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The Interview

        Staple was close to running late for the interview, but, as he ducked into the elevator, he figured he could just make it. And then some bastard - there was no other word for it - some bastard stuck his foot into the gap between the closing doors, and the doors bounced off, they were opening, time was running, "Sorry," said the other guy, and Staple wanted to hit him, so hit, smashed the button with his fist, punched his fist into the button for floor nine, giving it that lethal one-knuckle punch, and then they were rising, and then the other guy reached across and pushed the button for floor five, and that was another delay, and Staple had to restrain himself from killing the mutant intruder then and there, from killing him dead.
        The interview room. A minute late. He was seated, and they were doing some preliminaries, and he had his hands in his lap, knuckles down on the fabric of his pants, doing the ten-second Buddhist meditation cleansing thing that Vitanya had taught him, and then he saw it, a trace of redness slinking out from beneath his fingers. Turning over his hands, he saw ....
        Shit! There was a skin flap hanging loose from the knuckle with which he had punched the elevator button, and there was blood, red and dark and welling, and the guy across the table was saying, "Mr Staple?"
        "Pardon me," said Staple, and fished his handkerchief out of his pocket, awkwardly, using his left hand - the handkerchief was in the right-hand pocket. Wiped his nose with it. "Touch of hayfever," he said, with a smile. Then secretly wrapped it round his bleeding hand, which he would have to keep in his lap.
        And it was so difficult! He gestured when he talked, that was habit, unbreakable, and the left hand just didn't do it for him, he needed the right, but the right was embargoed, evidence of exactly why he'd lost his last job.
        "We'll be contacting you within the next week or so," said Derwent at the end of the interview, giving him a professional smile.
        And Staple, walking out of the room, felt sure he was doomed, that he had failed the interview totally
        The truth was the reverse. Althougth he didn't know it yet, Staple had the job. As a member of an embattled minority in a cruel and unfeeling world, Derwent was always ready to tip the scales in favor of a fellow left-hander.

the end


"If you don't oil this part there will be big trouble."

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THE INTERVIEW first posted 2003 June 15 Sunday. Copyright © 2003 Hugh Cook - all rights reserved.