What Did They Do?

Katerina Canyon

329 N. Euclid Avenue Saint Louis, MO 63108

T 310-913-4540

poetickat@mac.com

she said it was meant to be a combination of chic and comfort for upscale entertaining. Janine struggled to remember when if ever she and Michael entertained anyone in this room or if she ever entertained Michael. on those rare times he looked at her. about his dreams of their lives together and his great love for her. so she kept replaying the argument in her mind throughout the day. ate her meal. Managing Director Janine Christopher argued with her husband Michael. It was not a big fight. but Janine understood that it could mean that he did not love her anymore. walked into the kitchen. I regret loving you. she cannot remember all he said.Katerina Canyon What Did They Do? On one particular morning. his career and plans. but Janine Christopher was worrying. put a frozen meal in the microwave. More than anything. got out of her car. He was in law school at Saint Louis University when they fell in love. sat at her dining room table. It was as if he could not even gather up enough feeling to hate her. were dead. She turned on the television and watched for the rest of the night and wondered if Michael were having an affair. and picked up the remote. walked through the front door. Yet. she dropped herself onto the sofa. and spent about an hour waiting for Michael to come home. dropped her finished plastic plate into the garbage can. she drove down Forest Park Parkway to her home in Clayton. but desires are just as substantial as memories. They did things according to their position. dropped her keys on the coffee table. He did not say he no longer loved her. Thomson and Castle in St. aimlessly. and he spoke hopefully about their future. At the end of her work day. She stared at their wedding picture on the far wall and remember that there was love there. except he said. At the end of the evening. she wanted Michael to love her as he did then. Janine. Her living room was brightly decorated by a decorator hired by Michael. a bit out of her head. a lawyer at Brown. on this particular morning he spit words in her face. What Did They Do? 1 . Those words stayed with her all day. As the decorator talked about the designs and the room. His eyes. wandered out into the living room. Louis. somewhere. although neither Michael nor Janine had seen an ocean since their honeymoon. The walls were bright white and yellow with nautically themed paintings scattered throughout.

Theresa Littleton. Because was required. Because the functionality of the web site was the single-most important thing in the company.hundreds of different page types . The lucky few got an office. Linux administrators. In order to be certain about her day. It was routine. but on Fridays lasted one hour. java software developers. product managers. This is a dot com. the bullets didn’t even pierce through the steel reinforced doors. art design.and Rick Davis maintained three back ups and 20 alternative designs in an SVN repository in case of a technological disaster. she asked Jack to read her horoscope. In its infinitive form. Because the web site could go down without warning. was mostly responsible for programming the site. pester. managed five employees. systems engineers. Bob Henry.Katerina Canyon The necessary positions included programmers. Theresa Littleton called her husband to tell him she loved him. Jack Martin read the news. As an example. To have a problem is to have a bug. there was a daily status meeting to discuss the maintenance and status of the web site. research analysts. What Did They Do? 2 . Alvin Johnson checked sports scores online. the local servers were kept in a room protected by rolling factory doors as added security. all new employees attended a new hire meeting where they learned about office policies and procedures. the site designer. when a disgruntled employee shot Theresa Littleton in the head. web application engineers. Jamie-Lynn drank coffee and prayed before she took the first bite of her doughnut. Because the company was located in a refurbished factory built in the early 20th century. and she worried over it as she listened to bug report after bug report in her office. Before a disgruntled employee shot her. Everyone supported the web site . it meant one or two other things. but as a noun. who was new. annoy. worked on the technology team monitoring web traffic until a disgruntled employee shot her in the head on a cold morning in early October. as Janine Christopher was bugged by her husband’s recent behavior. bug meant to bother. development managers. software managers. quality assurance experts. these people totaled better than 150 to 175 personnel. he loved the Saint Louis Cardinals and snow cold Budweiser. which changed from week to week and season to season. software engineers. They received an employee manual and forms to sign. PHP developers. All up. depending on how many were kept after the yearly layoffs. and sales and administrative support staff. designers. which was a daily occurrence. which usually lasted thirty minutes. and site layout. everyone was required to know the emergency plan. who was one of the original developers. client services analysts. Rick Davis.

