This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.
Sal’s palms were sweating profusely. He hadn’t felt well since he got up this morning. He hoped it was just a bad case of nerves. If this kept up he’d probably sweat right through his suit. He couldn’t blow this interview. He’d been out of work for about six months now and while he got unemployment insurance that was barely enough to put gas in the car and food on the table, much less paying for medical bills or rent. Steph had a job, but minimum wage hasn’t changed in way too long and the S-Mart wasn’t giving her full time hours or a raise.
He laced his fingers together and squeezed until his knuckles were about to pop. The pain didn’t do anything to alleviate his nervousness, but it gave him something to think about other than the knot in his stomach or the damn Mutie Panic that flooded the airwaves. You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing about some new freak. God knows what caused the changes. GMOs, nuclear waste, corn syrup. Whatever it was, the muties were nothing like the comic books. The changes were all just painful or embarrassing.
The two pieces of advice that Giorgio gave him were “wear your best suit” and “don’t give a limp wristed, damp handshake”. He had the suit. He’d bought it before he lost the job at Chem-Tex. He’d been making good money and splurged. Now he just needed to make sure to make a good first impression. He rubbed his palms on the dark gray slacks. Satisfied they were dry, he looked around the office.
Manson and Reed was nothing to write home about, at least the office. The low end law firm was one step above ambulance chasing and the fake plants and out of date office furniture showed it. Work was work though and they needed a sysadmin. He had the experience and would take whatever salary they would throw at him.
“Mr. Petrelli?” The pleasant tenor voice snapped him out of his funk.
He looked up to see a man that didn’t like much older than the kids that worked with his wife at S-Mart. There were fine lines around his eyes though. The suit he wore looked a notch or two above Sal’s. He stood, holding out his hand. No limp shake. No limp shake.
When Mr. Manson grabbed Sal’s hand, he made a disgusted noise. Then he looked from Sal’s eyes down to where they shook and screamed in a pitch much higher than his speaking voice.
Sal could feel the man gripping his hand, but it suddenly felt like he wore a cold glove. He wanted to look at his hand, but he was terrified about what he’d see there.
“You’re a damn mutie.” The man screamed in his nasally, high pitched voice. “You’re a damn mutie.” He sounded like a broken record.
Sal tore his eyes away from the terrified whites of Mr. Manson’s eyes. He saw that the lawyer still clutched what appeared to be a trout or maybe a bass. The fish, Sal was never an expert, protruded from his coat sleeve. He took his… appendage back. “I hope this doesn’t mean the interview is off?”
He found himself rushed out of the building by a burly and slightly apologetic black man. “This isn’t the best place to work, dude.”
Sal nodded at the security guard’s retreating back. “Yeah, maybe not. But it beats being on the state’s dime.” He looked down at the fish. It was still there. He tried to will it back into a human hand, but he hadn’t willed it into a fish, so he wasn’t sure what to do about it.
He supposed he could join the circus.
“Don’t be silly.” The raspy, thin came from the place where the tips of his fingers used to be. “We’re not showy enough for that to work.”