We call him the quiet man. And the only way you know he’s here is by the scent of his lunch.
The aroma of Italian spices wafts through the air as the husky toast colored man darts past the door of my office carrying a pizza box. I wonder what he’s having today. Pizza? Calzone? Or maybe lasagna.
If I could only get a chance to talk to him. Maybe I could get him to share his lunch with me. Or maybe even just tell me his name. Nearly a year on the job and he hasn’t said a word to anyone. All anyone knows about Amalgamated Consolidated’s enigmatic new Claims Associate is that he comes in at around eight-forty, leaves his desk around eleven-forty-five for lunch, comes back around noon with a pizza box and at five on the dot he goes home. I don’t see how anyone could just come and go to work without talking to anyone. It’d make me go insane being by myself in a big place like this.
I have to wonder if dude is crazy. You’d have to be to stay to yourself like that all the time. Like that guy in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Or Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. I just can’t see how someone can go and come to work and not say a single word to anyone unless there was something wrong with them.
I’m pondering the mystery of the silent stranger who stalks the halls of Amalgamated Consolidated when Nancy, my best friend from the Claims Department strolls into my office. The tall thin blonde woman dressed in a red cardigan sweater, navy gabardine skirt, and black heels flashes a smile at me as she checks her watch. “Hey Matilda, you ready for lunch?”
“Is it that time? I say springing up out of my office chair.
“The Quiet Man passed by me in the hall. So I’d say it’s about that time.”
I give her a look. “You set your watch to him?”
“Hey, he’s more accurate than most of the clocks around here-”
“I wonder what he does all day in that cubicle of his-”
“Probably plotting the deaths of us all in a shooting rampage-”
The thought of him going psycho and killing all my friends sends a chill down my spine. “Come on Nance, don’t joke like that-”
“Hey, he probably does what the rest of us do all day in The Pit. Process these damn claims forms. Lunch is probably the high point of the day for him-”
It’s the high point of the day for any of us. The archaic offices of Amalgamated Consolidated are like being stuck in a timewarp that never ends. Everything from the White Formica topped steel desks, off-white painted walls, lite elevator music, and overly bright florescent lighting are like something out of the 1950’s. It’s like nothing in this company has changed since my Mom worked here thirty-five years ago. These offices are so stifling when I’m not working I’m counting down the hours to the time when I can get out of here.
“I wonder what’s eating him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Junk food every day? Clearly dude has issues-”
“Says the woman dressed in all black-”
I give my best friend a look on the jab. “This is a fashion statement.” I say pointing to myself.
“Yeah right Spinsterella, Halloween ended two months ago-”
“Hey, I’m gonna get festive for the Christmas party tonight-”
“What? You gonna put your Santa hat on to add a little color to your dead wardrobe?”
Damn. She knows me too well. “Hey, I bought a little red dress just for the party-”
“Wow, you’re gonna be wearing a color other than black? I definitely need to capture that moment in pixels-”
“Everything at the Christmas party usually stays at the Christmas party. So I can get away with being a little daring-”
“You know that’s a great opportunity to talk to Mr. Mysterious.”
I don’t think I’m that bold. “With him being a newbie, I doubt he even knows about our annual Christmas bash-”
Well, Ms. Events Manager I doubt anyone knows about the Christmas party with all the invitations still next to your outbox-”
I look over at the box of invitations on my desk next to my outbox and my eyes grow wide. “Shit, these were supposed to go out in the inter-office mail last week!
Nancy smiles at me as she heads towards the door. “Well, it looks like you’re gonna be working through lunch.”
“Come on Nancy, help me get these out and I’ll buy you a sandwich-”
“Sorry Mattie, but it’s not my department.”
“I can’t believe you’re gonna go all official company policy on me-”
“Hey, I only get one hour out of this shithole and I’m not giving that up for anyone.”
“Come on, I don’t want to be alone in the office with him-”
“Think of it this way. Hand-delivered invitations from our hardworking Events Manager adds a nice personal touch.”
“Tell the Quiet Man I said Hi.” Nancy says darting out of my office.
Spinsterella will be coming out this Halloween on KindleUnlimited and in Paperback!