Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Bixy

The tiny blonde woman stamped her tiny, high heel shod foot and repeated, “Just take it! Why do I have to keep asking you?” She glared at him in exasperation, her outthrust arms holding a black leather briefcase handsomely trimmed in brass. “What is your problem?” Her voice was high-pitched, somewhere around the same range as a kitten’s mew and with an accent that George couldn’t quite place.

He stared at the figure. She was standing near the edge of his glass-topped desk. Just moments before she had walked out from behind his computer monitor and strode across the gleaming desk, her black, spike heeled pumps chattering across the dekstop, her black pantsuit reflecting in the mirror like surface. She stood about seven or eight inches tall, perhaps seeming a tad bit taller as a result of her towering heels. She was very slender and even a bit fragile looking with her pale skin and nearly platinum hair that was caught up in a chic bun. Her proportions were perfect or more than perfect, rather Barbie-like. Her suit was tailored and complemented by her choices in fashionably chunky jewelry. Her hands were tipped with shortish nails finished in a French style manicure. He could see this tiny detail (and on this miniature woman it was indeed a tiny detail) because those hands were holding the aforementioned briefcase out before her body, reaching toward him.

George had no idea what he was supposed to do. Not a single, solitary, lowly idea. His mind was frozen, he could not comprehend what was before his eyes. He continued staring, speechless. The diminutive woman seemed to finally understand his shock and she lowered the briefcase to the desk and looked at him with a softened gaze. “Not again,” she said. “What’s with you Yanks? You all act like you don’t know what a bixy is.”

“A bixy?” George finally managed to squeak. “What’s a bixy? Is that like a fairy?”

The tiny blonde woman, or bixy, George thought, shook her head and muttered not quite under her breath, “Bloody stupid Americans”.

“A fairy? Do I fucking look like Tinkerbell? A bixy is what I am, right? A pixy who specializes in business matters. Business + pixy, get it?” George nodded to the tiny creature. He didn’t get it at all but he didn’t want to rile her up further.

“What is your name? My name is George.”

“I know your name, George,” the bixy said. “I tend to know the names of those I’ll be working for.” She looked skyward and asked “Why me? First I get Paul Jenkins and now this dim bulb. Who up there hates me?”

George started at the mention of Paul Jenkins. Paul was the whole reason he was here to begin with. This fancy vice-president’s office had been Paul’s until his unfortunate breakdown. Jenkins had been discreetly carted off to a high priced institution only three weeks ago. His breakdown had birthed George’s big break, giving him the chance to move into the vice-president’s spot. George was a kind man and would never have wished ill on his predecessor, but, once he was out of the picture, George had to seize the opportunity given him.

He had barely finished unpacking his last box, arranged his pens and pencils (a bit old fashioned but George loved his #2 pencils), and adjusted his Execuvat 9000 Supreme office chair to his liking when the bixy had appeared on his desk, offering up the tiny briefcase to him and urging him to take it off her hands.

“My name is Cyberina,” she said. “My job is to help you succeed in your new job.”

George further refined his blank look as he stared rather stupidly at Cyberina. “How can you help me in my job?” he finally asked. The bixy looked at him with, not respect, but with perhaps a little less scorn than before.

“At least you’re talking to me, not running around the office screaming like that nitwit Jenkins,” she told him. George’s blank stare began to clear as he realized just what Cyberina was saying.

“You mean… you mean, umm, Paul’s breakdown was because of you?”

“Ha!” she said, the scorn back full force in her voice. “It weren’t because of me, but because he were too dense to believe his own eyes. What’s so hard about that? Look at you, you’re doing just fine. A bit slow, but no screaming ninny you are.” George blushed at this underwhelming praise.

“Where did you come from? How did you get here?” George asked, his shock receding and his natural curiosity coming forth.

“Remember when Mr. Paul Screaming Nitwit Jenkins went on that business trip to England about a month back?” Cyberina settled herself down on the edge of the desk, taking off her spike heeled pumps and rubbing her feet. “Fucking unholy things these heels are,” she said.

George nodded, he had wanted to go on the trip too but budgets cuts meant that he had to attend the sessions via video teleconference, an experience about as useful and satisfying as masturbating with a condom on.

