Natalie C Graham

Pelican Deferment


I am walking very fast while listening to Neil Diamond.

I am walking to work.

The space between work and the first part of my day is narrowing,

I am closing the gap … my office building looms immediately ahead.

The office building juts out on a rocky jut that overlooks a deep sea.

As I near the entrance to my office, Mason—an over zealous co-worker—appears in the space that is the door.

He makes eye contact with me and holds his hand up, than jerks his head over his shoulder.

There is no way to pretend not to see him.

I smile.

“Good Morning, Mason!”

I wave a snappy little wave.

He smiles and jerks his head. With a jaunty jerk of his head he indicates that he would like to have a brief informal chat with me.

I hate him. I hate his jaunty head tilt and his phony informal work chat demeanor.

I just want to listen to Neil Diamond.

“Love on the Rocks, ain’t no big surprise.”

So true.

I step aside; we stand to the left of the door.

There we are.

Mason clears his throat and says to me,
“Sophia, yesterday when we were in the vault counting the money your knuckles brazed the front of my pants and I felt a slight pressure on my penis. I just wanted to take a few moments before work to address it, we are both adults and these things happen, I know it didn’t mean anything to you, and I am engaged to a woman who makes more money than you soooooo, I just wanted to clear the air before it got weird, you know.”

It is true my knuckles did slightly braze his dick yesterday in the vault, it was embarrassing but I had forgotten all about it after I went home. The idea of handling Mason’s penis in an attitude of sensuality is ludicrous to me.

Against my will, I picture Mason and his wealthy fiancée sweaty, panting, lusty, grasping each others genitals. It is a vivid and horrible image.

I just want to listen to Neil Diamond.

Waves crashed below on the rocky beach, birds flew overhead. Somewhere, from a long distance, there was a vague shout, a plea, a declaration?

I speak,
“Well, Mason thank you so much for clearing the air, now we can proceed professionally through out our work day, thanks.”

I fish in my bag and pull out an apple. Casually I take a bite.

I saunter to the elevator.

My refection in the polished metal doors looks good, really good.

I sit down at my desk and I work.

And I work.

I work on the Henderson account.

I calibrate the Hargraves directive.

I return emails.

I return phone calls.

I listen to voice mail.

At noon I go outside to eat lunch.

The sun shines down on the island but a dense grey fog hangs in the channel and I can not see the mainland.

I walk to the post office and check my mail.

There is a Graham Greene book.

Graham Greene is elegant.

I don’t open the rest of the mail.

Back at work I drop the un-opened mail on my desk and head to Conference Room B for the staff meeting.

The meeting begins.

Out the window a giant pelican sails on the breeze.

What a magnificent sensory experience it must be having.

The pelican pulls its wings in.

It … Falls! Falls! Falls!


It is all I can do to keep from clapping.

The fall of the pelican is that exciting.

The general manager is in front of the room. He loads a complex graph onto the over head projector.

He smiles, but his eyes are dead.

I try and decode the graph. I want to understand.

He is speaking with dead eyes and a frozen smile.

His pants are pleated in the most unattractive way a pair of pants can be pleated.

“Profits are down, as you can see, we have tried, we have tried and tried,”
He pounds the table with a fist then leaps back, startled by his aggression.

The room is quiet. The assistant secretary to the general manager is crying.

The general manager continues, in a softer voice.

He is showing us his gentle side.

He wants to let us down gently.

He tells us,
"The department has been outsourced. In two months time you all will be out of a job, all of you. The accounts and client service department on the eighth floor will be no more."


The client services department is running low on morale this morning. We sit at our desks and we do all the things that previously gave shape to our days. But, without the passion, or the hate, or, whatever emotion kept it interesting or real for us.

This morning on my break some one leaned out of the ninth floor and shouted,

A seagull screeched over head and the window slammed shut.

I could have yelled back, but what would have been the point?

You would think everyone getting laid off would have brought us together. It hasn’t. No one ever really liked each other. Now there is no motivation to hide it.

It makes me sad.

If everyone stops pretending to like each other than what separates us from the ninth floor?

We are just assholes.

It is uncomfortable, and depressing.

I try as much as I can to hide inside the Henderson account or the Hargraves directive.

I give good customer service.

It is not valuable.

It is not profitable

When I came back from break this morning I opened my mail.

All of the mail was unpaid bills. I always meant to set up a payment plan, I would always think
“Next pay check I will finally pay off that parking ticket I got in my cousin’s car in Dallas.”

Not now … not ever … it has gone on too long, gone too far.

Eat my pussy Dallas, I hate you so much Texas.

The only real proof of my existence is the bills I cannot pay.

If I paid them off, I may cease to exist.

I could commit suicide. That might be nice. My debt would be transferred to my mother.

I can not commit suicide till my mother dies.

After work: in my apartment.

I can hear people walking up and down the stairs. I can hear shouts and laughter echoing off the buildings. I can hear harbor seals.

The seals seem really competent; they seem to be communicating effectively.

Eventually the night will end. I will have to get up and go back to work.

I keep breathing, and, sleeping, and moving.


In the summer I could accidentally drown.

That might be good.

Still who would pay off my Capital One card?

“Love on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise, pour me a drink and I will tell you some lies.”

Help me Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond can not save me.

Not only can I not commit suicide, but, I have to actively avoid dying.

So I can continue to consume.

I am what I owe.

I will be consumed.

It is all too much.

Only profit.

Only endless night.

Pelicans and Graham Greene.

Natalie C Graham lives and writes on Catalina Island, in the city of Avalon. She writes different types of stuff, some times it sucks and sometimes it's good. She has also written under the name Callan. She loves to swim and wishes she were a dolphin instead of a person. They never sleep and they don't have pockets, and they mate for fun!

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