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Simon R. Gardener


The child is tied up and taken away by Rudolf Schiestl

Anne Logan from Legal, she was taken.

Jim Hanrohan from New Business, he was taken too. I know for a fact he was fiddling the books.

Rob Roberts was taken, he’d been moved to head up sales after Jim Jones was taken. It made me wonder if you needed an alliterative name to be a slick, slimy motherfucker.

Margaret Peters was taken, and she’d had a whole week off the previous summer to look after her ‘sick cat’. Everyone knows she actually just went on holiday, unless the cat needed some sort of special treatment only available in Costa Rica.

Peter and Paul Kowalski were taken. I never got to the bottom of how two brothers ended up running the post room in a supposed meritocracy. They lived together with their mother, until one day they just lived together. That’s when they started driving to work in a red corvette.

Walter Scott was taken, he’d been the caretaker for nearly 50 years. His wife had died in an industrial accident at Petersburg chemical plant in the 1970s. Rumour had it that only her teeth were left when they found her. People used to make dark jokes about that behind Walter’s back, as if the passage of time meant it was fair game. I used to wonder what he would’ve been like if that accident hadn’t created a gaping gulf between him and the world.

Irene Roberts was taken, she was the cleaner so everyone acted like she was beneath them. They didn’t realise she was a contractor with her own business. I’d seen her with her three kids in the mall once, laden down with toys like fucking Santa Claus in the middle of July. When I came out of a meeting holding back the tears one time, she was the only person in the office who didn’t look at the ground. She made me a coffee in the kitchen and told me what a bastard her ex-husband was. I felt a lot better after that. She was the only one I thought about night after night for a long time afterwards.

Reid Bain, the Reid Bain, he was taken. He’d started the company back in ’64, and he had the sort of money that means you can stop calling yourself a businessman, and start calling yourself a philanthropist, that horrible word that instantly washes away all your sins for some reason. Nothing stuck to Reid Bain, and why would it. A self-made man with one foot in the church and the other holding down the local politicians. If you’re nosy like me though, a bit of digging would tell you that no one started a construction business here in the ’60s without getting into bed with the mob. Oh, and he killed a kid in a hit and run when he was 19. They didn’t play that up in the Founder’s Story, I can tell you that much.


About the writer:
Simon R. Gardner is a writer based in the United Kingdom. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe New Republic, and The Outline.

Image: The child is tied up and taken away by Rudolf Schiestl (1878-1931). Lithograph. 14 x 13 cm. By 1931. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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