arm around her shoulder and whispered in her ear.

"We almost missed you. Now let's get your evaluation started."


The medical examiner wheeled the body out of the restaurant. In the corner, the detective handed Suchita a tissue. Nodding appreciation, she blew her nose and took a deep breath.

"It was so sudden, Lieutenant. Kelly was sitting there talking to this old guy when she just collapsed." Dabbing her eyes. "Like she had been touched, or something."

"What did this old guy look like?"

"Nothing special. Older than you, maybe 65. White with a grey beard. He had on this red cardigan sweater that looked like Hell, but other than that, I can't remember. He was gone even before we called 911."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Season 10? (Blogophilia 1.10)

Congrats to Martien Ecrits and all of us in making ten years of writing.
Like we do at the beginning of every years, we introduce ourselves. My name is Christopher Mitchell, also known by my internet handle Another Government Employee, or A.G.E.. Several years ago, I was this guy:
I have since left government employment (by mutual consent) and now spend my time consulting on pension and payroll issues and writing nonsense as a hobby.
I started with Blogophilia in the middle of the 2nd season at the invitation of Spidey John (may he rest eternal). I had been a member of a couple of other groups (the Treehouse, Group Blogging Experience) and I began lurking around the crazy Martian’s shop. A MySpace invite later, I came in. My Space died and we moved over to Facebook and here we are. 
I am primarily a prose writer, but do run Free Verse from time to time. There are few topics I won’t write on. If something offends you? Well, sorry about that. Go find a cat video to watch. 
Think you have what it takes to write with us? What are you waiting for? We tend to be kind in our feedback. 
Looking forward to another exciting season. 
Oh, and if you are interested in my archives, most of them can be found at 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deadline (Blogophilia 52.9)

Dirt turned to mud
Cold March day
Ten days since food
Nothing left to lose

Guards starving
Missing the Deadline
The tide turning?
No way to know.

Fragile lives lost
To target shooters
In the frost
On our last stand.

Far side of the north wall
Tom’s Bounty sits
Promising solace for all
While heaven waits.

150 miles south of Atlanta stands Andersonville National Historic Site. Only a blank field with a small portion of stockade fence remains of one of the most horrific events of the Civil War, Camp Sumter. The term “Deadline” come from this place. It was a line 10-20 feet from the inner stockade fence. The guards had a “shoot to kill” order on any prisoner that crossed it, day or night. As many as 45000 Union soldiers were held there in the three years it was open. The death toll from disease, starvation and the infamous Deadline was upwards of 13,000.
As history is seeming to repeat itself, we would do well to relearn the lesson of failure this camp was.

Pic Guesses: Running (in blog), Runner, Victory, Oops, I did it again, Gotcha, Party Time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cold Comfort (Blogophilia 51.9)

