Presenting an Opposing Viewpoint

“I understand the board’s proposal to lower the neighborhood speed limit from 25 miles an hour to 20 in order to reduce the risk of harm to our children. However, I would be remiss to ignore this opportunity to suggest an alternative future for our subdivision. Instead of crawling to our homes at 20 while our dinners cool and our loved ones worry, let’s imagine screeching around the entrance sign and gunning past the pool at 95, rocketing with our eyes closed and our hands off the wheel. Tunes blaring, ripping the air guitar, brutally bombarding across yards, all jostle and clunk. Our big, hot tires chew grass, digesting the flower bed where Doug and Christine were wed. We press harder on the gas, to 110, 120, demolishing Heather’s daughter’s swing set as our ribs crack against our steering wheels, our battered bodies laundry-tumbling because we have outlawed seatbelts. We haul ass and surrender control as our vehicles destroy the gazebo where Judy’s son celebrated his high school graduation before donking down the mailbox in which Judy received notice of her son’s death in combat. We fracture our skulls on our windshields and hear our teeth clatter; dice in the cupholders. Screaming for help, yelling in terror as we thunder up the hill, begging for some hero to fire a bullet through our heads and end this hell. Our broken arms cannot wipe the blood off the windshield. With no other option, we stomp the pedal and blindly charge the historic oak in Greg’s front yard where we gathered for Judy’s son’s funeral, our vision blacking out save a pinprick of that maxed-out speedometer and that Airbags Disabled light. And our cars slam into the ancient tree, killing it immediately, and fire our cadavers through our windshields. Gasoline glugs, a spark, inferno engulfs the streets. Our roasted bodies skid across Kelly’s kids’ hopscotch grid while our automobiles roll backwards towards our own homes like dropped bombs. They accelerate, run over our dogs, then goose up our porch steps and shatter our glass doors as the flames reach the tank and detonate our vehicles, blowing up our homes and the family reunions they host. Before we can enjoy the grace of death, possums drag what’s left of us to an evil den in the woods. An air of terror descends on the neighborhood and no one feels safe to go outside, knowing that all of our neighbors are driving in such an unsafe fashion, now that we enforce a mandatory minimum speed of 95 miles an hour.”

The board deliberates for a minute before passing the resolution unanimously.

A Few Rides Left in these Old Dungarees

Tommy stands before his father, lounging in his recliner wearing nothing but blown-out boxer briefs.

“There are a few rides left in these old dungarees,” Peter says. “Don’t believe your mother. Don’t listen to the neighbors. These are still good, these are still ripe, these are sturdy and strong and sound.”

Peter shifts his weight, revealing a constellation of holes and tears, from pinprick nibbles to undeniable grapes.

“These dungarees got me this far, and they got life left in ’em still.”

He writhes to the side and the threadbare fabric rips, exposing more pink-white flesh of his inner thigh. “They’ve seen the world. They’ve seen hell. But they ain’t ready to see the inside of a wastebin.”

He stands and the underwear splits again. He moans, and his penis and scrotum spill through. “They don’t buck like they used to,” he says, “but these dungarees survived combat and they ain’t gonna give out on me now.”

Tommy knows his father has never experienced combat. Tommy can think of no reason for his father’s underwear to be so minced and chewed, like some battlefield flag.

Peter does a jumping jack and his unsupported genitals slap and pull new slits through the cloth. What’s left is a waistband dangling laces, the bones of a picked-apart carcass. “I will not surrender,” Peter huffs through his jumping jacks while the macerated strings bounce. “My dungarees are healthy and vigorous and do not need to be exchanged.”

He slows, breathes heavily, and sits hard in his chair. When he lands, he screams. “Oh,” he wails. “On no, no, no, no.”

Tommy can no longer see his father’s scrotum. “I sat on my nuts,” Peter says. His face goes red, purple. “These old dungarees don’t got no foundation left. No skeleton.” His face grays. “Be good, son. Be good to your momma.”

