Artie hit backspace. Twice. Then he pressed it again and held it down, watching the parade of letters recede. He glanced over to the front door of his studio flat. When his eyes jerked back to the screen in front of him. It was blank. The cursor blinked.

He began again. “Dear Prospective Employer,” he typed. What next? Perhaps a pithy reference to the desirability of the available position? Or should he just launch into some subtle self-aggrandizement? He was never sure. He rubbed the sweat off his palms onto his t-shirt and clapped them together. He let them fall into his lap.

That morning’s interview at The Workplace had not gone well. He didn’t know for sure, but he didn’t think he’d got the job. The tightness of the Executive Assistant’s smile in reception, the tepidness of the glass of water she had fetched for him, even the zealous pumping of his hand by Ed, the heavyset Floor Manager who was looking for the Department Sales Representative – everything made him suspect there was something amiss. There was always something amiss.

Since he’d been let go from his post as Programme Supporter eight months earlier, he felt that he’d done little more than type up cover letters and search online job profiles and newspaper want ads. Occasionally, his efforts would be rewarded with an interview, and he’d head out in his one gray suit and see a different office in another part of the city.

Those further steps were never rewarded with gainful employment. But still, it felt good, those excursions. The early morning shower and coffee, the bus with groggy commuters. And then: the bright lights of an unfamiliar workplace; each interview was an approximation of an actual job. A teaser.

He wasn’t especially prolific as an interviewee: his record was two in two days. But he knew that if he could string together five in a row, it would be like he had a job again. Just for that week – but who knew, maybe one of those interviews could lead to an actual job – it was bound to happen. If only someone was hiring for the position of ‘Job Applicant’. Because if they were, he was pretty sure he was qualified.

Just then, the phone rang. He grabbed it off the coffee table.

“Hello, Artie speaking.”

“Hi Artie,” a professional-sounding female voice said, “I was wondering if you would be…”

Artie looked over at his suit, hanging by the front door, and knew he would be.