High Above the World Where No One Cares

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

 

Marvin staggered out of bed, stopped off for a leak, and advanced boldly into the kitchen in search of a swallow of water to combat the cotton mouth. Gaining coherence and mental acuity, he applied the fundamentals of coffee making to his machine and retreated because nature was beginning to call, and, sometimes, in the morning, it could get urgent in a hurry.

“Today is a great day to be Trump!” he proclaimed aloud to no one unless the feds were listening.

Everybody imitated Donald Trump. Him and Christopher Walken, at least.

Marvin was a one-issue voter. He felt the Burn. Uh, Bern.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Like all good Americans, he sipped his coffee and read the morning Facebook. He gained knowledge of casseroles and happy pups. He read memes of famous men and women saying things they’d never said and linked to lurid headlines backed up by stories that said less. The most important matter, of course, was to scrub his website of the overnight spam. Imagine what someone twenty years ago would have made of that phrase: “scrub the website of the overnight spam.”

Don’t even ask about the Treet. Just worry about the traffic.

Marvin experienced the lightness of being that comes with the beginning of another identical day. He had grown to appreciate lightness. Lightness was his friend. Lightness allowed him to avoid the eddies and leap above the waves.

He uncovered the world’s morning mysteries with the flick of thumb across glass. The sudden rise of murders on the Malay Peninsula. Apple’s fight to preserve the privacy of his phone pitted against the government’s need to blunt the terrorist peril. It seemed to him, as the coffee kicked in, that the lining up of his mobile phone against an army of terrorists didn’t seem like much of a fight.

The big picture must have eluded him.

Modern life made him sleepy but unable to do anything about it. He could yawn with the best of them. Motivation could be the culprit, he expected. More coffee might fix the problem. His work ran on coffee. That and lack of motivation. He reckoned that the day’s duties in the cubicle would be almost as breathtaking as Facebook’s morning fare, only spiced with deadlines and commitments.

Sometimes he enjoyed traffic.

Marvin was almost apolitical. He voted. He wasn’t one of the millions who had given Bernie “an average of twenty-seven bucks!” He didn’t actually think there was hope. He was for Bernie just in case there was.

In deference to his public apathy, he privately began his work day by screwing up questionnaires that were in his emails. Deleting them was too easy. He just answered the loaded questions for laughs.

Do you believe in the Constitution as God and Justice Scalia intended, or do you want to continue the tyranny of Barack Hussein Obama?

He checked “Godless Obama,” and, in the margins, wrote, “I actively conspire to make President Blackenstein exalted ruler of the planet! I’m blowing up a power plant this summer.”

He thought better of the latter sentence and deleted it.

That crisis averted, Marvin spent the next hour diligently studying which of the day’s tasks he could delegate to others, even though he was in no position in the hierarchy to delegate anything. He often got away with it. People liked him.

He chose the task that he most wanted to complete, and, in fairness, it wasn’t the easiest. It was the most fun. He chose from a collection of slogans, all of which were at least mildly nonsensical, and wrote a comprehensive memo of minutiae advocating one at the expense of others for the upcoming sales campaign.

Conchuahito! It’s the new burger!

Ah. He still had his touch. He could pick a winner. He could make it better.

Conchuahito! It’s the new word!

Just for shits and giggles, he Googled “conchuahito.” Nothing. Damn. The word wasn’t even out yet about the new taste sensation from Legal Mexican’s. They were going to be sprouting up everywhere, nationwide and with The Donald’s approval. An idea whose time had come.

There was a “conchairto” in the Urban Dictionairy, something about two steel chairs hitting one wrestler’s body. “Conchito” was Spanish for “youngest child,” and Conchita Wurst was listed as a drag queen.

How special. Conchahuito! It’s the new drag queen!

“Conchuahito” was, of course, destined to pop up on Urban Dictionary as “gastric distress.”

