Time was running out. The job needed to be done and nothing was working. He couldn’t let the job get away from him, but now he realized the horse was out of the barn and running wild down the lane and through the neighbor’s back yard.
This was all a metaphor, of course. The barn was resting in his lap, the horse was the assignment he eagerly accepted last week, and the equine’s path was everywhere except where he was supposed to be.
“I am screwed,” he said to the wall. No one heard at all, not even the ball.
For a moment he stepped outside himself and saw a meta vision. Someone was sitting in a dimly-lit basement typing the story of his failure. What he would do to change places with that typist, not realizing they felt the same lost sensation but for opposite reasons.
There was no way out of this, the assignment was not going to be completed on deadline. He had understood that as soon as he began unpacking the problem, but he held onto hope that he could pull off a miracle. After all, he had accomplished miracles before. But this time — this time was not going to be particularly miraculous.
Suddenly three men walked in brandishing pistols.
“I’m here for the project,” said the largest of the three men. He was not an especially attractive guy, which is why he always liked to enter brandishing a pistol. No one ever said to a gunman, “Crap, you’re one of the ugliest guys I’ve ever seen.” For one thing, he has a gun. For another, you’re looking at the gun, not the guy’s ugly face.
But I digress. The three men were there to take the project. He recognized, even though there was a chance he might not be breathing in a minute, that his miracle had appeared.
“I was this close to finishing the project,” he would say, “but these three gunmen waltzed in and took everything.” And he would have the security footage to prove it.
“Fine,” he said, trying to look exasperated rather than relieved, and handed over the materials he was working on.
“You can call the cops in 10 minutes,” the ugly leader said. “If I hear sirens coming this way anytime before 10 minutes from now, I will hunt you down and you will not like what happens when I find you. Capice?”
That was when he knew the guy had watched too many old gangster movies. It was the first time in his life that he had anyone say in all seriousness, “Capice?”
“Enough,” said the typist typing about the project manager and the typing man. “I am going to have to sleep over this. And if this ever sees the light of day, I’ll know just what kind of writer I am.”
He knew, however that it if it did see the light of day, he wouldn’t know any more than he did 10 minutes ago.
Still, when the boss came in that morning, she started to say, “So, did you finish that project for me,” but gasped instead and said, “Oh my gosh, are you all right? What happened?”
Across town, an angry mug was slapping the ugly man and saying, “This isn’t complete! What are you doing bringing me unfinished work?”
And the next time the angry mug sent his goons out, there were only two of them.