Ybeltrab by Scott Garson

I bounced a check, and looking into it, I saw that I hadn’t been paid. So I called HR. They told me to speak with Richard Ham, my supervisor, this guy whose smile looked like a dirty sock. I haven’t been paid, I said. Ham effected the smile. I haven’t paid you, he said. Why not? I asked. He told me that he preferred not to. You prefer not to? I said. Not to pay me, for my work? What the hell’s that supposed to mean? I prefer not to be here. If we’re talking about preferences. I prefer sleeping in. Next morning, however, I reconsidered. Ham was new to our division. Maybe this was a test, I thought. His way of trying to estimate our commitment to the corporate vision. Also I wondered if Ham could have read me as formally quitting my job. I worried. Jobs at my level were scarce, winter a poor time for searching. I got dressed and went in. I worked hard, hoped to be noticed. I hoped that yesterday’s scene had been some kind of joke. Like a mood. Passing. I hoped that Richard Ham would prefer to pay me, next time round.

Scott Garson is the author of Is That You, John Wayne?--a collection of stories. He's had work in/on Threepenny Review, American Short Fiction, Electric Literature, Kenyon Review, Conjunctions and others.