That rumination took him nearly to lunch time. He’d brought two deviled egg and ham sandwiches, an unhip practice he’d cultivated from failing to receive a raise since the stock market crashed in 2008. In fact, he hadn’t recouped the eight-percent salary cut they’d all voluntarily absorbed, ironically, the day after Labor Day. That year, he thought, marked the end of his motivation. One day, years ago now, he had driven to Joshua Tree and cremated his motivation with a bottle of cheap tequila and a cheaper lighter. He likened his motivation to Gram Parsons’ spirit and put his joint where his mouth was.

He ate his sandwiches and drank his milk from a carton just like the ones they’d served in eighth-grade lunchroom. Then he walked down the hall to spend the latter half-hour on the balcony, which offered a breathtaking vista of the city that was marred by a hazy smog and the exhales of electronic smoke from co-workers. This, by the way, was strictly against the rules, but the boss often showed up, and it was widely suspected that he was vaping something besides tobacco. Tressel Salvatori was a distinguished-looking man with the soul of a viper. The business ran on booze, cocaine and medical marijuana. It’s communications, dude.

As Henry, his friend in the next cubicle, said, “It’s more creative that way.”

Marvin asked him if he meant the work or the atmosphere, and Henry replied, “Doesn’t matter.”

Another youth movement was in the works. In other words, the boss was trying to run off the veterans so that he could hire kids just out of college for half the pay. Marvin had already fended off the crisis once by crafting a stern letter from his lawyer, who was actually just a friend from college, but Marvin could draw up a damn fine example of legal stationery, and, so that he could mimic the tone of a lawyer, he used several stern notices that he had received from real ones.

Maybe the fake Ellis Bentley, Esquire threat had given him some enduring clout. He’d probably tell Ellis one day when they were together on weekends, watching the Halos go to pot, too.

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Marvin returned to the cubicle and sat there, paralyzed. His ears honed in on a conversation in the cubicle on the opposite side of Henry’s. He paid attention to the words more than the messages they were conveying. Brenda was a cute girl who used big words she didn’t understand to create the illusion that she was intelligent, and someone needed to tell her the ploy was counterproductive. No one would. She’d either gradually figure out the fool she was making of herself, or she’d be a condescending moron for the rest of her life. Marvin thought she might be screwing Tressel, which not only explain a lot but everything. Brenda pretended to be religious, which was to say she was voting for Trump. Marvin didn’t think anyone in the office was truly religious. Most were liberal, the pragmatists for Hillary and the dreamers for Bernie. A few claimed they were Libertarians. All could be swayed in an instant if Tressel even let slip the faintest hint, and Marvin wondered if Brenda’s political views had been shaped by such an intimation in the throes of passion!

I’m Trump! I’m Trump! Yeah! Yeah! Everybody loves me! You love me! Don’t you? Don’t you? Say it! Say it, goddamn it!

              I love you, sugah!

Marvin felt like he knew Brenda. He’d slept with her once, back when she first came to work and had no idea how unimportant he was. She’d been able to figure that out, though it took her way too long. It could be that his perspective was jaded.

The office was united in its glee that the Rams were coming back, and if Tressel succeeded in making them a client, they would all have shattering orgasms. Marvin had heard John Oliver say something to that effect about Trump.

After a quick glimpse at new Facebook casseroles, Marvin switched to Twitter so that he could look at what other clients were doing on their “social-media platforms.” He crafted a social-media campaign simulation for Legal Mexican’s. It took an hour. He would claim a week.

Marvin was luckier than he knew. In a world built on virtual illusion, i.e., bullshit, somehow he had landed in the right place.

(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

As you may have noticed, I use these blogs as a promotional tool for my novels. One, Crazy of Natural Causes, has been out since late July of 2015. If you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate you considering it. It’s a freewheeling fable on the absurdity of life.

A

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

nother, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out soon. I’m expecting to be given a release date soon. It’s a crime novel about corruption and patronage in a small town. The tale unfolds across two generations at the same time.

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. The Audacity of Dope was published in 2011, The Intangibles in 2013. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

My nonfiction, much of which involves sports, is on display here: http://montedutton.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Look for me by name at Google+. Whew. It’s too much.

 

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