They met every other week on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

He wondered where the term “standing” came from.  Regular, he supposed, immobile.

They sat around a long oval table made of dark wood veneer.  Printed agendas were constructed with care, divided by action and discussion items.

He was often light-headed at these meetings.  Maybe it was the lunch, maybe the air in the room.  He’d stare at the white agenda, then from one face to another around the table.

Why is there almost always laughter at some point in the meeting?  Is it collusion?

Why a moment when it is clear someone screwed up?  Questions are asked with spaces in them to be filled with accusation.

“Next item,” he heard.

Then a time when others are blamed who are not at the meeting.  Explanations of (bad) decisions by superiors–moving forward, new direction, budget limitations, bigger picture.

Who at the meeting is struggling for power?  Who slighted?  Who jealous of success?  Who can’t bear to hear the other’s voice, and would disagree with any position, even if it was formerly their own?  Who secretly attracted?

Why is one speechless, saying nothing–never with an agenda item, comment, question—just attendance?

He wondered what would happen if he just passed out and his head bounced off the table.

What if he just vaporized?

What if he spoke German?

He doesn’t know German.

2:55 pm.


Gary A. Berg

Gary has an MFA from UCLA and is author of published short stories and non-fiction books.

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