J.M. Martinez

We have been startled from work by a deep growling from below the floor of our offices. We have stopped our typing. Our supervisor coughs. We resume typing.

Though we do not know if we will be... We do not know if we are... We...

I do not know if I - No. The growling interrupts. The growling will not be ignored. It is as though a dragon or a giant squid have taken residence immediately below us. My cubicle partner gives me a worried glance. Far off, our supervisor coughs again.

Some time ago I must have learned to type: I do not remember when or where. I did not get a high school diploma. I do not know why I was hired. I also do not know why I am required to wear a tie.

The growling will not stop and it will not be ignored. The growling is severely hampering my typing duties.

"You hear that?" my cubicle partner asks.

"How can I not?" I say. "How can I not hear that?"

Cough: Our supervisor: Meaning? Meaning: Continue.

...I must have learned to type before I gave up on high school. I must have learned to type but I am not sure if I did so out of a sense of duty or for a hobby: Though what kind of hobby would involve or require typing? I am unsure. I am also unsure of the name of the company I work for.

"Maybe it's a fire," someone (not my cubicle partner) says.

"It can't be a fire," someone else says. "A fire wouldn't growl. It would crackle. Or something."

"Yes. It would crackle or something."

Our supervisor coughs loudly and pointedly and repeatedly--and is ignored. To humor him, we run our fingers over the top row of the keys:



Is it too regular? Is it a little too regular to fool a man thoroughly familiar with the rhythms of our data-entry skills? ...Maybe. We can staccato it:


The growl grows louder. The supervisor gives up on his signifying coughing.

"I'll see," he says, then (genuinely) coughs. "We'll see what's wrong. We'll see what's up with the growling."

Our supervisor coughs. Our supervisor cannot stop coughing.

He calls the elevator and marks what we assume is the floor immediately below us. The elevator doors close and we are left alone to talk amongst ourselves. We do not. We resume our typing.

We continue typing. It's what we do. It is what we are paid to do. We copy deep into the afternoon, then go home.

The next morning the growling is altogether gone. Our supervisor returns. We applaud, much to our surprise and his. He bows. Our applause grows ever more fervent.

We applaud for a long time and when we stop we go back to typing because after all that is what we are here for, is it not. It is.

J.M. Martinez lives in Florida. There is a very loud amusement park directly in front of his present lodgings. He is the author of a novel titled Strobe. Some of his short work has appeared in the online incarnation of McSweeney's and in the online journal Pindeldyboz. Contact him w/ e-mail:

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