by Diane Lynn McGyver
Quarter Castle Publishing
Published: March 24, 2017
ISBN (eBook; approximately 3,448 words): 978-1-927625-26-2
Out of work for two years, Arnold White is desperate to find a job. His long-time girlfriend is through financing his life and is threatening to leave if he doesn’t find something soon. When the owner of a prestigious company offers him a job interview, Arnold feels his luck is changing, until he learns another man is vying for the same position. In a reckless move to land the job, Arnold tells his potential new boss what he wants to hear. A few white lies are harmless if it means he’ll keep his girlfriend and the roof over his head. Or are they?
Snow gathered and melted on the top of Arnold’s shoes, soaking his socks and the cuffs of his pants. By the time he reached Duke and Barrington, the dampness had crept beneath his skin. He paused for a moment and swatted the snow away, but it was useless. The fresh layer that had fallen shortly beforehand still covered the sidewalks. The light flurries that continued to fall only added to the mess.
A pedestrian pushed by, disturbing Arnold’s balance and knocking him to his knees. He stood quickly, brushed the dirty snow from his pants and sneered at the man in the trench coat who scuttled across the intersection with a phone pressed tightly to his ear. When the stranger reached the opposite sidewalk, he cut off a woman pushing a stroller. She rewarded him by driving the front axle into his shin.
The businessman swore at the mother without releasing his phone, then hurried away. She flipped him the middle finger. The man ignored the woman’s response. He reminded Arnold of someone, but he couldn’t place him.
Halifax was busy for a Tuesday. Arnold would have preferred to stay home in his tiny apartment and avoid the cold, the snow and the chaotic misery of early morning downtown. If he wanted a job, however, he had to hustle. Danah, his girlfriend of seven years, had made it clear: things had to change. She stated as much when she left the apartment the evening before to join her running group at Shubie Park.
His unemployment status wasn’t his fault. He had had a great job working as a lab technician at VillaCor. Who knew they’d pack up and leave when the government grants ceased? The ten months of EI had seen him through the worst even if it didn’t see him secure employment. A year later, he was still struggling to find a job in his field at a rate he deserved.
At times, he felt guilty about Danah paying his way. Although she hadn’t said anything, he knew she was tired of carrying his freeloading ass. He’d taken menial jobs—washing dishes, cooking pizzas, flipping burgers—to appease her, but they never lasted. He was too educated for these positions and everyone around him knew it.
When things got real tough, Arnold reminded Danah who had paid the bills when they first moved in together. Burdened by mammoth student debt, she had resorted to eating pasta and popcorn to fill her stomach. She lived in a closet with two roommates she despised to avoid sleeping in a cardboard box beneath the bridge. It was worth it, she’d say. It was better than returning home to Nowheresville, rural Nova Scotia, where my choices of employment were between the local camping park, gas station and grocery store.
Moving in together was the perfect solution for both of them. After all, they were in love and wanted to spend every waking and sleeping moment together.