Martin Ellis didn’t think himself difficult to work with, but when his left foot turned in its two weeks’ notice, it gave him pause. The notice was typed neatly and professionally, which was surprising, as Martin didn’t realize his foot could type at all. Part of him wondered if he’d been blind all along to his foot’s abilities and strengths and if the lack of recognition was the reason for its desire to move on.
As he worked through the shock, Martin realized the foot had accomplished something he hadn’t consciously understood he wanted for himself. After all, he’d been too busy. His private and working lives had bled together long ago. He answered work e-mails at home to stanch the endless gush of expectations and spattered his keyboard with crumbs as he ate meals at his desk until work and home, personal and professional, became transfused. It wasn’t until the foot resigned that Martin understood his personal Achilles’ heel was an inability to recognize how callused he’d become to the many ways the foot had given him a professional foundation to stand on. If he had, Martin would have seen just how much he and the foot had in common. He, too, knew what it was like to be at the bottom, to be under a tremendous amount of pressure, to have a soul bursting with potential that no one could see. In an odd way, he was proud of the foot for stepping out on its own. Although, proud as he was, Martin couldn’t help but feel jealous.
Martin let his former left foot know if it ever required a letter of recommendation, he’d be happy to write one. Discreetly, he also asked the foot if the company it was leaving for had any more open positions.
“I could give you my résumé to pass along…” Martin said, toeing the line separating tact from poor manners. The conversation would have limped along, but the foot mercifully cut it off by politely but firmly striding out the front door.
It took three days to find a temporary replacement to fill the left foot’s vacant position. Martin was unimpressed. The plunger head was difficult to walk on and attracted all his coworkers’ stares. His boss gave him the side-eye during a meeting after Martin got his plunger stuck on the floor’s metal transition strip and wobbled half-in, half-out of the conference room.
Life continued in a way that had become normal for Martin: he was shit on by his manager and accepted more and more work with no increase in pay, benefits, or recognition. His career bobbed along in a ceaseless spiral, just waiting for the inevitable flush.
Martin’s anus said as much in its strongly worded departure memo. With his fundament tainted, the whole of Martin’s body began to uproot itself and split off, going their separate ways in search of solid ground, to wipe the slate clean and start over fresh and unsoiled.
His astigmatic eyeball was next to pull up its roots and announce its resignation. Given the eyeball’s constant lack of focus, this wasn’t a huge loss, though it did cost Martin his depth perception. Next, his left cheek gave a single week of notice. Though it remained loyal to him at first, the right cheek turned on Martin, announcing that both would use the five days of leave they’d accrued immediately. Martin begrudgingly wished them well, even though he had to bite his tongue to keep from yelling at them, which was embarrassingly obvious given his lack of cheeks. As the waves of notices and new work came in, he grew ever more unbalanced. Still, he plunged ahead, increasingly unable to keep his chin above water.
When his right hand announced it was leaving, Martin lost control.
“You’re useless!” he screamed, as best he could as air rushed through the void the cheeks had left. “I don’t want your two weeks’ notice! You’re fired!”
And then, after consideration, he added, “As of tomorrow.”
Martin employed the right hand to the brink of exhaustion that day, pulling and squeezing every last drop of effort out of it to try and alleviate the unyielding flood of work his manager rained down over him.
When it saw the abuse its friend and frequent collaborator the right hand went through, Martin’s penis handed over its resignation, effective immediately.
Following the departure of the right hand, Martin signed a short-term contract with a straw broom to take over the hand’s primary responsibilities. This hire proved disastrous, as it left him incapable of doing his job effectively.
His desk, though, had never been cleaner.
When Corporate paid a visit, Martin was sure his time at the company was through. Absurdly, he thought to himself, I have too much work to do to get fired. I’ll never get caught up if they let me go.
“Ellison, it’s good to talk to you,” Corporate said, getting Martin’s last name wrong, as Corporate did not deign to recognize individual employees until they ascended to the highest plains of management or were deified and became one with Corporate itself.
“It’s absolutely a pleasure to speak with You, too,” Martin said, accenting the pronoun to hail and salute Corporate with the proper and deserved respect.
“We’ll be quick, Ellison. Your supervisor is being promoted.”
Martin’s internal universe ground to a halt. His boss was a mindless moron, utterly terrible at his job, hungry for a promotion and elevated status yet utterly toothless when it came to leadership. It made no sense that he would be promoted.
“With that,” Corporate said, “there is a gap to fill, and We want you to fill it.”
Martin was dumbstruck.
“You, Our friend, have attracted quite a lot of attention with your outstanding qualifications. You are able to sweep things under the rug, you can quite admirably talk out of both sides of your mouth, you permanently give the side eye, and with that plunger foot—a stroke of genius, by the way—you can bring up old shit from the past that bears no relevance to the current situation. In short, you’re almost everything we look for.”
“Almost?” Martin nervously asked.
“You still have both halves of your brain, correct?”
“Get rid of one,” Corporate interrupted. “Either is fine. Make it your first decision as management.”
Now it was obvious, and Martin would’ve kicked himself, were he able, for not noticing it sooner. The responsive mindset that had injured him as an employee, driving him to work harder and harder, was opposite the executive mindset that would inure him to the benefits of a powerful management career. Now was the opportunity for Martin to become directly responsible for removing a part of his body. There would be no two weeks’ notice for one unlucky half of his brain, just a pink slip and a cold, disingenuous “Best of luck in your future endeavors.” It was a new, despotic mindlessness, coupled with his bodily additions and remainders, that paradoxically made Martin greater than the sum of his parts and a member of Corporate itself. Despite his work being worthless, it instantly made him worthy to tread management’s gilded footpaths.
“Also,” Corporate said, “you will have an office. Management is not resigned to life among the cubicles.”
Martin Ellis, Junior Manager, didn’t think himself difficult to work for. In fact, he paid no mind to it at all. He had people to do that for him, now.
“Resignation” by Zach and Christen Davis appeared in Issue 40 of Berkeley Fiction Review.
Zach Davis is a peddler of weird and goofy tales who has been tainting the internet and print journals for over a decade with florid, overly-written (not to mention needlessly complex) and multi-clausal sentences that expand more and more with each passing year, as if clarity and conciseness were things to run away from, howling into the night that they don’t own him and will never, ever be his real dad. He’s also working to address his issues with sentence length and complexity, which is going well.
Christen Davis is a writer and editor who lives with her husband and two cats in Virginia Beach, Virginia.