Joseph Farley

Nerd On A Stick

A desk sat in the middle of an otherwise empty room. The room had white walls. It featured no windows, no paintings, no photographs, no bookcases, no adornments to break up the expanse of white paint except for a series of doors. These were painted white so as to blend in as much as possible with the walls. The doors were metal and strong, but this was not something you could tell at a glance. The ceiling was also white with recessed lighting that was well hidden from anyone first entering the room. There was no carpet. The floor was covered with white linoleum, a single sheet, not squares, the shade picked precisely to match the walls and ceiling. This gave the room a sense of vastness, a sense of loneliness, a sense of silence.

A desk, black, metallic, sat in the middle of the room. Behind the desk in a black swivel chair with comfortable cushions and ample lumbar support, sat a man appearing to be in his mid-thirties with a crew cut. The man was wearing a black suit, a white button down shirt, crisply pressed, and a thin black neck tie. A metal sign on the desk read Bartholomew Squint, Human Resources Manager.

Another man, who also appeared to be in his late twenties, was seated in front of the desk in a small black metal chair. The chair was stationary and had no back. This man was also wearing a suit and tie. An interview of sorts was just reaching an end.

“Thank you for applying,” said the man behind the desk. “I am glad we had this chance to chat. But I do not think you are what we are looking for just now.“

The man who was interviewed stood.

“I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to interview. The job market is tight right now. Do you think you could keep my resume on hand in case something else opens up?”

The interviewer looked at the man with a smile that was more a sneer.

“We do get a lot of applicants, but I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks.”

The interviewee extended his hand. The man seated behind the desk ignored the hand even though it was mere inches from his nose. The hand stayed suspended in the air over the blotter for an inordinate amount of time. The interviewer stared at it with a look of increasing distaste.

“Please do not leave the way you came in. Exit through the door on your right.”

There were a series of doors around the room. The interviewee retracted his hand, looking sheepish. He picked up his coat and headed to the door on his right. He opened the door and stepped through. The door opened onto air. The interviewee screamed as he fell spinning the thirty stories to the pavement below.

The interviewer got on the intercom. “Ms. Watson. Send in the next applicant.”

The next applicant came in. The interviewer adjusted the nameplate on his desk.

“Hello, Mr. Squint. I am James Murray. I see you have my resume.”

“Yes,” Squint spat out tersely. “Sit down.”

The man sat.

“Tell me Mr. Murray,” Squint asked, his voice absent of warmth or emotion. “Why is there a blank spot on your resume?”

“What do you mean?” asked Murray leaning forward in his chair.

“There is a nine month unaccounted period in your job history. Care to explain?”

“I was trying to write a novel.”

“Were you employed while you were trying to write this novel?”

“No.”

“So you had no job for nine months?”

“I guess you could say that.”

The interviewer drummed his fingers on his desk.

“I don’t like writers as a rule. Don’t like artists either. I can tolerate dancers. They are fun at parties. Are you a dancer Mr. Murray?”

Murray shook his head. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“Too bad,” Squint said. “I am afraid we cannot use you.”

Murray begged, “Please reconsider. I need this job. I won’t let you down. I am hard working. I’m willing to learn. I’ll even put in extra hours for free.”

“I would hope so.”

“What can I do to land this job? I’ll do anything.”

A glint came to the eyes of the interviewer.

“Can you dance Mr. Murray?”

“I can learn.”

Squint commanded, “Dance for me Mr. Murray.”

“Dance for you? What? Here? Now?”

“Yes. Dance for me. You said you would do anything.”

Murray got up slowly. He straightens his tie, then starts to dance. There was no music. Murray had assessed himself accurately. He was not a very good dancer. He was awful.

“Not good enough Mr. Murray,” Squint said. “Simply not good enough. Please exit through the door to your left.”

Murray looked dejected, he headed to the door on his left and opened it. Murray stepped through and fell into a roaring fire. The door he had stepped through shut.

The interviewer sighed with boredom. It was going to be a long day, but variety helped.

The interviews blended into each other. Several victims later, the interviewer dismissed another applicant.

“I don’t understand why you even bothered to apply. Exit through the door directly behind my desk.

The man went to the door, opened it, and stepped through. There was the sound of a shredding machine and blood curdling screams.

Mr. Squint pushed the button on the intercom.

“Ms. Watson, send in the last applicant.”

A twenty-something with a crew cut in a black suit, with a crisp white shirt and a narrow tie entered, appearing surprisingly similar to Mr. Squint.

“Have a seat mister., er, Desoto, is it?” Squint said.

“DeSade,” replied the applicant. “George DeSade.”

“Mr. DeSade,” the interviewer asked. “Your resume seems…adequate. Just barely. Why should I consider you for a position as a Human Resources Assistant?”

DeSade cleared his throat, and then made his pitch..

“I understand I would be assisting with interviewing job applicants. I think I would be an ideal fit. I enjoy causing pain. Physical and mental anguish. I feel I could make a lot of people suffer if I were to be hired. That is all I could really ask for. The salary is secondary.”

The interviewer paused.

Squint sat in silence, making a pyramid with his finger tips. He watched the candidate to see if he would squirm. DeSade did not squirm, he sat rigid and motionless, while exuding an air of complete calm. After a length of time, Squint relaxed his fingers. He flashed a thin grin.

“I see,” said Squint. “Finally a candidate with who I can relate. Not that you really deserve the job. Think of yourself as a fill-in until we can find someone better. When can you start?”

“Next Monday. I’ll be busy this week killing my neighbor’s dog. It is a poison job. Gravy soaked sponge. Need to make sure it takes the bait.”

“Gravy soaked sponge?”

“Expands in the belly,” DeSade explained. “I understand it is dreadful. First time I tried it. Used to use pellet guns.”

“Interesting,” Squint said, resting his chin on a single extended finger. “You may have potential.” Suddenly he glared at the applicant. “But don’t be too pushy. Remember who is in charge. Don’t go bucking for my job, or it won’t go well for you.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” said DeSade in a voice that dripped sugar. “I’m not overly ambitious. I just want to be part of this organization. It has been one of my lifelong goals. To work in a place like this…and destroy the lives of others.”

Squint grinned. It was friendly evil.

“Good. Keep thinking that way and you could survive with the company…for a while. See you next Monday, after the dog dies.”

“So I have the job?”

“Yes,” said Squint with a slight eye roll. “Go back out the way you came. Ms. Watson will give you some papers to sign.”

Squint reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a strange item. A barbecued kabob of some kind. He offered it to DeSade.

“Nerd on a stick?”

The kabob had a small man with glasses and pocket saver impaled on it. The man appeared to be alive and squirming in agony, despite burns and barbecue sauce.

“Wow, how do you make them so small?”

“Trade secret.”

“Too bad I had a big lunch.”

Squint did not hide his annoyance.

“You don’t know what your missing. The sensitive ones tastes so good. I have more.”

Squint took a bite, ripping off an arm with his teeth. The nerd screamed in a high pitch squeak.

Both men laughed.

“Maybe I will have one after all.”

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