“I had wanted to come to the States for a bit but the only visa I could get was an H1-B for temporary special worker with annex BP-CYBER. No problem for me, I’m a bixy, that’s what I do. But I had a problem convincing an American to sponsor me because they all refused to believe I existed. So, I sort of stowed away in Jenkins’ luggage, figuring I’d get it all sorted out when I got here. I mean, who wouldn’t want the help that I can offer? All I want in return is a chance to experience life in America. Land of drinks served with ice and 500 channels on tv. Stores that stay open for 24 hours a day.” Her face softened and took on a look of childlike anticipation. “I had 30 days from my arrival here to get my visa processed and that deadline is coming up fast. If I had picked a more mentally stable man’s suitcase I’d be coming up roses but here we are. And that’s where you come in,” she finished.

“Me?? What can I do?” George asked.

Cyberina closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “I… need… a… sponsor,” she said. “You need help in your new job. You sponsor me, I work for you, you succeed in your career beyond your wildest dreams, I get to try out the American dream, everyone’s happy.”

“But how can you help me?” George’s shock had settled into a more pedestrian state of confusion.

“See this briefcase?”

“Of course,” he said. “What I don’t know is why you keep trying to give it to me.”

“This briefcase holds the secret to your success.” Cyberina’s voice was supremely patient. “It’s full of bixy dust.” George didn’t want to rile her up again but he had to ask.

“What is bixy dust? I don’t understand.”

“Bixy dust is what makes a bixy so special,” she said. “Bixy dust is what sets bixies apart from not only elves, sprites, and fucking fairies, but other pixies. You go to your big meeting, right? You have all these investors whose money you need, yeah? You’re sweating bullets because you know deep down inside you’re not really smart enough or talented enough or even schmoozy enough to get the job done,” she said, her voice lowering into a confidential tone. George felt slightly sick, how did she know thatwas exactly how he felt when he went into those big meetings? “What you do, you take a pinch of this here bixy dust between your fingers right before you go into your meeting, say ‘cyber, cyber, cyber’ and throw the pinch of dust over your left shoulder.”

“Like spilled salt?” George’s sense of humor began to emerge from the shock and confusion of the past several minutes.

“Nothing like salt!” Cyberina said. “This is serious business! If you don’t get this right I’ll be deported.” George was immediately contrite.

“I’m sorry, please go on,” he said.

Slightly mollified, the bixy continued. “Say ‘cyber, cyber, cyber’. Three times exactly. No more and no less. Then flick the bixy dust over the shoulder. Words first, dust second, in that order. When you walk into your meeting you’ll appear confident and competent and you will walk away with all the funding you asked for and then some. Your boss will think you’re a genius and will reward you with big bonuses.”

“Are you sure?” George asked. “How do you know for sure that’s what will happen?” Cyberina rolled her eyes.

“Because that’s my specialty!” she said. “Bixies concentrate on certain areas. Some bixies are focused on finance, others on trade or pharmaceuticals. Me? I specialize in anything cyber related. If you couldn’t guess from my name,” she said. “Look, George. You’ve got to trust me. What do you have to lose? Nothing, that’s what. All you have to do is sign my visa papers. Even if it doesn’t work (and it will), you’re no worse off than before.”

George thought about this. The whole thing was crazy. He wanted to pinch himself to see if he was dreaming but he had never understood why this was supposed to work. What did pinching have to do with dreaming? Suppose he was dreaming. Why wouldn’t he take a chance in a dream? What’s the worst that could happen?

“Let’s do it,” he told her.

“See? It’s already working,” Cyberina said. “That was an executive decision if I ever saw one.” George blushed again. Cyberina unzipped an outer compartment on the briefcase and pulled out a tiny sheaf of papers. “Sign these and we’ll officially be a team. Cyberina and George, George and Cyberina. Stick with me, kid, the world’ll be your oyster.” The bixy beamed up at him, her former disdain transformed into approval. “And to think, I nearly got stuck with that idiot, Jenkins,” she said. George wanted to defend his former coworker but he silently agreed with her, Jenkins was an idiot.

George signed Cyberina’s worker visa papers, no easy task on the tiny paper. The bixy took the papers and said she would file them with the appropriate authorities right away. She offered up the briefcase once again, and this time, he took it. He had a meeting to attend.

******

George paused before entering the conference room. He took the miniscule briefcase from his pocket, flipped the miniature latches, and carefully opened the lid. He grasped a tiny pinch of the bixy dust between his right thumb and forefinger and held it tightly while he closed the briefcase with the back of his hand and put it back in his pocket. Still clutching the magical powder, he glanced around to make sure he was alone, then softly chanted “Cyber, cyber, cyber,” the last cyber spoken with increasing confidence and vigor. He tossed the pinch over his shoulder and immediately stood taller. George grasped the handle of the conference room door, pulled it open, and stepped into the room.

