Deciding on a top-down approach, she opened the wide shallow cabinet shelf suspended over her desk. Medications and canned foods — she checked the expiration dates, saw all were still good, put them in the Jim Beam box. She took out the pens and binder clips and other office supplies and laid them on top of the desk; if they were going to charge her for boxes, they’d most likely confiscate anything that looked like the company’s property. File folders from last year, definitely garbage, she dropped them into the black plastic trash can next to her chair. More meds —
She wasn’t sure the noise behind her was directed towards her, but turned anyway. Standing in the narrow entrance to her cubicle, his left hand resting on the brown partition wall, was Karl, looking exactly the same as he had nearly every day, a blue oxford shirt and khaki pants hanging loosely on his body. He waved an arc in front of his body, his face expressionless.
The hand arc-waved in the other direction, as if he were wiping a window. “Hello, J-Lynn.” This surprised her, for Karl had always called her Jennifer. The only other person at the office who didn’t use her preferred name was her supervisor, a caustic woman whose voice whipped everyone’s last name. Malesky!
“I’m just — cleaning out my cube.” J-Lynn looked nervously at the clock. Three-oh-five. What were they going to do, fire her?
Karl raised his gray eyebrows, his grayer moustache twitching. She knew Karl was in his late thirties, but to her he looked at least ten years older. “Leave any for us?”
“Pardon?” She had barely heard him, then remembered what this meant — Karl always lowered his voice when telling a joke.
“I prefer gin myself.” His voice had become even softer, yet noticeably playful. J-Lynn blinked, then let her eyes follow the direction of Karl’s pointed finger, stopping at the box on her desk. JIM BEAM.
“Oh!” Her brain scrambled for an appropriately witty reply. “I was — ” no, she wasn’t inviting him to the party that evening — “well I was planning to have a toast on my way out, but HR confiscated all my goodies when I walked in!”
Karl tilted his head back, smiled a wordless ah.