“Can you get up?” Tommy says. “Mom said she already bought you new underwear.”

“The captain goes down with his dungarees.” Blood comes from his nose, his mouth. A neighbor knocks on the window, peering at Peter’s exposed ass. “Just promise me you’ll play that trumpet when I go. Promise me you’ll send me off right.”

Peter’s body goes limp and he stops breathing.

Tommy picks up his father’s old trumpet, presses it to his lips, and tries to breathe into it, but no sound comes out.

The Amount of Fingers and Toes at This Company is Disgraceful

“I’ve been depressed and immobile for months, so nauseated by the quantity of fingers and toes I supervise. How do you think it feels to lay awake adding them up, the weight of the number pressing me into my mattress, suffocating me? When you manage employees, each problem is multiplied for its impact to the collective firm. Twenty wrinkled extremities per person. Nine-hundred employees. Eighteen thousand writhing skin sacks crammed with bone and blood, all my responsibility. Twenty per person? Why? Tell me. Why?”

The vice presidents gathered in the executive conference room stare into the table.

“Sarah. Go.”


“Tell me why each of our employees needs twenty fingers and toes.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Justify the number. Every expense must be justified.”

“I don’t consider fingers and toes–“

“Pack your things. I need employees who solve problems, not ones who increase confusion and perpetuate inefficiencies.”

“I’m fired?”

“Yes. Greg. Go.”

“Sir, I believe we’re all in agreement that some aspects of our work are out of our control, including–“

“Just because we’ve done it this way in the past is no excuse to continue. We have to rein this in before it becomes a bigger problem.”

“Rein it in?”

“Do you not understand how sad I am?”


“Get out.”

On a folding chair in the corner of the room, I keep my mouth shut and take notes. A summer intern plucked from obscurity to observe. The president does not know I exist. I should stay in my lane, keep my head down. But I was raised to do the right thing.


“Who’s that?”

“If you’d permit me, sir, I’d like to speak on behalf of your employees.”

He narrows his eyes, but allows me to continue.

“I agree that eighteen thousand digits is a condemnable figure. All those fingers and toes burden the staff not only physically, but mentally as well, as each item is one more obligation to inventory and clean and maintain. We should start with an assumption that employees need zero fingers and toes, and then permit each one as required for the needs of the business. The staff you’ve assembled in this room are faithless cowards addicted to the muck that clogs the machine. I believe adaptability is one of the many incredible traits of the human species. I am confident that we can maintain productivity with a 50% reduction. When we eliminate every other digit, efficiency will dip briefly during an adjustment period, but within weeks we will be back to where we were.”

The VPs seethe. They leer, grit their teeth.

But the president points at me. His dour face shatters and he erupts with laughter, gasps in air like they’re his first breaths. “To meet a man who understands…” he says, his big chest quaking. “You’ve saved me from the depths.”

From a cabinet he withdraws a steel cigar cutter. I walk to his side and take it from him, vowing to simply do my job; to act on what’s best for the business. In the men’s restroom I find a dirty blue bucket and bring it to the conference table, where the VPs moan and wail and hit me in my side and my neck and my mouth, but my righteousness is stronger and I subdue them long enough to get every other finger and toe through the gory snipper. I reduce total digit count by half, filling the bucket until it’s good and heavy.

The boss sends me to each regional branch — first class flights, hotel suites — to stalk the floors with my bucket and tool, cauterizing wounds with my sister’s hot iron hair straightener. The employees tell each other about me. They hide and they hit me. They strike me with keyboards and lamps. They try to choke me, to electrocute me. But in the end, I get them all. A monitor crack to the back of the skull is painless when one knows his convictions are pure.

Over and over, I fill my bucket. At the end of August, revenue’s dipped just 4% while fingers and toes are down by 50.

I return to campus and add those statistics to my résumé, typing one key at a time with my cost-effective claws.