portion of the artwork for Zin Kenter's story

Zin Kenter

Potiphar Ogenthal was quite bored as he drove to work on Tuesday morning. The first of the month—the first day of the new law against using cell phones, computers, iPods, iPads, any kind of electronic instruments while driving. He sat in traffic on the freeway wondering, “What is it that I am supposed to do?” as he inched his car forward.

He took a pen from his shirt pocket and looked around for some paper but there was nothing. He leaned over to open the glove compartment but there was nothing there either, just some red gloves knit in a herringbone pattern (they were not his gloves, but that is a matter for another story). He slammed the glove compartment shut, and noticed two things: he had made a mark on the right cuff of his shirtsleeve with his pen (which he had held backwards while opening the glove compartment) and traffic had inched along so there was now a fifteen-foot gap in front of his car. He inched forward to close the gap. “I will need to wear my suit jacket all day long,” he said to the steering wheel (which of course did not reply).

But he took off his suit jacket by habit once in his cubicle on the 32nd floor. He signed on to his technical support help line specialist terminal, put on his headset, and took his first call of the day: “My computer does not work. What is wrong with it?” Potiphar again saw the mark on his right cuff. It was a little curved line:

“Ma’am, is your computer plugged in?” He wondered what that line could become.

“Well, yes, of course it is, it’s … oh, no, I must have knocked the plug out when I vacuumed! Thank you!”

Potiphar didn’t have time to say “you’re welcome” because she hung up very quickly. He picked up a pen with his left hand, which was quite awkward as he was right-handed, and started doodling on his right cuff as he punched the button for his second call: "My computer does not work. What is wrong with it?”

“Sir, is your computer plugged in?” He doodled a few lines around the mark, and due to the wobbling of the pen in his awkward left hand, the lines were wavy and uneven. Potiphar thought it looked a little bit like the top of a wing:

“Of course it’s plugged in, it’s running, it just stopped doing anything. Anytime I enter anything or click the mouse thing nothing happens! What’s wrong with it?”

“Sir, I want you to press the Control key, the Alt key, and the Delete key all at the same time,” said Potiphar, and he continued with the steps for shutting down the computer while he drew an extension of the wing and a few more feathers, and by the time he got to “you’re welcome, sir” he had drawn a fairly good wing running from his cuff to just below his elbow:

This went on all morning, calls that started with “my computer does not work; what is wrong with it?” and ended with “you’re welcome,” and Potiphar doodling more on his sleeve, adding details to the wing on his forearm and beginning a second wing that ran from just above his elbow to his shoulder. At lunch time when he normally got a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat (from the company cafeteria) and coffee (from the technical support department coffee pot) with a Snickers bar (from the technical support department vending machine) for dessert, instead he stayed in his cubicle and at the end of his allotted forty-minute lunch hour found himself looking at a very impressive set of wings.

He was quite pleased.

But as he admired the wings, they began to move. He thought at first it was the fabric of his sleeve that was moving, but no, it was the wings. They flapped and flapped and rose right up off his shirt, and began to fly around his cubicle, and over to the office window (which of course was sealed for climate control and energy efficiency) where they flew right through the high-density unbreakable plastic and out into the midday sun and up and up into the sky and clouds, leaving Potiphar behind, touching the window with his right index finger and watching the wings soar into the distance.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 30 | Fall 2010