Nico In The City—1

I’m Nico. Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about me.

I’m in love. Don’t worry though. I’m getting over it.

I don’t even really like the guy; it came out of nowhere. He did something out of the blue and I fell in love with it. He’s very uninterested in me, thank god. I think we’ll be able to be good friends. You don’t need to hear the details. They just make it more confusing. In fact—oh wait, sorry. Let me take this.

“Hello?”

“Is this Nicole?” (She does, yes, the director always says it as two syllables as possible, ‘ni’ like cocking a gun, ‘cole’ like firing it.)

“This is she.”

“This is the city Existential Health and Safety Director, thank you for resubmitting your application.”

“You’re welcome. I hope I did everything right?”

“Of course. I should apologize for making you apply again.”

“It’s fine.”

“The requirements are much stricter. It’s a bigger job, longer term.”

“That’s what I was hoping for.”

“Fortunately your experience speaks for itself. We’d like you to come on full time. I understand you might still wish for something more flexible. We’d be fine working around your needs, but ideally we’re looking for as many hours as possible.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that was on the table. I’d be very happy to accept.“

“We have funding for summer. After that it’s up in the air. I know the summer was all you asked for but I thought it would be clear. If the job is finished, they’ll cut the program because they won’t need it. If the job isn’t finished, they’ll cut the program and say we’re incompetent, hire my second choices, wonder why it went wrong, then hire us back the year after.”

“Mmhmm.”

“The state of the city is embarrassing. You already know that. I’m not telling you things you don’t already know. Or telling you about things you at least suspect, as I know you’re clever. Experience is the most important thing, but it’s always helped that you’re clever. Which you know, so you know this, or suspect it, correct?”

“Thank you. I try to stay on top of things.”

“You listen, which is important. Not everyone is such a good listener. I’d rather have good listeners than cleaners with experience but they won’t let me hire like that. So I’m picking my battles. I’m pouring people like you into every corner. Seeping into the grout. I want this city saturated. That’s the only way to do it. We’re on a clock. Oh Josephine. (Jo-se-phi-ne, she gets one more syllable out of it by snaping the name off at the end like a candy bar.) Josephine please explain the rest of it to Nico. I know it’s not your job but you prefer to talk amongst yourselves don’t you? I’m late for a meeting. Do you need arrangements Nicole?”

“I’ll be moving around but I do need somewhere centrally located.”

“We can secure a hotel downtown. I’m sorry we don’t have something like a real apartment to offer you. The hotel is very nice though.”

“Yes, thank you. I don’t mind. I like hotels. It’s like a new fresh slate.”

“You know I’ve always felt that way too Nicole. If you don’t abuse it, you can order room service and we’ll write it off. It’s not very good but it’s nice to know you can, isn’t it? I always do.”

“Me too.”

“Wonderful. Nicole, Josephine. Josephine, Nicole. Do you already know each other?”

“Yeah.” (Since last year. Well longer, but, it’s complicated).

“I should have known, you always do. Be nice, some of you are getting notorious and that’s another thing I can’t deal with. I’m late for this meeting, goodbye.”

“Thank you again, director.”

“Hey Nico!” Like warm tea with plenty of milk and honey, like the jasmine scent that fills your nostrils as soon as your plane touches down in the city in the spring, like the vines that worry and worry and worry all year round on your fragile family home, oh yes, that’s Josephine.

“Hi Josie.”

“Are you excited? The Director doesn’t like to dramatize but wow it’s so bad here! You weren’t here last year were you? When was the last time?”

“Oh god…it was years ago.”

“You’re gonna flip. It’s so bad now, but everywhere is bad. The group stress is getting so high it’s raising the literal temperature by a phsyically perceptible degree.”

“Global warming, huh?”

“Nico come on, don’t use outdated terminology, it’s not like rising stress is the only problem.”

“Global warming was catchier.”

“I know, it’s hard to come up with something clever, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just going to be uncool.”

“You could come up with a good one.”

“They hate my names for everything here! They’re so rude. The naming regulations are incredibly strict, that’s the only thing I don’t like—if they hear you calling the adversary the d-word they’ll write you up. And don’t capitalize adversary either! Not even when you’re saying it.”

“What do they want me to call possession?”

“Wow Nico, did you know I just saw one the other day? This is why they’re calling us in.”

“I expect—oh wait.”

“What is it?”

“Who called it possession and not ‘signs she wants the devil’”?

“AHAHAHAHA NICO!!!! YOU’RE RUTHLESS!!”

“If that’s what they want, then. Anything else I should know?”

“Yeah but it’s easier to explain when you get here. When is that, by the way?”

“I’m holding the ticket…oh, tomorrow I guess.”

“Do you want to stay with me? I know you’ve got a hotel but I was kinda hoping you’d have some free time to hit me and spit in my mouth?”

“Oh yes, I’d love that—orientation isn’t until the day after. Can you take me sightseeing too?”

“Totally, oh, and there’s this new dining complex by the docks, you’ll love it!”

“How are the restrooms?”

“They’re really nice actually, spacious. They’re pretty busy but there’s one that’s out of the way and hardly anyone goes there.”

“Wonderful, let’s do that. Tell me about that person you saw with the adversary when I land.”

“Oh, she was a wild one! No fear, terrifying, filled with that awful glow. She called it her husband, horrifying. Kinda reminds me of me. I hate her already!”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.