“Unmuted” by Daniel Condict Moore, this week’s New Voices entry, is a masterclass in the second person. Moore’s story follows Jane Boucher Brown, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of FuckTheEarth Corporation, the “original Karen,” on a chaotic race to the airport while on a conference call preparing for an upcoming trial. Moore expertly balances the banal against Jane’s frenzied morning in his story “Unmuted,” which you can read in full at the link below.
Don’t fuck with Jane Boucher Brown.
The great reckoning will come. All the sad trash in the world will be redeemed in everlasting light. If you could cry you would, but you are on a conference call, staring at the odd assortment of debris that has formed an accidental still life on the grassy median between the drive-through lane and the mirage of surrounding cornfields. You want to embrace that median with empathy for all that it has endured, most recently the mild development boom of this particular slice of U.S. 1 somewhere near Saugus, Massachusetts. It is that kind of morning. And your heart is that full.
You consider throwing open the car door and kissing a crumpled soda can like the cheek of a beloved child.
Instead you pound the mute button with your index finger.
“No, Ben, I was not suggesting that at all. We need to press forward.”
“I agree, absolutely,” Ben says.
You reengage the mute button.
A colloquy follows in the conference room a thousand miles to the west as you order a breakfast burrito and iced nonfat vanilla almond milk latte. Your diet is strict but this morning you will make an exception. You drink too much and, at least of late, fool around too much, but you are still thin. Against your better judgment you mixed vodka and wine and fucked a man you met at the Marriott bar whose name you cannot remember but want to, if only to prove you are not yet succumbing to the dementia that struck both your parents in their early fifties and did not relent until they had become blissfully happy wards of the province of Quebec.
You turn fifty tomorrow.
But your arms are toned and you have good hair, wavy and girlish and only a touch gray. You never smoked and rarely sunburned, even as a child, thanks to the climate and your olive skin, a vestige of your French ancestry. And you can still pick up a man at a bar and take him up to your room and make him lift your forty-nine-year-old body into the air and press it against the padlocked door to the next room and, as he tells you how gorgeous you are, whisper whatever his fucking name is into his ear before forgetting it, instantly, and achieving orgasm. Which is harder than it sounds.
“Let me take that back to Ron but I suspect it won’t be an issue.”
“That’ll be eight seventy-nine,” the girl at the second window says.
He was younger than you by five years, maybe seven, with a full head of hair and a faint whiff of college about him. He had been a swimmer, or water poloist. He had broad shoulders and long, lean muscles, hardened by early morning stomach sets on state school athletic complex mats.
Your purse is like a border town landfill. Tampon. Miniature Tabasco bottle. Airplane peanuts. Medicinal one-hitter.