Modern Living by Jim Meirose



They rise in the morning slipsliding through their fatty breakfasts; and then Esther drives smoothly and Fernando walks silently, after both donning their dirty hygiene shirts, and they end up at peace where they will spend the day; she in the cement and steel egg works down by Shriver’s for a paycheck, he downstairs at home by the turned off TV in front of the state of the art electronic pictures and words packing mechanized computertop they have provided him on which to earn his paycheck.  He logs into the faraway master palace full of others just like him, with his coffee; the mind’s freelubricant. Esther’s mind plays with her in the big concrete block as the eggs flow by. Scan, search. Search for the bad ones, stand there and search for the bads. Bads are eggs with crushed shells too large or small shriveled or misshapen in not the classic egg mold brown or white, and are only fit to be Fernandoed into the big trash bin to the side with the great oozy slimy stain come up the side soaked through from the yolks and whites within.  Settling down, leg firmly cocked, she Fernandoed once, she Fernandoed twice, she Fernandoed three times, and over and over, riding the pitterpattering waves cast through her mind by the rhythm of it all—the holy rhythm.

—trash the eggs. Trash all the eggs. Snap dragonflies. Hester out the pork waists.  Pork waists through, ding the dong ding the dong. Hester—

Esther, said Snaky, coming up behind his potbelly. How’s it going today of all days?

Oh its fine sir. Fine as the mud in my crack.

Eh is that right? Many bad ones?

Here and there sir. There’s one—

Clean face.

Esther tipped the line and Fernandoed a bad egg out into the green trash bin, impressing Snaky.  You do that quick, he said; keep it up. You’re Mandingoing now; keep it up, quick as nails just like that just like that all day.  Easy as blowing your nose.

Back home Fernando Esthered one quick into the trash, from his mildly peachy computer station. Alone be he, as the conference call rang on in his earvoid.

So this is what we’ll do fellas—

This is the way we’ll proceed. By tomorrow at this time you and you and you and you will have—

This is what we’ll do.

Okay bye.

Fernando punched the keyboard with ease. He snapped back and Esthered out another one before picking up the phone and punching buttons and snapping at the answering party.

Randy—what did you think of that shit?

Randy came back, in his ear, from poolside in California.

Fat cats, all of them. Aren’t they slow motion? Need to have another call now—call after call and we sit to twenty percent complete. Somebody’s not pulling their weight—somebody’s not forcing things through—somebody’s not like us who get the jobs done like in the old days when there wasn’t so much motherfucking cruising around up and down the small of the same old excuses’ backs. Do you get it? Do you see it? Do you see it to be true?

So true, yes, so true. So true Randy.

In this way they cry on each other’s butts. Thinking in the silence, chewing the cud of patience. Laughing within.

They pay us for this? jazzed Fernando jokily.

Shit, said Randy. Cat shit. Bat shit. Yes they pay us for this.

Fernando weaselwhistled phoneside and cracked up in a wide grin; slapshot.

Boy. Boyo.

Yah got to run to another call bye; slaphappy.

Bye. Fancy suckle. Tomorrow.

The phone slapped down plastic on plastic, hard.  Snaky grinned up at Esther and slithed away in the tove toward the large mass of live brownroaches he secretly kept in his deskdrawer, to popdown, to snackon, to digest, to shit out.

Glad to be alone, Esther shuddered—the green hot motor’s covered in oil. Slimy looking clear brown tinted as motor oil which she never had seen but it was still that way in her mind leaking as it is, imperceptibly dripping as the last dregs of urine might before pulling up the underpants after which the urine keeps dripping wetting uncomfortably the cloth in the hot darkness of the crotch of the pants. How uncomfortable how uncomfortable how uncomfortable how—

Stubbly face.

—trash the eggs. Trash all the eggs. Snap dragonflies. Hester out the pork waists.  Pork waists through, ding the dong ding the dong. Hester—

Fernando searched through the paper pile on the hassock for the latest memo. Working from home without a net, he’s providing input and guidance.  In the paper pile is the memo. It’s got the rates. Anybody can do this and anybody can.

If  they sleep in the darkened room, is the room still there?

The answer is yes, stupidprick.

Good, good—

Private parts feeling the uncomfortable dark nagging wet, change the underpants change the damned things again; twice today it’s happened—twice today! Fussy strips; moonshots; the paper came in his hand and the numbers all slid together into rows, as he put it right side up unfolded onto the little blue bench. Bring up the file and type; Frank Scott Key; fork hard into the eggs, scintillating dipshits. Eggs run down Esther’s line maybe; eggs for the weary, eggs for the weak; touching the tip with her eye, she wondered.

Where will they go who will buy them who?

Like the dollar in your pocket; where will it end up?

On the table of a king?

In the last meal of a prisoner?

In the din of the family restaurant off the interstate? By a John List killer of a familyman?

Or to a family of cleancut napkintuckers, on the road.

In the end examine the expiration date date expiration the examine end  the in.

Or to be tossed in the blackbin expired, kept too late?