she thought of the many things she could have done to eliminate uncertainty. she recalled. As managing director. because she was always with him. She gave him a polite kiss while people in the restaurant applauded. sliding them up beyond the knuckle and back to rest in the divot of her ring finger. She and Michael stood hand-in-hand staring at the camera. A dark restaurant. most days. She should have grabbed his head with both hands and kissed him boldly full mouthed. She remembered Michael’s hands as he slid the engagement ring on her finger when he proposed. supervised all marketing and commercial campaigns when he was not catching up with news on Twitter or Facebook. because he was not there with her. a copy of the one she had on the wall of her home. She reconsidered that choice. and the food was delicious. and during the dessert. she should have done something to lose uncertainty. Bob Henry. Janine puzzled over what caught Michael’s eye beyond the photographer. Alvin Johnson. accounting.Katerina Canyon Everyone had bugs. She started to play with the rings. and because she could not see the uncertainty in his eyes that she saw when they fought. she thought. sales. analytics. made sure that all employee computers were functioning and updated with the latest security software. who worked in marketing. the slight twitch as if he wanted to take the ring and the proposal back. but she would always remember the feel of his hand as he slipped the ring on her finger. What Did They Do? 3 . who supervised the programmers. he took her hand and stared at her in a determined. content. She stared down at the wedding ring on her left hand. human resources. Janine Christopher supervised all departments. She stared directly at the lens. Whenever she tugged at her rings. maintenance. and Michael looked at her. They stood under a canopy of roses amidst birds of paradise. She was responsible for the maintenance of the web site and the health and well being of company employees. a two-tone gold hammered wedding band set on top of a 1-carat princess cut diamond solitaire engagement ring. technology. and legal. In the afternoon. Jack Martin. The did things according to department. He appeared to be looking beyond the photographer. It was then. On her desk sat Janine Christopher’s wedding picture. She and Michael were married at the Jewel Box in Forest Park. which included design. who worked in technology. when he knelt on one knee. made sure that all code ran as quickly and efficiently as possible. certain way that made her think that acceptance was her only choice.

Afterward. plus the disgruntled employee held hostages in the building well into the day. which involved monitoring the quality and quantity of queries. the click-rate rose to 100. Janine Christopher watched Theresa Littleton die. The blood seeped through to make the number 5 on the shirt indecipherable. and Jack Martin used his cell phone to dial 911 and to ask for help for Theresa Littleton. But the day Theresa Littleton was shot in the head by a disgruntled employee. She was new. While this traffic was considered organic. and year. Janine Christopher crouched in the corner of her office watching them.000 per hour by lunchtime. amidst a world of screaming. She knew who to blame. traffic can increase exponentially. Traffic is higher in the morning than the afternoon. She thought of Michael and his gray eyes. When the SWAT team arrived. Bob Henry dragged her into Janine Christopher’s office. week. and clicks reached in excess of 200. It was a frigid morning in mid-October. they questioned Janine Christopher. Bob Henry was also responsible for maintaining 99. Web traffic varied according to time of day. The typical number of clicks per day is 500. but she did not remember why. scrambling. What Did They Do? 4 .Katerina Canyon As a computer and web site specialist and an original employee. and indecipherable cries. just after the yearly layoffs. while Jamie-Lynn helped Jack Martin limp quickly behind them.000 per hour by the end of the day. and that evening. because functionality was most important. but she was the first one shot. which meant that the site could be down for less than an hour each year. the advertiser quality score would be low. Jamie-Lynn prayed. Theresa Littleton would have analyzed the data.000. but it was too late. They knelt around Theresa and held her hand or patted her arms and told her it would be okay. she scheduled to meet with the executive team to make sure the web site could handle the increase in traffic. Most employees were required to be aware of web traffic. almost forgetting he needed help himself. Jamie-Lynn said Theresa Littleton should not have died like that. and she wondered what he was doing at that moment and thought she could possibly die in this uncertainty. If there is a historical event or a holiday. it was not quality traffic. and she hit the ground straight away.99% uptime for the web site. She knew that she laid off the disgruntled employee in early October layoffs. Bob Henry took off his Pujols Cardinals jersey and wrapped it around Theresa Littleton’s head. they carried Theresa Littleton away.

