Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Beaurocrat- A Flash Fiction

His handwriting is neat.

His handwriting is neat and his columns are straight like long queues of people, waiting patiently for their turn to step forward to be totaled up by his slim, precise figures and then step across the neat black line that he has drawn at the bottom of his list.

In a few minutes, maybe, he will go make another cup of coffee.

In March, 8239 pairs of shoes.
In April, 7985
In May, 8132
In June, 8089

Carry the 2.…He turns a page, laying the finished sheet neatly at the top of his desk, next the framed photograph of his children. They smile up at him, as if approving his precision, blond, chubby, perfect. It is Peter’s birthday tomorrow and if he works quickly, then maybe he can take off early. But his columns remain commendably neat.

25 trains in March.
27 in April
19 in May

He turns on the radio. Beethoven's Fifth. The joyous, martial clamor seems out of place in the quiet office. Still, he is doing his part, too, as best he can.

And carry the four…that makes twelve…I wonder if we have enough sugar rations left for a decent cake…I hope that Peter won’t be disappointed…It upsets Clara so much when she can’t make things like they were before….And carry the five…do you think I ought to invite Max’s children? Peter and Anna really don’t get along so well, but I do think that one ought to be neighborly…and that makes 124…

He goes and gets a cup of coffee, nodding to people in the hallways. The halls are smooth, orderly. You would hardly know that somewhere out there, there is a war.

In March, 45,218 incoming
In April, 49,512
In May, 39,485
In June, 47,594

What he really wants to do is knock off for the day. Finish the book that he’s been trying to read all week. Go to the pub and have a pint or two, listen to the piano player. But of course, he won’t. He has a job to do. All part of the cause.

His job is to keep his columns straight and his addition accurate.

In March, 42,000 to the gas chambers
In April, 47,000
In May, 38,000
In June, 45,000

He draws a neat line across the bottom of his figures, straight, unwavering, inexorable, then dips his pen back into the inkwell. He blots it twice, each time leaving behind Rorschach smudges that are entirely black.

5 comments:

Halfnutcase said...

and why are you making your readers cry today?

that was incredibly vivid, and excelent writing.

Tobie said...

Sorry...this was just an idea that popped into my head to try to flesh out. No crying was intended.
But thanks!

the sabra said...

(linked to here)

Bonnie B said...

So vivid, so real and such a horrific job, such a piece of history-- the mundaneness. You made it seem so matter-of-fact, and in this is your talent. thank you for sharing

pint-sized said...

You've captured something quite unusual in this- managing to take the horific and translate it in to art without numbing the emotion- basicaly I like this blog:)