Excerpt from Office Girl
by Joe Meno
THOUGH IT’S SNOWING AT TEN SECONDS AFTER EIGHT A.M.
On that Monday at the end of January, Jack Blevins, a questionable young man of twenty-five, rides his blue bicycle beneath the flurry, with tape recorder in hand. The snow falls in dark wet flakes across his eyelashes as he listens for something interesting to record. But today there’s nothing. The buildings downtown have become a soft white blur while the rest of the city has gone silent. At the moment Jack is wearing his frayed blue winter hat, pulled tightly over his ears, the ball at the top bouncing back and forth; also the amateurishly repaired black plastic glasses which have been taped in two spots and are now fogged up with frost—the prescription for the glasses several years out of date—a gray winter jacket, and a red scarf which is fitted firmly over his nose and mouth. Beneath the gray coat is a black tie and a white dress shirt that’s two sizes too small. In his left hand, which is covered in a threadbare black glove, he holds the handlebars and does his best to steer the blue ten-speed through the snow; in his right hand, he holds the silver tape recorder, daring to record anything beautiful—the pneumatic hush of the chrome bus doors as they whisper shut, a murmuration of pigeons swooping overhead, the squeak of a wisecracking child walking along in green rubber boots. It’s still dark out, the sun reluctant to rise. Did he shave today? No. He did not. And his brown hair is falling in his eyes. And then he runs into a girl he knows—waiting at a bus stop on the corner of Damen, reading some French novel—and does what he has to to ignore her.