By Duke Harten

Saying I’m nervous is underselling the thing. “Come in,” says Mr. Spencer. He motions to a chair and I step with utmost care and precision to obey him. I settle in and place my hooves gingerly against the armrests.

“You’re interested in the position,” he says. I begin to sweat extremely carefully.

“Yes, Mr. Spencer. I can give you some numbers about my sales in Joliet, if it please you.” I hold my breath and go for the binder in my bag.

“What’s that, canvas?” says Mr. Spencer. He comes around my side and touches the man purse Joanna got me for my birthday. “That’s nice.”

“A gift,” I say reflexively, defensively. My hooves grip the zipper. Slowly, slowly, I get it open. Mr. Spencer watches me.

“You nervous?” he says.

“No more than any other young enterprising bull looking for work in a traditionally human-dominated industry,” I say. Is that too bold? I feel the ring quiver in my nose.

He laughs. “No, I suppose not.” He watches me maneuver the binder out of my bag. “You worked under Herr Froemming, yeah?”

I nod.

“Good man.”

I can’t tell if he’s saying Herr Froemming is a good man, or if I’m a good man for having worked for him. Worse yet, maybe he’s being this vague to fuck with me. I will not see red, I tell myself.

I clasp the paper between my hooves and hand it to him. “‘Froemming’s China Shop, Q1-Q4, 2016,’” he says. “Very thorough.”

“I expect you’d want a thorough inventory clerk, sir.”

Mr. Spencer raises an eyebrow.

I want to pass gas. Clench, dude, clench.

“I suppose I would.” He walks back and reclines in his chair, studying the paper. After some time he discards it. “Tell me. Why would I take a risk on you?”

I will not see red.

“No risk, sir. Herr Froemming is happy to provide a recommendation and I have confidence in my work.”

He nods, taking this in.

“You play golf?” he asks.

“No, sir.”

He seems disappointed.

Don’t placate.

“We’ll be in touch,” he says.

I get up and offer him my hoof. We shake. On the way out, I notice he’s framed the exit with two vases on slender pedestals. Would I like to? Of course I would. But not for him.