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Kate LaDew

And No Mute Unpunished

The day was going from bad to worse. Aasif was almost unhinged. He was seriously considering a move to Latvia, and he'd only just discovered it was real. It sounded lovely and foreign, a place visited by presidents to recoup. A place where people knew things. No one knew anything here. That was the problem. Not one thing.

Aasif peered through the blinds. Surely his boss had been told of the cake. The cake Aasif bought for this moment. If he knew Aasif remembered things, he might ask Aasif to remember things in an office with doors.

He was standing guard. Surely everyone had been told. Read flyers. Flyers in yellow placed strategically in bathroom stalls. The welt sustained from a surprised woman with a mean struck mustn't be for naught. Aasif could only wait so long. What would his boss think? A stale cake not surrounded by singing employees. If the birthday party was to be a success, people would have to start knowing things.

"Were you even invited?" Aasif was saying now. A man he didn't know peered over his shoulder at the cake. "Do you even have a right to be here?"

"I work here," the man blinked.

"You what?"

"I work here."

"And what are you doing now?"

"I'm. Well."

"Are you working?"

"Not. Well."

"Yes. Then is it anything but a fallacy to say you work here?"

"A fallacy." The man shifted his feet. "I don't know."

"At one time, I worked here," Aasif pronounced sharply. "At a period in time. In the distant past, in a world before now. In a land long since passed on, I might say I worked here. Today… Today I am doing the exact opposite of working here. I am desperately trying to drive a man out of his mind. That I am doing. But I do not. Work here."

Aasif heard the impact of a file cabinet shutting. No one knew anything.

"It's not exact."

Aasif looked into wide eyes. "It's what?"

"It's not the exact opposite." The eyes seemed shaken. "Driving a man crazy."

"It's not the exact opposite? Driving a man crazy?"

"It's opposite."


"It's opposite maybe. Of working. But not exact."

Aasif nodded. "You. Will have to go."

The man's mouth opened. "But I work here."

"You drive men crazy. That is your work. We are not hiring."

"But," his feet rebelled as Aasif pushed him towards the door. "I only wanted cake."

Aasif's brows raised. "You only wanted cake?"

"I did only. That was all."

"You are attending this function because you only wanted cake."

The man bit the inside of his cheek. "Well."

"You are not worthy to be in this room, let alone eat this cake." Aasif crossed his arms, nudging with his knee. "That I am sure of."

The man's hand snapped around the door frame, balancing. His mouth moved silently, lip-synching to thoughts in his head. Worthless, time consuming thoughts, Aasif supposed. Nobody knew anything.

The man looked to his left. There was a companion. Aasif had not noticed this companion. He noticed now. Noticed him looking at the cake.

"And you? Who are you?"

The companion stared blankly.

"Who is this?" Aasif asked the first man. He only looked down. At the cake. "Mute? Are you mute?" Aasif poked the air immediately in front of the companion. "Who are you? Come on." Aasif shook his head with force. "Another mute. Why is everyone a mute these days?"

"I'm not a mute."

"What?" Aasif squinted. "Who said that?"

"I did," the companion frowned.

"You, eh? You're not a mute?"


"Prove it."

"I—" the companion shrugged. "I'm not a mute."

"Says you," Aasif slapped their hands, stabbing quickly with a plastic fork. "I swear, it's a terrible day." He forgot his boss and the flyers and the surprised woman with a mean streak, cutting a square of blue frosting, watching it drop on his plate with a satisfying plop. "We're at a point in time where anything anyone says is to be believed, no matter how outlandish. It's so bad in fact, mutes have gotten in on it. I swear," Aasif gestured to no one in particular, the companion rubbing at the three indentions in his hand. "I'm moving to Latvia. Which, I'll have you know, is a real country. Latvia." Aasif looked at the fork. "Don't try not working there, mute. Or you'll have troubles."

The man and his companion exchanged glances.

"Troubles," Aasif sighed wistfully. "They know things there. No birthday cake goes uneaten in Latvia. And no mute unpunished." He smiled. "My new office will have a picture of this place. And then you'll see." Aasif pushed on the mens' shoulders with a blue frosted hand. "And a plaque so everyone will know. In Latvia," Aasif was almost unhinged. "In Latvia, you'd have troubles." He nodded. "I'd make sure."

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