Rain fell harder as Jack approached the exit. Ominous grey clouds in the distance promised more to come. Fitting weather for a memorial, he guessed. Twenty years passed by since he was last in town.
Without thinking, he began to hum Turn! Turn! Turn!, another season passing. It seemed like yesterday Barry, Mark, Sam and him were the Putzietones, at your service for Proms, Weddings and Bars. Fun days, or at least most of them were. They had started in Mark’s garage as an excuse to drink. One thing lead to another and they found they played well together. Never breaking out of the regional club circuit, the gigs paid for gas and some ass. Over time, life intervened. 
About the time the record company came around, Sam’s girl, Mary got pregnant and they decided to get married. Mark got bored and went back to school. That left Barry and him and the sketchy contract they had signed. Soldiering on in a couple of more bands, Jack got the job with the label as an A&R rep and the band with all the dreams was truly over.
That left poor ol’ Barry. Still drumming for local bands, he really never quite finding his niche. Too many cigarettes, too much liquor and not enough love had left him a shell of his former self. Over the years, he’d pissed off family and friends. He was living in a beat up trailer outside of town. At least until someone found him like a lump of laundry in the bathroom. No trauma or needles were found. The family said it was likely a stroke. After the initial pain, Jack had to admit it wasn’t a surprise that it happened that way. That was a couple weeks ago. It had taken that long for the family to get a service together. 
Mason Mortuary sat back off the road to his left, with entrance to the Emergency Room just beyond it. Growing up, he made jokes about them being next door for everyone’s convenience. Now it wasn’t so funny anymore. Barry was the first one them to go. Who would be the last man standing? The thought drifted through his mind as he pulled across the road and into the parking lot.The parking lot only had a couple of cars in it. Was he early? He pulled the rental into a space only three away from the front door and dashed inside without bothering with his umbrella. The long, gray ponytail didn’t even get wet. Brushing moisture from the sleeve of his jacket, he took a minute to get his bearings. The tuxedo coated Concierge behind a Queen Anne desk pointed him toward the chapel.
Outside of the door was a picture of the four of them they had taken for the record that never got issued. Somebody said they should all wear aqua leisure suits. Jack had to admit they were pretty handsome in that hideous get up. The unmistakable sound of Wesleyan hymns being butchered on a Hammond B3 drifted out the opening. Mrs Austin, the organist at Memorial Methodist, was doing her improvisational best. How old was that woman, anyway? She seemed so old when they were kids. And now she’s outliving all of us? Somehow, it didn’t seem fair. 
Sam was already seated on the front row. They shook hands and briefly embraced. They kept up with each other over the years as they moved from place to place. Sam was a big time Chicago D.J. now, divorced and living alone. He said Mark had moved to Florida a couple of years ago, splitting his time between studio sessions and insurance. Sam mentioned that Mark couldn’t come, something about a surgery although he sounded drunk when he talked to him. That wasn’t much of a surprise, either. Jack himself was now working as music program consultant, running focus groups and making the listening decisions for the masses.
In hushed tones, the two of them looked around the room. The building had been designed by a former Jesuit priest who decided architecture was better fit. This building had been one of his first assignments. The plans from a concept of concinnity and harmony the guy had learned on a trip to Europe. Stained glass windows of the Beatitudes splayed out on each side of the altar and above them the seven virtues on the left and seven sins on the right. The reminder of the windmills of your mind. A reminder of the yin and yang of life.
The Concierge came down the aisle and asked every one to rise. The unmistakable strains of “Wish You Were Here” seemed to drift up from the floor and the few family members that cared were led in. Not a surprising choice of hymn, really. When the band was on the road, the four of them would sing the song as a warm up to pass the time. Barry had asked Jack some time ago if it wasn’t cold comfort to exchange a walk on part in the club wars for the cage of a steady job. It was a question he couldn’t answer then and really not even now.
The service was blessedly short. The minister did his best to dress up the failed life, although it was apparent the two had never met. How come that is so often the case? Hell, they could have just dug a hole and threw him in for the level of sincerity shown. I mean, Barry wasn’t perfect, but he was a man. 
Finally it ended. Jack and Sam stopped to pay respects to the sister who had arranged the ceremony. Neither one of them could remember the others’ name. They decided to skip the reception and go find a bar. It was a far more appropriate place to have a wake for their fallen comrade.
As Jack got outside, he noticed the rain had stopped. Maybe the exchange was the best. All he knew was he’d be dead and gone before he knew for sure. Putting on his sunglasses, he turned on the radio. The dulcet bell tones of Stairway to Heaven poured out of the speakers as he did the burnout on to the highway.

Pic Guesses: Windmills of Your Mind(in blog), Stairway to Heaven (in blog), (Will It) Go Around in Circles, (All My Life’s a) Circle, Spinning Wheel, Spiral Staircase, Turn! Turn! Turn! (in blog), Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Long and Winding Road, Turn the Page

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Smoldering Saddles (Blogophilia 50.9)

Orange haired lump
Playing superhero
Cowboy ridin’ in from the North
Popping Propecia
Thinks he’s savin’ the world

He claims
He is trusting in the Lord
Not trusting a good lawyer
Who he fires
When told no.

While outside
The world says
“It’s Morphin’ time!”
Nothing Orange hair does
Matters anymore.

Up is down
Left is right
Those in charge
Wait for the Limosine
To take him in to the bloody sunset.

Pic guesses: Help!, What’s New, Pussycat, Against the Tide, Pretty Kitty, Cat Scratch Fever, Pussycat song,