DAMN IT JANET
Kendra Grant Malone
There was a picture of a baby on Janet’s screen. It was from a Gerber ad. Janet sat with her chin resting on her hand, flicking the screen with her thumb and her index finger.
“Hey boss man,” she said.
“What do you think is the likelihood of me dying without getting an abortion at some point in my life?”
He thought for a while. His face was very serious.
“Slim to none,” he said.
Janet went back to flicking the baby on the computer screen.
“Hey boss man,” she said.
“I need a few days off next week.”
“Sure, what for?”
“I’m going to Canada,” she said.
My boss winced.
“Why?” I asked.
Janet was still flicking the screen. She looked angry.
“To see geese,” she said.
Janet came back to work with a large cardboard box. She stumbled to her desk and dropped it. The box seemed heavy; it made a very loud thud.
“What’s in the box Janet?” Joe asked.
“Just some old books.”
The box began to move just a little. The walls of it were shaking slightly. The box made a growling sound. Janet growled back at the box. Then the box began to flail about, with frantic scratching noises coming from inside. Janet swiftly kicked the box. The box stopped moving. A pool of clear liquid formed around the bottom of it. Janet looked down and scooted her feet back, away from the liquid.
Janet was sitting over the paper shredder. She had been feeding sheets into it for nearly an hour. She sat crouched over, feeding sheet after sheet taken from a very tall ream of paper sitting on her desk. The buzzing noise was giving me a headache.
“What are you shredding?” I asked her.
“Evidence,” she said solemnly.
I looked closely at the stack of paper. Then I looked closely at Janet, who looked somber.
“Janet, all those pieces of paper are blank.”
Janet ignored me. She continued to feed sheets of blank paper into the shredder. After a few more minutes she began to sing in a warbly voice.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey . . .”
Janet trailed off.
I was blowing my nose when Janet threw a pen at my head.
"Stop that, you sound like a duck," she said.
"I'm sorry Janet, I can't help it though."
Janet glared at me.
"I have hay fever," I said to her.
"I said, STOP IT."
We both turned back to our desks. I needed to blow my nose again. I tried to quietly do it hunched below my desk. I made a small nose. Janet threw a scissors at the back of my head.
"I told you," Janet said, with a cold monotone, staring at her screen.
Blood trickled down my neck.
"I'm sorry Janet."
I grabbed a tissue and sopped up the blood pooling in my collar.
Janet was looking at the printer. It started to process a queue. Janet made a hum that was around the same pitch of the printer. She made the noise until the printer stopped. After, she leaned into the paper tray and whispered "good girl."
"Do you have any antihistamines?" Janet asked me.
"No," I said.
Janet reached for her purse and pulled out a large container of antihistamine.
"Why did you ask me for antihistamine if you already had so much of it?"
"I wanted to take your antihistamine."
"Why? I don't even take them."
Janet turned away from me. She took a small razor and a mirror out of her purse as well. She proceeded to chop up the antihistamine, the way one would chop up an eight ball of cocaine. She laid out two neat rails on the mirror.
"Do you have a hundred dollar bill?" She asked me.
"I knew you wouldn't."
Janet seemed disappointed in me. She took out a five-dollar bill, rolled it up and snorted the antihistamine. There was bright pink powder on her nose. She lit a cigarette and wrote an email.
I was staring at Janet. Janet was staring at me. Janet held her hands in the form of a gun, cocked it, and pretend shot herself in the mouth. She jerked back in her chair and flailed around for a while. She laid, sprawled on her chair, with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, like she was dead. My boss was staring at Janet too.
"Janet, how is the Broadband Production Book going?" he asked her.
Janet jerked in her chair like she was having post mortem seizures. My boss cleared his throat loudly.
"Janet!" he yelled.
Janet twitched again.
"Toilet paper kimono," she said, still playing dead.
I stared at my boss. He stared at me. My boss made his hands into the form of a gun, cocked it, and pretended to shoot Janet.
I could see in my periphery that Janet was watching porn at her desk this morning. The boss was out and it was just she and I in the office. Janet was making weird noises. I turned to look at her- it seemed like she was trying to get my attention.
"Fuck, what is that?" I asked.
"Bestiality websites are not what they used to be," she said.
"Why are you watching that?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I was just up really late."
"Working on explosives."
There was something really horrible happening on her screen.
"I love you," Janet said.
"I have to go to the bathroom," I said.
Janet was alone in the office. She sat very still at her desk.
For eight hours Janet sat still and did not move.
After eight hours Janet sent out an email to all of her coworkers that read as follows:
To Whom It May Concern,
I have not set the building on fire today. There are people scratching under the floorboards.
Minus fifteen points.
Thank you for your time.
Post Production Manager
"Janet, can I have a cigarette?"
Janet reached into her purse and pulled out three opened packs of camel lights.
Janet opened the pack, removed a cigarette and threw it at Robby's head. Robby put on his coat and began to walk outside.
"You look sick today, Janet."
Janet pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke at her desk.
"Do you wanna fuck?"
"Gross, leave me alone pervert."
This morning I came into work at 8:00 am. My coworker, Janet, was sitting at her desk very still. She had been there the night before until 10:00 pm, and I'm not convinced she went home. It was only 30 degrees outside, but Janet was sitting there in just her slip with no socks, the air conditioner turned all the way up. I came up behind and tapped her shoulder. She jumped and spilled straight gin from a sippy cup (with the lid unfortunately only half on), all over her white slip. She laughed and I could see her nipples in her wet white slip. Janet stopped laughing suddenly and grabbed my wrist and said "Happy Wednesday!"
Janet and I left work at the same time yesterday. We walked six blocks to the subway together in complete silence. The train arrived as we walked through the turnstile. We quietly got on and sat down.
There was a wilted, rotting rose on the seat next to Janet. She handed it to me.
“Oh, I almost forgot, I got you this,” she said.
“No you didn’t. You just found it. I saw you.”
“Your parents never loved you,” she said with a frightening expression.
I frowned and looked at the rose. Three petals had fallen off.