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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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STRIVING FOR PERFECTION


by Jon Sindell


 


“Look, let’s play off that morning in America riff,” said Dick. “Like, Reach for the stars!”

 

“In the morning?” Kevin crushed his cigarette, chided Dick with a grin.

 

“Okay, then. How about, Seize the day!”

 

Carpe diem,” chirped John, the new intern from Georgetown.

 

“Johnny,” grinned Kevin, “these lunch buckets don’t speak Latin!”

 

And they’re losing their jobs.” Dick’s smile brimmed with facetious compassion.

 

“Nope,” smirked Kevin. “They’re being downsized.”

 

The intern’s eyes darkened.

 

“Cheer up, Johnny,” said Kevin. “We’re ministering to lost little lambs.”

 

And giving them a fresh start,” said Dick. He squared his hands. “When one door closes, God opens a window.”

 

“Yep,” said Kevin. “And we want them jumping through that window, Johnny—and seizing new jobs, to steal Dick’s phrase.”

 

And avoiding welfare,” Dick noted. “Client’s politics,” he winked at his partner.

 

His stick–insect arms perched on the huge conference table, John gazed up at the two older men as they paced the room. He admired their sturdy physicality and robust confidence, and pondered the wisdom in brows knit with black humor. He gazed at the sky over the Potomac.

 

“Listen,” Dick told Kevin, “we need to evoke Reagan, the vision to see that a rising tide lifts all boats. And that if a company gets stronger by … streamlining its workforce, the economy grows—and all workers gain!”

 

“By losing their jobs,” John mused. His tone was neutral, his affect flat.

 

“He’s a bright one,” beamed Kevin, jerking his thumb.

 

“Yep,” said Dick, who ceased pacing to stare down at John. Kevin stared at John too, with a foot on the sill of the wall–to–wall window.

 

John steepled his fingers, contracted his brow. “I know a phrase.” He gathered himself and stared at his fingers with intense concentration. “Striving for perfection. The company’s striving for the perfect workforce!” He looked up brightly to see how he’d done.

 

“Perfect!” said Kevin, thunder–clapping his hands. “And the worker’s striving for the perfect job!”

 

Dick frowned like an imp. “Not the dead–end sort of job they’re stuck in now.”

 

“Nope,” grinned Kevin. “When one door closes”— he implied God with the spread of his hands.

 

John smiled like a boy who has just pleased his dad, and Dick, tonsured and comfortably plump, tousled his hair.

 

Kevin poured a celebratory drink and studied John as he rolled the whiskey around in his mouth. It had been ten years, he had not known the boy personally … but yes, it was he—the altar server at the parish he had long since abandoned. They both had striven for perfection in Christ.

 

“Yep,” said Kevin, smacking his lips and pouring for John. “It’s perfect.”