The Perfect Resume
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, babe."

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 by clients.

She'd comped out. One day, it was a new era. You woke up and people were moving back to Toledo, Buffalo, someplace in Nebraska.

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 like conviction.

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 D Terminal.

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.

When 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.
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