Sunspots on a Calendar Week by Anthony Martin

Monday. I’d like to tell the sun, the persistent, pervasive sun, to get bent. I’d crease it centerwise myself, fold it once, twice for good measure, and slip it into that one-finger pocket they sewed into my jeans, but I’ve a hunch it won’t comply. It deadens the air this time of year, sitting above the lakefront like a waterproof flare suspended in a saline sea.

Outside. Inside my cube it’s a naked bulb hanging in a corner, buzzing in my ear, aglow in the periphery of my bloodshot eye. Where the switch is I can’t recall.

I’m not a sadist. I don’t care what the chief executive officer said, into the microphone, during his outburst. Or human resources after that. They put his soapbox outside, on the seventh floor balcony, in front of all those reflective plate-glass windows—not me. And when you see two people fucking, I mean fucking with a capital f—really giving it to each other the way it should be—on a balcony just across from where a company has gathered at three o’clock on a Monday to hear the zenith of their pyramid say lofty things about the next half year and beyond, you look, godammit, and you probably laugh. That’s the human thing to do, and my enjoyment of that elegant cosmic intersection was not meant to be taken at the expense of Him and Them and the rest of my fellow employees. Sending someone home for a week, without pay, from one cube to another, is the real transgression.

Tuesday. Since I’m stuck here, today I’d like to change this cube into a sphere. I can’t knock down those walls—I don’t think that’s covered by my security deposit. The light bulb is buzzing and the hardwood floors are scuffing and scratching as I slide my furniture around, chair, desk, coffee table, and old television set. I know! Finger to the sky. This is an epiphanic moment. Light a cigarette and put it all in a circle. Put it all in a circle and sit in the middle, cross-legged—finally learn to sit that way for longer than thirty seconds. Set the television to the fuzz. Flip on the radio and turn the knob until it’s right next to the jazz station, so close some horns and a bit of fixed wire brush come through but not all the way through, and smoke, smoke, smoke.

Thursday. I shouldn’t have done that yesterday, but screw Them. Home for a week, without pay, and now this? All because two brave exhibitionists chose a Monday, coincidentally a Very Important Monday to a certain small-to-medium business barely clutching to survival in this bratwurst city, to have it out in broad daylight. I didn’t point it out. I didn’t say, Hey, you, shut up a second and look at those two angels, those two fearless forest nymphs. I laughed. It started slow, yes, and built into a rolling cackle, I’ll admit, but that’s just the way I laugh, and if it sounds derisive, well, that’s simply the way I was born.

That line of argument didn’t go far with my Supervisor and Human Resources, who were both on the phone at the same time to give me the heave-ho. While they were reciting their pre-meditated speech—“Given your recent behavior, and the strictures of our corporate policy…”—I drew up a list of words I used that they both probably didn’t understand:






Bratwurst (?)

Still, the fire department came and they have nothing to do with this. I shouldn’t have done what I did yesterday.

Wednesday. As it turns out, and this is just occurring to me now, corporate stationery, and the clear sheet of plastic over the opening of those envelopes that come with pre-printed lines for a return address, really smoke up when you burn them. Look at that! It’s really going up. I’m glad I put a damp towel in the middle of the circle before sitting down to this Very Important Work.

Let’s recount the day, so far:

Waking up early, even though no work: permitted, but not ideal.

Keeping the walls bare this far into a six-month lease: permitted.

Arranging furniture in a circle: permitted.

Smoking inside a studio apartment: prohibited.

Smoking inside a studio apartment after being warned not to smoke inside a studio apartment: prohibited.

Not having sex in the apartment this far into a six-month lease: permitted, but not ideal.

Not having sex in the apartment this far into a six-month relationship: permitted, but cause for concern.

Making a small pile of paper correspondence and official documentation in the center of the circle: permitted, albeit suspicious.

Lighting a cigarette and using it to set fire to said pile: prohibited.

I can actually hear the sirens coming down the street and for once, for one time in this part of town, thinking Are they coming for me? har har, doesn’t sound crazy. Who called them up, anyway? I guess you can smell it in the hallway.

My apologies, ma’am. I blame it squarely on the spherical sun.

Friday. Just after coffee, and while admiring the irreversibility of my work, there is a knock at the door. Who knocks at this hour? Decorum be damned, dammit. There’s still work to do in here, and not just cleanup.

I open the door and my pearl is standing there. Oh, my pearl. Bullets six and seven, list two. Hello I say, and she says hello back. She looks in. I can see this because the sky is overcast, finally overcast, and I don’t have to shield my eyes. She’s looking at me like she cares.

Are you alright?

Anthony Martin (@pen_tight) is a mutt mixed with a little Timber Journal, Cheap Pop, The Conium Review, WhiskeyPaper, Pea River Journal, and Lunch Ticket, among other wicked things.