George Lewis was sweating. Called from the comfort of his cubicle, he was sweating. A typical e-mail from HR: “…would request your attendance in Mr. Chowdhury’s office at 2:30 PM for a meeting with Human Resources…”

2:30 on a Friday? Can’t be anything good. But what? I’ve filed my TPS reports on time, work double-checked, I work overtime on Saturdays. I get along with everyone. I am obedient. What? What? WHAT? George thought.

A chain of events unfolded in his head: the company is downsizing, how would he face his wife, his mom and dad, his acquaintances at Church.

Oh well, such is the life of a software developer. Personnel get let go and hired all the time. Even if it is the ax, I’ll have another job lined up in a month or two. Jen’s parents—my parents, too—will be able to float us any additional expenses.

The economy is either up or down depending on if you watch Fox News or CNN. George watched Fox News, and there was no whispering chatter around the water cooler. So the unease remained, niggling in the back of his mind, tingling in the pit of his stomach. Scratch, scratch like an itch on your ballsack during Mass, during the consecration of the hosts.

Maintain composure, get your work done, be good, get a good recommendation, keep that record clean, no gaps. Keep your benefits package, especially medical coverage for little Lucia, Francisco, Jacinta, Maximin, and Melenie.

On his way to grab some lunch at Micky D’s, George passed Mr. Chowdhury. Mr. Chowdhury glanced once out of the corner of his eye at George and tightened his lips before looking away.

With big, long gulps of Coke, George forced down his fries and Big Mac.

Then, back in the office, he waited. He couldn’t focus on the code review. George could only putz around with the code. Read, check, forget what he was checking for, go back and do it again. He was getting nothing done.

1:00 PM.

2:00 PM.

George just stared blankly at the lines on his screen. Waves of physical discomfort washed over him each minute counted down. Hard for a mind used to working through problems.

By 2:07 PM, George had given up and just plotted the exact minute he would get up and walk the hundred feet to Mr. Chowdhury’s office.

He walked.

A buzzing jerk shot through his legs.

Not a face turned towards him.

Two seats, a wide desk with a chair, no windows.

How does he stay in here all day?

“Mr. Chowdhury?” George said.

“Yes, Mr. Lewis. Come in, please,” Mr. Chowdhury said with his Hindi lilt. “Take a seat. This is Ms. Brunick from HR.”

George nodded his head at Ms. Brunick before noting she had a thick folder sitting on her expansive lap.

“I am sure you are eager to know, uh, why this meeting was called. I will allow Ms. Brunick to explain,” Mr. Chowdhury said.

Ms. Brunick cleared her throat. “Mr. Lewis, if you recall, Betanodyne recently contracted with Fama…”

“Fama” means “rumor” if I remember my ecclesiastical Latin well enough, George thought.

“…to run a workplace check on our staff. Fama is a technology workplace de-risking assessment company which uses its proprietary software to sift through the online activity of employment candidates and employees. For the last two weeks, they have been going over all the employees’ online activities. I am sure you received the email notification.”

“I saw something but didn’t think much about it since there was no response requested,” George said.

We had the whole hubbub with pulling Melenie out of a drag queen event at school.

Ms. Brunick went on, “Well, that is unfortunate, otherwise you would have been made aware of the nature of the investigation in the attached links in the email. Everyone has been cleared except one person: you.”

Ms. Brunick opened the folder and leafed through some pages, continuing, “They have found a lot of toxic behavior under your Twitter handle ‘TradCathDaddie90.’ You have liked dozens of posts from problematic organizations like Fatima Crusader, LifeSiteNews, and the FSSP, as well as noted figures like E. Michael Jones, Earl of Grey, and Roosh V. These are only the most worrisome likes. And we haven’t got to your posts yet.”

George spoke up, “I don’t see how posting and liking things under a pseudonym not connected to Betanodyne should matter in my work. I don’t proselytize at work.”

Ms. Brunick shimmed her shoulders a little and sat up taller. “The purpose of a Fama investigation isn’t to identify how someone may reflect on the company, which is why we suspect you used a fake name, but to identify toxic behavior of people who wouldn’t be suited to the company work environment. You do know we have a few gay couples who work here, and the studies show that you people could cause potential problems with not fully integrating into the workplace culture.”

What fucking culture? Show up, say “hi,” and nose to the grindstone. Graciously beg off any controversial topics, dissemble when drawn into any talk of religion or why my wife and I have so many kids. But this, this Stasi shit?

