Ask and Receive


There is a woman, over-tanned and painted, that comes to my print shop.  She is of average height with Beverly Hills' breasts & sitcom hair; in my mornings without coffee she is a Hindu cow laden in Chanel accessories and perfume.  This woman is 27.
      When she approaches my desk, past the table of laminated samples, past the orchid-filled conference room she is often rude.  She judges the outfit I have selected that morning between sips of a skim, no foam latte.  it pains her to talk to me.
      She orders the usual Angeleno special: head shots, glossy, double-sided business cards that advertise her as a singer/songwriter/actor, and CD inserts for her demo.  I notice each time that her nails are long, manicured, and angry.  She proceeds to call each day with revisions for the graphic designer: change the font, move this graphic, etc.  The graphic designer catches on by day two and asks for all of Lisa Marie's calls to be forwarded to voice mail.  Of course, it is not that simple and there are days in which I talk to Lisa Marie five times.  Behind her back we joke about her shallowness, her bad orange tan.
      Yet there is a hiatus after week three.  Her jobs are postponed, production falls through.  It is my duty to call daily, to check for approval of the proofs, to reestablish contact, but I leave only voice messages.  I know that she remembers me and my suspect style.  She doesn't return our calls.
      Other jobs come into my workplace.  Brochures for hair restoration, flyers for the production companies of Persian teens, real estate announcements, the business cards of one hundred strangers.  In the printing industry there are promises and lies; due dates are the best crafted jokes and my bosses dream of paper.  The mystery of Lisa Marie is forgotten.  She is replaced.
      Our doomed project becomes the Overland school yearbook: we are fifty short and the PTA is outraged.  Thirty years from now these marked children will discuss this crisis in therapy.  They will cry in business suits and buy well-bred dogs.  Yet this, too, passes.  Samples of the yearbooks are placed on the sample table and begin to collect dust.
      Things are quiet.  I forget.
      About two weeks ago she returns.  It is late in the afternoon and the sun bakes the refuse of the animal hospitals down the street.  She walks in messy and red-faced.  I notice one expensive accessory.  Lisa Marie begins her route to my desk, past the table of laminated samples, past the orchid-filled conference room but she stops.  She stops at the table and covers her mouth with her hand.  This is Lisa Marie aghast.
      The Chanel sunglasses are removed; the whites of her eyes are bloodshot.  She leans over the table, picks up the Overland yearbook and begins to cry.  Her voice breaks when she asks me if we printed the book.  Confused, I respond yes.
      "My fiancé was so upset when his son didn't receive his on time.  The little guy cried for days.  I tried to tell him that it would be okay, more would come in, and his son would forget about it.  This damn thing was the straw that broke him," she tells me, holding the yearbook.  "After this he disappeared and shot himself."
      I tell her to take three.  On our table these projects become picked through and buried.  They are referenced for ink choice and aqueous finishes.  
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