Jake's African Violet
by Michael Lawrence
Jake Greenberg, a meek and mild man, sat in his tiny cubicle filling forms. His mind, which was begging to ponder on simpler things, was forcefully and painfully focused on his work. Another form was complete. He placed it in a wire basket marked "Out."
The walls of his cubicle were almost completely bare except for a plain, undecorated calendar that simply read "September 7." However, on his desktop sat a tiny seedling of an African violet. It was not even two inches long and it had not even bloomed yet. Though it did look as if it were about to. A tiny enclosed purple bulb sat on the end of the seedling that sat in a Styrofoam cup full of soil. (He stole the cup from the coffee break room.)
Being the only object in his cubicle that wasn't gray, Jake took special care of this plant ever since he had buried the seed. He took a tiny watering bucket, about the size of a Pepsi can, put just the right amount of plant fertilizer in it, and carefully watered it around its stem. He was being especially careful to not get any of it on the seedling itself.
Suddenly, he could hear a faint, repetitive thumping noise. This indicated that the boss, Mr. Cunningham, approached.
Jake quickly hid the watering bucket behind his electric pencil sharpener and placed a brown lunch bag in front of the African violet (though they weren't very good hiding spots, he thought the boss might overlook them). He quickly grabbed a completed form from the "Out" basket. When he was sure the boss was looking, he quickly placed it back in, grabbed a new form, and frantically began to fill it out.
"Greenberg," the boss said in a moderately volumed voice. Jake appeared to be too absorbed in his work to hear. "Greenberg!"
Jake pretended to be startled and jumped.
"Greenberg," the boss repeated, standing just outside of the cubicle's doorless entry. With an enormously bulging stomach, Mr. Cunningham's undershirt was showing under his too-small, tucked-in dress shirt. Jake was paying full attention to him. The boss appeared to be intimately scanning Jake's cubicle while sniffing. "Greenberg, there is something fishy going on here."
"What do you mean, Mr. Cunningham?" Jake asked. He shifted his office chair attempting to further conceal the African violet. The boss continued to sniff.
"No, this isn't right," Mr. Cunningham said. "What's that behind your chair?" Jake looked over his shoulder, not moving his chair an inch. He began to shake.
"Uhh-hh that's my desk, sir," he said. He put a nervous smile on his face.
"I know that Greenberg, but what's that *on* your desk?" Mr. Cunningham said snorting a bit. "Is that a plant?" Jake shifted his bottom in the chair being careful to not reveal the plant any further. He grabbed the paper bag.
"Oh, this!" Jake said holding it up. "Why it's only a brown paper bag! If you don't mind, sir, I w-would like to get back to work, now, please, sir." The boss frowned.
"Don't play games with me, Jake," (Jake knows he's in trouble when the boss refers to him by his first name.) "I know there's a plant behind you. Now let me see it!"
Jake's bottom lip trembled and his eyes gained moisture.
"Oh p-p-please, boss, don't take it away," Jake said with a softly trembling voice. Mr. Cunningham stomped inside his cubicle and grabbed the Styrofoam cup.
"Marijuana. I should have known," the boss said shaking his head. He began to walk away. Jake wailed and bit his knuckle.
"Noooo! It's an African violet!" he screamed. Like gophers, the other employees slowly began popping their heads out of their cubicles. "Don't take it! No! Please!" Mr. Cunningham continued to walk away.
"I'm afraid I have to, Jake!" the boss responded yelling but not turning around. "It's against company policy and you know it!" Jake's face turned a shade of purple as he furiously held his breath. After releasing it with angered force, he violently heaved and then made an enraged roar that sounded almost like a speeding motorcycle. Jake sprinted toward Mr. Cunningham, dived, and grabbed his feet. In doing so, Mr. Cunningham tripped and let go of the African violet and sent it soaring into the air. Jake, like an experienced American football player, swiftly got to his feet, stepped on the boss, and jumped. He grabbed the Styrofoam cup before it was able to hit the ground. With outstretched palms that firmly gripped the plant, he landed on his stomach.
Jake quickly jumped to his feet and ran toward the exit of the office. Just before he was about to leave, he turned around. His co-workers gawked at him with speechless amazement.
He then turned to the African violet and said: "From now on, it's just you and me."