Marcel takes the underground dragon to get to work. It is a metallic loud crashing, chugging thing. Marcel likes the sound of its gears churning beneath and all around him. Marcel likes the full flood of wall to wall noise.
This morning, not unlike many other mornings, Marcel awoke to an empty bottle of red wine in his grasp. He likes to eat salt snacks and watch quiz shows. He likes to answer aloud to himself in the room. He likes to watch his ants make their paths in his window farms.
Marcel was married for twelve years. He lost his mom, his job, his wife, in that order. Marcel did not like keeping it together or being sober for very long into the day. Marcel liked hitting the microphone clubs. He liked to be quiet until he could be very loud.
Marcel arrives at work where he makes replica binders for a nostalgia store. If Marcel could articulate it he would fill a book with his love for the sound of a three hole punch pressing into and cutting a stack of eight to twelve pieces of paper. He is supposed to press twenty five at a time. Even fifteen is too many. Twenty five papers make a dull thud and risk inconsistencies in hole placement. Four is too few to get work done. Though, up to his own clocks, Marcel would do rounds of threes, sixes, and nines.
Hargret is Marcel’s office partner. She slides the glitter paper into the face of each binder when Marcel has clasped the three rings around each stack of fifty pages. Hargret likes to bump elbows with Marcel. If she could get close enough she’d link her arm through his. She knows he stays up late and drinks. She sees the occasional red lips, and the once-in-a-while stains on his shirt. She wants to know what happened to him.
Marcel uses the trigger of each binder to appropriately clasp it shut. Hargret does not like this. The sound is not as satisfying as when you close the three rings by pressing a finger and thumb against the middle ring. This omits a venus-fly-trap snap, which, no coincidence, is Hargret’s favorite sound.
Marcel has a distant look in his eye today. He is not satisfied with the sounds of his three hole punches. He is not delicately placing the paper into the feed. He is being careless.
“Do you know,” she manages to whisper, “you pronounce my name incorrectly.”
“Your name?” Marcel asks, “Margaret?”
“Yes,” she says, “my name is Hargret.”
“Are you trying to embarass me?”
“No, I’m just trying to talk to you. Geeze.” Hargret takes a pronounced breath. “I just thought it would be best to tell you my name now, rather than later.”
“Oh,” he says. He organizes a stack.
“I think that we are in this room together for a reason.”
“You do,” he asks, “why?”
“I don’t know yet. But, I want you to remember something.”
“This is just the beginning.”
“Listen, I am a divorced person, a momless person, a live alone person. I don’t think I’m good at relationships.” Marcel slides the paper into the press. “So, I’m not sure if maybe you think something else is going on here, but, I am, uh, I just want to do my job.”
“Oh, I’m a dadless person” she says brightly, “I didn’t know you were married. What went wrong?”
“Have you ever seen a school bus fall off a cliff?” He presses cleanly into a stack.
“No, that sounds terrible.”
“That’s what my marriage was like. Like that movie Goonies, a bunch of screaming kids.”
“I love that movie Goonies.” Marcel doesn’t not like the sound of Hargrets voice.
“I love it too. I don’t know why I used it negatively. That was my uncle’s review. He hated it. And I did not like being married.”
“You know that I am not proposing to you, right Marcel?”
“Oh, you’re not?”
Marcel forms a very clean stack of twelve papers, he carefully aligns them under the punch and presses down expertly. He slides the stack over the open rings. Just then Hargret reaches over and grips the center ring to close it her way.
“What are you doing?” asks Marcel.
“I’m closing this binder.”
“That’s my job.”
“See, this is just the beginning.”
“Ok. Just, you know, go slow, please. Hargret.”