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An American Dream

         The socializers had given Wilson the official title of “the office skirt.” The men enjoyed loitering around his desk, cracking jokes that usually regarded the nature of his sexuality. They stood there in their group, sipping on their hot (not scalding) cups of coffee. If they had had any sense they would have realized that it could have been any one of them.

~

            “Jeff Brandell, we have to restructure to accommodate for Jeff Brandell.” He was an old college buddy of Edward’s who was supposedly going to do wonders for the company. He was the kind of man who kept a lighthearted attitude as a company sank into the abyss of bankruptcy. It didn’t make any sense. Edward was a straightforward, all business kind of guy, yet here he was hiring Jeff Brandell, an abomination to modern business.

~

            Wilson had been called into Edward’s office and told of the restructure that landed him in a secretarial job. Edward had reminded him of how much time he had to work his way up the latter. The problem was that he already had, and now he was being pushed off, just as he had caught sight of the top rung.

They had stopped talking, so Wilson assumed the meeting was over. As he turned to leave Edward called out to him. Of course, the large stack of papers on the desk. That was what secretaries did, file papers and answer phones. Wilson took the papers from the desk and quickly turned to leave. Edward maintained a grin. It was sickening how a man could do this to someone so qualified, so deserving of the position he had maintained for months. The misdeed would not be forgotten. How could it be? The demotion was a slap in the face to all he had ever accomplished.

~

            Wilson sat at his desk; frantically filing away the stack of papers he had been given. The task seemed impossible; it was as if he were searching for folders that weren’t there. Done by tomorrow? He would have to pull an all-nighter to make the deadline. To make things worse, out of Wilson’s previous office came Jeff Brandell. When Jeff reached the desk he stood and waited, hands in pockets, swinging back and forth. Wilson jammed a file into its proper folder and looked up. “What?” Jeff looked momentarily taken aback at Wilson’s sharp response, but quickly laughed it off. “oh yeah . . . so . . . how’s the battle?”

“I’ve got a lot to do.”

“Okay . . . well . . . yeah, you look like you could use a little help.”

“Wilson was now getting quite irritated and letting it show. “No, I don’t need your help, thanks.”

Jeff’s face shot into an expression of alarm. “Oh, no, no, not me, I was talking about Edward.” Jeff turned around toward the boss’ room and called out to him, “Hey Edward, get out here and give Wilson a hand.” Wilson was dumbstruck; who did this man think he was?

The room grew silent as both Wilson and Jeff looked on in anticipation. Jeff gave Wilson a nervous look like a parent unsure if his child will obey. “Edward, quit moping around and get in her now!” Slowly, from out of the office came Edward, feet dragging, head hung low. He stopped a few feet from Wilson and looked off to the side, “what do you want me to do?” he asked. Wilson was speechless. Was this the same man who had only hours ago informed him of his new position in the company? At the moment Wilson no longer cared. All that mattered was the satisfaction he knew he would feel after giving Edward his first orders. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Instead a harsh buzzing sound came from somewhere deep in his throat. He closed his mouth and tried again, another buzz came out. Edward began to smile. Then he began laugh. The laughter grew louder and louder, Jeff’s face began to redden. He opened his mouth to scold Edward, but he could also manage nothing but a buzz. The two tried to raise their voices, but it only caused the buzzing to grow louder. Edward stopped laughing and with a mocking smile looked up at Wilson, “You’re late.”

~

            The alarm clock read 11 a.m. Wilson was already three hours late. He did not bother to shave or shower, instead he threw on a wrinkled shirt and the same pants he had worn the day before. He waded through piles of clothing, movies, and other obstacles in search of his Easton baseball bat. He reached under the bed and felt the cool metal cylinder. As he held the bat up in the sunlight he felt a sense of power he had not felt for some time. Today was the day things would change.

The hallways held their breath in anticipation of a momentous day. Wilson approached his workstation like a soldier approaching battle; cool, calm, and collected, with a hint of excitement.