but she could not stop herself from thinking it. but he loved as hard as he worked. CPC was more profitable as long as the click-through traffic quality was appropriately maintained. Analytics lost one employee. It was odd how something so elegant could turn into something so common. and they always left her in a somber mood. After the layoffs. or if his dutiful secretary purchased it on some long lunch hour. she knew this. She was distracted as well. content lost one. a few weeks before Theresa died. and all calls to his cell went straight to voice mail. a long row of perfectly round orbs. if he had purchased it at all. Janine celebrated her seventh wedding anniversary with Michael. sales lost three. Click-throughs were either billed by CPC or CPM. as if holding a moment of silence for the dead. She imagined him walking with this other woman hand-in-hand at the park. Michael was a hard worker. He was gone all afternoon. She loved him more than anything. and one executive was asked to step down. After layoffs. except for legal. human resources lost one. a web site without monetization is worthless. On October 1st. They ate at 11-11 Mississippi. Michael was distractedly typing on his Blackberry. They did things according to necessity. She could not focus on her afternoon meetings. She imagined the other woman. accounting lost two. There was more work to do in order to take up the slack of those lost. The technology department worked 60 hours a week in order to prepare for the next release. He gave her a string of pearls. which were billed through revenue share agreements. she would make short comments to feign listening. she called him. With notable exceptions such as Facebook and Twitter. which was already trimmed down to two. She called his office between each one. She wondered if he put any thought into this gift. He gave them to her without ceremony. During meetings. but he was gone. she had no doubt. technology lost five. shiny. It had to be going to someone else. so overtime was often expected. Every department was affected by layoffs. Layoffs were that day. Before she was shot. a big merger he claimed. but she was not. monetization was important. The web site monetized through clicks. white. What Did They Do? 5 . and Janine took them in kind. She could not even remember whom she laid off that day. It was petty to be jealous.Katerina Canyon In addition to web site functionality. and smooth to the touch. everyone worked quietly for the rest of the day. Theresa Littleton was grateful she still had a job. She looked at Michael’s furrowed brow as he typed away on his Blackberry and wondered if he was really working on business. just to hear his voice.

she became aware of the people walking by the window of her office. others with pastries. In order to make it easier for employees.Katerina Canyon The week before Theresa died. and she did not think she had time for a long meeting. Another woman. Jamie-Lynn promised. Her brain drowned in thoughts. I don’t care what you have to say. Another day another meeting. the company had a fully stocked kitchen. and a pool table to help avoid burn out. Her phone rang -. smoothed down her skirt. No one amused Jack more than he did himself. Janine lifted her face from her hands and looked around her. Leena watched people walk by her cubicle down the hall and then turn right toward the conference room. Bob Henry walked by eating a breakfast bar. some with bagels. All wished her good luck on her presentation. She felt utterly destroyed. They needed to talk. there was the rec room which had comfortable sofas. If someone needed a break. she worked 50 hours. She was with Michael sitting next to the fountain at school and stealing kisses while their bodies huddled close together as they shared lunch and watched the rhythmic dance of the fountain. He wanted to meet her for dinner. a large screen television. when Leena Austin. Theresa Littleton passed by on her way to the ladies’ room. As she waited for her computer to process results. She had no energy or mind to breathe. Five minutes prior to the meeting. when they tried to make love. They needed to talk could only mean one thing. On October 15. He could not kiss her. Slowly. a ping pong table. Jack Martin said. and she knew that what he meant was that he could not think about sex with her. She sighed. She felt suffocated. some with coffee. Who was she? Why was he leaving? What was wrong with her such that he didn't want her anymore? She recalled their recent anniversary and how he could not even look at her.Michael. Janine Christopher stood up from her desk. Janine Christopher worked 45. or dinner for that matter. as jets of water shot up and fell down. some with tea. head of business analytics. people passed her by. he said he had too much on his mind to think about sex. She knew that she had a meeting to run. but she could not What Did They Do? 6 . prepared her presentation for the daily status meeting. Time will fly by. just make it quick. She leaned over her desk and buried her face in her hands. It had to be. And how later. The day was already shaping up to be a busy one. When Janine Christopher hung up the phone she clutched her chest and sat back down in her chair. and picked up her notepad. she grumbled. She was in her office but not really. an Xbox. so there was no need to leave for lunch.

Rick Davis. no one commented on his good work. Jack Martin was shot in the buttocks and tripped over Theresa Littleton running away. At that moment. Jack Martin said as he returned from the conference room. Let’s do this. It was as if they were waiting for him to get up and tell them what to do. He was given severance and told to leave. Her presentation was ready. No one moved. The bullet went through and through. Matt Simms said. kind of like a tornado siren. fuck. pursuant to the emergency plan. Leena looked down the hallway and screamed. they turned red with her blood. The shooter was Matt Simms. Janine responded. They did things according to circumstance. When his hands hit the ground. In my opinion. as if she witnessed the end of the world before her eyes. Her marriage was falling apart. No time for you women to do your make-up. He’d enjoy it too much. What Did They Do? 7 . Matt Simms held them in the conference room for many hours. Oh fuck. people deserve a bit more respect. fuck. Jack Martin said. Leena Austin knocked on her door. and turned and ran in the opposite direction of the conference room. he pulled a revolver out of his pocket with his right hand. Janine Christopher turned to see someone holding a very big gun shoot Theresa Littleton point blank in the head. He’s a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen. Leena said as she watched Jack walk away from them. fuck. and then with the automatic weapon in his left hand. Alvin Johnson hid in the server room and blocked access to the main servers. Janine Christopher told her to give her a minute. who was trapped in the conference room with the shooter and 50 other employees tried to talk him into putting the gun down. Janine Christopher sat in the corner of her office twisting her wedding rings around her ring finger. He repeated it as he sat there staring at her. pointed the barrel at his own head and pulled the trigger. He fell to the ground. She was about to lose everything that mattered to her. At the time he was let go. He was laid off on October 1st from business analytics while working on a major project. a high pitched frightening scream.Katerina Canyon get her mind together.

The accounting department balanced accounts payable/receivable. it flowed through their minds and bodies as if it were nourishment. walked over to Rick Davis and put her hand on his shoulder. Everyone had things to do in their personal lives. The receptionist greeted visitors but rarely had to answer phones. handled workers’ comp claims. children. but none of it drove them forward. It just produced a virtual existence that did not sustain from day to day. same What Did They Do? 8 . Through their day employees worked with eusocial care. He was staring down at Matt Simms whose head looked like it exploded from the inside out. He never realized those things were so accurate. taxes. and the databases--the company’s arrangement of computer connections that bond with other computer connections beyond itself and into the world. they supervised employee reviews. queries per second. filed patents. monitored vacation time. produced invoices. and developed financial forecasts. and responded to court documents. The counts always started over in the morning. in meetings they planned. Go ahead. the network. filed trademarks. The legal department negotiated contracts. The web site. Carol. They all had to work. Yesterday’s counts did not matter. cousins. They had to pay bills. and insurance. They had to take care of husbands. and idly refreshed the home page. wives. at the close of the third fiscal quarter. the volume of it. page views. The finance department prepared the budget. API response times. They had to wash dishes and clothes and laundry and windows. the receptionist. Leave. traffic sources. The managing attorney sat in on executive board meetings. click-through rates. Rick Davis said it was not what he imagined. the interaction with its users. and monitored collections. paid invoices. sisters. uncles. time-on-site. the graphics.Katerina Canyon Rick Davis told everyone it was safe to leave. I imagined something better than this. every click. mothers. as if it were going to change. You imagined this? No. and of course. aunts. new counts. the links. It looked like something out of a B grade horror movie. Leave. The human resources department hired new employees. monitored the industry. the pages. The paralegal kept corporate minutes. fathers. brothers. Once a year. The technology department checked server loads. They had to work on it-the web site.

The only thing she could think to do now was work. Janine Christopher dropped to her knees and cried. The mind is assailable. akin to the stimulation one receives from a tickle or a kiss. Rick Davis walked over to comfort her. What Did They Do? 9 . She then walked into her own office. they would give their best time. minds. She stood up and walked through the office and righted every upturned chair. but she held up her hand and stopped him. She knew Michael was leaving her. She let it go directly to voice mail. they had to leave with the knowledge that it would all begin again tomorrow. This created something as abstract as love instead of something as concrete as a hammer. as if they never existed. At the end of the day. baubles for the mind. two people who were her responsibility were dead.Katerina Canyon goals with yesterday’s forgotten. companies profited from producing nothing but a temporary mental stimulation attained from the click of a mouse. and the saddest part was that she was only vaguely conscious of who these people were. Her cell phone rang. every blood spot on the carpet. Janine Christopher wandered aimlessly from cubicle to cubicle and office to office. She worked like this well into the night. She deserved no comfort. and now. She stared at the bloodstain on the floor left by Theresa Littleton. and while Rick Davis gave his report to the police. before the Internet. but in the present day. Solely for the abstract. It was Michael. In the old days. After the coroner removed the bodies. every spattered wall. Their value was always measured for that particular day while yesterday rolled through the network like a ghost. Rick Davis and Bob Henry talked in the kitchen the next day. She should have accepted it long ago. She e-mailed human resources to arrange counseling services and workers comp for the injured and traumatized employees. and leave again for the day with nothing but a fleeting thought running through a network they would never hold with their fingers. She counted every bullet hole. people had jobs that actually produced products. This brought a sense of instability. She surveyed the damage. and energy. She was so obsessed with thoughts of Michael. She sent an e-mail to facilities in order to meet to discuss repairs.

they did what they had to do. Man. Bob Henry shrugged. Limitless possibilities. Some jumped at the sound of loud noises. Jamie-Lynn still prayed but decided that horoscopes did not really predict her luck after all. I’m sure. and all I can say is that she cares.Katerina Canyon Our fearless leader. and left the kitchen. An asshole with two assholes. Of course things are different. and they took breaks when they needed them. more in defeat than agreement. Pretty much. He could not think about anything but Theresa Littleton and how she died in his arms. Bob Henry took up jogging. Rick responded. Rick responded. As he listened. you just don’t know. I saw her last night afterward. They chuckled together. said Jack Martin. he thought to himself that he wished he could cry. Some quit. heavy sigh. and how he would give anything to go back two days when his biggest worry was whether or not the Cardinals were going to make it through the play-offs to the World Series. Others played ping-pong. and flipped the channel. What Did They Do? 10 . Theresa died in my arms. Nice. snorted Bob Henry. Things are different now. They showed up for work when they were expected. You have two assholes now. and Leena Austin teased him. With the exception of random noises from the repair crew. He turned on his radio and put on headphones and listened to the play-off game. get it? Isn’t that wild? Imagine the potential. said Jack Martin. Bob Henry walked into his office and let out a deep. Jack Martin showed up with a doughnut cushion for his butt. Only employees essential to the fulfillment of the emergency plan were in the building. They all decided to appreciate their loved ones just a little bit more. the office was quiet. Leena said. Some took quiet times just to themselves to cry. but all he felt was numb. He and Leena Austin were sitting in the rec room watching local morning news. and all Janine could do was cower in a corner and watch the rest of us comfort her.

