There were only two spirits present at the birth of Office Bad Boy, one of whom was God. The other was a snake, a sleeve of restless heartbeat patrolling some self-assigned edge of desert, where life caught fire when it was done right. Office Bad Boy simply and spectacularly appeared, draped in denim on denim and five o’clock shadow, searching for something essential to say. Some wordless anthem. Some shade of cool. Some distant destination and then some other.
He wandered as he searched for a century or two, counting grains of sand before hitting concrete, still lost in thought and lonesome reflection. He crossed sidewalks and spongy road and front lawns, too, before collapsing on the steps of a corporate cubicle den. The sun seemed dimmer there, edges of steel wrapped in a foggy breeze as a group of smoke break women approached. They tended to Office Bad Boy, dazed and dusty, and took him in shortly after, drawn to his denim on denim, black and blue, and the way he stayed quiet, which was unheard of when it came to men in cubicle dens.
That’s not to say Office Bad Boy’s appeal was only limited to women with lighters. During a two-loop tour of the cubicle den, Office Bad Boy let his steely eyes settle on two executives, both of whom admired an empty stare of that caliber. Office Bad Boy was invited to stay, to come nod along in meetings and luncheons, an instant natural at vacant handshakes.
Word spread fast about OBB: his mysterious allure, the way that ladies and gentlemen and all between worked harder and smarter for his glance of approval. Numbers went up. Many numbers. Other cubicle dens began taking note, hiring knockoff renegades and outlaws. For a short run, OBB was commissioned as a visiting prototype, made to make the rounds to other companies who wanted to know what to look for when looking for valuable wild. Some candidates stenciled beards on with their girlfriends’ eyeliner crayons. Others chewed toothpicks and shaped snakes into boots and wallets, detached hearts beating somewhere else entirely.
Every cubicle den in the city and sub-city eventually found its own rebel knockoff. Office Bad Boy earned a corner office and used his commission to buy a bar of soap. He scrubbed hard with little success in the bathroom of the den one evening, dirt sinking deeper into his pruned fingertips, skin slipping into hypnotic ripples. Office Bad Boy got lost in the ridges, quietly wishing to return to some illusion of a past life. He wandered dim hallways for a century or two, looping back to his office, secluded and sinking into his seat. He set his gaze upon his own door, frosty glass of clear distinction, and tried to imagine how many grains of sand were compressed to create such immovable weight. He wheeled his way over and fingered the surface, smooth and smoother, searching for a single outlier of sand, one grain misplaced and pressed against its edges.
As his eyes wandered, an approaching commotion sparked a glance of attention. There was a fiery glow on the other side of the door, a distant kindling of heat approaching on the horizon. Unexpected wild.
Finally, it was time to return. Silence. Heat. Homestead.
The smell of sparks grew closer and the shadow glow of flames higher as Office Bad Boy prepared to slip back into his natural state. He shielded his eyes and peeled the door back with caution. When he finally arrived on the other side, he faced a crowd of cubicle den interns dressed in younger versions of his skin. One carried a dessert and sang a song to another about being born and alive and well.
Everybody howled along as Office Bad Boy stood silent in the doorway. One of the boys waved him into the chaos. OBB mustered up a weak smile and nod he’d learned to exchange for arrivals and departures. He returned to some version of isolation.
A moment or two later, he smelled the candles go out; smoke from where things were once ablaze.