The Company Man

All the single seats are taken; I grab one across from a sleeping passenger. The cabin is filled with a thick silence. The weekday evenings always are.

He sports slick gelled hair, a stealthy urban backpack, tastefully thick leather belt at the hip of well-fitted jeans, and those Brogue shoes required of all the city stormtroopers nowadays. I don’t have to ask; I know that for the whole of his twenty-five year life, he has done everything right — exactly as they told him to. Attended the best schools; recruited for the top firms; worked out every morning; slept early every night.

As he slumps forward in his seat, his careful combover fragments into a dozen obsidian shards. Never have I seen someone so full of vitality look so defeated, so dead. His murderers insist on domination of his corpse to the very end: Michael Kors choking him at the collar, Subway sandwich wrapper clenched in an anemic fist, chest pocket iPhone pumping anesthetic to his ears. I think of it as playing his own funeral procession.

Now approaching Mountain View, Mountain View Station.

My time is up. Rest in peace, I whisper. And then I go.

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