21 Reasons to Hire me as a Writer
- Because I was a gypsy acrobat. No really, I was.
- Because I count among my dearest friends a plumber, a painter, a reformed gangster, an Islamic mysticism scholar/visual anthropologist, a polyamorous Buddhist nanny, and a professional skate ninja.
- Because I had a drink with a nuclear weapons disposer in Chiang Mai. Yes, the guy who escorted weapons to their point of disposal. He was a portly, balding ginger, who relaxed by climbing Mount Everest and wanted to buy a fellow traveler a drink. He didn’t quite get what he wanted, but I got a story.
- Because I've known enough skaters and hippies and businessmen and carpet cleaners to have a plethora of terrible jokes and pick up lines to draw from at will.
- Because I make self-deprecating jokes, but somehow always seem to botch 'it.
- Because when I taught high school in East Oakland, I made my students create original cultures as part of a an assignment. One group made up Gangster Island where Ice Cube’s Mom made all the food, and the native greeting consisted of “Flashing” on somebody. If they didn’t flinch, you gave them a nod and welcomed them, “cause they gangsta.”
- Because I dreamt I was a daffodil once, it had nothing to with the fact that I was working at a flower shop.
- Because I know you gain the trust of your audience by paying attention to the details.
- Because I read.
- Because growing up in my house, when I asked for the definition of a word, my beat poet father gave me a 20min answer culminating in pulling out the dictionary.
- Because while giving birth at home I screamed at my midwife, “I know you have drugs and you’re just not sharing.”
- Because my years as a grant writer taught me that nothing matters more than clarity.
- Because I’ve taken enough greyhound bus rides to have spent hours talking with Veterans, the Amish, and Maggie Gyllenhall’s nanny.
- Because I do cartwheels when I’m stressed out.
- Because I’ll rewrite and rewrite and collaborate and question and fret until it is better. And better still.
- Because I read.
- Because I cured my fear of spiders by watching the movie Arachnaphobia again and again until I was desensitized.
- Because I believe every human born has a story to tell, every villain owns a wound deep enough to make you shudder, and every hero was once a coward.
- Because I’m a hopeless romantic, and in the realm of literature, I’m in damn good company.
20. Because I enjoy penetrating the depths of your psyche from the comfort of my own home.
21. Because I finish what I start.
It started like a pinprick. Tiny, hardly noticeable. And then is was a sneaking suspicion. He’s not telling me everything. My boss handed me the keys to his entire life: his wifi passwords, his phone, his schedule, his wife’s social calendar. But today was different. He avoided my eyes when I handed him his coffee. He didn’t reply to my email about flight preferences for Belize. He was definitively hiding something.
I searched his mail, and then opened up his personal email, the one he rarely checks. And there is was, glaring. ancestry.com test results in. Huh! I wonder if he’s part Sicilian or Native American or maybe one of the 200 in one men who are directly related to Gengis Khan. I clicked through and scanned the results: 48% Scandinavian, 14% Scottish, 17% Serbian, 9% Sicilian, 8% Greek, 2.5% Pan troglodytes, 2.4 Percent Neaderthal,
Pan troglodytes? Huh? I googled it and pulled up a picture of an Ape. This can’t be. Ape? He’s part Ape? Don’t you think they’d call him? Getting that kind of result over the internet seemed inhuman. This is catastrophic, right? It reminded me of getting HIV test results. They will never let you open your own results, instead you have to talk to a person.
Slow down, I told myself - this could be a joke. He went to Yale Business School and his college friends were known for practical jokes. This was a trick, wasn’t it?
I looked over at him through the glass. I noticed his body hair, his penchant for bananas, his hunched shoulders, his smacking lips. I shook my head, trying to clear it.
Who was I to know he was part Ape? A stockbroker? A venture capitalist? These things had nothing to do with savagery. Greed perhaps, but savagery. So what? Why does it matter. I heard his voice bellow and elevated strangely as he talked excitedly on the phone, pushing through another deal. Before, I interpreted his hoots and hollers as the frat boy variety.
But I had to face it. He wasn’t human. Not ultimately, not when push comes to shove. I kept wondering, turning the question over and over like a familiar stone: “Would he kill me?” He didn’t know that I knew. He probably wouldn’t tell his wife, or his kids. It would be his personal secret.
