“Savage,” by Pavelle Wesser

Nov 20th, 2007 | By | Category: Prose

I.   The Interview

Billy pushed through the revolving door of a tall, glass building. His shoes clicked across the marble lobby.   He rose 42 floors in the elevator and emerged into a deserted reception area.

“Hello out there!”   He called, trying not to look at the floor-to-ceiling windows.

“In here.”   He followed the voice to an open door.   A woman’s blood-red lips parted in greeting as she tapped her long red fingernails on the glass surface of her desk.   Her blue eyes glowed preternaturally.

“Ms. Ells?”   He extended a hand.

“Sit.”   She waved at the chair across from her with a waxen hand.   “Thanks for coming in so early, Mr. Burke.”

“No problem,” said Billy, though 6:30 a.m. was frankly insane for an interview.

A loudspeaker boomed outside her office:

“Seven thousand poison pigs from the badlands.”

“What is that?” Billy cringed.

“The orders are processed day and night, Mr. Burke, as you will learn.”

“Am I hired, then?” he asked.

She nodded, clicking her red nails together:   “I shall expect you first thing tomorrow morning, Mr. Burke.”

II. The Job

“I’m new here.”   Billy smiled at a dour-faced receptionist, who led him to his desk and tossed him a packet of supplies.   He fidgeted with the paper clips and emptied out some thumbtacks.   A tall man in a grey suit sauntered over:

“What’s the matter with you, Kid?   You messed up on your first order.”

Billy opened his mouth to speak as the loudspeaker boomed:

“Three thousand hearts of syphilitic toads.”

“What order?” he stammered.

“The Sub-Saharan baboons!”

“Where’s the paperwork?”   Billy flinched as he stabbed himself with a thumb tack.

“You should have it, since it’s your order.”   The man sneered.

“Four hundred chimpanzees sporting chastity belts.”

“But I…”

“No if’s, and’s or but’s.   You have five minutes to clear this up!”

Billy barely recognized Lixa as he entered her office.   Her long hair was disheveled, her lipstick smeared and her blue eyes bloodshot.   Her red nails were badly chipped, he noticed, as she tapped them on her desk.

“Is someone going to train me?”   Billy asked.

“Why, are you incompetent?”

“No, but…”

“Then good day, Mr. Burke.   I’m busy.”

Billy searched his desk papers.

“That’s it!   I’m writing you up.”   The grey man stomped over.

“Five hundred mad cows infected by the same.”

Billy stood.

“Where do you think you’re going?”   The grey man barked.

“I’m taking a break.”

Without waiting for an answer, he stomped across the reception area, averting his gaze from the full length glass windows.   As the elevator descended, guilt rose within him like bile.   How could he have messed up on his first day?   He stood in line at a kiosk in the lobby and chewed his nails. Even here, the loudspeaker boomed:

“Baboons, baboons, baboons!   Where are the baboons?”

Billy charged back to the elevator.   Head lowered, he trampled across the reception area. His desk was obscured by an enormous crate, beside which stood the grey man:

“Well you sure screwed this one up, Billy Boy.”

The crudely constructed crate lurched forward.

“This is no sub-Saharan baboon, Billy.”

“It’s not?”

“Eight thousand hybrid hyenas with radio wave capability.”

The grey man threw some papers at him: “You would know.   You ordered it from the Congo, with more to follow.”

Beefy, inhuman hands shook the crate’s wooden bars.   A loud cracking sound ensued.

Billy jumped back:   “I never ordered baboons.”

“This specimen is unworkable from a research perspective, Billy.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You special-ordered baboons for a lab that does experimental organ transplants, as you well know.   But now the lymphocytes won’t match and the transplants can’t be performed.   So what do you have to say for yourself?”

“I don’t have to take this crap from you.”   Billy yelled, then cringed as a fist splintered through the wooden bars, followed by an enraged baboon that crashed through the office pounding its chest and smashing furniture against the walls.

“Seven hundred purring pussycats with pink ribbons in their fur.”

Screaming employees scattered in every direction:   “Run.   The new guy messed up.”

III.     The end

Lixa grimaced, exposing rotten teeth.   Her hair was white and her eyes, colorless.   Her pallid lips cracked open and blood poured from them as she spoke:

“You’re fired.   I mean, let’s face it, Mr. Burke, when you ordered the wrong lymphocytes, you screwed up the transplant schedule.”

Billy sat across from her chewing his mangled nails.

“I ordered baboons, not lymphocytes.   And besides, I didn’t order anything.”

“You contradict yourself, Mr. Burke.”

“Ten thousand religious ecstatic quack, quack, quack.”

Billy leaned forward:   “You know, I could’ve been an upstanding employee if you hadn’t set out to ridicule me.”

“You can run away with your conspiracy theories, Mr. Burke, but you cannot hide from your own incompetence.”

“You’re a manipulative, evil witch!”

She stared at him, her eyes receding into her skull.

“You’ve destroyed me, Billy.”

Empty sockets stared out at him as red-tinged tears trickled down her sunken cheeks.

Nine thousand polyester panties produced for primates.”

Sobbing emerged from the loudspeaker:

“By the brothels of Babylon, Foo Foo, I implore you.   Do not split along his axis.”

“Do you love me, Billy?” Lixa asked, ripping off her blouse to expose shriveled, prune-like breasts.

He stared beyond her to the long, glass windows.   Yes, it truly was a long way down.

“No, Lixa,” he answered, “I do not love you.”

She groaned.

“But I love you, Foo Foo.   Don’t leave me.   Love is forever, Foo Foo, and ever and ever and ever.”

He sat horrified as she exploded in front of him.   Smoke wafted from blobs of her flesh that had splattered onto the ceiling.

The loudspeaker died to the sound of flatulence.

“Like she said, you’re fired.”   The grey man appeared in the doorway.   “Oh, and incidentally, we intend to charge you in the murder of   Foo Foo.”

“Who the Hell is Foo Foo?”   asked Billy.

“That would be Lixa to you.”

“My God, you’re one sadistic bastard.”   Billy stood up.   “Move out of my way.”

The grey stepped aside and smiled vindictively.

As Billy crossed the reception area, he noticed that one of the glass windows was shattered.   He went to get a better look.   His heart beat rapidly as he looked down, down, all the way down and held his breath at the sight of a hairy, bulky, naked baboon lying prostrate on the sidewalk below.   Members of a gathering crowd covered their mouths in shock.   Billy felt someone shove him from behind. He turned to catch the malicious gleam in the grey man’s eyes:

“So long, Loser.   You won’t be the first to fall.”

As Billy sailed down, it occurred to him that life had been a long, hard ride and he was glad to finally be free.   He stared at the ground, and was overcome by a wave of compassion for the savage beast below that somehow, he knew, possessed a sensitive soul.

The End


Pavelle Wesser lives with her husband and two children.   She is a New Yorker who spent her early adult years working in office jobs she hated.   The interview process became paramount to obtaining new jobs that she hated even more.   The story  ’Savage’ is an offshoot of these years of abject misery.   Toward the end of her years of hum drum office work, she met her husband-to-be, who at that time was doing research on baboons.   Now that the baboons have all passed on, and the jobs are long over, she can look back and laugh.

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