By Joseph Logsdon
Kirk held the gun in his pocket. He sat at his desk, painstakingly going over every detail. He had been humiliated, pure and simple. As an individual, Kirk despised the system that he was forced to work with. Money was his master, the very thing that kept him alive. The gun was his way out, his only way out.
His job consisted of two things: writing reports and answering the phone. Out of those tasks, answering the phone was the most difficult. Customers were annoying, whiny, and most of all, they were incredibly uncaring. They had no regard for anyone but themselves. Kirk was nothing to them, just a voice on the other end of the phone.
Kirk had made an appointment with his boss, Loretta Wilson. Loretta represented everything he hated about the world. She had leverage on just about everyone in the office. At the appointed time, he would have to face her. She would offer him the world, and because of his pride, he would have to refuse.
Kirk slowly rose out of his small cubicle. As usual, no one seemed to notice him. They were all slaves, forced to sacrifice their lives in the name of profit. The sad thing was, they didn't even know it. As Kirk made his way to her office, he came upon an all too familiar sight. Bobby Franklyn, one of the accountants, was violently shaking at his desk. He had been doing it for months, almost always around the same time of day. Kirk sympathized with Bobby. They were both outsiders, unwanted by the majority of society. At the very last minute, Kirk decided to approach him.
"What's troubling you, Bob?"
"What isn't troubling me? I hate this job, I've hated it for many years. In case you haven't been paying attention, I've been trying to get myself fired for months. What does a guy have to do to get fired around here? I haven't done any work for days, no, weeks! I've lied, stolen, cheated. What do you think happened to all of those staplers? I took them; it was all me," he laughed.
"I understand how you feel, more than you could ever possibly know. Take it from me, hard work doesn't necessarily get you anywhere. It's all about who you know, who you're willing to sell your soul to. There's no such thing as freedom of choice. We have options, things we can pick from. You can work and be a slave, or you can die and be free," Kirk stated.
"I never thought of it that way before," Bobby replied.
"Very few people do," Kirk stated, patting him on the back.
Kirk smiled, turned his head, and walked away. He didn't like the way Bobby had looked at him. There was a hint of madness in his eyes, the same madness that existed within himself. They were very much alike, perhaps too alike.
When Kirk entered her office, he was anything but excited. Loretta sat at her desk, hungry for sex and power. Compared with most people who worked in the office, Kirk looked like a movie star. He had the hair, the skin, the smile. Loretta stared at him for what seemed like hours. She licked her lips, softly and gently. Kirk squeezed the gun in his pocket, scarcely managing to control his anger.
"Well, Kirk, what did you want to see me about?"
"I want a promotion," Kirk exclaimed, slamming the door behind him.
"I've been working here for several years. I've done my job well, better than most people here. Your father liked me enough to give me a job, and for that, I'll always be grateful. You've been here for what, three years? I've been working much longer than that. I want, demand, that you reward me for all the work I've done," Kirk exclaimed.
Loretta didn't say one word. She rose from the desk, her slender body enticing his eyes. She paced the room, tauntingly exposing her bare breasts. Kirk stood still, aroused by what he was witnessing. She grabbed his shoulder and passionately embraced him. As opposed to fighting her, he chose to cooperate.
"How's that for a promotion, huh? You of all people should know, nothing's free in this world. There are no guarantees, no promises or certainties. Around every corner, you'll find poor people and rich people. What separates them, do you think? Is it money? Is it opportunity? Rich people have ambition, that's what separates them from everyone else. They take what they want, when they want, where they want. I'm offering you the chance to help me build my own empire. You'd be my top guy, second only to me," she hissed.
"And what's in it for you?"
"Let's not beat around the bush. I own you, your soul, your very way of life," she chuckled.
Kirk slid his hand into his pocket. He caressed the gun, stroked it with absolute steadiness. Loretta peered down, suspicious of what he was doing. She could see the guilt in his eyes. She suddenly backed away from him, troubled by his behavior.
"What do you have in your pocket, I wonder?"
"What makes you think there is anything in my pocket?"
"Your denial only confirms what I already know. What could you possibly have, a gun? Do I displease you that much? Is that why you came here, to kill me? According to your records, you have a history of mental illness. My father knew that, he knew it right from the start. He was willing to take a chance with you. I was willing to take a chance, the chance to finally be happy," she sobbed.
Her sadness touched him. Beneath that cold exterior, existed a human being. Kirk loosened his grip on the gun. She was human, after all. Loretta wasn't the problem; the system was the problem. It didn't care about her, about Bobby, about anyone.
Kirk walked towards the door, his mind made up. The urge to kill was gone, purged from his system. Loretta was sitting on the floor, not saying a word. She was broken, shattered by forces outside of her control.
"I feel sorry for you, for all of you," Kirk whispered, leaving the room.
As Kirk walked down the hall, Bobby stormed passed him, the look of murder in his eyes. He heard the office door slam behind him, the loud bang echoing down the hall. Kirk proceeded to leave the building. Rather than commit murder, he simply quit his job. There was no need for blood, or violence, or anything sinister.
On the way to his car, Kirk heard a gunshot. Apparently, someone was willing to do what he couldn't. Kirk frantically reached into his pocket. The gun was missing, stolen by Bobby Franklyn. Most likely, he took it when they passed in the hallway. There was a second gunshot, proceeded by a third. For the price of his life, Bobby had finally become that free man.