The Plastic Suitcase
By Eric Suhem
The little boy sat by the pond, tousled hair in his eyes, feeling the cool grass between his toes, smiling as he looked at the fish swimming in the water. Steve remembered this pond from his childhood.
Steve was awoken from his dream by a shrill ring of the cell phone. “We require your services at corporate immediately. Catch the next plane out,” said the voice on the phone line. Steve put plastic clothes into a plastic suitcase. He put a plastic toothbrush onto plastic teeth, brushing with even strokes.
Zoom, Zip, Bang! Steve thrust himself into the synergy of the moment. "Give me a plastic Pina Colada, baby, I'm here to stay!" he said to the flight stewardess. He whispered sweet nothings into the ear of the other stewardess, who was splayed out upon the plastic food tray, delighting in the peanuts, Sprite, and napkins that were sucked into her writhing spray-shellacked beehive hairdo nudging itself against the industrial tan fabrics of the reclining seat in the preceding row, occupied by the portly businessman.
Steve’s plane landed at the airport and he walked through the plastic terminal, staring forward with a steely glint, checking his media devices, texting appropriate responses. After looking at his plastic agenda for the corporation’s ball-bearing and therapy advertising campaign, he got into the new rental car, air conditioning on, friendly fumes of lacquer and paint solvents filling his lungs. The temperature, as always, was 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
When he arrived at corporate headquarters, the employees flung themselves at his feet, kissing his hard plastic boots, their lusting eyes craving his image. Steve entered the conference room, where his team showed him charts and graphs. The team milled about, commenting, pursuing deep-seated needs, hoping to find an advantage and gain Steve’s favor, carrying out Freudian agendas as they acted upon the murky volcano lurking deep within their unconscious. Later, Steve and the management team bonded over martini olives, brilliantly reforming the ball-bearing and therapy advertising campaign into a cultural force.
Steve woke up the next morning, writhing amongst the secretaries on plastic sheets in the plastic bed, administrative lacquered plastic fingernails slicing thin rivulets of blood into his back. Festive, hunching orangutans flew through the dark spaces of the hangover in his skull, while he prepared his mind for the next gathering of hard-charging entrepreneurs, looking to create a new tomorrow for the rest of us, little grey monkeys trimming nails from their bulging toes. Steve decided to step outside and walk around the ponds and rivers of the corporate grounds.
He saw the little boy sitting in the grass by the pond, still smiling at the fish in the water. The boy waved to Steve, and Steve waved back, seeing himself from long ago. A sadness and regret started to overwhelm him. He blinked and the boy faded away, waving goodbye.
Steve regrouped and looked at the water, deciding that there weren’t enough fish. "What about piranha? What about carp?" he demanded. Steve got on the phone and decided to make things happen, placing a call to facilities, with a dictum of restocking corporate’s plastic ponds and rivers with piranha and carp.
His coup at corporate complete, Steve packed his plastic suitcase and left headquarters for the next assignment, located in a climate where he was sure to find more succulent piranha and carp. Instead he’d find blood on a broken air conditioner, a story that would end with hard nails in a warm room.
- - -
Eric Suhem lives in the orange hallway.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The Plastic Suitcase
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