Friday, August 5, 2016


 Unlike many of the minor jobs you'd worked on your way to this position, there is no formal introduction or orientation. An individual who reminds you of a high school classmate from one of your creative writing classes is selected by a group of shadowy individuals who might, for all you can see, be wearing suits.

"Name's Nathan," he says, although the name embroidered over the left pocket of his shirt reads Stanley. Nathan sees you looking at the name. "He quit," he says. "I got a few more of his shirts and some three-ring binders.  Doesn't matter in the long run."

"What doesn't matter?" you ask. "That he quit.?"

"Listen," he says, his gaze scanning your own shirt, which does not yet have a name or much of anything unless you consider ten-dollar reading glasses and a ball-point pen from a bank that was bought out two years ago by a larger bank.  "Listen, people come and go. Some quit, some move on to other things, if you know what I mean."

You did not know what he meant, so, with a sigh he appears to have been saving for some time, he enumerates. "Some go on to teach.  Some go on to become, you know, publicists or editors. They all latch on to some kind of schtick."

"So tell me this, Nathan who wears Stanley's shorts, what were you?

He sucks a tooth, hitches his jaw. "The usual stuff. Studied for the rabbinate. Moved on to law school. A year or two in sales."

"And now?"

"Now," Nathan says, "this. Got to show guys like you the ropes."

The ropes are in fact rocks, boulder sized and shaped, reminding you of Sisyphus when Nathan takes you to a shadeless patch of hardscrabble, tells you, Start here. This is actually a good spot because hardly any of the stones have moss.

"As in the moss a rolling stone doesn't gather?"

"With that kind of smarts, you might get somewhere. Meanwhile, pick yourself a couple of stones, see what you can do. It isn't a bad life, if you keep the moss from growing."

"What do I look out for?' you ask.

"I'm going to tell you something I've never told before, on account of you caught on about the moss."  He leans closer, lowers his voice to the register of a whisper.  "You don't want to let your stones look like anyone else's. You want to keep them looking like your rocks. Remember Stanley we was talking about? "

You nod.

"He was all over making his rocks look like all the other rocks so that when someone came to his patch of hardscrabble, they all looked like they maybe belonged somewhere else."

"Derivative," you said.

"And that's all I can do for you, kid," Nathan said. "Got to get back to my rocks."

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