But I did know, and I’ve never been one who can keep my nervousness quiet. My fingernails find my teeth and my eyebrows reach for my hairline and my hips wiggle in my seat, perpetually ill at ease.
So he’s an ape. Or part ape. Big deal? Don’t worry about it. His children are still alive, sleeping in their beds. His wife looks normal. He’s been alive 46.5 years and he hasn’t killed anyone. And then I remembered how he swatted a fly once. And I winced. Perfect accuracy, total calm, like breathing. Am I the fly?
My mind floated back to last week, when my suspicion started. I found it at the end of an email. It was copied from a legal document; I don’t think he knew it was attached. The competition, another water and power company, was also bidding for the infrastructure job in Rio. They also had experience. They also had connections. They also had government contacts. We could get the job, but it would be close. My boss, Ivan, knew that well. He had gone after it with fervor. Flying out to Rio, hobnobbing with the local government, putting together a stellar proposal. All the bells and whistles.
We got the contract, which was cause for celebration. The attachment at the end of the email was a brief report of the death of our lead competitor. Their CEO had been stabbed to death on a loading dock, near a nightclub in a frequented part of the city. No suspects had been held.
Since Ivan returned from that trip, there was a tension in his elbows. Like his arms had hiked into his torso unannounced and taken up residence there. His brow furrowed faster when he was mad, which was often, and I noticed him looking at my knees.
My knees have always been my weak spot. They are knobby, and turn in slightly, and I rarely show them. My mother always said my legs were not my strongest feature… But when Ivan looked at my knees recently, I had the weirdest feeling like he was thinking about how much force it would take to pry them apart.
I could go to the police. But everything I have is cryptic. The suspected crime is in another country all together. I don’t know anyone involved, personally. Except for my boss. I have no motive to ruin his life, or look for a new job. Except I can’t stop thinking about it.
Would he do it again? He’s part Ape. Maybe now that he’s tasted blood, he needs it. The rush, the feeling, the crazed glory of the violence. The red, moist, viscera. The long day. The feeling that everything happens in stretched-out seconds.
Do apes get guilty? They must. They feel sadness. They feel pain. They love. Coco did. The ape that was famous in the 80s. Robin Williams went to visit him. They hugged. Coco was so gentle he raised a kitten. But maybe that was just Coco. Maybe the genetic tests were wrong and my boss was part werewolf, not ape.
It’s only a matter of time before he finds out that I know. He is too meticulous to not notice a fallen crumb, and unswept track… His attention to detail is how he became the entrepreneur he is. Once he figures it out, I’m next.
I thought about packing my bags for about ninety seconds. And then I knew I needed to leave quickly, so quickly it looked like an abduction. And to send word to my friends and family that I had fallen madly in love and been whisked away by none other than a Frenchman. I’d pay some cute Parisian hipster to pose as my ever-after, one-and-only and we’d be a magic pair, full of lies just long enough for me to disappear.
And then I’d bury myself in romance novels for a week. And I’d cry myself to sleep at night because I’d want my ceramic cup, my woven blanket, my corner store. I’d miss everything known and familiar, and I kick myself for living in fear. For running when I should of stood up, For being a coward. But I’ll be ten thousand miles away from an ape in a suit and never again will I call him Sir.
I stood up, shaky in my heels. I clopped my way over to his office door, knocked and entered.
“Yeah?” he boomed. I slowly swung the heavy door open. And instead of standing in front of him, with my tablet in hand, I leaned on the back of the door. Placing the edge in the small of my back. “So… you’re part ape, huh?” His eyes flickered quickly, darting left and recentering.
“Yeah, so what?”
“That’s the spirit.” I said with my chin in the air.
“Keep it to yourself.”
I quipped, “Of course.”
He nodded, official, sealing our deal.
“You could be proud, if, if you wanted to be. Ya know?”
Ivan’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment. I snuck out of the door, quickly, “Forget I said anything.”
I pulled my skirt down as I sat in my chair and kicked off my heels. What was I worrying about? Working myself into hysterics over something as small as a distant relative.
I looked over at Ivan in his office, reviewing the papers I’d placed on his desk, as demure as any serious business man.
WHACK! He slammed his hand down on the desk, crushing a cockroach. And then with a swift jerk of the wrist, he ate it.