Please read and sign this form to acknowledge that everything we’re going to review in this orientation tour is confidential, officially.
Your internship began at approximately 7:37 a.m. today and will end at 9:55 p.m. the day after the election. I must remind you that this job is completely unpaid, you will be required to work a minimum of six fourteen-hour days per week and there is no mileage reimbursement, no travel reimbursement, no healthcare reimbursement, no dry cleaning reimbursement.
Yes, there is a dead body on the table used by mailing campaign volunteers. Yes, that is real blood soaking the forever stamps. Today, the volunteers will be cleaning those stamps and drying them in the windows facing the Aldi’s parking lot.
Though you are unpaid, you are not a volunteer. You are an intern, which entitles you to a handsome form letter of recommendation signed by the Senator once you have completed your internship.
You are entitled to order a latte for yourself on every other coffee run you make. That’s approximately eighteen coffee runs per week, which equals nine lattes for you, so, if you purchase the most expensive of the seasonal lattes at the largest size (which I don’t suggest you do, unless you want Denise to take it out of the budget for your welcome party and your going away party – which means oatmeal cookies instead of cupcakes, which means disappointed co-workers, which means vegetable oil in your gas tank), this means the Garrett Briggs campaign is officially unofficially paying you $5.95 per every other coffee run or $53.55 per week.
The dead body was the last intern. Her name was Amber.
I must remind you that you were chosen from a highly competitive group of candidates. Mostly out-of-work campaign managers and law school graduates with immense student load debt. This does not make you special. But enjoy the moment.
Yes, that is a purple mitten in the mouth of the intern-now-dead-body Amber.
She was accepted into the internship program over more qualified candidates because Senator Briggs wanted more diversity on the staff and Amber was the only one who wore purple mittens to the interview. Anxiety, probably.
This is my office. If the door is shut, do not knock. If the door is open, buzz me through the intercom phone first, wait ten seconds, and if I do not answer, hang up and wait thirty minutes before trying again.
Finding Amber’s killer has jumped up to third on my list of priorities, behind your orientation and drafting sixteen separate press releases detailing the Senator’s stance on four different topics on which he has not yet decided his stance.
Yes, Amber is wearing a graphic T-shirt with a depiction of Naugatuck, CT. After killing her, someone painted a red X on it, stuffed the mitten in her mouth, and wrote #BriggsBabe in black Sharpie on her right arm. Maybe it means something, but maybe not. Most things do not. Do not get lost in the details.
This is your desk. This is your stapler. This is your computer. This is your penholder. Pens are kept in the supply closet around the corner, as are computer paper, highlighters, tissue, tampons, mouthwash, boxes of staples, and so on. Please only take one pen at a time. When you take supplies, please note what you take on the supply chart on the wall on the right. Senator Briggs gives a breakdown of all campaign expenses to his most valuable donors. Scrupulous questioners. Retired.
I do not think they killed Amber. They never would have let blood soak the forever stamps in such a way. Wasteful.
This is your phone. Do not answer the phone if the call is coming through on line two through seven. Line one you may answer, but only if it is a high-pitched ring. If it is low-pitched, let Sandra answer. Low-pitch means the call is coming from a wealthy home.
The woman who wears sweater vests is Sandra. Sandra handles all relations with wealthy benefactors. She may not be much to look at, but she has a way with the phone. She works around the clock and takes only six twenty-minute naps a day. Do not stare directly into Sandra’s eyes – direct eye contact makes her freeze up for the better part of twenty-four hours. That is twenty-four hours of phone donations we lose. If you look directly into her eyes, a commit-tee will determine how much revenue was lost and that will come out of your paycheck (i.e. lattes).
Sandra was frozen until approximately three minutes before your arrival. Amber was killed last night. Senator Briggs himself looked Sandra right in the eye yesterday morning after a particularly stern staff meeting where the Senator expressed frustration with the lack of negative ads being used against his opponents. He bought us plain donuts with no frosting or sprinkles in protest. He made Amber and Marsha pose with him for a series of Instagram photos. The caption read: Young people are our future. Young women have a voice. Along those lines.
Daryl shared the photos on Twitter and Facebook, but was not happy about it.
You’ll meet Daryl and Marsha in a minute. You’ve already met Amber, though she’s not really herself today… a bit drained, I’d say.
That was a joke. You may laugh—this time.
You will have to be creative to get Sandra’s attention without catching her eye. I’ve found that throwing single staples at the ceramic planter next to her desk usually gets her attention. I have great aim. I pitched for the Senator’s softball team two years in a row. If you have never pitched softball before, I suggest you find a different method. Staples go rogue. And when they go rogue, they land on the floor near Rusty’s office.
There are staples lodged in the back of Amber’s calves, which suggests she was dragged across the floor near Rusty’s office.
That is Rusty, the Senator’s graphic designer. Rusty makes the Senator look hip, like the face of the future.
Rusty walks around the office barefoot. He was treated for rage issues for many years and only recently went off his meds on the condition he stick to a strict regime of meditation, yoga, and a movement called barefoot romanticism. He does this to inhale the purest spiritual air. Believe me, you do not want to see what happens when Rusty steps on a staple and does not get his required amount of spiritual air.
Rusty does not create the negative campaigns against the Senator’s opponent. That is also part of his strict regime. So Tim creates the negative ads.
The Senator hired Tim after details leaked about the Senator’s trip to Mexico last spring. The Senator also decided to stop going to Mexico for his weekend trips and now goes to Naugatuck, CT.
