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Chapter 9

Double A sat in the desk chair as TF stood behind her. She watched the reflection of his eyes on the screen as he finished reading Oblong’s latest.

“The shorter they are, the more disturbing I find them,” TF finally said.

“But did you like it?”

“I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure there’s much to like either...I mean, is it even a story?”

“Sure it’s a story.”

“Isn’t a story supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end—even if they’re not in that order?”

“I think the narrator getting a suppository in the end qualifies as the story’s conclusion,” she answered.

“You’re being clever but not rational.”

“And you’re being narrowminded but not imaginative.”

TF shrugged. “Maybe, but I don’t think all the broadmindedness and imagination in the world could make sense of that...still, as I mentioned, I didn’t hate it—I just didn’t get it.”

“And you got the story about two guys shaking their heads?”

“I think so. It could be that I didn’t get out of it exactly what Oblong intended, but I got something from it—two strangers like each other, but one of them not that way, so they have a strenuous disagreement that ends badly for both of them...the moral of the story: take it easy.”

“That’s a very concise exegesis.”

TF pointed at the screen. “I’m not sure what Jesus has to do with it, but I doubt even he could make heads or tails of this one.”

“I’ll grant you that a cogent analysis of the story would likely be much longer than the piece itself...and probably not all that satisfying.”

The open window displaying Oblong’s desktop vanished. “And it’s gone...ladies and gentlemen, Oblong has left his cubicle. I guess that means it’s the end of our workday too.”

Double A shook her head. “It’s just such a waste...I’m sure the impermanence of his stories is part of the point, but their ephemerality means that no one else will ever be able appreciate them.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty messed up. Hey, if you don’t have dinner plans, I was thinking we could go—”

She swiveled in the chair to look at him. “What’s the point? You’ll be gone by next week.”

“What I was about to say is: we could go see Ricky Roberts. I got his number from one of my fraternity brothers and gave him a call earlier. He invited us over to his place for a cookout. He might be able to shed some light on the goings-on in this office.”

“I like barbecues and illumination.”

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