Finding Fidelity – The Pretender
As usual, I snuck into the building’s side entrance. This ensured no delays in my ascent to my corporate prison cell. I had to swing by and grab my laptop for the fresh hell awaiting me in some unknown conference room named in honor of a species of some typical Minnesotan freshwater fish.
As I ascended the side stairwell toward my one o’clock appointment with absurdity, I heard someone enter the stairwell at the ground level just as I reached the first landing. I started up the second of eight half flights that would take me to the fourth floor, when I heard the over-achieving climber behind me begin to take the stairs two at a time. By the time I had reached the second landing (and second floor), the relentless marching maniac behind me was already a couple steps up the half flight I had just ascended. Clearly this eager lunatic could see that I was not upping my stairwell game to match his unnecessary pace—why in the hell was he in such a hurry anyway—but he continued to double-step undaunted. I quickly calculated that at his rate of ascent, he be eating my ass just as I turned up the seventh half flight of stairs. He’d subsequently be wearing my rear end on his face the remainder of our trip. My only hope was that he had his sights set no further than the third floor.
Unfortunately, As I passed the door to the third floor, he didn’t pause to exit at the landing. Instead, he followed me up the remaining stairs, simply idling back his rate of ascent, but refusing to alter his technique. The effect of this, I imagined, was that every other step I took brought his face within dangerous proximity of my undulating butt cheeks. It was utterly perplexing to me that anyone would continue at such an ambitious pace when clearly the person in front of them was walking up the stairs as-designed.
We approached the door to the fourth floor together, and I reached for the door handle and pulled it open.
“After you,” I conceded to the world’s most aggressive stairwell jockey.
“Thanks,” he replied in a mildly exasperated tone.
I watched in awe as he turned the corner and sped down the long corridor that led to the pantry, restrooms, and beyond. I gave him a small salute and proceeded to shake my head in confusion.
Jules breezed past me as I headed up deadpan alley toward my cubicle—none of our row mates ever spoke, it was like working in a morgue.
“Don’t be late for all the fun,” she twittered.
“What room is it?” I yelled as she was already around the corner.
“Muskie!” she announced loudly.
Excerpt from Finding Fidelity, a forthcoming novel from Blake Charles Donley