The apparently desolate landscape harbored sinister told of the enemy, tools that had previously enslaved him. The bat flashed like a lightning storm, exploding through his computer, knocking over the file cabinet, and pummeling through the fax machine. The frontline had been routed. The time had come to meet his nemesis face to face.

Edward sat in his office chair, rapping his pen on his mahogany desk. Suddenly the door burst open, Wilson came in swinging. The room, a million dollars of fragility, was hit by a whirlwind of destruction. Priceless vases fell into pieces on the floor. Shards of crystal from an ornamental bowl flew across the room and embedded into the oak grandfather clock, an heirloom representative of generations of opulence. Item after brazen item, all destroyed with the swing of a bat.

Edward dove for the corner of the room and crouched like a cornered animal, searching for any way to escape his inevitable death.

A golden putter rested on a silver stand, flaunting its value, manipulating the sunlight to advertise its prowess. Wilson dropped his bat and picked up the club; a prize he had so long deserved. He lifted the club above his head and with the force of years of repressed anger, drove it deep into the desk.

The room was now in ruins. Wilson stood, breathing heavily, looking for one last thing to destroy. Abruptly his eyes stopped on the desk, then moved slowly to the window, and back to the desk. In an uncanny display of enraged strength, Wilson pushed the desk through the window. After seconds of suspense the desk exploded on the sidewalk over fifty stories below.

Wilson staggered back against a bookcase and slumped to the floor. There he waited; waited for the man in the corner to ask him why he did it. The room was silent, yet the walls cheered, praising him for taking such a bold stand against the tyrant. Shuffling could be heard outside the office door as the socializers flocked to the commotion. Suddenly Jeff Brandell burst through the doorway. “What the hell is going on here?” he demanded, looking Wilson over as if he were a rabid dog. Edward’s eyes scanned the floor, the walls, and the ceiling; but they could not connect with the eyes of another human, it was too humiliating. “We’re okay . . . just give us a few minutes.”

“We’ve gotta call the cops! That bastard almost killed you!” Jeff exclaimed, slowly turning his gaze towards Wilson and glaring. Wilson felt his temperature rising. Before Jeff could react, Wilson was on his feet, bat in hand. The bat smashed through the door, knocking splinters of wood into Jeff who had just managed to lift his arm to shield his face. The broken door was enough to send him diving into the hallway in order to escape the madman with the baseball bat.

Wilson shut what was left of the door and turned to face Edward, but Edward had rose to his feet, the animal-like terror still in his eyes. He eyes darted around what had only moments ago been the stronghold of his empire. He gave one final glance at Wilson. There was only one thing left that Edward could deny him, satisfaction.

“The glass spider webs gave way as Edward dove through the window. Seconds of silence were followed by screeching brakes and screams. The deed was done.

~

            Wilson sat on a metal folding chair that had been leaning up against the wall; a chair he felt honored to sit in. He sat, arms folded, waiting to be taken way to a cage that he would learn to call home.

Footsteps could be heard coming down the hallway, whispers came from behind the door, silence, and a sudden crash as the door was kicked in. Guns rattled as the S.W.A.T. team took aim. Wilson slowly looked around the room at the numerous barrels which returned his gaze. He rose to his feet, guns following his every move, turned around, hands on the back of his head, and dropped to his knees. The handcuffs were on within second. He was lifted to his feet and escorted out the door, through the hallway, down the elevator, out the main entrance, and shoved into a squad car.

~

            One pregnant moment in an otherwise insignificant and unfulfilled life; locked away with no grand conclusion to the story he had lived. “It is finished.” The words felt so good, so fulfilling, but no sooner had they been spoken than the words fell empty to the floor. The end of days, the end of months, the end of years, bail, and the beginning of freedom. A beggar, a vagabond, society’s scum, the conclusion to an American dream.

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