My Descent Into Madness

The microwave light is about to burn out. Every few seconds the glass plate inside slows its turning motion and the lights dim out. This thing is such a piece of shit! Why won’t Mike replace the damn thing already? It’s been here longer than I have.


Jessie is standing slightly slouched over, hands in either side of his pants, deep in his pockets. The whirring of the microwave is mind numbingly comforting and soothing. He’s entranced.


“…for lunch?” Jessie breaks out of his trance as Jordan leans in closer, a quizzical look on his face. “Earth to Jessie! You all there buddy?” Jessie looks over at Jordan, a sheepish grin on his face. “Yeah, sorry, kinda zoning out. What did you say?”


“What’s for lunch?” Jordan gives a little chuckle and stands back upright, his red tie with white diamonds swinging across his chest, “Monday, huh?”


Short sleeves in the office, seriously? What the fuck does this guy think we do, anyway? “Yeah,” he chuckles quickly, “long weekend, didn’t want to come back! Carly made meatloaf last night. Leftover meatloaf sandwich,” he says and points to the microwave.


Jordan turns his back, setting his dingy blue lunch bag on the break room table. “Whew, that’s pretty rough man. I don’t even look to see what April packs anymore.” The microwave seemingly stops from exhaustion, barely warbling out two dings before it stops. “Figure that way I can at least look forward to half the day.”


Jessie opens the microwave door and grabs the blue Tupperware with his fingertips, careful not to touch the middle. “So. Short sleeves huh? Mike even notice?” Jordan stands over the table and sticks his hand down into his lunch bag, pulling it to one side, making room for Jessie’s sad excuse for a lunch.


Jessie sits down at the table, opening the lid and sticking his fork into the square shriveled piece of meatloaf. He looks expectantly at Jordan’s lunch bag. “Even if he pulled his head out of his ass long enough to actually notice anyone, he couldn’t see with all the shit that would still be on his head.” They both laugh at that one. Mike is a dick. Jordan pulls out the Tupperware and opens it up and, smiling, shows it to Jessie. “Well, looks like it is a great day after all, huh?”


“Fucking meatloaf sandwich,” Jessie almost groans out as he reaches up and yanks off his yellow clip-on tie, throwing it on the table next to their lunch bags. “Goddamnit, why couldn’t today be Columbus Day or something?”


Jordan turns to the little microwave and turns the dial, sending it sputtering along. He turns around to face his friend, angrily ripping off the red tie and tossing it to the table next to Jessie’s yellow one. “Do you ever just think ‘Fuck this place!’ and want to leave? I walked in today, none of my accounts had any activity this weekend, checked my email and I have 97 fucking emails! What the fuck!”


Jessie puts both hands onto his sandwich and raises it to his mouth, and says with a smile, “But what other place offers dental and vision, gives you weekends off, stock options, and has company picnics too?” He gives a little chuckle and bites into his sandwich, grimacing afterwards.


The microwave does its little sad warbling excuse of an alarm again and Jordan mimics Jessie, gingerly grabbing his own Tupperware and sitting down under the flickering overhead light. They don’t need to egg each other on further, somehow each knowing they’re both close to the tipping point. Besides, he knows Jordan has a .22 in his glove compartment, and he doesn’t want to be a part of that.


Jessie puts everything back into his lunch pail, grabbing his yellow tie and opening the metal clip, pinning it back onto his collar. “Well, four more hours, huh?”


Jordan lets out a sigh. “Don’t remind me.”


Jessie gets up and walks over to the door, “I think I’ll wear short sleeves tomorrow,” he says without looking back. He opens the door and stares out past the threshold. The flames of the fires burn bright, casting dancing shadows carrying blood curdling screams along with them. He can almost see the souls being tortured, the skin being flayed, the people slowly boiling in pots, bamboo being shoved under finger nails. He sighs audibly as he walks out into the chaos, bracing himself for the remainder of his Monday.


Jordan’s back gives all the answer he wants to give. His red tie sits off to the side next to his dingy blue lunch pail. He stares ahead monotonously at the poster cautioning against sexual harassment as he continues biting into his sandwich and chewing. Jessie shuts the door behind him, close to slamming it. “Fucking meatloaf sandwich. Goddamnit, April.”


©Ramon Sturdivant


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