Jungle-Like District: A Short Story

Preliminary Stuff

©1999-2016 Ka Malana

Originally written in 1999, and now transcribed and published by Ka Malana from its original form, created for an assignment dated due on February 3, 1999, written by then undergraduate college student, Ka Malana. Copy made: August 25, 2016

The story:

On Hawkslanding, deep within the jungle-like district of the largest city in the world, Gregory Orson is tied to the edge of his desk, hanging to the top of a 40 foot building, singing ludicrous prayers. He has, for fourteen years, been infatuated with Mr. Schwartzpitzer’s secretary. Mr. Schwartzspitzer is his boss, owning a large toy industry. Since Mr. Schwartzspitzer is the executive of the company, he requires many servants. Gregory would every day, when he would fetch Mr. Schwartzspitzer’s coffee, place little love notes cleverly atop of Ms. Dowery’s desk. Ms. Dowery read them every day during her Earl Grey tea break. Sometimes she spilled her tea, and sometimes she didn’t, while reading them. Inside of the notes he always included a small letter of the alphabet which would eventually spell words, revealing a secret sentence, that would identify her admirer as Gregory.  Gregory continued this notion, until Mr. Schwartzspitzer, aggravated by Gregory’s apparent distraction and not properly attending to his job, was fired. At the end of a long year, Gregory tied himself to the desk, on the 40th story, to end his life.

However, on the day that Gregory decided to take his life, he heard Ms. Dowery singing.

Gregory was unfamiliar with the tune at first, and then remembered that the first day Ms. Dowery started working for Mr. Schwartzpitzer, she sang that very song; Gregory Orson saw Susan Dowery’s big blue eyes for the first time when she sang this song.

It all began after Gregory’s fifth day of work. He was on his way to the photocopier with a loose stack of papers in his hands and his ears chimed in on the most beautiful sound. He felt for that moment that he was in an enchanted forest, deep within the jungle, gazing upon a Scarlet Ibis that somehow found itself far from its home. Ms. Dowery was wearing a vibrant pink dress-coat. She had long slender legs and held her head posed with serenity. The best part was that Gregory could see her, but she couldn’t see him. He stared at her stricken with wonder. To him, it was obvious that this unique and rare species of beauty did not belong in a toy factory, and she must have mistakenly misplaced herself.

Gregory went into the photocopying room.

One day, finally, Susan caught his stare. She was a bit startled because she hadn’t realized that anyone was watching her. She also noticed Gregory’s glowing eyes. This sort of frightened her so she looked back down at her work. Then, feeling as though she was being rude, she looked up and introduced herself. Gregory responded shyly with a, “hello,” set his stack down, and walked quickly out of the room. From this day forward, he always avoided being in the same room with her alone.

Then, one day, ten months after he had been working for Mr. Schwartspitzer, Gregory noticed an odd document placed on Ms. Dowery’s desk.  It was a document concerning Mr. and Mrs. Schwartzspitzer. To Gregory, it wasn’t the fact that the document itself was odd, but the fact that he saw Ms. Dowery staring at it the way she did. She read the document like it was her own. Surely, Gregory thought that Ms. Dowery wasn’t the type to be invading in one’s personal property!

Gregory also recalled seeing Ms. Dowery and Mr. Schwartzspitzer speaking once in a room by themselves, when Gregory walked in, Mr. Schwartzspitzer and Ms. Dowery seemed to be standing very close to each other in awkward silence. Gregory also began to notice that Mr. Schwartzspitzer grew more and more hasty with him. All of these observations were made by Gregory, but he never really took the time to consider their meaning.

In one day it would be Gregory’s 14th year anniversary at the toy factory. Mr. Schwartzspitzer breezed past Gregory and asked him to come into his office later, but that he had to speak with Ms. Dowery first. Walking quietly over to Mr. Schwartzspiters’s office, and listening through the door, Gregory heard the familiar voices of his boss and Ms. Dowery speaking. Incidentally, the voices were familiar sounding, but he noticed that they had changed tone. Ms. Dowery’s began to be even more sing-song like than usual, and Mr. Schwartzspiter’s  voice had softened. Suddenly it occurred to Gregory that Mr. Schwartzspitzer and Ms. Dowery were married! and Mr. Schwarzspitzer had only hired her, because she needed to get out of the house more! She hadn’t any previous experience nor training. Mr. Schwartzpitzer had Ms. Dowery use her maiden name to keep the employees from knowing.

Gregory became so lost in thought that he barely realized that the conversation between his boss and his boss’s wife had concluded. He was just about to leave and walk to the photocopying room, when Mr. Schwartzspitzer and Ms. Dowery walked out of the office. They saw Gregory immediately. Mr. Schwartzpitzer looked down at Gregory and wrenched up his face, while Ms. Dowery dropped her face into a frown.

“Gregory Orson, would you please step into my office now, ” was Mr. Schwartzspitzer’s immediate request. Gregory stepped into the office and gazed around at all the leather furniture. The room smelled like Ms. Dowery’s perfume. Mr. Schwartzspiter told Gregory that he has been preoccupied and that he just wasn’t completing his tasks, and that he was in fact being “let go” from the corporation. As Gregory exited, he heard Ms. Dowery singing her song. This time he didn’t look at her at all.

That evening Gregory felt that his life was over. He tied himself to the 40th floor of the building, to a desk, so that he could hang out of the window, because the building had no ledge.

 

8 thoughts on “Jungle-Like District: A Short Story

  1. I was wondering how it feels, Ka, taking a piece from so many years ago and presenting it once again – do you recognise the writer you were then as the one you are now? For myself, then even pieces I wrote two years ago feel as if from another version of myself, in some indefinable way. And may I ask, do you plan to continue the story here, or elsewhere?

    Anyway, I like the style of your writing; there’s something ‘proper’ and coolly observant about it, the latter suggesting ensuing drama. Just as an aside, I got a little distracted when Miss Dowery became a ‘Mrs.’ briefly, and then reverted to her single status – such an easy little slip to make, and I hope you don’t me pointing it out.

    Many congratulations on this piece, to the Ka of ’99 and the Ka of ’16!

    Hariod ❤

    1. Thank you, Hariod!

      RE: How does it feel? I’m not sure yet.

      Upon publishing, the Mrs. stood out very strongly to me. And then I looked at where it was… and thought: “Oh, I’ll shall leave the hint of what is to come next in the story…” Apparently it was there all along.

      Looking back at the old copy, apparently the error was there, too.

      How interesting! I’m not sure if I will change it.

      I appreciate your reading and feedback, Hariod. Thank you. Aloha, Ka

  2. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    I hope you will write more short stories. I love your style.
    I guess we are all left to wonder if Gregory comes into his own and lives, but having no ledge…

    Mary

  3. Another gem, Ka. I liked all the hidden wrinkles– the way we can long for something so intensely, and for so long, without even realizing what it really is! And how ashamed we can feel after having done so, realizing we’ve participated in being duped somehow. What wants to die is that strange, needy, misinformed part of us. We don’t realize we’ve just been shown– we don’t know who we are either! Ha! I liked the way the tension moved through this piece…

    Michael

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