Tim is Senator Briggs’ nephew. He rides a scooter and does most research using Wikipedia. He has created one negative campaign in nine weeks. The claims in the commercial could only be attributed to a Wiki user named BriggsBabe69 and no supporting evidence could be found.
Tim is in love with Madelynn, though they don’t talk. That is Madelynn at the desk by the storage closet. She handles email marketing, and is very good at asking for money through email. This means she is very good at eliciting sympathy, guilt, and sense of duty.
Last week, Madelynn consulted with beggars in the Instagram holding tank about how they could integrate email-based fundraising into their efforts and signed them all up for free Mail Chimp accounts. She and Rusty previously taught free classes on individual fundraising and spiritual fulfillment.
The beggar was the first recruit for the Instagram room. Amber was in charge of the Senator’s Instagram account and, upon seeing the need for constant photos with homeless people, babies, young Republican mothers, people in wheelchairs, and anyone vaguely “ethnic” looking, Amber decided the most efficient thing would be to keep some of these people on retainer.
The Instagram holding room is next to the supply closet. If you borrow a beggar, please sign him or her out on the form by the door.
Madelynn is a lesbian, but we are not supposed to know that. We did not seat her by the closet on purpose for some cruel sense of irony. Officially, we do not know she is gay.
Madelynn is the Senator’s illegitimate daughter. She does not know this. Tim does not know this. Officially, neither do we.
Amber knew this. The Senator told her on a visit to Naugatuck, CT, unofficially.
The Senator has not made an official announcement as to his official feelings on homosexual marriage, officially. It is best to be able to claim ignorance of her lesbianism in case it turns out the Senator is against gay marriage or homosexuals in general, whatever happens to be the best argument at the time.
In the center of the office is the social media desk. Daryl is Twitter and Facebook. There is an empty seat at his desk. That is where Amber sat. She was in charge of Instagram and Snapchat. They are in charge of exciting the younger generation.
Daryl used to date Marsha. Marsha does strategic planning for debates that the Senator usually calls in sick for. Her desk is by the water cooler but she prefers coffee. The coffee maker is near the Senator’s office door, over there. When Marsha dated Daryl, she was useless. Now she is on fire. Daryl unfollowed her the day she dumped him.
Marsha dumped Daryl in order to have an affair with the Senator. We don’t know this, officially.
Marsha offered a few tidbits about the Senator to Daryl that would humanize the Senator. Things for him to share on social media. Personal things. How he likes his pancakes in the morning. How he sleeps with a teddy bear. How he reads Goodnight Moon every night.
Amber suggested a few others. Sexual positions. Music tastes. The mole in the center of his back.
These suggestions went ignored, unofficially.
Over there is the bulletin board where you’re free to post personal flyers. Please do not post human body parts on the board. The killer cut out a small piece of Amber’s heart and pinned it up by the Girl Scout Cookie sign-up sheet. Cliché, if you ask me. Nothing original being said there. Hearts breaking and such.
To review: Daryl loves Marsha. Marsha loves the Senator. Tim loves Madelynn, who is an unofficial lesbian and his unofficial cousin.
Tim doesn’t have a desk. He prefers to be “migratory.” He works on his scooter. Tim confessed his feelings to Madelynn at the office party two weeks ago. His advances were rejected, as Madelynn was in love with Amber. I heard the smacking of lips in the storage closet, unofficially.
There are only two things that can be deduced from the smacking of lips: kissing, or that a person has eaten something particularly delicious, which I know is not true. It was a potluck, after all.
The bathrooms are to the right. Those bloody boot marks with the clumps of loose staples are usually not there. Water stations are to the left.
Tim and Daryl were caught stapling Amber’s favorite beggar to a chair. The chair still has a bloodstain on the right arm. The beggar is sitting there now. Daryl was still angry about Marsha, who was angry that Amber had also recently slept with the Senator. Madelynn was sulking in the corner because she, too, had heard that Amber was a #BriggsBabe.
Unofficially that is the title given to all women and men who sleep with the Senator.
If it turns out the Senator supports gay marriage, then we will throw Madelynn a party or get her a gift basket or however you handle such things.
Here is your invitation to Amber’s funeral. There will be no discussing of Amber’s sexuality at the funeral. She was not kissing Madelynn. She was not in bed with the Senator. She helped beggars.
That is Denise. She wears a wig to disguise her bald head. Everyone knows it is a wig, so do not pretend like it is real hair. Many assumed she was bald because she had cancer and was going through chemotherapy.
Denise did not, in fact, have cancer. When her husband left her, she shaved her head and took a vow of silence for three months. No one noticed the silence.
The Senator has no official stance on the war or when we should evacuate the troops. He does, however, support the troops.
Here is the copy machine. There is the beggar trying to choke Daryl. There is Tim taking photos of Amber for Facebook and the press and Instagram.
And here is Senator Briggs’ office. There is blood on the doorknob and the carpet.
Tim will write the official story, which will go to press later this morning: Amber was killed by the Senator’s opponent, who set out to frame him as a sexual deviant, as a corrupter of the youth. Naugatuck, CT. Mitten Mouth. #BriggsBabe.
It will be useful for you to know how to remove bloodstains from the car-pet in a Senator’s office. And from his shirt. The Senator has no official stance on this death, except that it is sad. Losing young people is never easy.
Pulls at the heartstrings. Mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers.
The Senator is in his office now, staring out his window toward the Aldi’s parking lot.
There are many things you can say about the Senator, but the one thing no one disputes is that he is very handsome and very American-looking. Especially when he perfects that tear-soaked look, that heartbroken silence in his eyes.
That just might win us the election.
This was originally published in Spring 2018 edition of The Helix.