A tremor of bitter rage shot from his gut through to his upper back. Muscles twitching, George had to clamp down on it to keep from flailing.

“Mr. Chowdhury, HR, and upper management decided a termination of your employment is warranted pending a final review.”
Mr. Chowdhury leaned forward on his desk, hands clasped together in factitious concern. “I am really sorry, George, but this is a new companywide policy, as can be found in the newest employee’s handbook. We will, however, allow you to finish out the week to complete any outstanding projects and prepare a hand-off of your work.” Mr. Chowdhury slid a file across his desk. “In here, you will find your termination papers with the severance package. Be advised that security has been notified of your status, but I expect we won’t have any trouble, will we? You’ve always been a good employee. Sorry.”

George, quivering, said, “T-t-this is religious discrimination. You can’t do this!”

Mr. Chowdhury let out a little puff. “Understand that we aren’t firing you for your faith. But corporate and their legal team are assured that online activities are a fair measure of suitability for the company. We have practicing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists in our company, and if they had liked similar postings and said things in a certain way, they would be in the seat you’re in now.”

Ms. Brunick chirped in, removing a page from the folder, “For example, on November 5th, 2022, you posted on Twitter, and I quote, ‘Gay marriage may exist de jure, but de facto cannot exist anymore than my dog could have a driver’s license.’ Statements such as that are toxic and discriminatory.”

“B-b-but I was making a statement of fact in accord with my beliefs and the Church’s teachings. Who have I discriminated against here in the office? Who has complained?”

“No one, Mr. Lewis. You have been an exemplary employee, but we have the final say on who we find suitable for whatever reason,” Mr. Chowdhury said.

“Studies have shown that people’s online behavior is a strong indicator for real-life actions. We are merely doing de-risking. The AI algorithm is cutting-edge technology that studies have shown improves workplace interactions and prevents future problems from arising.”

Mr. Chowdhury continued, “Please don’t make this any harder. I don’t want to have to call security. See out the week and we will put out good references. In your severance paperwork we have itemized a list of things we want you to have ready for the handover.”

George wandered back to his cubicle, severance package dangling at his side, the world scoping into and out of focus as he plopped down into his office chair.

Numb, he pecked at the keyboard; the mouse slid on a gummy sea of molasses. He stifled sobs; he tried to utter a prayer to St. Joseph for his family’s financial wellbeing. In the back of his mind, he was reeling, gears turning: Who can I turn to? Who can help me? Someone has to know a lawyer that can fight this? Maybe pro bono, Francisco needs braces. Jen has been complaining about the minivan burning oil. I am only seven years into a 30-year mortgage. Could I just get another job?

He checked Fama’s website, seeing their main offering being screening services.

God, no! Lord why? If I am fired from this job because of Fama, other companies could just purchase their dossier on me. Maybe I could go into the trades; working men don’t have to deal with this. No. No. I don’t have time for more schooling. Bills have to be paid. My parents are older; they may need assisted living soon. Jen could get a full-time job. No; 16 hours a week giving lessons is all she can spare with five little ones. Mother Mary help me. Lucia is not even in high school. None of the kids can work. My asshole brother with his investment banking career acts like whatever little loan he rarely extends me is the biggest fucking favor in the world while he jets of to Europe or the Caribbean with his latest slutty squeeze. Why the fuck did I have to run my damn mouth on Twitter? Why couldn’t I have just said my rosary and chatted with my fellow parishioners for an hour after mass?

George zoned out, working slow, putting his work into ZIP files, preparing an email to send off to Abdul with the attachments. At times, he fingered the rosary in his pocket.

He didn’t notice when Mr. Chowdhury swung by his cubicle.

A firm hand on his shoulder, a gentle squeeze. “Listen, George, later today, after five, when most of your work is done, swing by my office. We may be able to discuss an arrangement to make this whole thing go away. But in the meantime, just prepare your work.”

There was a gleam in Mr. Chowdhury’s eye, a small, lopsided smile.

“Okay, Mr. Chowdhury, thank you. Any chance would be more than gracious,” George said.

Hope! Thank you Mother Mary and St. Joseph!

George hummed through the rest of the workday; he put off notifying his friends or family.

The long rays of the setting sun shined through the office’s glass wall as people packed it in for the day. Mr. Chowdhury remained in his office the whole time.

When everyone except Milton—the autist who almost never interacted with anyone—had left, George made his way to Mr. Chowdhury’s office.

