‘The List’ by Adelaide Docx
From N+1 / The Paris Magazine:
At 62, Dick had held five jobs, been fired from all of them, and was now settling nervously into a sixth. If anyone cared to investigate the cause of these curtailments, and few did, they’d have discovered he had not always been wholly to blame, but by the time of the third or fourth blow, he’d grown incompetent almost to gratify expectation.
He had every reason to look wretched, and for the most part he did. His skin sagged, there was a tremor in his fingers, and a slight droop to his lower lip. Even his long, lean body seemed stretched the better to expose more mass to shame. And although he did not smoke, he seemed to have incurred all the penalties of a smoker—everything that should have been white was yellow, and a mustiness hung about his clothes. Yet there was something in Dick’s bearing that hinted at a buoyancy of nature, a looseness of limb gave him a not altogether deceptive appearance of ease with fate.