by Bob Jacobs
So you pick up the phone at ten to five and call your wife from the office, and when you tell her that you'll be working late there's a quiver in your voice that makes you sound insincere, and you know by the pause that follows that she heard it. When she asks how come you're working late again, because until recently you'd never worked late in all those years, her voice quivers too, and you know - you absolutely know - that she's wondering whether you're having an affair. Afterwards, when you put the phone down, you lean back in the chair and clasp your hands at the back of your head - the only part of your scalp that still has hair, and not in its original colour - and your belly strains against your shirt while you grin at the ceiling looking like your own father. A few minutes later the office empties as people filter home, like Chrissie the new PA who never looks you in the eye, and Marlene who's screwing the guy from accounts who drives a Porsche, and Karen the office slut who, tight-lipped, turned her cheek towards your attempted kiss at the Christmas party despite having had a skin full, most of which you'd paid for, before going home with some young guy whose face you can't remember. You grin because none of these women even knows you exist, because none of them ever wants anything more than a signature from you, because actually there is no work for you to do at the office this evening so you'll be shuffling paperwork for a couple of hours, but you know - you absolutely know - that when you go home tonight it's to a woman who still thinks you're attractive enough to worry about when you call and say you're working late. Hell, yeah.
Bob Jacobs, whose full catalog is here, lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio. In his spare time he likes to lie motionless on his back, whistling and staring at clouds.