by Paul Beckman
I have a problem, well I have more than one but this one is Yuge. I can’t work in a mess and I can’t not make a mess where I work. My office looks like the shredder truck should back in and take care of things but I called them and they won’t drive to the second floor. My wife who has the neatness thing down opens my office door, sticks her hand in and sprays something every once in a while. She told me that curing my problem was easy. “There are only three things you do with a piece of paper, a — file it, b — toss it or c — hand it off to someone else.” She won’t let me hand papers off to her. Easy for her to say but I don’t have that gene and I would like to talk to a doctor about it but most of them are slobs too. I did go to see a shrink a couple of years ago and I started out by telling him I fall asleep constantly, especially when I sit and that’s the car, movies, anywhere. I also planned to tell him about this mess problem but we parted company when he yelled at me for falling asleep while he was talking to me. I told him he ought to see someone about his attitude. My neighbor’s at my door. I have a hunch he’s the one calling me in a fake Indian accent trying to tell me that he got a signal that my Windows computer has a problem. Only this time he wanted to complain about my koi pond. How the hell can you complain about something as benign as a koi pond? It’s relatively easy, he said, and I caught him slipping into that fake Indian accent and he knew I did and mumbled something about a bar-b-q and crept away as quickly as he came. I don’t want to sound crazy but I think my papers are fucking and reproducing when I’m not in the office. I say nasty things to telemarketers who call me with this Microsoft shit or solar panels or my winning another free trip to the Bahamas. I ask them to hold on for a second because I’m just getting ready to take a picture of their wife and a goat for welovebestiality.com. Sometimes I tell the caller he’s interrupting a prayer service or ask if I can call him back, the undertaker just drove up. It seems now that I don’t really have a problem, people who come in contact with me do, and I plan to keep it that way.
Paul Beckman was one of the winners in the Queen’s Ferry 2016 Best of Small Fictions. His stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines among others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Matter Press, Metazen, Pure Slush, Jellyfish Magazine, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His latest collection, Peek, weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. His published story website is at www.paulbeckmanstories.com and his blog is at www.pincusb.com.