“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Her companion gave her a look that appeared to be somewhat amused, somewhat concerned.
“What an utterly horrid cliche that is,” he said.
“What? If I don’t get this stuff done, I’m not going to get ahead and we lose the whole account. Or maybe I lose my job.”
“And what exactly do you mean, ‘get ahead’? Get ahead of what?”
She looked at him coldly. “Do you want me to lose this company? Because that’s what could happen if I don’t make this customer happy.”
“What’s so special about this customer?”
“What’s so special about any of them? We should treat them all like they’re special,” she cried. “You never know which one is going to become special.”
“All right, all right, you made your point,” he said. “All I’m saying is you’re only human, and you’re working yourself to exhaustion. Everyone needs to rest and recharge sometimes. The world’s not going to end if you take care of yourself, and maybe you’ll do better with a fresh start in the morning.”
She sighed. “Maybe you’re right. These numbers aren’t making a whole lot of sense anymore. Maybe it’s best if I knock off for the night.”
“That’s the spirit.”
“Make sure I don’t have any distractions in the morning,” she said, straightening her papers and reaching for her briefcase.
“And don’t let me make any more excuses. We have to finish this by noon.”
“You got it.”
She walked to the open door, looked back at her desk, nodded, said “OK, then,” and walked down the hallway and away.
An unpleasant grin spread over his face, and he reached for the doorknob.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,” he murmured, “and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”
His laughter echoed off the barren walls as he closed the door behind her.
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Monday, June 13, 2016: fragments of two short stories