 


Read Women 2014: May

How did May go by so fast? I just posted April’s books! As usual I didn’t read nearly as much as I would have liked but that’s always the case. It’s been easy so far to just read women authors, I’m starting to feel a bit guilty for neglecting the fellows but then I come across another book I want to read and I get over it.

Book #19: Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific- Mary Cronk Farrell

I was so looking forward to this book. The first time I tried to buy it for my Kindle I got some weird message about a delay due to copyright issues. I waited a few weeks and tried again and voila! This book sounded so great. The previously untold story of brave and heroic nurses in the horrors of the Pacific campaign in World War II? Sign me up! I couldn’t wait to start reading.

As soon as I did the disappointment set in. The writing wasn’t great. The story stumbled along in short bursts and lacked cohesion. That’s okay I told myself. I want to know about these women, keep reading. Then I started to get down right irritated. Where was the editor? Was there an editor? I couldn’t blame the author all by her lonesome. Tidbits like the fact that nurses had to resign if they got married as well as the first person accounts that made the nurses’ struggles so relatable and real kept me going.

Then shit got real. Or really bad. The section describing the Battle of Corregidor had the date off by a year. THE WRONG FUCKING YEAR. Okay, okay, maybe a typo that damn editor missed. And then I turned the page. Again, wrong year. I felt like I was in Bizarro world. Was I wrong? I admit I couldn’t tell you offhand the exact date of the Battle of Corregidor but I damn well know when Pearl Harbor was and subsequent battles would have only happened after this. Not seven damn months before. I even double-checked to make sure I hadn’t gotten a wire crossed because it sure is embarrassing to have a rant and be wrong. Not one, not two, not three, but four incorrect references to the date before I stopped and put the book down. I wasn’t even halfway through.

I quit. I hate to not finish a book. But for a book that touts itself as a historical account you need to get basic things right. Like the goddamn year a battle occurred. I returned the book to Amazon. I’ve never done this before but damn. As interesting a subject as this was to me, this particular volume was not worth my money or time. So for any history majors out there looking for a thesis, this is a great topic that has not yet been given its due.

**So I went back onto Amazon and looked at the book listing again. I had not realized it was supposed to be for a younger audience (listed 10-16 years old). That might help explain some of the simplistic writing, although I read some young adult fiction that is much more sophisticated, but still doesn’t excuse the glaring errors.

Book #20: The Ghost of the Mary Celeste- Valerie Martin

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste weaves together several stories across decades with the ship Mary Celeste as its focal point. The Mary Celeste was one of those “ghost ships” that was found mysteriously abandoned with no clue as to what happened to its crew. The Mary Celeste was real. I have no idea what other elements of truth there are in the rest of the book (Arthur Conan Doyle is a recurring character) and I don’t care, it was lovely.

Book #21: The Three- Sarah Lotz

Dayyyummm. That was my reaction at the end of this book. I’m über sophisticated, no? I got the recommendation for this book from Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds blog, and as usual, Chuck knows what he’s talking about.

The Three begins with four catastrophic airplane crashes in the same day. Of the four crashes only three passengers, all children, survive. The stories of the children and the reaction of the world to their survival is the meat of the story but my favorite thing (besides the general creepy aura of the whole book) was the wonderful way Lotz made the different parts of the world the book takes place in come alive. The South African slum where one of the planes crashes was so vivid and authentic you’d think the author grew up there while online chats between Japanese teenagers rang equally true. The Three was an original and disturbing story and I’m glad I took Chuck’s advice.

Book #22: First Comes Love- Marion Winik

I recently discovered Marion Winik when I took a her session on memoir writing at the Maryland Writer’s Conference this spring. She was funny and honest and her life seemed so nuts I knew I had to read some of her stuff. She talked just briefly about her marriage to her first husband, a gay ice skater named Tony and all I could think was “How does that even happen?” First Comes Love is that story of how.

The book follows Marion and Tony from when they first meet until he commits suicide while suffering from advanced AIDS. In between they fall passionately in love, do lots of drugs, have children, have marital problems, the normal stuff in life but engaging and witty and dramatic when framed by Winik. Wow, is the word I kept thinking to myself. The honesty was compelling, some of the best bits were when Marion admits her own flaws and describes some of her less than stellar actions. Marion and Tony are imperfect and real and that makes their story compelling and entertaining. I’ll be reading more of her work for sure.


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