A security officer came onto the floor, George paused for a moment, and walked around the perimeter of the main office, touching a little wand to tabs attached the wall.

Beep went the wand, one, two, three, and four times, and the officer left the floor.

Relaxed, George went into Mr. Chowdhury’s office.

“I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Chowdhury. Words cannot express my appreciation,” George started.

Mr. Chowdhury waved a hand like nothing and said, “You have a family, I heard. Lots of young kids.”

“Yes, sir, five little ones.”

“Must be hard on the wife. Does she work?”

“Only two days a week, part time, when the kids are in school. Her parents watch the youngest, Maximin. We get by fairly well.”

“That’s good. A man should provide for his family. In India, we are very traditional as well. My wife is a doctor, but once she had our Aishia, thankfully, she was well-established in her practice so she could set her own office hours. She could’ve had a wonderful career—prestigious—as a cardiologist. But we wanted children, and children need so much.”

“Jen always wanted to be a mother; gave up being a flautist in the city orchestra. Our oldest daughter Jacinta is learning.”

“Good. You must love them very much,” Mr. Chowdhury said, resting his hand on his crotch sitting on his desk. “People don’t realize what it takes to be a family man. Everyone today wants to be a permanent child, playing video games, barely doing enough work. Lazy and selfish.”

“True, Mr. Chowdhury, too true,” George said.

“But not you.” Mr. Chowdhury stroked George’s hair. “That is why you must do this for me. I need something from you.”

“W-w-what?” George said, beads of sweat forming at his brow, pooling in his hands.

“I need a man who is good with his mouth,” Mr. Chowdhury said, undoing his pants, dropping his khaki slacks around his ankles revealing dingy tighty-whities, “like a woman. Women are most virtuous. Obedient. Isn’t that you? Obedient? I will even give you a raise.”

George whimpered, “Please.”

Mr. Chowdhury’s knob poked at the front of his pants. “Yes. On your knees, please, maal. The boss orders you.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Then you lose your job and never work in this industry again. You’ll have to work at a 7-Eleven. Your wife will leave you and do OnlyFans dildo videos. Your children will go to public school. Your sons will be turned gay. Your daughters will date black men!”

George slowly sank out of the chair to his knees.

Jen would never stay with me. She has threatened to leave and take the little ones to her family. No. A man has to be a provider. A man has to be a provider. A man has to be a provider. A man has to be a provider.

Mr. Chowdhury pulled out his truncated curry cock. The overpowering smell of groin cheese, ball sweat, and the spices of the East assailed George’s nostrils. George licked his lips. A film of tears wetted his eyes and he opened his mouth.

A man has to be a good provider. A man has to be a good provider. Like St. Joseph. I have to put food on the table. I have to put food on the table. Mother Mary, be with me.

Hail Mary, full of grace…

Mr. Chowdhury moved his nubbin in and out of George’s mouth with pelvic gyrations. A white smile broke out over his cocoa face, “मेरे छोटे करीने को चूसो तुम गंदे सफेद बीटा मैन कुतिया!”

The smell of the sweat excreting tandoori clogged George’s nostrils.

I must. I must. Put food on the table. Blessed art thou among women.

Tears streamed down George’s face.

Mr. Chowdhury’s knees went rubbery. He sped up in his rhythm, his Brillo pad-like hairs rubbing George’s nose raw. Mr. Chowdhury moaned and yelled as he came, “हाँ! हाँ! शायद मैं तुम्हारी बीवी को चोदने के लिए मिल जाऊंगा! हो सकता है कि आपकी बेटियां भी अपनी बारी में हों।.”

In thirty seconds, it was over. Mr. Chowdhury shot his minuscule wad in George’s mouth.

Food on the table. Fruit of thy womb. Food on the table. Fruit of thy womb. Food on the table.

George’s mental mantra tumbled end over end inside his mind.

It was a minute later when he realized Mr. Chowdhury had pulled out and he swallowed his boss’ load. Mr. Chowdhury caressed George’s head. “Yes, my boy. You will be taken care of. Yes. See you on Monday, good boy.” He pulled up his pants and turned to leave. “You may leave when it pleases you. No rush on your workload. We’re good now.”


On the drive home, George passed a crust punk couple panhandling.

At least I am not them. I am a good provider. Not like those losers.

He jerked the wheel sharply to the right, leaning out the driver’s window to vomit a copious load onto the street.