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Pruneface, by Clare Novak (Delaware County/Main Line Workshop)

Oh, spiffy do, thought Jan as she looked out at the rain and realized her umbrella was in the car. And she'd bothered to fix her hair because…?

Jan put her long, black raincoat over her black pantsuit, looked in the mirror by the door and plastered a perky, shitty grin on her face, then stuck her tongue out at her own refection and added a Bronx cheer for good measure.

Ok, out the door, down the steps, pause under the awning, car key in hand. Dash out from under the awning, vault the torrent of water in the parking lot, drop key into the torrent, get soaked, get frozen, wet fingers fishing said key out of torrent, get in the car.

Jan looked in the rear view mirror at the sodden mass of her former hairdo. She shrugged. For a twelve-dollar-an-hour temp job, who gave a crap anyway.

Since any moron could do the job, she spent most of her time on the job hunting for another one. What really pissed her off was, there she was doing this piece of shit job she was soooo overqualified for and they were interviewing for full-time people and they didn’t even interview her! Stupid, unbelievably rude supervisor. How could that ancient, moldy prune not even interview her? Hellooo Prune Face, I’m doing the stupid job.

Jan checked phone messages and email messages, cleared them out, including two guys from who "Hey, babied" her. On to important matters, like those job boards she monitored daily, looking for something interesting and exciting like, oh, event planning or motivational speaking or maybe like, total creative person. Something that recognized her intellectual superiority and respected her quirky individualism.

Unlike this place, that expected her to tone down her total Goth presence just to do what passed for basic accounting. Puleeze! Boring, boring, boring. Boring was good for Jan, though; it got her creative juices flowing and as she stared at she began to hatch a plot pitting Prune Face against Duck Feet, the big boss. The longest it should take to put into action would be noon, well, maybe one o’clock.

Jan contemplated Duck Feet with glee; there was so much she could work with. First off, old Duck Feet thought he was hot, yuuk. Ok, like maybe forever ago, he might have been hot but now, he was, you know, like older than her dad and all doughy in the middle. Second, he was all touchy with women. He touched her on the hand or the elbow or the shoulder when he talked to her. Not like enough to be harassment but like enough to be gross. Third and worse, Duck Feet thought he was nice; he wouldn't do anything that made him look mean in front of his employees. He always got Prune Face to do the mean stuff. Fourth, he wasn't the smartest pig in the pen. Fifth, nah, four was enough to work with, no use wasting time on long list if she wanted to get this thing kicked off by noon.

And now, Prune Face…. Prune Face was one of those almost divorced middle age women there are so may of these days, a shriveled up career matron. Prune Face was way smarter than Duck Feet. Jan almost admired that except she could picture Prune Face thinking the way to a man’s heart was to bust his balls at Jeopardy! every night. Jan almost felt a pang of sympathy for Prune Face’s ex until she figured he was probably just a woosie boy like Duck Feet. Jan snorted out loud at her mental picture of Prune Face in leather thigh high boots standing over her ex with a whip saying, "You’ll be punished. The correct answer is 'What is a yellow bellied sapsucker?'"

Jan snapped out of her reverie when she noticed 10 a.m. on the lower left corner of her screen. Double latte time at the OK corral; fifteen minutes of freedom. Jan headed down the corridor to the ladies room. She used the can, splashed her fingers under water, dried them on a towel and then checked her makeup. She reapplied the thick, black eye liner and the dark purple lipstick. Prune Face had said no black and this purple was the closest Jan could get. Hair check, hopeless.

Jan refused to use the blandly cheerful employee cafeteria and headed down the elevator to the lobby coffee kiosk. At least the lobby had dark wood and low lighting. The guy at the coffee desk was actually kind of cute in a too clean kind of way. He talked to her too; well, at least he remembered that she drank double lattes. Jan could have gotten lattes free in the cafeteria, but never having set foot there, she didn't realize she was spending a quarter of her hourly pre-tax salary twice a day when she didn't need to. Not that it would have mattered that much to her anyway, her parents paid her rent and her college loans and she really couldn't have been seen with a generic paper coffee cup.

"Hi, Chad."

"Hi, Double latte, same old today?"

"Uh, huh."

"Hey, Double Latte, what's your name?"

"Jan." Scintillating wit at the coffee shop. "Gotta go."

"See you at two?"

Whoa, regular Sleepless in Seattle stuff. Jan hate giving her name. For the thousandth time she wondered why her parents couldn't have given her a real name like Brianna or Schuyler.

Back at the cube, Jan played with plots pitting Prune Face and Duck Feet that would give her a satisfyingly dark revenge for not interviewing her. She quickly dismissed a love plot between the two. Too obvious. If it worked--Duck and Prune doing the deed; she shuttered. Duck, duck, goose. Duck, duck, goose, hummm….

