Will might have to kill Candace who works across the aisle from him. She crunches on hard butterscotch sticks whenever she gets an assignment she hates. She grinds them up like a beaver with a #2 pencil.
Still, he’s got to “roll up the sleeves and get to work another day another dollar if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.” That’s what they say. Except one of the rollers on his ergonomic chair disappeared somewhere between yesterday and today. Will tilts. Will thinks someone on the night shift took his wheel away. He can’t roll up his sleeves to focus on the spreadsheets splayed in front of him because he’s wearing a scratchy-feeling golf shirt from J.C. Penney his wife picked out. Also, working from a tilt makes his eyes focus funny. He should find something in his cubicle that matches the thickness of the wheel. A deck of cards is as close as he can get.
Some acoustical flaw about the sound-muffling panels in the room amplifies and deposits grotesque noises from odd corners of the large office and funnels them to Will. Hard to tell who is using the Emory board, who has the sound turned up for email alerts, who is trying but failing to suppress farts. On top of the spreadsheets, Will thinks he sees candy-stick wrappers, fingernail dust, multiplying Betty Boop dolls, and a cloud of flatulence. Will suspects that others in the office add his name to newsletter lists with regularity. He doesn’t want vitamins or discount thongs, or news from Guam. But at 10:00 a.m. with a plunking sound, his inbox receives #082, “Small Comfort.” It’s the poem-of-the day sent from yet another practical joker, the gods, or Billy Collins*…and it saves him. At least from killing Candace.
Beverly Lucey, a winner of the 9th Glass Woman Prize for Fiction (2011), moved back to western Massachusetts after dallying in the South for a decade. While in Georgia, she learned that “Bless your heart” is not necessarily meant to comfort, and while in Arkansas she learned that every politician must make an appearance at the January Gillett Coon Supper, where deep-fried raccoon is indeed on the menu. She has an extensive fiction presence online in e-zines (in Zoetrope, All Story Extra, Feathered Flounder, Absinthe Review and others), and her short fiction has been published in print: Flint River Review, Moxie, Quality Women’s Fiction (UK), Wild Strawberries and, most recently in, Twisted Tales. Four of her stories are anthologized in We Teach Them All (Stenhouse).