Congratulations to Nicholas Teeter and his wonderful work, “Plenty of Room With Nowhere To Go,” which was selected for publication in The Masters Review New Voices. This story is an excellent examination of voice. The narrator completely jumps off the page, coming to life almost immediately through subtle uses of dialogue and scene. Follow Louis’ journey as he navigates the difficulties of young life and trying to become a writer, in this excellent piece from a talented new voice.
Plenty of Room With Nowhere To Go
by Nicholas Teeter
July came and I had no job. I couldn’t hold anything steady and writing didn’t pay much. I was fired a few months ago for showing up drunk but I wasn’t actually drunk I just smelled like booze. That was when I realized I walk into bars a lot to write stories. I decided that I didn’t like that my stories had repetition because repetition can make a good story a bad one. And a story couldn’t be good if it was bad.
I had an interview with an agency that sold health insurance to union workers in the 83rd to 87th district. I also had no idea what that meant. It started to rain before I got out of my car and my tie was freckled with drops when I walked inside. The man who said hello and shook my hand said his name was Jeremy and insisted that I call him Jeremy and not Mr. Blankenship. He had inflamed acne scars sunken into his cheeks, which he could have passed off as tough but didn’t. Or couldn’t.
“Mr. Waters,” he said, not so much mispronouncing it but making it sound synthetic, like I had made it up. “There’s a lot of money in this business. I’m pulling down a six-figure income and I’ve only been here two, count em’, two years.” He held up his index and pinky fingers to emphasize, like outfielders do when there are two outs.
“Is it salary or commission?”
“You betchya,” he said and opened a manila folder. I want to believe he didn’t hear me.
When he told me what the job entailed, I realized it was basically selling lottery tickets to coal miners. Buy this health insurance, we tell them, because it costs pennies on the dollar and you desperately need it, you’re old and have black lungs. On the off chance they die a particular way, and they’re not working any overtime hours, and it isn’t a national holiday, and they die wearing company-approved footwear, then the family gets a heavy payday. I imagined this didn’t happen often. I pictured myself boring these men during their dinner with the pitch. How they would get pissed at the way I talk, or what I spoke about, or just the sound of my voice. I heard Jeremy say something about sign-on bonuses before deciding I couldn’t believe in what he was selling. If I couldn’t buy it, I sure as shit couldn’t sell it.
“Could I use the bathroom?” I asked. “This is a lot to take in.”
“Of course, Champ.”
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