Thursday, August 27, 2009

Low Man of Dubai

In the years after the brief, bright, sooty grease fire that was Dubai burned itself out, its status as a byword for conspicuous over over-engineering gradually transformed into something else; while most of the world forgot the decaying city of megaprojects, the would-be modern Valley of Kings, those who lived in and around it could not forget, and simply did not have the money to flee. The wealth had fled years ago, at the first sign of trouble. Only the mad and poor had remained. There were plenty of both.

Willie Taylor had been sent to Dubai on long-term assignment in the summer of 2006 by an American engineering firm which had gone insolvent and evaporated in the recession of 2009. When his paychecks stopped appearing, he sent a series of increasingly distressed emails to his supervisor and H.R. department; they bounced. His calls were not answered. His ex-wife blocked his number after his first attempt to talk to her. His brother was in prison for dealing meth.

Despondent, Willie had gradually drunk away his savings. One day, early in 2011, he spent two hours at the docks screaming up at a container ship registered out of Cyprus, then collapsed in a nearby alley; when he awoke, he no longer had a passport or any sort of funds or identification.

He took the first job that would have him; a failing megahotel saw the potential merits of a literate English-speaking employee, and hired him on as a janitor and part-time marketing consultant. After extensive consultation, the management took Willie's suggestions for a new ad in Conde Nast Traveler; they were so pleased with his pitch that they gave him an immediate promotion to resident worker in a closet-sized room with running water.

The next week, Willie's ad was seen by the rich, powerful, and merely wistful throughout the English-speaking world.

Flash Fiction Intro

I used to be a writer.

Oh! the freight contained in that one short, inelegant sentence.

In any case, yes; once upon a time, I wrote significantly more than I was required to by employment or academics. I'm not claiming what I wrote was all that good, or that it ever went anywhere, but I did it.

With that in mind, I'm going to try to publish occasional short fiction pieces here, just to flex my brain-muscles a bit. I promise nothing, but I can say that fiction is likely to be more interesting than anything I might say from life right now.