Bill’s desk was clean, nearly antiseptic, holding a stapler, a rolodex and a computer terminal, the computer tower stashed under his desk. He had always believed the neatness of his desk represented his efficiency, and thus his value. That and his expertise with the Infamous system. By now, he was its resident expert. Surely that guaranteed job security.

He had recently seen others “let go” during the current downsizing, but he knew he was safe. Until he tried to log on to his computer:


Then his phone rang. It was Jim from Human Resources.

“Bill, can I see you in my office for a minute?”

Walking down the hall, his footsteps muffled on the carpet, Bill felt as though he were following an invisible executioner leading him to the gallows.

Jim’s office was sparsely furnished: a wastepaper basked next to a desk with a chair on casters behind it and a straight-backed metal chair in front.

“I’m sorry it has to be this way, but the company’s been downsizing for some time now…” Jim droned on. Bill stopped listening and stared at the curtain fluttering at the window.

After eighteen years, no retirement, no “golden parachute,” just a man saying something about “references” and “severance pay.” References? For what? At 58, who would hire him? He was alone; no children, his wife dead five years.

He began to listen again. Heard “… let you go,” and, at the word “go,” did just that – ran to the open window thirteen floors above a concrete sidewalk.


Lon Richardson

He has been writing non-fiction and fiction for about 20 years — in journalism having been published in newspapers, magazines, industry newsletters, and have had short stories published in two literary journals: From The Depths (“Two Tickets,” December 2012) and The Torrid Literature Journal (“One Thing Led To Another,” October 2013).

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