From here we go to a cubicle row, where a bored information-age drone offers to help three desperate friends by sneaking them into the crawl space under the floor of his office so they can have a place to sleep by day, as in this world they are best able to pursue their alternatives at night. During his workday, our narrator is given to moments of poetic effusion as well as intense fear, misery and loneliness (hence the title “Death in the Afternoon,” though so very far from the bullfighting rings of Hemingway’s book of the same name). Increasingly paralyzed by the danger he’s put himself in by hiding the three refugees from the paycheck economy, he will need a hero, and finds an unlikely one in Laney, his supervisor, a corporate believer who nonetheless proves that the human heart beats strong, if silently, in the weird village that is the modern workplace.
In submitting for publication the Transcendent Guide to Corporate America, my collection of stories about work and life in the corporate era, I recently wrote a detailed description of the book for Northwestern University Press. It turned into a story-by-story summary about how themes in the stories relate to the general themes of the guide. I thought I'd present them here, one story at a time. This is the third. As for what the individual stories are actually '"about," you're on your own. PS. "Death in the Afternoon" was published by Pierogi Press in Brooklyn, though I believe the issue is out of print and the press is no more.