Goose, goose, oooh. Jan admired her stroke of genius. Who would be the appropriate goose? Fundamentalist Fran? No sense of humor. Dim Dana, Goofy, ah, Minnie Mouse. Yea, Minnie Mouse the ersatz hooker. Minnie Mouse was a rail thin blonde, no boobs, long legs she showed at every opportunity. Minnie became Minnie the day she showed up at work with a navy blue and pink polka dot dress. You had to see this, poufy, ruffled, petticoated skirt with a 50's shirt waist top completed with a matching polka dot bow in her hair. This was the day after she arrived dressed head to toe in hooker red, shoes, stockings, and suit with a skirt only a thread longer than her jacket. Yea, Minnie Mouse. Oooh, Minnie Mouse and Duck Feet. It would be just like Minnie cheating on Mickey with Donald. And Prune Face? As HR Director, she would need to investigate the harassment claim. YES! Score!

Maybe twenty minutes of righteous hacking later, Jan had duck, duck, goose passwords. Pathetically easy. Duck Feet, daughter's name, Prune Face, her previous phone extension, Minnie Mouse, oh duh, "Sexy." People, people, be grateful I don't want to embezzle. All Jan needed now was a bunch of emails that mysteriously don't get copied to the "sent" file, originating during work hours, Duck Feet kissy, kisssy with married Minnie. Ah, grasshopper, you have learned well.

Jan met her noon deadline when she hit the "send" on Duck Feet's ersatz email to Minnie telling her he noticed her work and that she was welcome to stop by anytime to discuss her future with the company. He had some possible projects to discuss with her that were highly confidential. Also, from Prune to Duck went an email praising Minnie's work and telling him he should consider giving her additional responsibilities. Sweet.

Jan left her cube for her pathetic forty-five minute lunch break. Little did they know; it almost made up for the bad hair day. The beauty of the plot is that they would make it happen all by themselves, well, after the initial kick off, that is. What to do for lunch? Since the rain was still sheeting down, sitting outside and flirting was out of the question. Oh, shopping, Jan guessed, although she could have her nails done too.

After lunch, Jan checked messages and emails again, feeling deflated that there was nothing interesting to do. She decided she better do the moron work just to make it look good. By two she had finished importing the data into the data base and run the reports and headed down to the lobby for her second latte of the day.

"Hi Jan." She winced and wished she had made up some cool nickname for herself.

"Hi, Chad."


"Uh huh."

"How’s work."


"I hear ya."


"Later." God, she hoped not.

As Jan was stepping out of the elevator, she saw Minnie sashaying down the hall to Duck Feet’s office. Oh joy, oh rapture. Minnie had on the perfect mini for the plot, a black skirt about an inch long, with black stockings. Oh goodie, Duck Feet probably liked black stockings; black stockings and garter belt were probably his idea of kinky sex. Minnie's top wasn’t as well suited to the plot. It was hot pink and form hugging which would have been ok but Minnie had no upper form. And there she went, into his office and the office door closed! Jan gave herself a high five and strategically moved her chair to keep a clear view of Duck's office.

Forty-five minutes later Duck Feet escorted Minnie out of his office with his hand on her elbow. There were big smiles on both their faces. Jan had a naughty thought and dismissed it. Nah, neither of them had the balls to do it before everybody left at five o’clock. And she was pretty sure that Minnie had the bigger balls of the two. Anybody who would wear that skirt in public, much less to work—

What a satisfying day. Jan decided to close it out cruising for hunks on She put in all her criteria, age, location, body type, preferred income, eye color, sense of humor and hit search. No one came up. Gotta loosen up the criteria. She added income as low as $75,000 and the location to within twenty-five miles of her zip code. Still disappointing except for PartyBoy who looked like-- Chad? Chad? $75,000, no way. He had to be lying to impress women. And PartyBoy, puleeze!

"Jan?" Mental oh, shit.

"Uh huh." Jan looked up into Prune Face's face and thought, busted.

"Jan, you've been doing an accurate and timely job with the budget reports."

"Uh, thanks."

"Because of that, I've talked to the temp agency to see if they'd be willing to work something out with us if we hired you, assuming you're interested in interviewing that is."


"If you're interested, we can set up an interview for tomorrow afternoon. Please bring a resume if you have one and your drivers license."


"Great. Come to my office at two."


Jan's mental processes came to a screeching halt as she sat with her mouth open and her eyes unblinkingly fixed on PartyBoy. As her synapses began to fire again, she thought, what just happened here? She just got an interview at a company where she routinely surfed the internet for personal purposes, only worked about two hours a day, and had just set the big boss up for a harassment claim. Wow. Corporate America, you gotta love it. Of course since this job was so under her skill level, she really had to think about whether she wanted to interview or not.