Kenneth arrived in the firing line ensemble: a gray sport coat and blue chinos. Black oxfords persistently untying. Green and a grey striped shirt that did not match the chinos. A black tie, slightly askew.
There are worse things.
One is about to happen.
As Kenneth entered the office, he thought the soul was incarnated in a body to conquer matter.
He read that somewhere.
On the desk was a vintage ruler alongside two zucchinis.
Okay. Conquer matter.
He concentrated while words were spoken: A sadness at an unavoidable forced departure transitioning to explaining the vagaries of COBRA, separation pay, unused vacation, and comp time, concluding with a written and signed recommendation, a partially sincere apology, and a handshake.
He left the meeting with a substantial check and a zucchini. The boss offered it to him.
The mind conquers.
Later, Kenneth cleared his desk and thought of his great-grandfather, who had died fourteen years before his birth. He retired from the factory, where he toiled for 60 years. Started on the loading dock and ended on the night watch. He received 500 dollars and a gold watch.
His grandmother told him stories: How he was a union man who would take his lunch box and a baseball bat to the picket line. Took her and the little sister to May Day marches and union rallies. When the little sister was in her 20s, trapped in a bad marriage, he gave her a copy of The Rebel Girl, an autobiography by Elizabeth Flynn. That inspired her to become a union organizer.
The family said Kenneth resembles him. High cheekbones, prematurely gray hair, and piercing green eyes.
Kenneth went to the park nearest to the office. The weather was not too cold. Hungry, he sat on a bench and sliced the zucchini with a penknife.
You can’t eat a watch, Kenneth thought while munching on the first slice.
About the author
Mike Lee's work appears in or is forthcoming in CafeLit, Drunk Monkeys, and others. In addition, his story collection, The Northern Line, is available on online bookselling outlets. He was also nominated for Best Microfiction by Ghost Parachute.
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