The Nutseller

Igor Sweeney looked you square in the Adam’s Apple if you were one of his underlings.
But when he was ready to sell, he could make Wilt Chamberlain feel like a shrimp.

For seven months and one day, I observed Sweeney – Iggstoke to his friends –
and wondered how, with such a repressed and rotating cast of staff,
he maintained his exemplary self-regard for his publishing exploits.

Did he not keep his over-worked and over-scrutinized editorial staff
on compulsory overtime to send out zip-code ordered issues of the magazine
that would arrive, gratis and unbidden, to the reception desks of
Fortune 500 companies across the city?

Was he not incapable of working diligently with said staff without,
when asked a mundane question, bellowing,
“I’m trying to concentrate here!”

My first week, I knew my days were numbered.

He was patron to none but himself.
The mag, a sham for deals over which even his comptroller raised an eyebrow,
called itself the soul of the city.
Dead souls, maybe, you thought as you walked into the gulag of dislodged journalists.

His wife, a shrew whose younger visage – as well as Igor’s – graced the first page of every issue,
had a Girl Scout’s expertise in office espionage; this I gleaned when a chance Email
between myself and my equally incredulous editor
received a reply in a dialogue in which she’d not been copied, or blind-copied.

Were we in an Inc? Or an Ingsoc?

I marveled, to lesser degree, as I neared completion of the real reason
for my being hired: to clean the online archives of the star columnist,
whose indifference to fact checking was equaled to his poor grasp of grammar.
Months of conservative cackling had I cleaned under Sweeney’s hawk accounting.

One day after my completion, I received my reward:
A summons to the editorial board room, where sat Sweeney and my
poor Horatio editor, now powerless to all but his own leave-taking.
I sat, knowing what to expect.

“Mel – ”
And, then, I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing.
Every time, he began his Mr. Cleaver pretense, I laughed harder.
He couldn’t even fire me without my rattling his concentration.
Then, under his breath, I heard, “This girl is nuts.”

One thought on “The Nutseller

  1. This girl isn’t nuts, she is the only sane one in a chaotic and hateful world, cursed with a sense of reality, an eye for the absurd, and a firm grasp of evocative detail.
    The narrative gets a little murky a few times, which I assumed was intentional, a release for a few words from the thousand tiny cuts to a general sense of blurry survival.
    How many times did the writer comfort herself with her plan to write this all some day…..

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