fiction, poetry & more

2023
FLASH FICTION CONTEST
Honorable Mention
$25 Award

WORKFORCE

by Mark Rosenblum

A middle-aged man in a wrinkled, white button-down shirt and black tie funneled in with a group of workers entering a building. Once inside, the man made his way upstairs and attempted to open the door to a locked room. A group of coworkers watched the man struggle with the doorknob. They pointed out the stranger to the head of the Human Resources Department. She called the firm’s security guard. The guard and the head of HR approached the man and asked why he was in the building. The man explained that he worked in the room he was attempting to enter. He said he filed important forms into manila folders, and then alphabetized them into file drawers in steel cabinets.

The head of HR and the security guard exchanged glances. She told the man that the room he tried to enter was no longer used, and the particular job he described had not existed for many years. She then informed the man he would have to leave. He appeared confused by all this, but amiably agreed to follow the guard and the head of HR to the exit.

As they walked downstairs, the man asked the head of HR if he could perhaps be of use performing a different activity for the company. She told him she was sorry, but after a merger several years ago the firm downsized and that they had no new positions at this time. The man nodded and said that was okay because he was told long ago not to worry about change, as he was soon to have an improved future.

When they reached the exit, the guard held open the door for the man. As the man stepped outside, he waved goodbye. The head of HR noticed what appeared to be a hospital medical identification bracelet on his wrist. She was about to say something to the man but he had already turned and drifted away with the crowd on the sidewalk.

As the guard and the head of HR walked back through a hallway, they passed a grouping of black and white photos hung along the wall. They paid them no attention. They were just old, dusty framed photos of company events through the years. In one of these photos appeared a young man in a freshly pressed white button-down shirt and black tie. He was one of several smiling employees standing under a banner proclaiming, MERGER DAY – TWO TEAMS, ONE IMPROVED FUTURE.

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Mark Rosenblum is a New York native who now lives in Southern California where he misses the taste of real pizza and good deli food. He attempts not to drive his wife crazy, but tends to fail miserably. His eclectic ramblings of fiction and poetry appear in Gold Man Review, Monkeybicycle, Penduline, Vine Leaves, Flash Frontiers, the Raleigh Review, and other journals in print and online.

December 2023