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Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Message from the Man in the Office at the End of the Hall


The man in the office at the end of the hall is a small quiet man, thin and bespectacled. He arrives at the office promptly and precisely at seven every morning. He is never late. The office at the end of the hall is as clean and uncluttered as its sole occupant. The walls are lined with deep, wooden filing cabinets like those formerly used in libraries around the world. On the desk is an Underwood typewriter and a stack of cream colored message cards.

There is a knock at the door. He stands, straightens his grey, felt suit, and steps to the door. He opens the red mahogany door to find a sheaf of documents in the wooden organizer. He retrieves them, gives them a cursory glance, and then closes the door. At his desk, he sets down the documents, uses his thumb to carefully align their edges. After reading the top paper in the stack, the man in the office at the end of the hall places one of the cream colored message cards into the Underwood typewriter, and begins a message:


Mr. Carter,

You have made the fundamental mistake
of confusing sputum and sputnik.
She did not kiss you.
There may be water on Mars,
but it is not for you.
You are sick, infectious even.

The message completed, he rolls the card from the typewriter and stands. He takes the card to the appropriate filing drawer: Ca - Cl. He pulls the drawer out, thumbs through the cards, arranged alphabetically. He files the message and closes the drawer. The man in the office at the end of the hall returns to his desk to continue his work.

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Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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