Martin Ellis didn’t think himself difficult to work with, but when his left foot turned in its two weeks’ notice, it gave him pause. The notice was typed neatly and professionally, which was surprising, as Martin didn’t realize his foot could type. Part of him wondered if he’d been blind all this time to the strengths and abilities of his foot and if that particular blindness was the catalyst for its desire to move on.
As he worked through the shock, Martin realized his foot had accomplished something he hadn’t consciously realized he wanted for himself. The lines of demarcation between his workday and private time had long ago bled together, becoming totally indistinguishable. Martin answered work e-mails at home until early in the morning, and when he slept, he dreamed of the work he had left to do. It wasn’t until his foot turned in its resignation that Martin understood he’d been too busy with his current job to realize how badly he wanted a different one.
Martin let his left foot know if it ever required a letter of recommendation, he’d be happy to write one. Subtly, Martin asked his left foot if the company it was leaving for had any open positions.
“I could give you my résumé to pass along…” Martin said, trailing off until foot mercifully cut the conversation off by politely but firmly striding out the front door.
It took three days to find a temporary replacement for his left foot, and Martin was unimpressed with its quality. The plunger head was difficult to walk on, and it was impossible to not notice coworkers’ stares. Martin’s boss shot him a side-eye glare during a meeting after Martin got his plunger stuck on the metal transition strip and wobbled half-in, half-out of the conference room.
Life continued in the way that had become normal for Martin, in that he kept getting steadily dumped on by his manager and took on more and more work with no increase in pay or benefits. He was stuck, as if he were trapped in career quicksand.
Martin’s anus said as much in its strongly worded departure memo. With the fundament tainted, the constituent elements of Martin’s body uprooted themselves in search of solid ground.
His astigmatic eyeball was the next to announce its resignation, which wasn’t a huge loss, though it cost Martin his depth perception. His cheeks gave a single week’s notice and then announced their intent to apply the 5 days’ worth of leave they’d accrued during the calendar year, which was unprofessional but hardly surprising, given the cheeks’ established work ethic.
Martin wished them well, even though he had to bite his tongue to keep from yelling at them, which was embarrassingly obvious with his lack of cheeks. As the notices kept coming in, Martin rose to the verge of frenzy, but still he kept working, increasingly unable to bring his head above the growing flood of work.
When his right hand announced it was leaving, Martin lost control.
“You’re useless!” he screamed, as best he could as air rushed through the void his cheeks left. “I don’t want your two weeks’ notice! You’re fired!”
And then, after consideration, he added “As of tomorrow.”
Martin used his right hand to the point of exhaustion, clicking and dragging, typing and retyping, writing longhand and answering e-mails the entire night through to try and shore himself up against the unyielding flood of work his manager rained over him.
When it saw the abuse its friend and frequent collaborator the right hand went through, Martin’s penis made its letter of resignation effective immediately.
Following the departure of his right hand, Martin signed a short term contract with a straw broom to take over the hand’s primary responsibilities. This proved disastrous, as it left him incapable of doing his job effectively.
His desk, though, had never been cleaner.
When Corporate paid a visit, Martin was sure his time at the company was through. Absurdly, he thought to himself, I have too much work to do to get fired. I’ll never get caught up if they let me go.
“Ellison, it’s good to talk to you again,” Corporate said, intentionally getting Martin’s last name wrong, as Corporate did not deign to recognize lesser employees until they ascended to the highest plains of management or were deified and became one with Corporate itself.
“It’s absolutely a pleasure to speak with You, too,” Martin said, using the collective pronoun and accenting it to hail and salute Corporate with proper and deserved respect.
“We’ll be quick, Ellison. Your supervisor is being promoted.”
The internal universe of Martin’s higher thoughts came to a halt. His boss was a moron, utterly terrible at his job and seemingly allergic to leadership. It made no sense that he would be promoted.
“With that,” Corporate said, “there is a gap to fill, and We want you to fill it.”
Martin was dumbstruck, unsure how to respond.
“You, Our friend, have attracted quite a lot of attention with your sterling qualifications. You are able to literally sweep things under the rug, you permanently give the side-eye, you can quite admirably talk out of both sides of your mouth, and with that plunger foot—a stroke of genius, by the way—you can bring up old shit from the past that bears no relevance to the current situation. In short, you’re almost everything we look for.”
“Almost?” Martin said.
“You still have both halves of your brain, correct?”
“Get rid of one,” Corporate interrupted. “Either is fine. Make it your first decision as management.”
Martin had never fired anyone before, and the thought of being responsible for one career ending so that his own could advance was troubling.
“Also,” Corporate said, “you will have an office. Management is not resigned to life among the cubicles.”
Martin Ellis, Junior Manager, didn’t think himself difficult to work for. In fact, he didn’t have to think much at all. He had people to do that for him now.
A slightly different version of this story was originally published in Berkeley Fiction Review.
Zach Davis is an award-winning playwright and peddler of weird tales whose work has cluttered the darkened corners of otherwise respectable print and online journals for over a decade. Some of the places nice enough to take a chance on his stuff include Carve, The First Line, Berkeley Fiction Review, Drunk Monkeys, Gravel, and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers (numerous volumes).
Christen Davis is a writer and editor who lives with her husband and two cats in Virginia Beach, Virginia.