Fiction Friday #9 – Cabinets, part two.


This two-part story is apparently turning into a three-part story. Deal with it.

***

Ralph and Clarissa made their way back to the little office they shared in the corner, clutching their warm coffee mugs in both hands. It was a small but cozy space, tucked between a supply closet and an empty office that used to belong to a secretary.

Over Clarissa’s desk hung a large calendar, every month featuring a different picture of a cat in a seasonal outfit. The rest of the wall was a collage of drawings her sister’s kids had done, pictures of her own cats, and inspirational quotes like “Once You Believe, You Will Achieve”. Ralph had pushed his own desk into the corner by the window and set up a collection of mini cactuses, spider plants and a single aloe vera plant under a grow light. He rarely bothered to use his desk other than as a place to put his coffee.

Clarissa sat down with a heavy thud and looked at her papers. Ralph stood, leaning against the doorframe and sipping his coffee.

“Come on, Ralph,” Clarissa said, setting a new file card into her typewriter, “These cards aren’t going to file themselves.”

“I just don’t see the point,” Ralph said, crossing over to his cabinets and setting his coffee mug on top. “What with these computers coming in and all. I don’t like it.”

“It’s 1997, it’s about time the department spent a little money on us and got us modernized and all that,” she responded. “I don’t see why we’re always the last to get anything around here, they had computers up in the labs now for ages. I think it’s nice.”

“Yeah, and look what happened to poor Edwin Banks in billing when they got their computers in. Sacked without so much as a second thought because he wasn’t needed anymore. That’s gonna be me next, I’ll bet.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” Clarissa replied, the keys under her fingertips a metallic rhythm. “If you get sacked I’ll be sacked too.”

“You have nothing to worry about,” Ralph said definitively. “They won’t sack you. You’re the fastest typist this side of the lake, I’d bet.”

Clarissa didn’t respond, but her fingers picked up just a little bit more speed.

Ralph turned to face the cabinets, sighed, and went to work.

The rest of the day past with little disturbance. Every once in a while, Ralph looked out the door and watched the men carrying computers down the hall, huge, awkward looking things with cords trailing down to the floor. No one approached their door.

At 5 o’clock, Clarissa stood and stretched overhead, the bulk of her stomach stretching the buttons of her shirt.

“I gotta roll,” she said, “Me and Lacey Swartz are going to Titanic tonight. Have you hear about this? Apparently it’s a must-see.”

“Yeah, doesn’t sound like my scene,” Ralph replied. He stood from where he was kneeling and accidentally bumped into the cabinets, spilling the long-forgotten coffee he’ll left on top hours before.

“Aw shit,” Ralph said, retrieving the cup from the floor. He turned towards the door to see his supervisor, Mr. Brown, walking through the door.

“Can I have a word, Mr. Harowitz?” Mr. Brown asked by way of greeting, watching the drips of coffee sliding down the metal walls of the shelving. Clarissa, standing there like a deer in headlights with her purse clutched in her hands, looked from Ralph to Mr. Brown and back several times before Mr. Brown moved to let her scurry out the door.

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