The gray-haired grouse toddled in, unannounced, sidling his way up to my booth with nary a look hither or yon. He wanted me--to polish and carve his toenails, grind down his plantar callus and assorted clavi.
His nerves must have sought out mine in a misguided sense of camaradarie--but mine were the shivery jittering of first-day employment at Rebekah's Ped y Man; where his were obviously in pain from too much contact with inferior writing. For yes, I did recognize The Evil Editor Himself--though I hoped he did not recognize me, could not smell my failed manuscripts ink-stained on my hands.
I kept my face averted even as he ascended the throne where I would service him.
“Hah,” he cried. “As overblown an introduction as ever; though what's with the sudden shyness? No need to be coy—attend me!”
Too much to hope his ratty eyes and eagle mind would not recognize me. I could not even look up to see the response from my co-workers, so mortified was I.
Arms atremble, head bowed, I grabbed my pumice stone and set forth to remove my frustrations from his feet. Propping his left foot up in the stirrup and removing his sandal, though, I saw not dead skin but a shimmery darkness like onyx caked to his feet. He laughed at my sudden hesitation.
“The souls of those that I have crushed. No matter, they will soon be gone. Just scrub hard. Put your back into it.”
And so I did, imagining his foot an unpolished manuscript, and I—I, the editor.