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"Inboxed" Copyright © 2003 The First Line. Reprinted here by permission.

Individuals may distribute this story freely for private, non-commercial use provided all author and copyright information remain intact on each copy.

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** This story is @ 1,300 words or roughly 6 printed pages. Reading time, about 6 minutes. **



Matt McHugh

     I opened my e-mail with a mix of apprehension and excitement. And there it was again today.

     Re: >>WANT? A B\IG\GER ~~P**E**N**I**S>> ???

     Yes. As a matter of fact, I do.

     Every day I get something like this. A different message for different pills to give you a bigger P**E**N**I**S. I wonder why they spell it like that? I suppose because it's supposed to be bigger. There's lots of them. Generic \/iagr@. L3v!tra substitute. Chinese herbal supplements. All all-natural. For fraction of the price. So, why not try one. I mean, just to see if it worked, you know. You never know.

     It's not like I'm teeny or something, but bigger would be nice. Like porn star big. Imagine how much more confident I'd be. Then, I'd be able to go up to Betty and be all like Hey, and she'd be like Hi, and we'd have a cool little talk like that. I can see Betty now. Across the aisle, near the end of the row, over her cube wall, past the printer, through the slots in the sorting tray. I can see her better in the reflection from the window when the sun's right. She's talking on the phone and laughing, quiet so no one hears. But I can almost hear. And I can see. I can always see, but she doesn't know.

     I click.

     Yeah. There it is. All-natural nutra-ceuticals to feed a man's power. Wow. Food and medicine together. I'd be a fool not to try it. At the bottom, it says, check out our satisfied customers. Click. Launch browser.

     Whoa. Check that out. That's a huge one. Looks solid as a rock, too. This one's pretty big, too. This one's just ridiculous. It must be Photoshopped. Nobody could be like that for real. The caption says he gets more women than ever. I bet. Though, I wonder how he gets them. I mean, how do they know he's so big if he's just like dressed regular every day? Maybe he—

     "Hey, Norman."

     Alt Tab to spreadsheet.

     "Oh, hey. How's it going."

     Willmer walking by. Halfway to the kitchenette. Man, that was close.

     Alt Tab back to browser.

     Those really are some big penises. I'd like one like that. I'd better stop looking. I'm not like gay or anything, but it feels weird to keep looking.

     Betty just laughed loud. She's cradling the phone with her shoulder as she types. Her hair dangles a little over her eyes. She smiles. Her teeth are really white. She looks up.

     I look down and see penises. Alt F4 browser. Back to e-mail.

     Finally, Affordable Health Insurance

     That's good. I don't need it, but there are people without jobs who do, I guess. I wonder how they find out about it if they don't have a job to give them a computer and e-mail?

     Delete. Next.

     Add additional income to your household.

     That would be great, but I don't have a house. Oh well. Delete. Next.

     Claim Your Free Radio Controlled Helicopter

     Cool. These low cube walls are perfect for flying it through the office. Imagine using it to deliver memos and stuff! Or drop a rose on Betty's desk. That'd be awesome. But if I crashed it or hit somebody, I'd get fired for sure. Besides, I never got my free micro RC car. I bet it's the same guys. Forget them.

     Delete. Next.

     "Excuse me, Norman?"

     Alt Tab.

     "Yes? Oh, hey. What's up."

     "I just wanted check when you might have the vendor orders from last month processed?"

     "I'm working on it, but the entry loader has been down since the server upgrade."

     "Oh. OK. Well just keep me posted when—."

     "Because when the entry loader is down, I can't access the inventory system to get the product IDs."

     "I see. Well, just—"

     "And without the product IDs, the accounting system kicks back the entry as incomplete and the vendor file doesn't get updated with the invoice numbers I need to start a new data log."

     "OK. All right. That's fine. Don't worry about it, then. Just let me know whenever it's ready. Thanks."

     Schmuck Willmer. Doesn't even know the entry loader is down. And how do they expect me to do anything without updating the data log. Schmucks.

     Alt Tab.

     Become an online Investor with just $50

     I think I have $50 in savings. How I'd love to make money investing and get out of this dump. Save this one. Next.

     Find other singles in your area

     Yeah. Maybe somebody to watch DVDs with or get a pizza sometimes. Is that so much to ask? I wonder what Betty'd do if she saw me with a girl. She'd be like, Hey wow, she's with him. He must be cool. I should hang out with him, too. Sure she would.

     Delete. Next.

     Re: you_ didn't write _back ?

     Huh? Write back who? Open.

     Whoa. It's a porn ad. Whoa. Check out those two chicks going at it. Oh man. What if it were Betty and that blonde that she gets coffee with. Man, that would be so awesome. I look up.

     Betty's typing now, squinting at the monitor. She's got her glasses on. She looks smart with glasses. I wonder what kind of DVD's she likes.

     "Mr. Gates."

     Alt Tab. Alt Tab.

     "Yes?" Oh crap. It's Harding. Willmer's right behind him.

     Alt F4.

     "Yes. What can I do for you, sir."

     "I understand you're having trouble with the data entry."

     "No. No trouble."

     "But I heard that entry loader was down. Is that not correct?"

     "Yeah no. It's down."

     "So you can't work?"

     "No, I can work. I've got work."

     "But can you process the vendor orders."

     "Oh yeah, I can. I mean, when the loader's ready. As soon as it's ready, I can. No problem."

     "I see. Well, do whatever you can. We need those orders processed for the quarterly report. Understand."

     Off they go. Willmer glances back at me once. Oh, man. I got to get back to work. Launch the old loader script. Maybe it'll work. I look up.

     Betty's looking right at me. Others are, as well. I look down. Look down. Keep looking down. I move my eyes up, but not my head. Betty's typing again.

     I run the old loader. I can see the product IDs from the old server. They're not that old, so I might be able to use them. I start going through the vendor orders. Some kick back, some go through. I put them in separate piles. I plow through the entry screens, typing like mad.

     "Hey, Norman?" It's Betty's voice.

     I don't look up. I'm working. Working hard. Doing a lot of work, I mean.


     I look up. Betty's standing right there. Her blonde friend is right behind her.

     "Oh, hey, Betty. What's up."

     "You OK?"

     "Yeah. I'm fine. I'm good."

     "You want to take a break? Come get a cup of coffee?"

     "Oh. I can't. I've got to finish this stuff. I can't."

     "Oh. You sure?"

     "Yeah. I'm good. Really. Thanks, though. Have a good coffee."

     "OK. See you later then." She smiles and touches my shoulder as she goes. The blonde waves to me a little.

     I stare at the screen. I can't type. My fingers have forgotten how.

     Alt Tab.

     How to I.N.CR.EAs#e Your$ize .& Self->>Confi+de+nce>>

     Yeah. That'd be cool. Bigger. More confident. That's what I need.

     Ding. Priority incoming message tone.








"Inboxed" Copyright © 2003 The First Line. Reprinted here by permission.

Individuals may distribute this story freely for private, non-commercial use provided all author and copyright information remain intact on each copy.