Oct 1996

The Area Around

by Ben Ohmart

Office supplies are my life. I get in the morning to a pencil sharpening .wav file on my Packard Bell (computer, idiot!), then my girlfriend kisses me in a newly discovered photocopy ink lipstick. I discovered it. She thinks I'm kinky, verging to insane, and I'm glad because it's my True passion, I'm not one of these guys who's just................... wild! I'm not that creative.

She works at the mall selling belts too close to men's underwear for my taster's choice, but still all I really think about when I'm not putting it in her, taking it out, is my world of reams and multi-pack erasers. The kind you put on the end. And the kind you hold in your hand; half for ink, half to rub out stupid pencil mistakes.

I know my products. By name. Number. I'm considered a freak. But a freak that gets that extra $1.20 an hour for knowing stock, being able to count carbon sheets without touching them (hey. That IS freaky!), I can separate bare mouse pads with seeming telepathic ability. George would say telepathetic ability, but I let him rant. Because he has no sense of paper.

The other day he was advising a business woman—a BUSINESS WOMAN—on a light bond 24 lb. when it's perfectly obvious you don't get picked up by a major distributor unless your cover has a more than glossy look to it. I corrected him, and the woman wanted my baby. Just like that. I could tell by the White Out in her eyes that I was a Jesus come again just to have her come again.

From that we got to talking, discovered our mutual aspersion for Kinko's, ruminated on statistics of rain forests and 200 counts, did a little heavy petting when I suggested that I have quite a collection of those round little bits of paper I like to call plibs that you get when you 3-hole punch your pages, but as she was pouring some coffee-like substance into a glass tube that looked Really cool, I had to stop myself. Talked to myself. Wondered at what the hell I was doing. Here was I. Here I was. Contemplating taking sin into my own hands. Having an affair. It's not like I was married. Just for the name only, the money aspects. We had a real committment. Girlfriend. Boyfriend. I was living serious. I was talking, to myself, serious. Relationship.

When the businesswoman came in, I told her about it.

"I don't think this is right."

She looked at the glass holding the heated liquid and was about to make some joke about cream or that I asked for black or something, but my eyes told her to stay away from comedy.

"I didn't pick you up," she said.

"I didn't pick You up."

We looked at each other, and the beverage got cold.

We had an affair. It was pretty damn hot. Because she's exploded her portfolio, and the bed was covered in papers. Some pretty fine layouts too. The kind you get from a reputable firm, not a DIY Deskjet shit job. Circle graphs in color. I could just imagine, as I came, that there in her notebook was a whole multi-media presentation. Just waiting to entice and inform. With Clip-art that's SIGNED; and icons from the Object Packager that you can click, and it takes you on a nice tangent from your overall po int. Oh yeah. She didn't have the tits, but I could just imagine what she could do with a refillable ink cartridge.

Went back to work, and wasn't even noticed. That is, I'm sure The Man noticed, but he wasn't going to say anything. I could name my pay at any other place. The thing that really drove me down and made the day less than magic was my feeling of guilt. Fuck, I almost quoted the self-serve price for full-service copying. It was getting that bad.

I called in sick, right in front of his face.

On the trek home, I stopped to get flowers out a dirty bucket for a buck. Some homeless looking guy was selling them; he told me to go with God. I thanked him. After all, I always felt a special attachment to those guys. I always looked like that before I washed my hands after work.

I stopped by the ice cream place that's just down the hill from us and got one of those great chocolate creations. The half soft ice cream, half rock hard white cake thingies. Put it in the freezer. Stripped down to nothing. Shaved places I don't usually go. Put on a fake smile I hoped would make everything right again. Atone my sins. Give her a night—and half day—of undying love, because I really did love her. It was only sex that happened. Happened to be with another woman. Meant nothing. If I told myself that enough, made her happy enough. Everything would be just this side of fine.

I waited. Had a little something to eat. Which is difficult when you're warming something up nude. I waited. Got pissed.

Bitch never came home. Ever.


Ben Ohmart has had 100's of stories and poems in journals and zines, and has had three plays produced this year. He also enjoys writing screenplays and lyrics. Some of the latter will be on CD soon.