The line inexorably moved. Food flows. Funny how all food flows. Esther plumpity bumped the inevitable bads. Shriveled shells. Off her till, she Fernandoed on. The can fills. Craig Scott wins again. His whine sounds in the distance; his cheerless electrical whine, wheels of hardrubber. Here comes Jupiter. His big battered orange fork snatched up the can and clatterslided away, leaving an empty can in its wake. There went Jupiter. Esther went on; she went on. Craig Scott sniveled circling in her cerebral bugeyes.

—trash the eggs. Trash all the eggs. Snap dragonflies. Hester out the pork waists.  Pork waists through, ding the dong ding the dong. Hester—

They danced whined and rattled by her, and she seamlessly Fernandoed out the bads.

Fernando abruptly found himself on the phone with the big Bedminister. Yes sir, he stated strongly in response. Yes. Yes. Okay, yes. That is how it is, yes sir. The numbers will go in right now even as we speak. Bye.

A strong firm handshake in the phone, and the boss hung up first. The big cat looked down at Fernando then and batted surprisingly hard and he went against the wall and he bounced and he—he batpounded the keys harder. There were many pimples and zits to pop. Zitpopping Fernando pushed the numbers down the spiral, into the funnel to the land of possibilities; into the dark of the bottom door to the room of filth.  He pushed back, got up to piss; urge known to all men. Jupiter bats an eye, wakens, moves him toward the gleaming white fixture in the little room, within which lies relief.

Bearded face.

Just like woman, man have need to periodically blow nose, said Gurdjieff.

Esther heard the break bell bang slit-tight, rattling the corpseless dark shrouds hung about. As Fernando flushed miles away she considered the true nature of her job with the others all in hygiene shirts just like hers across the brownbenches of the locker room. What are you doing after work, stated Theresa. Nothing, intimated Sylvia. To shroom, oozed Clarissa.

What’s to shroom?

Never mind forget it. You’d find it vain and silly.

Try us.


Jousting back and forth between the sides of the room that closed in and the lockers came together in one grey block crushing their words to forgotten dust and the end of break bell banged. They oozed trudging silently backwards from the way they’d come. Esther swatted the greenbutton and the line once more rattled and rolled past with a hiss. More came and more and more came down her mental rollers toward the eyes glued to the sidelines. Break being over meant more time to come. Break being over meant more time to come. Break being over meant more time—

—trash the eggs. Trash all the eggs. Snap dragonflies. Hester out the pork waists.  Pork waists through, ding the dong ding the dong. Hester—

Fernando zipped and came out into the hall heading back to his swivel chair. Parking, he swept up the mouse and hood zippered up the files together in time to dial in to the next. He dialed in to the next and the hollowness enveloped his ear when the clicking was done.

Well here we are folks, what’s new?

Uh, pop—

Pop pop.

Pop pop pop pop.

Chitter chatter. Surf through the call jibing no statements.  Toward the end; to the end; at the end; hangup. The silent room hung about him all drapery and felt strips waving as Esther miles away went on rolling, being on a  roll all day, giving the tweak to the bads.

—trash the eggs. Trash all the eggs. Snapdragon flies. Hester out the pork waists.  Pork waists through, ding the dong ding the dong. Hester—

A great block of fat lay on a chair, slanting, silently loud; cheesy fat, slick and tasteless; inedible fat, dry and crumbling, green in time, not fit to draw ants; Beuys’.

Esther trashed one hundred fifty bads today—for that she made another loop of dollars. The end of day bell clanged shrilly as if hated by the place; snaky was not snaky any more after the end of day bell, all wrapped in his belly; wiping her hands with a wad of waste, the concrete glided under her back to the same locker room, but now different somehow. An end of day place. She washed her hands with a spurt from a cock; she wiped her hands with a bulleted list and Fernando started wrapping up the day; he’d got a lot done in his mercy seat in the mercy mental hospital he worked for. Esther came out the egg factory wiping; keys hung, metal for sliding in the slot and twisting. She drove he sat. She rode the web of roads girding the earth and slid into home as a lame ballplayer might do. The sinew stretched to the breaking point, it snapped. Poof! To the hospital with that teammate; needles and pins fill the stretched too far leg. Fernando stretched, yawned, and rose having hit the log off button. He went to the door which opened all by itself, from his vantage point.

Esther, he said.


Pecking on the cheek or head they ate a gruel batch of greens made some light small talk and sat the nightlong fingerflipping the remote and later went upstairs lights out, cat howling, to slip out of their hygiene shirts and go to bed in perfectly silent nakedness. A clean colorless wind blew through Esther’s mind telling her she was glad of her Grandchildren. Another modern day sank into the well of sleep that led to the next; five and two five and two five and two forever pricked the spidermite; through the passing time they called the words years months days bills and paychecks and paychecks and bills flowing bumpily down the slope. Humping their respective lives, they coddle, taking up their respective gobs of flowing space and time. Through those gobs drifted dreams of many humors; waving, running, sifting, shapes tossed and pale in the nighttime air like pale Blake plates, in the darkened room filled with snores, that’s still there.


Jim Meirose‘s work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Ohio Edit, Collier’s Magazine, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published and three novels are available from Amazon. A fourth novel will be released in 2015 by Montag Press.