He made his career at the movie studio. But not his life. 3,201 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.
The second time, Jeffrey was taking the short cut he took every morning to walk from the parking garage to his office at the Studio in the fewest steps possible. No shooting on the lot today because of a driving rainstorm. He had passed by three accidents on the freeway that delayed him. In Los Angeles, no one knew how to drive in a storm. He was in his black raincoat, his umbrella unfurled, and still he was taking on heavy water. The lower part of his legs and shoes were soaked and he’d need to the whole day to dry out, only to repeat the process in the evening and drive home soaked again. It was enough to make him turn around and go home, but he rarely called in sick. He was one of those who came in no matter how he felt: coughing, sneezing, wheezing, infecting everyone.
Jeffrey had come to the part of the path by the community garden, which consisted of a few raised planter beds with herbs that it was rumored the commissary kitchen used in the lunch preparations. Not that Jeffrey noticed any improvement in the taste of the food. There was a vertical planter on wheels that stood maybe 8 feet high. Well, it was supposed to be standing eight feet high, but that morning it was lying tipped and tumbled and turned on its side, with broken segments of pipe and a spray of black earth.
It was a sorry sight, plants drowning in the deluge. Jeffrey didn’t know if he should try to pick the thing up or leave it alone and report it. He was not a mechanical man; a simple screwdriver tightening was the most he could manage. Nor was he a gardening man.
He didn’t participate in any of the community activities on the lot. He came to work; he did his work; he went home. Once or twice when he’d first started, he attended the Studio-sponsored screenings of new films in release. But since guests weren’t allowed, his wife felt left out so he stopped. He didn’t participate in the health confabs or the book fairs or the cocktails and games club held every Thursday night as a prelude to the weekend. He didn’t work out at the Studio gym or play tennis on the Studio courts. He saw no payoff in the extracurriculars.