Orphans Excerpt: Blue Legs

Ben Tanzer

Ben Tanzer

I am staring into the bathroom mirror and I am steadying myself. The fluorescent lights strung overhead are glaring and eerie: exposing every pit mark, chicken pox scar and bump on my cheeks, forehead and neck.

Random cobwebs blow to and fro on the ceiling above, dancing on an unidentified breeze. I start to gear up, now bouncing on the balls of my feet, now throwing punches, now repeating my new mantra.

“Always be closing.”

I watch the words form on my lips. Spittle flies. My face contorts. I can say it louder than that. It doesn’t matter if I’m only saying it in my own head. I can be more amped. I can be more impassioned. I can be more convincing. It is my mantra and I need to sell it.

“Always be closing!”

Getting there, almost, but still, I can be more intense, more stoked, and I can hit it, harder, bigger. I can be a hurricane, a tsunami, an earthquake. And I can believe it, all of it. I can also believe in myself.


I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. And I will do this. I have to do this. It’s not like this is my only shot, but there are bills to pay, things that have to be taken care of, basic things—school bills, the mortgage, credit cards, groceries, haircuts, and on and on. It’s about basics, survival stuff.

And the debt, the debt must be paid.

It’s also about being a man, a man who takes care of his family. A man who told his wife that he could be a provider and that they should keep their baby, even if they can only have one. I want, no, need to prove to her, to society, to myself, that I am that man. That even in a world where work is so sparse, where money is limited and the Corporation rules and where my son now studies Mandarin in school, a man can still do what men do, and this man is going to do it. I am tired of sitting down at the kitchen table every night and talking about which bill should be paid this week, and how that will be possible when there is no money.

I will not be a bum. This is my shot. I look in the mirror one more time at my newly coiffed hair, my clean shave and my eyes—my almost, but not quite sunken eyes that want to recede somewhere deep into my skull and hide from all they do not want to see.

“Always be closing!” I shout again, listening as the words bounce around my worried brain like a pinball.

And then I walk out into the conference room to meet my client, her long shapely legs poking out from the table, her skin as blue as Neptune, though I hope not nearly as cold to the touch.


Ben Tanzer is a prolific novelist and an Emmy-award winning Public Service Announcement writer.
Visit him online at bentanzer.blogspot.com.


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