Jones (excerpt) First half, chapter 2

Jones returns to his chair and feels the slight give in the spring, the status implied by the sophistication of the technology. The fact that he knows his underlings have inferior chairs.

He likes to think his office chair makes up for the view.

He checks his email and alarm spreads over his face, suddenly, comically, a mix of anger and panic, his face made of wax. He walks to the door of his office and his assistant, Vachon, is there, already, its uncanny how she knows before he does, and that is her power, over him, they both know it. “When is my meeting with the new chick?” he asks.

“Fifteen minutes,” Vachon says before Jones has finished. “Her name is Lemay.”

“Remind me why I’m meeting her.”

“You requested a meeting with her and now you’re having one.”

Jones grunts. “Is she cute?”

They pause. Jones can only imagine how vile Vachon finds him. She must. Vachon is short and dumpy and Jones hired her because she was, she is, highly competent and intelligent but also because she was, is, short and dumpy. He appreciated that she did not feel at all hindered by her appearance and still dressed fashionably. Even well. He knows it’s hard to find fashionable things for bodies that are not. He knows that she knows that he is nothing without her. That she feels underappreciated, taken for granted, his oxygen. He also knows the woman with whom he is having a meeting is not only cute but bright as well. He hired her. He knows that Vachon knows this. She knows everything. She knows how he likes his coffee and when. She knows that he prefers to be alone except when he doesn’t. She knows the important dates and times and names that he has forgotten. She knows if he will forget something or if he will remember it. She controls the information that filters to him. And through him.

“I want coffee,” he says.

“And after that?”

“I may want another one.”

He reenters his office and takes a deep breath. He has spent much effort giving his office status. Despite the view. Making it feel larger than it is, creating within it something that will be remarked upon, a space that goes beyond feng shui to herald an understanding of the philosophy of power.

He hates the rug. It is a cheap carpet trying to be a shag carpet and it is sad and tired looking. The vibrant orange pattern has turned to rust. The shag carpet at home, that’s a shag carpet, that carpet is the very definition of shag, rich and deep, a source of joy. Running your hands though that thick shag is to feel a kind of lifeforce.

Vachon returns with his coffee and she places it on a granite coaster on his desk and she looks his way, knowing he will not thank her, knowing he is incapable of gratitude, knowing that he sees gratitude as weakness. As defeat. They make eye contact and that is enough for her.

He sits again and reaches for his coffee and takes a sip. He rereads the email and closes it and opens another one. He reads it and puts his coffee down and then he selects all the unread emails and deletes them and he feels giddy with the finality of what he’s done.

Vachon returns and she places a folder on his desk. “What’s this?” he asks, though he knows what it is. It says so in large letters right on the folder.

“This is the new hire’s report. You asked her to complete this and now it’s done and here it is.”

“What else?”

“It goes beyond what you asked of her and then some.”

“She’s the one with the great hair, right?”

“Lemay makes some recommendations that I think you will find interesting.”

Jones moves in his chair so that he can feel the give and when it does he feels powerful again. “I find very little interesting,” he says.

“She will be here in two minutes.” Vachon turns to leave. “This one is a good hire,” she says and she smiles and Jones manages a quick smile as well, at least with his eyes.

Vachon exits and Jones reaches for the report and wonders if he should put a coffee stain on it. Optics are everything. He angles his coffee mug and allows a small stream of his Javanese Arabica blend to drip over the edge. He puts the coffee mug down on the coaster on his desk. And then he picks it up, opens the report to a random page and puts the mug down on the matte paper. He twirls the mug in place and then lets it sit there, and he waits for the stain to spread, to show evidence of his own industry. The meaning of who he is and that he hired this woman, this girl, because she has good hair, but also because she was rude to him and spoke her mind, and he liked that.

Vachon is back at the door and sometimes he feels like she never really leaves that place, and he says, “What?”

“Miss Lemay is here to see you,” Vachon says and she leaves and Lemay walks in.

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