THE WINDOW WASHER • by Tom Britz

Niles Dansforth got the notice at lunch. As of tomorrow he was to join the millions of dedicated Americans on the Dole. He was being laid off. Permanently. His career at Dynamicolor Broadcasting Corporation was prematurely ejected. Two and a half years of ass kissing and being a “yes” man hadn’t panned out.

His boss, Miss Finicia Funglethorpe, hadn’t even tried to soften the blow. She had called him into her office just before lunch. Niles walked into her sanctum, thinking that his new-found bravado had finally broken through that shield of ice that was Finicia’s personality.

“No need to sit, Niles. After lunch you’ve packing to do. Your department here at Dynamicolor is being downsized. You’re being let go,” she said.

The smile on her face would have been a beautiful sight under different circumstances. Just now, though, it made her look predatory. At that moment all the soft feelings that Niles had for her evaporated, to be replaced with a cold bloodless feeling about the temples. Niles felt faint. He actually did swoon for a split second, catching himself on the back of the leather-upholstered chair that he had headed for when he entered.

***

On his way out of the building Niles noticed the window washer’s empty cradle. Some ideas are born of greatness and inspiration, others not so much. This was when an idea overcame his good sense and better judgement.

From his dark purple ’96 Cougar, which was parked in the rear of the Dynamicolor headquarters building, Niles fetched his trenchcoat and Detroit Tigers baseball cap. After a hurried trip to the men’s room, Niles reappeared wearing the new apparel and a twisted smile.

Hurrying to the window washer’s cradle, he began raising himself to the fifth floor window of Miss Finicia Funglethorpe.

He found her seated behind her desk, long shapely legs stretched out to the side as she was in the process of straightening her black nylons. When she sat back she noticed the window washer peering in, hands cupped to either side of his head.

As she turned to see what the hell was going on, she realized that it was Niles Dansforth. Just then Niles flung open his trench coat, to reveal the nakedest man that Finicia had seen all morning.

Apparently Niles had written a message, in what looked like magic marker, on his man o’ war. Creeping closer Finicia could make out the words: “Miss Finicia Funglethorpe and Dynamicolor Broadcasting Corporation can go to hell!”

Later that night Niles was finishing off his tenth rum and coke, when the phone rang. Niles threw his shoe at the phone just as the message machine picked up.

He fell out of his chair at the sound of Finicia’s voice as she said, “Niles, I hope that misunderstanding today at work can be worked out tonight. My address is…”


Tom Britz says: “I am a writer. It was basically a sorting out of private ambitions, having given up on my first career choice of Major League ballplayer and my second, an astronaut. Never got the hang of Indian Chief or even a Tinker. I have been a factory rat but never really cared for it. Too lazy to work and too nervous to steal. I am a writer.”


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Dustin Adams

    Gotta love Monday’s at EDF! Fun story, Tom. 🙂

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you Dustin!

  • Gotta love Monday’s at EDF! Fun story, Tom. 🙂

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you Dustin!

  • Dale Short

    Had to laugh out loud at this one. And give it five stars. I didn’t see the last paragraph coming. So to speak. 🙂

    • Tom Britz

      Many thanks, Dale! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Dale Short

    Had to laugh out loud at this one. And give it five stars. I didn’t see the last paragraph coming. So to speak. 🙂

    • Tom Britz

      Many thanks, Dale! I’m glad you liked it.

  • BH

    Had to change my shirt after spitting out my coffee.

    • Tom Britz

      BH, sorry about the cleaning bill, but happy you liked it.

  • BH

    Had to change my shirt after spitting out my coffee.

    • Tom Britz

      BH, sorry about the cleaning bill, but happy you liked it.

  • Kim

    what a twist, great use of humour in a bad situation!

    • Tom Britz

      Kim, thank you! I am happy you liked it.

  • Kim

    what a twist, great use of humour in a bad situation!

    • Tom Britz

      Kim, thank you! I am happy you liked it.

  • Kathleen

    Love it!!!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Kathleen!

  • Kathleen

    Love it!!!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Kathleen!

  • Sarah Russell

    Great story! Proves that when god closes a door… 5 stars from me too!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you so much, Sarah. That means a lot.

  • Sarah Russell

    Great story! Proves that when god closes a door… 5 stars from me too!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you so much, Sarah. That means a lot.

  • Avalina Kreska

    So that’s why they call it a magic marker!! Fun story.

    • Tom Britz

      LOL, Avalina, that’ll work. Thanks for the comment!

  • Avalina Kreska

    So that’s why they call it a magic marker!! Fun story.

