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The Accountant
by Eric Suhem




Nesbit was passed up yet again for a promotion. At precisely 5 p.m. on Friday he and the other accountants adjourned to a bar and were soon awash in a sea of gin. “We’ve been at Acme Mega Corp. for years, is this all there is?” Nesbit asked his co-workers sitting around a table at The Debit and Credit, a seedy dive frequented by accountants.  Looking at the torn cocktail napkin under his gimlet, Nesbit thought about his side project of rotor-military napkins, an idea which could change the course of history, if circulated to the right people.


Nesbit sat in his workshop on Saturday morning, nursing a gimlet hangover. He wanted to be back in high school metal shop. He’d loved drawing little chalk marks on a piece of metal, as part of the production line. The assembly line concepts from high school metal shop could be utilized in production of the rotor-military napkins. Nesbit’s pen scribbled wildly through ledger columns, calculating the outlay that would be required to turn his project into a reality. Then he heard the voice of his wife from upstairs, “Nesbit, we need napkins for tonight’s dinner, can you run down to Napkin Mart?”


“No problem, dear!” replied Nesbit cheerfully, scrambling to put the ledgers away.


At Napkin Mart, Nesbit noticed a series of napkins stacked up and down the far wall. The pattern of their stacking left a visual image on his brain that he found spiritually alarming, yet invigorating. With a screaming banshee wail that seeped up from his long-buried ancestors, and had no relation to conscious thought, he threw his body at the stack of napkins, knocking them into the air. In his mind’s eye, Nesbit could see one of his ancient forebears smiling. Through a rain of white cloth, Nesbit experienced a new vision of himself. He picked up a napkin and folded it into strange shapes resembling esoteric weaponry.


A number of guests arrived for dinner on Saturday. Nesbit overdid his consumption of gimlets during the cocktail hour, loosening his tongue to describe his plan to manufacture rotor-military napkins. “What in the hell are rotor-military napkins?” demanded Nesbit’s father-in-law Ramsey, who had been in the war. After Nesbit explained it, Ramsey said, “Nesbit, I never thought of you as having much ambition or direction, but I must say that I am impressed by what I’m hearing.” Nesbit and his father-in-law talked further into the night, over cigars and scotch, resulting in the father-in-law’s sizable investment in the enterprise. “A stealth linen attack on the enemy at dinner is an intriguing strategy,” said Ramsey.


Asleep in bed that night, Nesbit dreamt of his ancient ancestor, the one he’d seen at Napkin Mart, slipping up from the primordial ooze, grasping number-filled bulging ledgers in his muddy right hand. In his left hand the ancestor clutched an assortment of festively-colored, yet lethal napkins. He held both hands out, asking, “What are you meant to do in this life, Nesbit?” The numbers and columns flew through Nesbit’s head with piercing abrasions.


Two years later, at 6 a.m. on a Monday, the alarm went off and Nesbit got ready for another day of accountancy at Acme Mega Corp. He had been working long hours the last few weeks, and the company had shown its appreciation by assigning him to a new cubicle. At breakfast, he looked at a napkin with a wistful gleam in his eye, the dream fading but not yet gone.




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