by Jak Greene
Despite all guarantees of success the BSBA allegedly
added to her BFA, she was out of work. That's when
he gave it to her, the hot job lead.
"It's an exclusive," and Jerry, looking
at her, winking, put his hand on her shoulder.
"Headhunters don't even know about this one,
He handed Lee the card, then the folded paper with
the second number. He had, of course, turned it into
an occasion, raising up a reverential air around the
act, like he was giving her communion, or maybe a
bracelet, serious jewelry with serious stones.
Before they left for the airport, he made the call.
The rubber on several phone keys was worn down to
waxy plastic. Why didn't he have more numbers on speed
dial? She saw the faces that belonged to his speed
dial list, a hundred faces on mini stickers glowing
in pink and blue TV frames from the photobooth, dancing
by, like the loops she built into all those interfaces.
Babe, you're humming, here, ok?
Jerry was already on the next call. She smiled and
continued this inventory - without the soundtrack
- so she wouldn't think about his bags in the trunk,
and the Canadian trip that was somehow ending up in
Europe. Anyway, that's how she remembers it
This morning she was busy leveling foam off the lo-fat
capp, sucking in the sweet browncinnamon polkadots.
Her last promotion was designer to account manager,
finally. Selling those loop-ridden interfaces. Every
job has a takeaway, something learned the hard way.
That job's takeaway was always include a couple of throwaway
designs in there with the concept you want to sell.
She and Wyn, the lead designer, streamlined things by
making sure one of those throwaways was always polkadots.
And people always loved them, so then you had to unsell
the client on the dots at some overlong dinner meeting.
But that was another era: expense accounts, lunches,
dinners, all covered by the home office, or even comped
She'd comped out. One day, it was a new era. You woke
up and people were moving back to Toledo, Buffalo, someplace
To more fully embrace that new era, Lee had stopped
smoking, and things already looked different. Today,
for instance, she caught herself wishing she could just
inhale like a yoga breath, inhale all the foam, all
the pearly, cinnamon-dotted foam from all the capps
in brown cups.
Uh oh; was the appetite returning? Involved with her
foam, she didn't look up. So Mr. Apocalypse, the gaunt
guy with long, silvery hair who distributed hand-written
manifestos, set today's edition down. It covered her
folded Chronicle. She didn't mind Mr. Apocalypse, a
regular. Fresh from Charlotte, the café'd been
her living room. She met Jerry here, too. A blue stencilled
saxophone pumping out flying notes in red, black, and
blue marked their table.
She reviewed: Jerry hands her the number on graph paper
torn from his little orange notepad; the green scribble,
a magic formula to bypass receptionist and the personal
assistant. Guaranteed. Of course she should use him
as a reference. To prove this, he makes the call.
They drive to the airport. The kiss, deep, with something
And Jerry turning around on the ramp, letting people
pass him. He was waving the phone, shouting "Not
to worry! You got a damn good resume!"
She fast-forwarded. Clues? Rewind: must be missing something.
A subtlety hidden back there in the morning, like the
trace of ocean salt breeze sneaking in, infiltrating
brown exhaust haze as they park and walk forever to
No, she doesn't watch his plane. Plenty of witnesses
on the ground. It'll be Montreal. Week after that, in
air bluer than this, all the translated points and angles
of a new trajectory will spell P-A-R-I-S.
After Jerry's flight, she rehearses. The interview began
at seven, and though she had role-played with her job
coach, nothing prepares you for every possibility.
A maid who looks only at the floor serves merlot. G______
, the Brit, was VP Ops, and the warmup act for R_______,
the owner. Her charming clothes, their galleries in
Manhattan, Rio, Santa Fe, the naif artists they'd discovered.
How they specialize in presenting third-world talent,
how they innovate to enable total market penetration.
How his lips went liverish when he grinned through ridiculous
waxed moustaches after pronouncing 'demographics'.
That's when she saw the filigreed brass door handle
across the room wiggle, then click.
the owner finally entered from an adjacent door with
its identical, intricately worked handle, things shifted.
The feeling, she searched till she found something
like it, middle of summer back home. You watch the
air thicken, waves rising, the heat coming up from
the road. When there's a problem, when you get sick
from too many perspectives, too many curves, you can
go some place else. You think about travelling with
friends. You recall the long straight-a-ways, where
the burning black lanes turn into rivers of cool glass,
and doors open high in the air.
The maid disappeared. Then, striding across an incomparable
red Heriz, the owner sat down, close. He took up her
hand and kissed it.
"Of course, my dear, you have the perfect resume."
The second time he did this, she didn't hear what
he said. She tried to rise from the oxblood leather
couch, but VP Ops took her other arm.
She didn't need to remember everything right now.
Time for another cappucino. She slid the Chronicle
out from under Mr. Apocalypse's latest:
Gallery Owner Slain in Car Explosion.
You can't put everything on a resume, and you shouldn't.
Omit certain skills for in-person presentation.
Lee smiled. Summers, working alongside Ray and TomTom
in the stand just off I-23 had sent them all to college.
Between customers, you watch the asphalt melt, alternate
between lemonwater and dr.peppers, and flip every hour
for whose station's up on the boombox. And you always
flip for it, even though cars are pulling off, customers
are lining up and you have to keep turning the radio
back down to hear them. Stacking watermelons on a sawhorse
table, bagging up dozen-packs of red-wrapped Black Cats
and White Dragon Fireworks till you stopped noticing
the charcoal-and-salt of the gunpowder smell, all that
had to count for something, even if it was something
you wouldn't necessarily include in the perfect resume.
Jak Green is a San Francisco
writer whose work has appeared in San Francisco Galaxy,
Sluggo, and Nature. Green has worked as an
Orange Julius server, migrant field laborer, stamped faux
walnut covers on Shakespeare brand fishing reels, and
written briefs for attorneys. This story is from the collection
How to Travel in the Sixth World.