    • Tom Britz

      LOL, Avalina, that’ll work. Thanks for the comment!

  • Kelly Ospina

    Excellent characterization and humor! Great job Tom! I hope this will be only the first of many more to follow.

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Kelly! What a nice thing to say.

  • Kelly Ospina

    Excellent characterization and humor! Great job Tom! I hope this will be only the first of many more to follow.

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Kelly! What a nice thing to say.

  • Maddenlaw

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    My favorite line, among many contenders, was: “Two and a half years of ass kissing and being a ‘yes’ man hadn’t panned out.”

    My only critique, and this is genius by the way, is that his “Man O’ War” should have simply read: “Eat me.”

    An absolutely hilarious plot which was enhanced by punchy, minimalist prose.

    Bravo.

    • Tom Britz

      Maddenlaw, they say laughter is contagious. Your reply had me laughing! Thank you.

    • Carl Steiger

      Actually, if one considers the space required to legibly write such a mass of magic-marker verbiage, it serves to give an idea of the intimidating enormity of the man o’ war.

      • Tom Britz

        Yes Carl, this was written as a joke, pure and simple. I wouldn’t try this at home, it may prove to be intimidating. Thanks for your response.

        • Maddenlaw

          Carl makes an interesting point, but I don’t know if that’s a valid critique of my critique. It breaks down like this. The average magic marker (assuming medium point) has a point width of 0.1 cm. The proposed phrase has 72 characters, 11 words, 9 spaces and an exlamation point. Assuming again, Times New Roman with at least a 24 point font (to account for the 0.1 cm point width), your looking at at least 30 cm (12 inches) of writing space. While it would not be impossible to suspend disbelief if the writing surface were in “operational stage,” it would stretch credulity to propose that there was sufficient writing space on a “relaxed” surface. Of course, the problem could be solved by changing the writing surface from relaxed to operational, but that would change the character of the story, wouldn’t it? At least as far as sympathy for the protagonist is concerned.

          I propose the matter be opened up to general discussion.

          • Tom Britz

            I won’t touch that with a two foot “pole”!

  • Maddenlaw

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    My favorite line, among many contenders, was: “Two and a half years of ass kissing and being a ‘yes’ man hadn’t panned out.”

    My only critique, and this is genius by the way, is that his “Man O’ War” should have simply read: “Eat me.”

    An absolutely hilarious plot which was enhanced by punchy, minimalist prose.

    Bravo.

    • Tom Britz

      Maddenlaw, they say laughter is contagious. Your reply had me laughing! Thank you.

    • Carl Steiger

      Actually, if one considers the space required to legibly write such a mass of magic-marker verbiage, it serves to give an idea of the intimidating enormity of the man o’ war.

      • Tom Britz

        Yes Carl, this was written as a joke, pure and simple. I wouldn’t try this at home, it may prove to be intimidating. Thanks for your response.

        • Maddenlaw

          Carl makes an interesting point, but I don’t know if that’s a valid critique of my critique. It breaks down like this. The average magic marker (assuming medium point) has a point width of 0.1 cm. The proposed phrase has 72 characters, 11 words, 9 spaces and an exlamation point. Assuming again, Times New Roman with at least a 24 point font (to account for the 0.1 cm point width), your looking at at least 30 cm (12 inches) of writing space. While it would not be impossible to suspend disbelief if the writing surface were in “operational stage,” it would stretch credulity to propose that there was sufficient writing space on a “relaxed” surface. Of course, the problem could be solved by changing the writing surface from relaxed to operational, but that would change the character of the story, wouldn’t it? At least as far as sympathy for the protagonist is concerned.

          I propose the matter be opened up to general discussion.

          • Tom Britz

            I won’t touch that with a two foot “pole”!

  • Chris Antenen

    Liked the story but halted at the “Too lazy to work . . . I am a writer.” But you did make it fun, so I’ll relent.” I shall forever more take a second look at any window-washer.”

    • Tom Britz

      Chris, no-one knows more than me how hard writing is. I was trying to come up with a catchy intro, that is all. Thank you for the read.

  • Chris Antenen

    Liked the story but halted at the “Too lazy to work . . . I am a writer.” But you did make it fun, so I’ll relent.” I shall forever more take a second look at any window-washer.”

    • Tom Britz

      Chris, no-one knows more than me how hard writing is. I was trying to come up with a catchy intro, that is all. Thank you for the read.

  • Briane Pagel

    All right, so not totally unenjoyable, but I did find the language taking me out of it a bit. “Apparently” he had drawn the words on? And the nakedest man she had seen all morning.

