The radio was not the most impressive thing in the room, but the message bleeding from its tiny forgettable speakers clearly left an impression on Poor Leonard Havent. The room was stuffed full of taxidermy: hollow-eyed deer heads staring back at him; growling bobcats and snarling coyotes stopped mid-prowl; a trio of Canadian Geese frozen in flight; a peacock standing proudly displaying his ornate train of covert feathers; the bare skulls of numerous animals that Poor Leonard couldn’t name-- some with horns, some without-- and, at the end of the long stuffy room, a massive howling elk torso, cut off just before the front legs and jutting out from the wall a full six feet into the room. Its neck alone must have weighed more than Leonard-- it was certainly larger around than he was-- and its majestic horns spread out nearly from wall to wall, solid enough to seat five children on each one.
The entire scene made Leonard squeamish and jumpy. The dark browns of the wooden cabin walls and the rich blood reds of the thick Oriental rugs had begun to fade into an indistinguishable shade of creosote black as the twilight set in, and his eyes were starting to flash with shadow movements. The presence of shadows makes a man think about his own eventual end more than usual…
However, the presence of another human voice on the radio made him feel more at ease with his being, so he kept on cleaning, trying not to let the animal spirits get to him. Poor Leonard was a House Cleaner, but he hoped to have a family one day, and that his job title would become a popular last name, like Miller, Hunter, Smith, Baker, Weaver or Savage. He didn’t know anybody with the last name of Housecleaner, although he was certain there was some derivative form of the trade floating around in the pool of human surnames. He wondered if there was anybody out there with the last name Underpaidoverworked? Maybe in one of the Scandinavian countries…
“...in Scandinavian countries, studies have shown that showing up to a job interview wearing something flashy or unforgettable is an effective way for the applicant to be remembered, and increases the chances of a call-back by up to 37%...”
The radio show host’s voice was soothing and deep, and his jocular delivery made him feel like a long-time friend. A trusted friend. Leonard had a friend here amongst the staring dead, and this new friendship gave him power. He stood up, looked each stuffed animal right in the eye, and threw his polishing rag to the floor.
“What am I doing here? I don’t knead this shit!” Leonard was making pawing motions like a cat, “Get it?! I can get another job any time I want!” Leonard shouted to the Geese, who seemed the most receptive. He waited to see if the Geese got his joke, but they didn’t seem to notice. Hard to tell with Geese though. “Tough audience,” he said, this time to the voice on the radio. There was no response.
Poor Leonard scoured the trophy room and grabbed the most flashy and unforgettable thing he could find, and promptly walked out…
“Mr. Havent, we thank you for your interest in BioJeans, but I’m afraid that you just don’t quite meet our… um… qualifications…” The man sitting across from Leonard was trying to keep a straight face, glancing up over Leonard’s head. The woman that also sat across from Leonard was looking out the window, holding the back of her hand to her mouth, trying to cover her smile. Leonard sat for a minute trying to figure out his next bold move, his cheeks buzzing with the blood of a thousand alcoholic noses. He decided to take the high road.
“Oh, I see. You mean I don’t qualify for that particular position…” (he had applied for the position of Director of Personnel Oversight), “…but what about any other positions? I know about a lot of them...” (Idiot).
At this point, Leonard knew he should not, at any cost, look at the woman across the table from him, but just as a child will reach for something they’re told not to, he looked directly at her. Her eyes widened like a flower blooming in a time-lapse video, and again she looked out the window, this time biting the back of her hand, teeth fully exposed.
“What? Um, sorry… I mean… what other positions… would you be qualified for?” The man across the table was trying so hard to stay in character. “I mean, I think you… I think you have some marketable skills for sure, but we’re just not looking for… I mean… I guess we’re looking for somebody with more… um, how do you phrase it?... um, somebody with a certain sense of style?/.”
This last word was so inflected that it had at least two legitimate forms of punctuation. Poor Leonard was confused as to why the man across the table would be asking him this question about what kind of style that they were looking for. He had no answers. Why would he? Poor Leonard’s own style was yet to be classified by science, and the new addition to his wardrobe had further confused things.
The woman across from the table shrieked and bit her hand again in response to the man’s inflectionary barb. Leonard Havent had heard enough. He got up from his chair, threw his blank notepad to the floor, and promptly tromped towards the door. The tremendous peacock feather that shot out of his Bavarian Hat hit the door frame again just as it had on the way in, but this time it snapped in half because Leonard refused to duck, and the man and woman sat across the table laughing like dying coyotes, and the hollow-eyed receptionist, who Leonard earlier had imagined was secretly in love with him, proudly howled with laughter from behind her dark wooden desk that sat on her ornate red rug.
“Easy audience,” he thought.