Word of the Day: manqué

I found myself writing this story a few years ago, but, wasn’t actually doing much with the Word of the Day then. I didn’t have much but a few handfuls of image flashes on it, and didn’t know how it would end, (and, even as I type this, I don’t know how it will end) but, I knew how it started. This morning, I remembered it, and it grew a bit, and now, I’m stalling with an intro while I search in my collection of obscure words to find something to use for…

Today’s Word:


As in:

Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It was Friday, October 24, 7:02 AM. It was a crisp, clear day in Denver.  I was working the day watch. I have no partner, and the boss is a regular manager, reporting to a CEO, name’s not important. My name’s Monday. I’m a desk jockey on the 15th floor. I was crossing the parking lot from my car into the office building where I work. It’s a typical morning, nothing out of the ordinary. I spot a suspiciously discarded cigarette butt. The end of the cigarette has a lipstick imprint. I lean in for a closer inspection.

The butt was not flattened and appeared fresh. I pull out a small plastic bag with zip closure. Lifting the butt with a pair of tweezers, I put it in the bag, sealing it. With luck, the lab guys could still lift some DNA off the end. I continue to scan the lot for evidence of foul play.

As I took a few more steps toward the office, I note a pair of tire tracks left on the asphalt, approximately 5 inches in width.  The marks are lined directly with the cigarette butt. No car is in evidence. To the right of the tracks, next to an open parking spot, is a small scattering of broken safety glass consistent with that used in car windows. It appears as though a driver side window of the car that had been in the space had possibly been smashed. Since there was no car present, I moved along to work, after collecting a few glass samples in a second plastic bag.

I got into the elevator at 7:08. There were two other people riding up with me. One, a Caucasian male, approximately 45, with graying hair, stopped on the 4th floor, and I noted that there was a distinctive scuff mark on the heel of his right show. I wondered for a moment if I should report him to the building’s security, but, I opted to mind my own business.

Walking to my desk, I noted that my message light was blinking, my trash can had been moved to the other side of my cubicle, and my signed picture of William Petersen was rotated 45 degrees from its usual position. I considered it may be prudent to lock it in the desk in the evenings.

My boss approached me.

“Morning. Your shoe’s untied, sir, and it looks like you were holding the baby at a height of 6 inches above your head, and slightly to the right, just before you left for work.”

“Gus! That’s just creepy. If you’re going to go around like some police detective manqué, could you at least, keep it to yourself?”

I was flabbergasted. Sure, I might’ve been something of a CSI in search of a crime, but, who was he to judge?

“Boss, as soon as I get a call from the lab, I’ll be out of your hair. Until then, it pays for me to keep my observation skills sharp.”

“Gus, they’re not going to call you, why would they? You’re a college dropout with paranoid delusions. You collect bits of trash in little baggies and call it “evidence.” The only way you’ll see a CSI is if you commit a crime, and then, they’ll just be locking you up.”

I pondered his comments, and, for a brief moment, considered committing a crime. Murder. I could see the ballpoint pen jabbed through his temple, with a cheerful looking spatter pattern decorating the side cubicle wall. Of course, I’d be the prime suspect, and would, in all likelihood, go to jail.

Sitting down at my desk, I smiled as my boss left. I could try for justifiable homicide, or maybe, “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.”  Too easy. Maybe I could, instead, plan the perfect crime. Except, I knew there was no such thing. Someone was always watching. Someone like me.

7:53 AM. I went to get a cup of coffee. The coffee pot had been emptied, but no one had started a new batch. I scanned around, my boss had left his pen, a graduation present from his father 30 years ago, on the counter. Another day, another petty crime. My work was never done.

Happy Friday, everyone. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

manqué / mon – kay / Short of or frustrated in the fulfillment of one’s aspirations of talents, used after the noun it describes.