Greta

Greta pedaled her pink bicycle with the white banana seat and white wicker basket past the water cooler, down the carpeted hallway, into the personnel department. The pink plastic streamers streamed from the pink plastic handles as she zig-zagged through the narrow aisle between the rows of cubicles.
It was difficult for Greta. She was forty-two years old and her knees were bruised from bumping the handlebars. It was difficult to build up any speed with the secretaries and clerks getting in her way and all the shouting. A red-faced man holding a Styrofoam cup, whose white shirt was stained with steaming coffee, grabbed the handlebars and tried to detain her. She bit his knuckles, kicked his shin and raced back down the hallway to the elevator to continue her search.
Greta discovered that if she pointed her knees out to the sides she didn’t bump them and could go much faster. Of course, it caused her skirt to spread and ride up her thighs, so anyone who wanted to could see between her legs. Oh la dee da, she thought. So be it. She rolled into the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor.
The third floor was nothing but cubicles. There were cubicles, cubicles, cubicles as far as the eye could see. Gray fabric cubicles on a gray carpeted floor. She rode past a cubicle full of squealing rats and one that contained a pile of bones with thousands of flies hovering above it. One cubicle was entirely glass and filled with beautiful tropical fish, but most of them were ordinary gray fabric cubicles containing sneering, elderly hunchbacks with gnarled, misshapen hands typing at computer keyboards.
Far down the end of the aisle three social workers in white uniforms were arguing with an ancient middle manager who refused to put on his clothing or go back into his office. Greta pedaled as fast as she could to get down there. Two of the social workers were middle-aged women. One of them was tall and gaunt, the other of medium height and fat. The male social worker, a plump, jowly, balding fellow with wire-framed glasses, was threatening to get rough with the old man. He stood with his hands on his hips speaking in a stern voice.
"Don't force me to do something we’ll both regret," he said.

"I want to go fishing," the old man sobbed. "I want to go in the rowboat." He stamped his foot and his dangling, old genitals jiggled.
Greta hit the brakes hard and skidded out leaving a black rubber streak on the gray carpet. She lifted the lid of her basket, reached in and flung a handful of lollipops down the hall. The social workers ran for the lollies. The tall, thin one grabbed up most of them and ran leaving the two fatties to fight over the one she left behind. They wrestled on the floor. The woman had the lolly held tight in her fist and the jowly man was trying to peel her fingers back. She scratched his cheek with her free hand and bit the top of his bald head.
Greta took her father by the hand.
"Hurry, Daddy," she said. "Let_s get out of here!" The old man straddled the seat behind her. Greta pedaled them away to the elevators. They rode down to the first floor, raced past the receptionist and out into the sunshine. Greta looked over her shoulder.
The lake, Daddy," she said. We are going to the lake."





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