Creative Writing no image

Published on January 12th, 2012 | by Newt Rayburn


“Games People Play” by White Collar Criminal

Games People Play

Creative Writing by White Collar Criminal
From The Local Voice #147

The last clean, starched shirt in my closet, apart from the hundreds of other clean, starched shirts that I’ve deemed too hideous, is hanging up in the closet, but not on me.

When I first began searching for a full-time job, nobody hung up on me. Then again, nobody answered. Between the hours of 9–5, human resources managers are not available, not in the office, not in the country, not in the mood. Download an application from our website. We’ll get back to you at our earliest convenience.

All my life, Dad stressed speaking to future employers face-to-face, eye-to-eye. They’ll “remember you better.” At age 12, I met with my church youth leader to inquire about the Vacation Bible School Director’s position. My gut-instinct was that I didn’t have enough experience. Dad said to chase your dreams. At 18:00 hours, minutes after the preacher had finished delivering his Sunday evening sermon, I approached our youth leader, Kacey Chalt, as we’ll call him, and requested a job interview, face-to-face. Lasted less than 10 minutes.

Defeated, I escaped to the orchard behind the church parking lot where the other kids were playing freeze tag. Seconds later, I was frozen. My thoughts slipped back to the conversation I’d had with Kacey.

“How did you hear about this opening?”

The bulletin board next to the nursery.

“What experience do you have with this type of work?”

I love vacations, I love the Bible, I love school.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

A junior in high school, rejecting all of the church’s teachings.

“What would be a fair starting salary?”

Extra juice. Throw in a pack of unopened baseball cards and we’ll call it a deal.

“We at generic church name appreciate your interest in this position and admire your ambition. At this time, we will continue to interview other applicants and will contact you if any additional positions become available which may match your interests and expertise. Thank you and good luck in your future endeavors.”

Several unfrozen adolescents had tagged me while I relayed these thoughts in my head, but I remained frozen. The shackles of subarctic oppression had been broken, and I stood still. My parents grew tired of the small talk with the other members of the congregation and they signalled for me to head to the car. One can only chat about the strangest weather we’re having for approximately four minutes. They notice their son engaging in recreational activity and it’s off to bed he goes.

“Did you get the job?” my mother innocently asked as she buckled her safety belt, a simple formality considering the speeds at which my father drives.

“Yeah, how’d it go?” my father asked with a smirk.

The car moved a few paces and I peered out the rear window of the family sedan to catch the final moments of freeze tag. Every single participant was frozen, jilted in time, except for the chaser. He skipped around the bare orchard, taunting his victims by shaking his booty and doing a grotesque touchdown dance. There was nobody left to chase, but he was still making his rounds.

One-by-one, a frozen child would calmly walk away from the scene and jump into their parent’s vehicle. It was when the chaser finally hopped into his mom’s metallic gold truck that the game was officially over. By this point, my father had found an opening and turned left. I explained how I didn’t get the job and would remain a dependent on their upcoming income tax return. My mother refused to allow my morale to sink any lower.

“Well, did you have fun playing frozen tag with your friends?”

It’s freeze tag, Mom.

“Okay, but did you have fun playing that tag game?”

Yes Ma’am, but I was never “it”.

“Being ‘it’ is only fun in the short-run. Then you get exhausted.” Dad turned the sports talk radio down a few decibels, thank God, and cleared his throat. “Son, maybe one day you’ll be the one who gets chased,” he said. “And then you’ll be frozen.”

White Collar Criminal is a young twentysomething working for the 1%, whether you like it or not.

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in March of 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt Rayburn's alter ego—Neuter Cooter—lead the Mississippi band THE COOTERS to Rocknoll Glory across the USA from 1993-2018. Newt is a family man who also is a publisher, photographer, writer, musician, landlord, and Civil War enthusiast.

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