Sunspots on a Calendar Week

Sunspots on a Calendar Week

I’d like to tell the sun, the persistent, pervasive sun, to get bent. I’d crease it centerwise myself, fold it twice for good measure, and slip it into that one-finger pocket they sewed into my jeans, but it won’t comply. All it wants to do is deaden the summer air, hissing and spitting above the lakefront like a signal flare. Outside. Inside my cube it’s a naked bulb hanging in the corner, aglow in the periphery of my bloodshot eye. Buzzing in my ear. Where the switch is I can’t recall.

I’m not a sadist. Not perverted, strictly speaking. I don’t care what the Chief Executive Officer said into the microphone during his outburst. Or human resources after that. They’re the ones who put his soapbox on the seventh-floor balcony in front of the highrise condos they just put up across the street, not me. And when you see two people fucking, with a capital F—really sharing the spoils the way it should be—who cares if the Company has gathered at three o’clock on a Monday to hear the top dog give his all-hands spiel? You look, godammit, and you probably laugh. That’s the human thing to do, and my enjoyment of that elegant intersection of things intangibly cosmic was not at the expense of Him and Them and the rest of my fellow employees. At least it wasn’t meant to be. Sending someone home for a week, without pay, from one cube to the other, is the real transgression.



Since I’m stuck here, today I’d like to change this cube into a sphere. I can’t knock down those walls—definitely not covered by my security deposit. But something has to give. The light bulb is sway-dangling and the hardwood floors are scuffing and scratching as I slide my furniture around, chair, desk, coffee table, television set. I know! Finger to the sky. This is an epiphanic moment: I’ll light a cigarette and put it all in a circle. Put it all in a circle and sit in the middle cross-legged, longer than ten seconds, for once. Set the boob tube to the fuzz. Turn the radio knob until it’s right next to the jazz station, so close that some horns and a bit of fixed-wire brush come through but not all the way through, and smoke, smoke, smoke.



I shouldn’t have done that yesterday, but screw Them. Home for a week, and now this? All because two brave exhibitionists chose a Monday—coincidentally a Very Important Monday to a certain small-to-medium business just barely clutching to survival in this bratwurst city—to make whoopee in broad daylight. I didn’t point it out. I didn’t shout, Hey you, shut up a second and look at those two angels, those two fearless forest nymphs. I just laughed. It started slow, yes, and built into what the suits might call a rolling cackle, but that’s just how it comes out when it’s organic; if it sounds derisive, well, what’s a stuck mid-level supposed to do?

That line of argument didn’t fly with my Supervisor, nor Human Resources, who were both on the phone to give me the heave-ho. While they were reciting their premeditated speech—“Given your recent behavior, and the strictures of our corporate policy…”—I drew up a list of words that they probably didn’t understand:






Bratwurst (?)

Still, the fire department had to come and they had nothing to do with this. I shouldn’t have done what I did yesterday.



As it turns out, and this is just occurring to me now, corporate stationery and the clear sheet of plastic over the opening of those pre-printed envelopes, they smoke heavy and blue when you burn them. Look at that! It’s really going up. I’m glad I put a damp towel in the middle of the circle before sitting down to this Very Important Work.

Time for another list. An assessment of my day, so far: Waking up early, even though no work: permitted, but not ideal; Keeping the walls bare this far into a six-month lease: permitted; Arranging furniture in a circle: permitted; Smoking inside a studio apartment: prohibited; Smoking inside a studio apartment after being warned not to smoke inside a studio apartment: prohibited; Not having sex in said apartment this far into a six-month lease: permitted, but not ideal; Not having sex in said apartment this far into a six-month relationship: permitted, but cause for concern; Making a small pile of paper correspondence and official documentation in the center of said circle: permitted, albeit suspicious; Lighting a cigarette and using it to set fire to said pile: strictly prohibited and grounds for prosecution.

Look at that impeccable use of the semicolon. Where’s that on the quarterly eval, Mr. Chief Executive Officer? Mrs. Human Resources Administrator? Nevermind. Now I can actually hear the sirens coming down the street and for once in this up-and-comer part of town, thinking Are they coming for me? isn’t crazy. Who called them, anyway? The landlord? I guess you can smell it in the hallway. My apologies, ma’am. And sorry to make you come down here, fellas. I blame it squarely on sunshine and free love.



Just after coffee, and while admiring the irreversibility of my work, there’s a knock at the door. Who knocks at this hour? Decorum be damned. There’s still work to do in here, and not just cleanup. Fuck off, people. Really!

I open the door and my pearl is standing there. Oh, my pearl. Items six and seven, list two. Hello I say, and she says hello back. She peeks in but only for a second. I can see this because the sky is overcast, finally overcast, and I don’t have to shield my eyes. They’re open wide and wet. She’s looking at me like she doesn’t need to see what’s behind.

Are you alright?


About the Author

Fiction writer. Half of a real Slovak. Words in The Watershed Review, TIMBER, Lunch Ticket, and Clarion.


Photo by Isabella Mendes: