Excerpt from "Leave"

She IM'd him to have a one-on-one
discussion of the sort that runs one way.
"I'll meet you in Crayon in five."

The building's smaller conference rooms
("larger" here means 12 x 12 or more)
seldom have conferences, whatever that
word might mean—he'd never seen one happen.
Mt Porte Crayon Meeting Room, its full name,
(the room names match the P1000 peaks
in West Virginia, 44 in all)
is nearest to the elevator hall
and has more privacy despite the glass
door and triple-paned windows. The view
is dense with bushes, oval waxy leaves,
and a sloping parking lot (its striping paint
bright and clean in the slow autumn, clumsy sun).
The room's east/west left/right untextured walls
are two shades less than avocado green.
The vinyl chairs complement with a thin,
dull algae hue. The two opposing high
thin walls, without pretense, are sand dune white.

Early per usual he sat and traced
the heat-shimmer edged shadows slanting
across the table—slight burled birch-veneered
—and dulled through the clanging, thin metal blinds
The Polycom unplugged and dusty, smelled
of fresh Saltines.

She entered harried, tight:
a magnet coiled with "Sorry! :)" pleasantries
(her office on this floor and one row down).
If middle management, you place your iPhone
near where your wrists will rest while talking slow.
The managers are taught a dialect
that has a sour-sounding lilt. It's meant
to sooth the employee. You also learn
to posture-check yourself ("for some, your back
might hurt at first") and "I-to-eye" contact.

He rubbed his bitten fingernails (one bled
a bit this morning on the way to work).
After the half-expected work-life bal-
ance talk, or rather "talking-to", she made
her point: he had to use his PTO.
This year, he would. She checked her notepad (yes,
despite what century we're living in
she takes her meeting notes in longhand, tall
wide letters she circles and underlines)
and found the page: I'm glad to hear it. Laurence. Yes—
(Law- or Laurence, pronounced the same but spelled
however the barista feels that day;
he gave up spelling out the name last year.)
the month of April rarely gets approved.
The IRM's the same as US Code
so in this case tradition matters most.
August? May, September can be nice.
The Sharepoint site would have the forms
and someone had the room booked after them.

He shifted, looked outside. A heavy lull
began to fill the room. She hemmed again.
She'd check the lifecycle (their certified
approach to IT service management,
called ITIL version 3, or "eye-till three")
was current, practical and common sense.
The data service RESTful API
was documented well and April c/sh-ould be fine.
About one week, including the 15th.
You'll need to take a laptop, check your mail,
be—business hours—available by phone.
So what're your (grabbing iPhone) plans?

Expedia and Travelocity
had zero flights from HGR to DBQ.
(On Travelocity that search returned
a message worded: "problem processing,"
etc. The debug console showed
a client-side request timeout and fail.
More googling, he found a route that worked
(the airport codes return the best results).
From IAD to MLI, with one
connecting stop at DTW.
The cheapest Delta flight from Apr 10
to 17. Reserved the rental car
with upgrade (special season package deal).
Four-door Corolla. Manual windows. White.
Few names of cars seem well thought out.
Corolla: petals of a flower form
a whorl within the sepals and enclose
the reproductive organs. Focusing,
he checked the inkjet, pulled up Google maps:
Maquoketa, the caves where Norris Brown
had felt the weight of equal stones.

Reprinted from <The Rotary Dial, August 2013.