It seemed to descend upon him, all of a piece—the whole cloth, its shadow, anyway, cloaking him, on his forty-fifth birthday.
It initially manifested itself as recalcitrance, disdain for waking on time, dressing for work. Getting into his clothes seemed superfluous. After all, he was infinitely more relaxed in the nude. He fit better in his skin than in underpants and socks, suit, long-sleeve shirt, tie, wing tips.
None of that really mattered to MacroEye, Inc.
Then, a week later, when his right hand seized up, refused to manipulate his keyboard and mouse, couldn't even lift and aim and move his pen, his sector chief observed that he was virtually useless at processing the not-inconsiderable piles of paper.
And so his termination wasn't influenced by his failure to conform to the company's dress code, rather because of its vaunted loathing of the challenged. Nobody, from CEO to janitor, evincing the slightest sign of disability, could continue. To overlook any malady or symptom would be to jeopardize the firm's insurance rating, its primacy as supplier of biometric software for the Ministry of Homeland Security's telescreens.
Strangely, inexplicably, and all too sadly, three days after his termination,
Simon W had gone from being a semifunctional entity to a broken soul naked to the
flesh and bone, a creature more feral animal than man, hiding from the eyes of power, hiding in the raw.
Half a year into his unreconciled destitution, Simon W died, was accorded the requisite state burial.
In his open casket, he rested, dressed to the nines.
L. D. Brodsky
One Monday morning toward the end of your forty-ninth July, having remained in isolation since the previous Friday, you homed in on your favorite local diner, to gather your thoughts (scattered and lost), over a breakfast of eggs, sausages, toast, and coffee, before your hour of reckoning arrived—taking your place at Toxic Testing Pod 14-D, having to acquit yourself of missing Friday.
What could you concoct, to wheedle your way out of this? They'd read a lie all over your nonpoker face; furthermore, you had a notorious absentee record, and always, they'd exposed you, by phoning your doctor or the emergency room or your caregiver, revealing your prevarications for what they were, docking your pay, contorting your schedule, forcing you to labor overtime, holidays, at regular pay, until they'd recouped the hours you'd stolen from them.
But this time, you believed your exception from work would find acceptance among your tribunal of bosses, if only you could appeal to their humanity, by couching your malingered Friday in terms with which their bottom-line minds might empathize. After all, hadn't each one of them, from time to time, lost a spouse, a child, a best friend, a card-playing or golfing or bowling or drinking buddy, a pet?
Yeah, that's it, your pet tabby, the best friend you'd ever had, who cuddled up in your lap, when you ate, watched TV, slept in bed with you, shared your dreams.
Yeah, that's why you missed Friday last. Pinky's death was more than you could bear . . . little Pinky, lying beside you, on the sheet, stiff as a boot.
But once under the intense interrogation of Mr. Sugihara, you stuttered and, intimidated, confessed you had no pet.
You were fired, for "lying through your nose," fired for playing on the sympathy of your superiors . . . then rehired, as you'd been hundreds of times, for being unexpendable.