Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New short story: A girl can't be too careful

Here is an excerpt from my newest short story. Read the rest at They're only Shadows.

An early December snowstorm choked downtown Minneapolis with a blinding, blustery assault, keeping would be Christmas Shoppers and Warehouse District employees inside for the afternoon. The lunchroom of Hobbs & Linderman, a large design agency in the Twin Cities, was busier than usual as employees grumbled over Lean Cuisine and stale sandwiches from the vending machines. Senior designer Alice Nolan and copywriter Conner Farmington occupied a small table in a corner of the noisy room.
            “Is that a new tat?” asked Conner.
            Alice lifted up her arm. “Yeah. It’s a butterfly with Jeffrey Dahmer’s face.”
            “Of course it is. The expiration date on this cinnamon roll is in Roman numerals.”
            Alice smiled. “Well, since you’ve eaten half of it, I hope that’s not a problem.”
            “I’ve had worse. Do you or do you not find it weird that most of the people we work with on a daily basis are total strangers? I mean, here’s an example. I interact with Janice Dempsey almost every day. Project coordinator. She’s nice, capable, good at her job, but I know exactly nothing about her. No wedding ring. Okay. Not married. A bit gamey and course at times, but not outrageous. Beyond that, nothing. Even though I converse with her probably more than anyone else in my life, I don’t know a damn thing about her.”
            “And this troubles you.”
            “I find it odd. That’s all. On a given workday, I spend more time with you than I spend with my boyfriend. Okay, more conscious time, yet I only know bits and pieces of your life, but it’s a whole lot more than I know about Janice. Do you not find that strange?”
            “I live with two cats who know me better than my parents. Go figure. You gonna eat that pickle?”
            “The copy for Dow?”
            “Yeah?” said Alice with a twinge of dread.
            “Full of cryptic satanic references that will make fundamentalist Christians instantly evacuate their bowels when they read it.”
            “That’ll win us more work. Do you really want to know more about Janice Dempsey’s life? And if the answer is yes, why?”
            “My point is a simple one. I spend a lot of my life with a group of people I know nothing about.”
            Alice leaned in. “That can be a good thing.”
            “If you have a lot to hide, maybe.”
            “I wish. Besides, this is 2014. You can find out almost anything about anyone online.”
            “Please. That’s too much like stalking for me.”
            “Listen, you’re interested in the life of Janice Dempsey? In a half-hour of searching I bet I can find out a ton of information about her.”
            “Okay, but why?”
            “Call it a personal challenge.” Conner arched an eyebrow. “Okay. My life is so boring and empty even this sounds exciting.”

No comments: