Klaus. He is a man, twenty-one, lanky, dainty, and—to be honest—bad at painting, yet he is not a painter, in that he is not failed at it, a failed painter—he just doesn’t paint really. Maybe if he tried, he could. Klaus actually had a job though, a poor job. His performance was poor, his pay was poor, and the job’s quality was itself poor as well. Klaus worked in an office mailroom. Most of his days he spent in the mailroom smoking—itself against state regulations—and reading—against company regulations!—and doing what he was.
Was Klaus not a mailman, then? Klaus was not a mailman or, more properly, a mail-room technician. No, Klaus was a writer, a fairly bad one. His words weren’t necessarily wrongly placed, nor were they necessarily harsh to reading, nor were they necessarily boring. These words, however, were unpublished, rejected, and thus made him dejected.
“You have form,” wrote an actual writer to him once, “but you have no content.”
Unnamed actual writer’s writing was right. Klaus had nothing.
“I have nothing,” said Klaus, “What do I have? I have all the means and nothing to write about. I have pen and paper and keys and boards and ink and paper but nothing else. Write about life, they say, but life’s a bore.”
“How about you shut the fuck up and get back to work?” said his boss, in the mailroom, where he (Klaus) worked, for occasionally his boss would stop by to make sure Klaus was working, as a boss does, before he himself would go back to his office and watch sports.
“Yes sir!” On a table there were stacks of parcels and letters. Klaus took a stack and placed it in a bin labeled
Klaus picked up another stack and eyeballed the
mail bin. He tried to recreate the earlier feat, but a letter fell out the stack.
Cut to the fallen letter: white envelope, handwritten addresses.
TO KLAUS SCHREIBER
FROM EXCELLENCE PUBLISHING
A letter! Klaus tore it open, threw away the envelope, and unfolded the paper. (It was an actual letter! from a publisher! an excellent one as well!) Now his eyes did that thing where they move from left to right over a sequence of letters in order to infer meaning. Klaus was hoping a positive meaning would be inferred by his left-and-right symbol processing.
The beginning of the letter was a bore.
Dear Mr. Schreiber,
Excellence Publishing thanks you so very much for sending us such an excellent submission. This selection of short poems and fiction are beautifully written.
Again, how boring.
I am, however, sad to inform you that we cannot publish such a work at the current time or into the future (whether near or distant). Your work was great but absolutely horrible. Poems about washing-machines? Stories about mailrooms? Also your protagonists are all the same: emotionally dead, boring, nihilistic, young, white men.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to resubmit material after you reassess your works’ content and after you are able to write for a wider, more interesting audience.
Mario C. Excellente
“Damn,” said Klaus. How typical, how utterly, utterly typical. With nothing else to do then but work, out he pulled a pack of cigs and lit up. After a drag, he stepped outside the mailroom and yelled out.
“Hey boss!” yelled out Klaus, “I’m going on break!” He had sort of done that thing where you lean into your yell and looked around, unsure of where the auditorial recipient was. Interestingly enough, after working here for a year, he hadn’t the faintest clue where his boss’ office actually was. You’d think he would, as he did manage his boss’ mail, yet Klaus only delivered his mail to his secretary.
His boss peaked out into the hallway from a room (his perhaps?) and looked for the yelling, then settled on Klaus. “I thought you already were on break?” he said.
“That was earlier.”
“Of course…It’s lunch now, then?”
Klaus puffed. “Yeah, I’m gonna eat lunch.”
“Well swell, then. So’ll I. In fact,” he circled his head around, mopping up employee eyes, “it’s lunchtime for everyone. Everyone go eat lunch, boss’ orders.”
“Kay, right then.” And Klaus dipped back into the mailroom.