I sometimes try my hand at fiction. It’s a huge struggle and I usually end up hating what I’ve written anyway, so it’s a rare outing for me. I was going to start up a separate website for my failed stories. But I already have too many websites to maintain properly and I don’t need the pressure. So I’ll just post the unwanted detritus here for your enjoyment and derision.
As for the history of this piece, I wrote it for NPR’s most recent 3 Minute Fiction contest. It was, of course, rejected.
Brian leans in. “Okay,” he smiles. “Are you ready for this one?”
He begins: “So we have this massive project that’s weeks behind. I have to hire someone, like, yesterday to do the coding. I’ve only got one name, someone named Craig. But I’ve never met him.”
Brian takes a sip of beer. “I do a phone interview on Thursday afternoon and he checks out. His references and samples are great. Thank God. I ask him to come in Friday for an interview, although at this point I’m sold. But we have to meet him to be able to say we did.”
Brian shifts a little on his bar stool. “Next morning, I get a call from downstairs security that I have a visitor and can I come down to sign him in. So I go down and there’s this guy standing there: suit, button-down shirt, tie, decent haircut. And…earrings.”
Brian pauses for the reaction. “So you’re probably thinking, well, so? He wears an earring. He’s a weekend warrior.”
Brian shakes his head. “No, it’s not like that. The guy’s wearing, like, women’s earrings. They match. And they’re, you know, elegant. I mean, I’m not a jewelry expert or anything. But these looked expensive.”
Brian’s eyes are alight. “Right! You’re doing what I wanted to do. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t laugh at this guy because I really needed to hire him. So I try to ignore the earrings and I bring him upstairs and steer him straight into the interview room. It’s a group interview, so Scott and Nicole are waiting.”
Brian moves the bottle so it’s perfectly centered on the coaster. “So Scott is just sort of, okay, whatever. He’s taking it in stride. But Nicole is like a deer in the headlights. She’s looking for the nearest plant to crawl behind. She can’t even look at the guy.”
The bar’s filling up now. “So the interview’s going okay. Craig’s giving us all the right answers and he’s basically hired. I’m not worrying about the earrings. I know this won’t fly with management, but I have to deal with that later. Maybe hide him until I can straighten him out on the dress code. Right now I just need a programmer who can start on Monday.”
Brian lowers his voice to a near whisper. “We’re winding down the interview and then, there’s this weird moment. I swear to God, this guy has done something with his head, something really subtle. It’s almost like he’s swiveled it in a certain way. To show off the earrings.”
Brian picks at the label of his empty bottle. “I know, right? This is so strange. And now I’m thinking it’s some kind of trick. Like some twisted kind of diversity training we’re being put through.”
A big group of loud women are filing in. “So Scott’s texting me all weekend. This is all either of us can think about. What happens if he shows up in something else on Monday? We’re actually taking bets. It’s funny. But it’s not funny.”
Every bar stool’s taken. “Okay, so Monday I’m at my desk and I get a call from downstairs. It’s Craig. I have to go sign him in. Oh, God. I’m listening for a clue, anything, in the security guy’s voice. But I can’t tell.”
The bartender taps Brian on the arm. “Gentlemen. Sorry to interrupt. Another round?”