Current Occupation: Chef/Student
Former Occupation: Office Temp
Contact Information: Meghan Louise Wagner is a fiction writer and professional chef from Cleveland, OH. She is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Cleveland State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Umbrella Factory Magazine, Literally Stories, and Flash Fiction Magazine.
Adam got pranked first. I heard him through the thin wall that separated our cubicles. “Hi,” he said, “I’m looking for Mariah.”
I didn’t think anything of it until the broker behind me kicked the back of my chair and spun me around. I saw planes take off from John Wayne as he pulled my chair along the windows like I was a little kid in a shopping cart. He parked me next to another assistant, a skinny smoke eyed girl who wore white blouses and red pumps. The broker driving her chair looked like a guy who might flip houses on HGTV.
The other brokers pushed their chairs from their desks so a semi-circle formed around that side of the office. Adam remained oblivious. “Sorry, I mean, Myra,” he said. “Is Myra there?”
He thumped his fingers against the desk. “Her name,” he said, “is Myra.” He thumped again. “Myra Mains.”
The pressure popped and the brokers squealed. The fifties something guy with frosted tips and Elvis Costello glasses got close enough to jab his elbow into my arm. The fat guy who always smelled like cigarettes and peroxide kept his hand on my shoulder.
Adam hung up the phone and pushed himself away from the desk. He waved a lead in his hand like it was a paper fan and said, “that was a funeral parlor. They never heard of the chick.”
Two days later, the broker with the frosted tips dropped a stack of leads on my desk. “Just got those in,” he said. “It’s your lucky day.” He smiled at me longer than I liked. I wasn’t hot enough to get hit on by the cute brokers like the girl with the smoke eyes.
Most people I called didn’t answer. Wasn’t difficult to spend an hour calling names without talking to a single precise human being. “Is Oliver there?” I asked.
“Oliver was my dad,” a female voice said, spraying verbal mustard gas through my headset. “You people are monsters.”
A quarter of the way through the stack, I got another Oliver. Probably another wrong one. “Hi,” I said, watching lines of exhaust trail behind 747s. “Is Oliver there?”
“Oliver who?” said the person, also irate and female.
I looked at the lead. It was printed in the same format as all the others. “Oliver Kloughsoff,” I said, tapping my phone against the edge of my cubicle and looking up at MSNBC on the flat screen tv.
“This is a strip club,” she said, “dumb bitch.”
It clicked in my head right before I heard the smirks. Hands patted my shoulders and roamed my back. Grown men giggled between cubicles. Snickers turned to riotous guffaws. One hand lingered longer than I liked and burned into my arm like a capsaicin patch.
I glanced past the partition and saw Adam lean back in his chair. He was the only one looking out the window at the planes swirling above John Wayne.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to the woman through the headset. Men laughed behind me and I tried to keep a straight face. “I’m so sorry for the mistake.”