“Why did we hire you?”
Loretta laid down the legal pad, a bit too roughly for my style. A strange question, I thought,
but hey, maybe she just likes to nail everything down real linear-like.
It was my first visit to the Mayor’s Office Building, and I was still a little sore
about ‘linear’, not having bothered to notice that 4th Ave is one-way northbound.
I’d had a long talk with a fairly cubical cop, plus a long walk after I finally found a place
to stash my Fiesta.
“To head the Seattle Slogan Team, is why, Miss Jung.”
I felt a little silly playing the game, but she loked serious.
“No, Solberg, why did we hire YOU?”.
She picked the pad back up and did an un-necessarily sarcastic reading of my first offering:
“Seattle: The Town you can’t Sleep in!” What is this, a joke?”
My first sign of trouble ahead. “Attack.” the book had recommended.
“I cried all the way through that movie, I’ll have you know..”, I countered, expertly.
I was practicing my new assertiveness.. practice makes perfect..
“.. and ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ is taken, you know..” I continued to strengthen my case,
” legally, we can’t..”
“Solberg, du bisht eine Schleep-Valker..”
There, she’d hit me where it hurts.. well, one of the places. I got up and started for the
door.. suicide or Johnny Walker ™, my only options. Or so I thought..
“…but you’re not going anywhere!”
Hmm.. I’d already banged my hand on the push-bar at the exit door. Looked like she wanted to
torture me a bit before the main be-heading event. Head down, I headed back to my seat.
Seven eyes were upon me, Loretta, Winston-the-city-planner, and Joey, whom I knew and liked
well enough to use his say-so to get my foot in the door here, oh yeah, and Moshe, my one-eyed
kitty, so docile and pet-able I’d decided to take him along to The Meeting.
Him, and my Sears ™ tie-dyed shirt were supposed to clinch my image as the mad genius copywriter.
Like a cheap politician, I’d brought along a baby to kiss, in an emergency.
And this inarguably was one, I admitted, as even Moshe eyed me with an unfamiliar new
‘loss-of-innocence’ look, as if saying “My Hero, Johnny, say it ain’t so!”.
Course what does he know, living in two dimensions. ‘It ain’t so’, I obliged, ‘but how’d you guess Mosh?‘
I shot him a quick look, remembering that he could still smell me sweating with both nostrils.
“…till you come up with something..” Loretta, finally finishing her sentence and passing
“..something ..better..” Winston had decided to help aim the gun at my chest. Or maybe he was
on my side? His face coulda masked four aces.. or a ‘3’, a ‘7’, and ‘no help’. . Remind me
not to warm up to him anytime soon.
“.. which could be just about anything..” from Joey. At least he said it with humor; I appreciated
that immensely, but stopped myself from smiling in his direction. He had neutrality to defend,
having dragged me into this on his good recommendation,
“Well,” I stammered, “I do have several alternatives I’d be willing to share with The Group“.
I looked around the table, thinking for a second how much I probably looked like that shifty-eyed
disgraced ex-president.. Tricky Dick. Now I hated Nixon even more, and he was a dead man,
for Christ’s sake.
But then so was I, if I couldn’t remember the other two choices I’d thought of in the shower
that morning. What a drunk I am! How could I have been so… so sure of my ‘super-powers’, that
I hadn’t even bothered to stick another arrow in my quiver?
“Soup-er-powers” entered my mind, uninvited. Then “Supper-power”.. hmm, must be hungry.
“Could we break for lunch?” I asked, all politely. Winston looked at Loretta, and then
down at his watch. A good sign? No, his eye-rolling said it all. It was 3:30 PM.
Lunch? Was I on the wrong planet?
“We could offer you a glass of water.” Winston suggested. I was tempted to remind him that
the Court Order does grant me a Last Meal in the State of Washington.
“No thanks” I tried to say nonchalantly as I reached out and petted Moshe on his little head,
“Maybe ..um..’Sinclair’ here would like a drink, though”.
I pictured Moshe with a White Russian sitting on his own little chair, euphoric, and
laughing at his dunce of an owner.
Great, now what does the stupid book recommend, ‘bring in the clowns while you re-torque the
tight-rope’? I was glad I hadn’t let slip the cat’s Semitic name. Bad enough ‘Solberg’.
The hastily re-named ‘Sinclair’s look had “You Quisling!” written all over it.
I stared at him as time slowed to a dead stop, letting him focus on me, a loving father and
His bite actually drew blood. I hadn’t seen it coming. This was new and un-orthodox
behavior, I thought, startled, as I reached out with my other hand..
…and bumped it on the bedframe! Where was I? Tangled up in the blankets, I spun my head,
searching the room for Loretta, Winston, Joey, anything ‘familiar’..
Moshe jumped on my head, purring this time, hungry and playful.
“Sleepless in Seatle?”, I half muttered to him, “Now why did I dream of that?”
“Beats me” he shrugged. “Breakfast?”
A special welcome to folks coming here from Ira’s link, or who thoughtfully(?) ‘bookmarked’ me a week ago during the firestorm. I will now accept Queries from the audience..
Q: Start out with an insult, huh?
A: Yeah. Loretta was tough on me right from the git-go.. oh, you mean ‘queeries’, sorry, make that ‘questions’, I was just tryin’ to sound hi-brow. No offence.
Q: Have you ever been in Seattle”
A: Yes in fact, once, in 1964.
Q: What? Then this story isn’t true?
A: It’s ‘true-to-life’, does that count?
Q: What the hell’s hypnogogia?
A: It’s a little bit of hell, where you are half-awake, half-asleep, can’t move, can’t scream, lying there listening to whirring mechanical noises, seein’ the room spin around, dead leaves flying through the closed window, wishing you could disappear or something.
Q: Or leave your body?
A: Yeah, that works, but it’s not as easy as it looks. And please remember where and how you left it, in case you want to come back into it, otherwise you can end up without a leg.. or a head.
Q:Nothing horrible like that happened in the story..
A: I didn’t want to frighten children or the elderly. No, it’s more an Anatomy of Overconfidence on the Job story. I feel like that sometimes at work.
Q: And Seattle?
A: Yeah, ’cause of ‘Sleepless’ which I loved.
Q: And which just happens to be..
A: Yeah, what a co-incidence.
Q: How long does it take to write a story?
A: I typed this as fast as I can type and never looked back.. about a half-hour.
Q: Looks like it, haha. Lot’s of little typos..
A: Yeah, I’ve been informed, and I plan to fix them.
Q: Don’t you think the style is maybe, too ‘clever’ at the expense of a point.
A: Not really. A good question, though, and not the first time I’ve heard it. There’s a class of writers, and indeed, people, for whom ‘clever’ is the point. Exuberance uber alles. Anybody can make a point. I’m just working around the edges, on the ‘high-style’ part.
Q: And if I don’t like it?
A: That’s what the mouse is for. But thanks for reading.