Columbus Day
Nick Ostdick

After lunch, Tommy colonizes the office one desk at a time. He stands from his cubicle, belt slung across his chest with pride like a beauty pageant sash, the real estate section crumpled into a colonial hat atop his head. He plunders Sam’s desk first, batting away empty water cups amidst Sam’s feline-like yelps. He voyages across the room to scribble TOMMYLANDIA over a pile of unread faxes beside Laura’s phone. He commandeers a chair and sails across the carpet to Daria and grabs her tan wrist and screams, Civilize the savage! and when he finally reaches my desk, I scoot back to give him room.

I haven’t worked here long. Don’t know the rhythms, what makes this world hum, what gets you on the their emails for pictures of cats that look like that actor from that sitcom.

Tommy stares at me, musket-ball eyes and islands of forehead acne. He pulls a pencil from his pocket, slaps a yellow Post-It on the end, hands it to me, a tiny flag. You can be a governor, he says, my calf twitching.

Later, at the bar down the street, Laura says, I thought you finally went nuts, each word careful and sparkling like glass.

I was celebrating, Tommy says. Gettin’ my Columbus on. 1492-ing and all that.

Laughter. All of us, verging on friendly.

Another round of drinks and I want to keep playing. I want to build this wave of goodwill and camaraderie. So when Tommy leans back, I pluck the shot of Jameson from in close on his lips and down it. Revolt! I say, dizzy, warm. A governor’s revolt!

The laughter is only mine now.

Tommy’s furrowed glare could break bones. The rest are looking away and trying hard to be anywhere but here. I feel like a stupid grinning intruder, feet stuck in a land I don’t belong.

Freedom of the seas, Tommy says, finally. It’s a fucking fundamental right, dude. Respect it. 

Nick Ostdick is a husband, runner and writer currently residing in Rockford, Illinois. He holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Southern Illinois University and is the editor and co-editor of the forthcoming anthologies Hair Lit, Vol 1 (Orange Alert Press, 2012), and The Man Date: 15 Bromances (Prime Mincer, 2013). He’s the winner of the Viola Wendt Award for Fiction, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Annalemma Quarterly, Exit 7, The Emerson Review, Main Street Rag and elsewhere.