One man’s trash is another man’s office.

This is the way Einstein's office looked on he day he died.
This is the way Einstein’s office looked on he day he died.

LINDA LOOKED askance at my office.

I had chills.

Heart raced.

My pulse tried to crawl out of my throat.

I swallowed hard.

It left anyway.

That’s a deadly word.

Askance is.

I’ve been married a long time.

I know.

It has a blade.

It has a long blade.

It has a long, sharp blade.

And Linda keeps it sharpened.

She has used askance to cut off conversations, cut off gossip, cut off rumors, and cut more than one person down to size.

I’ve been re-sized on several occasions.

Now she was looking with askance at my office.

“It’s cluttered,” she said.

Linda gets right to the point.

“It’s trashy,” she said.

She was looking at my desk.

“All you’ve got are piles of paper,” she said.

The askance in her eyes hardened.

“How do you ever find anything?” she asked.

“I’m writing,” I said.


“I know what’s in every pile,” I said.

“You should move,” she said.


“The dump comes to mind.”

I waited for her to smile.

She didn’t.

I looked for the twinkle in her eye.

Twinkle had packed up and gone.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

“A novel.”

“Must be a trashy novel,” she said.

I flinched.

“Einstein had a cluttered desk,” I said.

It wasn’t much of a defense.

It was all I had.

“Einstein can afford to.”

“How’s that?”

“He’s dead.”

That’s when it hit me.

Askance has its own theory of relativity.

A man’s constant misery and sorrow is in direct proportion to the number of pages of scrap paper he has scattered on his desk.

Mine has no end.

Either pages.

Or misery.

Sorrow is optional.

Linda did find some trashy parts in my Little Lies. She decided her opinion about my office was justified.


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