Ecce Mortis: Accounting for Loved Ones

Bartleby at The Accounting Firm murdered a ficus.  Stems, leaves, dirt mashed into the carpet of his office. Two jagged branches lay like antlers on his desk.

“I can’t replace this,” I said firmly. “It’s not in the contract.”

“They’re fake,” he said. “You’ve been in here fifty, sixty times, Plantman, and still you haven’t noticed.”

I sniffed a leaf.

“Not the trees, you ass. The Loved Ones,” said Bartleby. “The goddam Loved Ones.”

On his desk were photographs of an elderly couple; a large clan at a barbecue; a family of four: mother, father, daughter, son. The father wasn’t Bartleby. Bartleby did not appear in any of the pix.

“They came with the frames. They’re artificial kin,” he said. “Everyone needs a home to come to work to. I grow so tired of your stupid fig trees.”

“Ficus,” I said. “They’re not fig trees, they’re ficus. Well, same thing, I imagine. . . .”

“What have we learned today?” he asked.

“About Bartleby?”

“About Plantman.”

I couldn’t say.

“He does not know.  He really does not know.”

“So. Who knows?”

“No one.”

“Why bother me, then?”

“You’re here. You always come, sooner or later. You’ll be back.  It’s a continuity thing. With whom else would I share my grief?  Who better than the Plantman?”

The Staff of /dev/null is the Staff of /dev/null. Read other articles by The Staff.