A bit of flash fiction today. I needed the distraction. Thanks to Jen for the real life prompt.
“May the force of Jesus Christ be with you.”
This was the closing line of the cover letter I received last week for a resume that had otherwise looked fantastic. I didn’t know what to make of this slightly cuckoo line to throw everything off. Was it a serious closing? Was it meant to be strange? If so, it was an odd choice. I didn’t know if he was an ultra serious Star Wars fan or a mixed up Christian. And now the man who wrote it was sitting in front of me, having decided to drop in and inquire about the status of his application instead of calling. Or even emailing. That would have been the preferred method.
Who was I kidding? No contact at all would have been the truly best method. Especially since we weren’t hiring right now.
“Look, Mr. Davison–”
“Call me Will.”
“Can I call you Elizabeth?”
“You are moving so far in the wrong direction that I’m afraid you might fall off the plank before I can even force you to walk it. Ms. Collins will do.”
“That’s quite the wall you’re building there.”
WTF? Was he trying to get all psychological on me for simply asking him to follow socially acceptable protocols? “I beg your pardon?”
“Clearly you want some distance between us.”
“Boy, you sure are a quick study,” I couldn’t help the sarcasm from bleeding through. But really, the line? I’d say he reached it. And quickly, too. I owed this man nothing.
“I’m merely speaking aloud my thoughts. I apologize for the presumption of open communication.”
“Look Mr. Davison–”
“—Mr. Davison. You have about two more minutes until I decide reading through your resume is no longer worth the trouble, so how about jumping to the reason you decided to interrupt the process?”
He leaned back in his chair to the point of almost, but not quite, slouching. One elbow rested on the arm of the chair with his hand gently cradling his jaw. The fingers on his other hand jittered quietly on the other arm of the chair. His eyes studied me, which I expected to creep me out based upon his behavior so far, but at this point, I discovered something else in them, enough to wait him out.
“Following rules is important to you?” he asked finally.
“I accept exceptions.”
He smiled at the wordplay, and I enjoyed his smile. It was the first thing about him that felt authentic. “Following your rules is important to you.”
“I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t believe in them.”
“Our lord and our savior Jesus Christ had rules.”
He shook his head. “No. Certainly those are rules, but they are the divine ones for which neither he nor any of the rest of us can ‘accept exceptions’.”
He wanted me to ask the next question, but instead I waited him out.
A steady rush of cool air thrummed in my ears as the air conditioner kicked in. The piece of notepaper that I’d hastily taped to my computer monitor earlier that day gently flipped back and forth under the draft. An active conversation gained volume as the two who shared it passed outside of my door and then faded again. Laughter floated in from somewhere. A door clicked open, then latched shut again a moment later.
I still sat forward in my chair, forearms resting along my desk, hands clasped. He had returned to his position of study.
The AC fan stopped, creating a new, palpable silence.
“You are very patient.” He broke the stalemate quietly, almost seductively.
“You’re holding yourself back from asking the question.”
I tilted my head slightly. “Which question is that?”
He leaned forward, elbows now resting on the armrests on either side of him to give him leverage. “You don’t want to know what rules I’m talking about?”
I shrugged. “No. Not really.”
“Even if they are pertinent to the position I’m applying for?”
“If they were pertinent, you would have told them to me already.”
“So you are hiring?”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. He’d gotten me there. “No, Mr. Collins–”
“—we are not hiring right now.”
“But you wish you were.”
“What if I told you these rules of Jesus Christ’s were… pertinent to making that happen?”
“I’d be doubtful, honestly.”
He pulled out a clipboard, a blank sheet of paper, and a pen from his bag. He sat back in his chair, crossed his legs, and slowly flipped his pen over and over again.
“You really want me to ask, don’t you?” I asked, impressed with his silent perseverance.
“First,” he replied, “nothing can grow unless it is fed with the right fertilizer.” He started to sketch and scribble on his notecard.
“Second, faith and foresight bring favor and prosperity.
“Third, always appreciate what has been found, in spite of how you find it.
“Finally, if you’re going to perform a miracle, make it count.” He passed his clipboard over to me. He’d been writing and sketching while he spoke, minimal pauses between each “rule”. Now I looked at his result.
I leaned back in my chair.
I set the clipboard down and stood. Davison stood, too. I held out my hand to shake his.
“We’ll be in touch.”
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