Everyone had to take a second job. She or he needed to save money for a new car. Everyone had had money--$5092 worth of it -until one of everyone’s children had blown it on chocolate. Now everyone was living on whatever her or his regular employer Dasney doled out to her or him every two weeks, which was why everyone had agreed to this professional opportunity. The professional opportunity had been proffered to everyone through some surveys that everyone’s friend the Internet had given to everyone.
As it turned out, everyone’s coworker Harvey knew the Internet too, which the Internet and everyone discovered through the surveys. Harvey had a sideline job as a business professional. The business Harvey was a professional at was cleaning, and that was what everyone was now a professional at as well. Each weekend, everyone cleaned a new office building. This meant running old towels along the bottom of the window frames and over blinds, dropping wet bundles of string onto lunchroom floors, and vacuuming one’s way through a redundant maze of doors and door stops.
Everyone did not like the job, but everyone liked being paid one hundred dollars cash at the day’s end--tax free--because that was how Harvey rolled. (“Don’t tell the Internet, though,” Harvey warned, knowing their friend’s selective punctiliousness with regard to legalities.)
Everyone was on the sixth office down the sixth hallway of the sixth office building when the vacuum squealed and burned. Everyone was not religious, so everyone did not notice the prophetic congruence of the numbers, nor would everyone have understood their significance, except to know that they were supposed to mean something bad. Such information would have had to come from Harvey, but it could not, because Harvey was missing. That he was missing was a bad thing, but that, too, everyone could not know without Harvey pointing it out to everyone, which Harvey desperately wanted to do, because it hurt.
Everyone smelled and stared and listened to the vacuum. The vacuum was uncomfortable, but everyone did not know why. Everyone tried to turn the vacuum off and restart it so that everyone could take advantage of her or his professional opportunity, but the vacuum would not shut down.
Everyone turned her or his head in every direction, looking for Harvey. Harvey was not in the office.
Everyone walked to the hall, looked up and down it. Harvey was not in the hall. Everyone walked down it, to every place she or he had been.
Everyone could hear the squeal in offices five and four and three and two and one. Everyone could hear the squeal among the cubicles and in the kitchen and the bathroom. Everyone could hear the squeal everywhere.
Everyone began to panic.
The windows were moving inward as if the air outside were a paperweight. Everyone had never been under a paperweight. Everyone was having trouble identifying the safety procedures she or he should initiate.
And then everyone remembered the cord.
Everyone ran back to office six and pulled.
The office was on fire, however, and so was the vacuum. Everyone dashed between the two chairs and the table and the desk to save her- or himself.
Everyone had probably lost today’s one hundred dollars, perhaps the entire professional opportunity, and everyone was sad. Everyone needed the $5092 back for the new car.
Everyone wanted to salvage the situation.
Everyone found a water cooler in the kitchen. Everyone filled a paper cup, then another, and another.
Everyone abandoned the paper cups.
Everyone raised the bottle off its pedestal, lugged it to the office.
The fire did not abate.
Everyone stomped on its edges.
Everyone turned to look at Harvey, but Harvey was not around.
“In here, lunkhead,” Harvey called.
Everyone looked for a closet, a place in which to hide.
“In here,” Harvey repeated.
And then, everyone saw the hand extruding from the bottom of the vacuum, the vacuum rising and falling beneath the burning bag.
“In here,” Harvey yelled. “In here.”
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.