It would have been well understood.Katerina Canyon They had jobs to do. which made her reach for the empty space on her ring finger. persons to love. They took the memory of what happened to them that day everywhere they went. but mostly naive. how they coped with the memories. with the exception of Leena Austin who had become oddly profane and crude. Every day. Early on a mid-December morning. The noise. broken down. They did these things because they could not quit. really? They could have fallen apart. despite weather or traffic. it can go away in the middle of it all. those complaints seemed. screams. They had their lives. which made her try to think of something to say. dance steps to take. because that is it. but nothing came to mind. they carried on with a quiet dignity. silly things. nothing else. then it is over. for which no one would have blamed them. It is not as if they did not have other things to do. The bare skin felt sensitive and alive like a separate being. They did not break down. this life. a few months after Theresa Littleton died. Naive woman. Your love killed Theresa Littleton. flowers to smell. Trivial. but no one fell apart because they knew the consequences of falling apart. Who could. They knew that. It was not something that could stop the world or end a life. Then she removed her wedding and engagement rings and set them on the table. music to experience. Michael stared at her steadily. dogs to walk. They went to meetings and gave reports and wrote e-mail. and fear--these memories were with them. she thought. They worked. They no longer complained about empty coffee pots or dirty microwaves. blood. but these memories did not overwhelm them. philosophical questions to ponder. Janine Christopher sat at an expensive looking conference table at a high profile law firm in Clayton and signed her divorce papers. She knew that signing these papers was mostly ceremonial. That is it--jobs. They had to learn how to feel lucky to be alive. They had to move on because it was a thing they had to do. lucky to be alive to do the things they had to do. Thinking about him tired her. they showed up. and how they lived with it all because they had no choice but to live with it all. They had to attend group therapy sessions where they talked about their feelings. They kept the web site up. Overall. children to feed. What Did They Do? 11 . run through the office screaming and be carried off by very nice people from a very nice mental health facility. In love.

She put away her wedding picture. In about 30 minutes. It was the thing she had to do. She did her job. She was not a naive young girl in school. That was all there was to it. and exited the building. When everything was completed. She was the managing director. She was an executive who made decisions that affected the lives of those around her. one chance is all you get. but she was tired from this thing. mostly. but she was not interested. she said. His faithfulness. but it was her job to get through the tough days. As she said to Michael. What she did not love was them. it was only to hope that he was happy. Some days might be tougher than others. She would meet with all departments to ensure they received What Did They Do? 12 . she said to herself. but she was determined to live up to her responsibilities. Michael ran up to her and wrapped his arms around her. When she walked through the front door of their house. or lack thereof. The next day. She pulled herself free from him. love. without distractions. sometimes one chance is all you get. Michael took his turn signing the divorce papers. When she thought about Michael. Michael tried to talk to her about a new life and second chances. He tried to talk to her about love. She knew that this would not bring Theresa back. looked him in the eyes and told him she wanted a divorce.Katerina Canyon She remembered when she came home late in the night after Theresa Littleton was killed. Janine stood up without a word and walked out of the room. It is not that she did not love him. took the elevator down to the ground floor. She would give all her attention to her employees. she would go to the conference room and hold the daily status meeting wherein she planned to discuss goals for the coming year. I cannot let my mind wander. was no longer the issue. Janine walked into her office with what could have been taken as a smile on her face. Sometimes. She booted up her computer and checked her voice mail. She was resolved to do her job as efficiently and diligently as possible. In the days that followed. She never allowed jealous fantasies. It was too insecure to really be love. walked to the elevator. that was not love. That meant something to her and those who relied on her. She would do what it took to get the job done.

Janine said.Katerina Canyon necessary commendation and support. While these made some employees love her. She insisted on respect and responsibility. some did not. Janine made the tough decisions and stuck to them. There were less meetings. but more efficiency. I am not here for love. because instead of letting decisions wander around from meeting to meeting. The atmosphere at the company changed. What Did They Do? 13 . She emphasized personal accountability.

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