Bossman, the Pigeon, and Patience

Prompt: Getting a job.

The moment I asked the question I wanted it back.

“All a writer needs do,” Bossman said, “is write.”

“Is that true?” I said.

“I should know, shouldn’t I?” Bossman said. “I am a writer.” He displayed his yellowed teeth and leaned back in the red leather chair; his obese hands slid into the belly pockets of his striped vest.

“Well then I have written,” I said. “Not anything published, but in school mostly.”

“What did you write in school?”

“I wrote a theme on the declining conditions of chicken houses.”

Bossman let loose a low wet laugh. He produced a pack of Marlboro Lights and nibbled out a stick. “And it was published in the school paper I presume.” He lit the cigarette.

“No actually, but I received high marks for the length.” The thick stench of the tobacco surrounded me as Bossman puffed and puffed. Mother will stripe me, I thought. She’ll assume I was smoking instead of getting a job and she’ll put me out for good.

“Now, now, my lad,” Bossman said, “that, does not make you a writer.”

My eyes betrayed me and watered at the hotness in the air. “What then?” I said, trying not to cough. “You say a writer is one who writes, and I have written.”

“Then let me rephrase. You are a writer when you write often.”

“How often?”

“As often as you would a habit.” Bossman sucked at the paper stick between fat, cracked lips.

“What kind of habit,” I said. Nerves were starting to constrict and my mind was drained of every intelligent word I had ever spoken.

“What kind of habit? Good heavens lad I do not know. Dem-uh a smoking habit.” He illustrated with another drag.

“Well I assure you I do not write that often. But in truth I do not smoke either.” Then I couldn’t stop myself and I coughed aloud.

“Well you’re hardly a man,” Bossman said. “But piss on all of this, I asked you a simple question to start, and I suggest, if you are at all serious in your intention to write for us, you answer it expediently.”

The question, I thought. The question, what was the damn question? “At once sir,” I said. “I um … To answer your question sir,” I took a deep breathe, “I would say that I am a writer, although not so much a writer as a smoking writer, that is to say, I don’t write as much as one with a smoking habit smokes, but I have written, and received high marks, so yes. I am a writer.” Then, seeing no change in Bossman’s face, “I also journal regularly.”

“Oh?” He said. “I keep a sort of day book myself, what do you write about?”

Not a single intelligent phrase. “I write about … Everything. I write about … I write about … Yesterday, I saw a sort of pigeon.”

Bossman’s eye twitched. “A sort of pigeon?”

“He was plump and all greyed over,” I said, “the shadows of his wings beat the sun from my eyes. He held his chest, all swollen and green, high and proud as he landed among the crumbs of my sandwich.”

For the first time since I entered his office, Bossman smiled. “Very nice. You described the bird in your journal?”

“No,” I said. “I was telling you why I don’t have my journal to show you, this heathen bird snatched it up! And fled to the safety of the clouds.”

Anyway, I didn’t get the job. I might try the baker’s tomorrow.






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