    But more importantly was that this really seems like an abridgement of a longer story. Flash fiction can’t be just an excerpt from or summarization of a longer story. It has to stand on its own and be a complete story in and of itself.

    Here, you hint that he’s hit on her in the past, and apparently his naked display of manliness overwhelmed her, and those are both good bits, but the story APPEARS to be about him getting fired, only really, it’s not at all: it’s about these two getting together. So the middle part appears to be a huge distraction, taking away from what I get the sense is the real story.

    Again, a nice piece, but I think it would’ve been better if you’d fleshed it out a bit more and focused on the real story here. And don’t hedge your bets with language, like that “apparently.” Just go for it.

    • Tom Britz

      Thanks for the input, Briane. This was not an excerpt.

      • Briane Pagel

        I didn’t think it was an excerpt; I just meant that it read like one.

  • Briane Pagel

    All right, so not totally unenjoyable, but I did find the language taking me out of it a bit. “Apparently” he had drawn the words on? And the nakedest man she had seen all morning.

    But more importantly was that this really seems like an abridgement of a longer story. Flash fiction can’t be just an excerpt from or summarization of a longer story. It has to stand on its own and be a complete story in and of itself.

    Here, you hint that he’s hit on her in the past, and apparently his naked display of manliness overwhelmed her, and those are both good bits, but the story APPEARS to be about him getting fired, only really, it’s not at all: it’s about these two getting together. So the middle part appears to be a huge distraction, taking away from what I get the sense is the real story.

    Again, a nice piece, but I think it would’ve been better if you’d fleshed it out a bit more and focused on the real story here. And don’t hedge your bets with language, like that “apparently.” Just go for it.

    • Tom Britz

      Thanks for the input, Briane. This was not an excerpt.

      • Briane Pagel

        I didn’t think it was an excerpt; I just meant that it read like one.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    An entertaining retelling of an old joke. Don’t know how PC it is, but it had me smiling. Could have done with a final edit for typos.

    • Tom Britz

      Thanks for the read, Paul.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    An entertaining retelling of an old joke. Don’t know how PC it is, but it had me smiling. Could have done with a final edit for typos.

    • Tom Britz

      Thanks for the read, Paul.

  • Finicia Funglethorpe is a brilliant name and the final twist in the tale is a good optimistic one.

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Derek. I did have fun with the name.

  • Finicia Funglethorpe is a brilliant name and the final twist in the tale is a good optimistic one.

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you, Derek. I did have fun with the name.

  • the teacher

    Good job, used your story for a close ESL reading. They loved it.

    • Tom Britz

      Wow! That is a nice thing to say. Thank you.

  • the teacher

    Good job, used your story for a close ESL reading. They loved it.

    • Tom Britz

      Wow! That is a nice thing to say. Thank you.

  • Jane T

    Hi, Tom,

    An enjoyable and witty story. I could envision Niles perched on the the window washer’s cradle staring in the window to find Finicia sitting behind her desk, straightening her black nylons. The twist at the end is hilarious! ~ Janet – WVU

  • Von Rupert

    What a fun story! Niles Dansforth is the workingman’s hero. 🙂 Some stories are meant for pure entertainment, and this is one of them. Loved this line: “Some ideas are born of greatness and inspiration, others not so much.” Thanks for the laugh, Tom. Five stars. Seeing your name in print absolutely made my day!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you Von. Yes, this was pure entertainment, no frills. I’m glad I could make you laugh.

  • Von Rupert

    What a fun story! Niles Dansforth is the workingman’s hero. 🙂 Some stories are meant for pure entertainment, and this is one of them. Loved this line: “Some ideas are born of greatness and inspiration, others not so much.” Thanks for the laugh, Tom. Five stars. Seeing your name in print absolutely made my day!

    • Tom Britz

      Thank you Von. Yes, this was pure entertainment, no frills. I’m glad I could make you laugh.

  • Diana Kipka

    Ha Tom, a good read and so like you…lol…your risque nature perked up the story with a twist ending…loved it!

    • Tom Britz

      LOL, thank you, Diana. Thanks for reading and commenting. You put a smile on my face!

  • Diana Kipka

    Ha Tom, a good read and so like you…lol…your risque nature perked up the story with a twist ending…loved it!

    • Tom Britz

      LOL, thank you, Diana. Thanks for reading and commenting. You put a smile on my face!

  • Amrita

    Entertaining! Loved this Miss Finicia’s character comes out rather well.

  • Amrita

    Entertaining! Loved this Miss Finicia’s character comes out rather well.