Friday, September 10, 2010
Monsters Need Jobs Too
I stepped inside the unemployment office expecting people to react to my presence. Instead, I found everyone worrying about their own problems and distracting themselves with the latest gadgets. I waited behind a tall teenager with spikes for hair. His jeans looked like they were shot with an Uzi sub-machine gun. The random holes showed pale skin. He bobbed his head as if he had Parkinson’s. A set of skull faced headphones covered his ears. I thought about asking him to turn the music down when I picked up a foul odor. A woman in her mid fifties stood behind me jabbing her fingers in one of those high tech phones.
I loosened my shirt collar, annoyed that the multitude of destitute souls soaked up the air-conditioning. I decided to see if I could freak her out so I faced the woman and asked, “Excuse me Miss, but do you have the time?”
Without glancing at me she said, “It’s eight o’clock.”
I almost fell back when her breath hit my face. I wanted to peek inside her mouth to verify if she had a dead possum in there. Disappointment struck me again. I longed for the old days when my life had purpose. The fact she didn’t react to my charred face irked me. About forty-five minutes later, I stood in front of a Plexiglas window trying to look through the clerk’s dark glasses.
“I need your name and social security number.” The woman’s voice revealed she was three packs away from dying of lung cancer.
I gave her my number, but not my name.
Looking at her computer screen, the old lady said, “It says your name is Bogey Man.”
“No, that’s Boogey Man.”
She sighed, “What did you dedicate your life to doing?”
“Exactly what the name implies. I was a boogey man.”
She took off her glasses, rose from a chair and gazed into my eyes. “You don’t look scary to me.”
I balled my hands into fists, tempted to punch a hole through the glass. “I’m here because kids don’t believe in me anymore. All this damn technology’s driving me crazy!”
The crowd’s murmurs stopped. I hadn’t realized I was shouting. Lowering my tone I continued, “I used to hide under the bed and even tried shaking the darn thing, but the freakin’ kids played their video games, or stayed talking on cell phones for hours. Eventually, hiding under the bed turned into sleeping under the bed. So I tried hiding in the closet and making noises. They couldn’t hear me with all the loud music coming out of their ears!”
I had attempted to stop raising my voice, but I couldn’t. The woman put her glasses back on and sat down. She gathered a few forms and shoved them at me. “Fill these out. Times are bad. There aren’t enough jobs to go around.”
I wiped sweat off my brow and tried not to sound desperate, “There has to be something I could do.”
The old lady grimaced. I couldn’t tell if she was thinking or constipated. “There are two positions you might qualify for.” She struck the keyboard with two fingers. “You can become a priest which takes time to train.”
I knew most priests were good men, but after a lifetime of scaring children, I didn’t want to be labeled that kind of monster. “What’s the other position?”
She leaned toward the glass and gestured for me to get closer. “This is unofficial of course, but the government is looking for ugly guys like you who won’t mind torturing terrorists.” She flicked her fingers to create quotes around the word terrorists.
At last I could feel hope oozing out of my hairy pores. “How much does the job pay?”
She said, “You get room and board in a cell next to the captured heathens, a thousand dollars a month in expenses and all the sex you can muster with that woman.” She pointed at possum breath.
So it came down to becoming what many people distrusted—priesthood, or doing the zombie. “I’ll be a torturer.”
The clerk smiled and when I faced zombie breath again, she batted her eyes at me. I mumbled, “Oh goody.”
- 703 words