Me and Mortimer—Chapter Eleven: “Headaches and Cure”

“Oh … please! Do me a favor and don’t make so much noise making your morning coffee?”

That was Mortimer moaning, sitting in his chair and cradlin’ his head in his arms and resting it on his work bench. He came to work this morning suffering from a headache. I was gonna tease him by sayin’, ‘I thought vegetarians don’t get headaches’, but I sort of felt sorry for the guy. I know how headaches can hurt. I’ve often get them a few Sunday mornings after comin’ home late from Saturday night’s Happy Hour at the Tartans and Cream pub.

“Have you taken any painkillers for it?” I asked, instead. “I think there’s some Tylenol left in our First Aid Kit—unless I already used them all.”

“No—Maureen made me a lemon and ginger tea before I left for work. I think I’ve just got an upset stomach and should be feeling better in a while. Just—uh—just don’t make any noise right now, o.k.?” Mort continued speaking softly so as not to make his headache worse. He, being so still, reminded me of a rabbit that’s frozen scared-stiff trying to hide itself from a fox that’s sniffing a rabbit-breakfast nearby … but, I shouldn’t think that. Poor guy’s sufferin’ enough!

“Why’d you come to work with a headache in the first place?” I asked. “You haven’t taken a sick leave this year yet, so you sure got lots of ‘em coming.”

It sure amazes me to try and understand why people like Mortimer don’t take their full entitlement of sick leave, irrigardless of whether they’s sick or not! First thing I did when I started work here was find out how much sick leave I had coming, and I’ve already taken my full entitlement. Ya gotta grab your rights while the grabbin’s good, I always sez!

Mort stirred just a little bit. “I don’t feel like talking right now. Why don’t you just … just go and have your coffee and read your paper?”

Well! If you don’t wanna talk to me, see if I care! So I turns away from Mort and I make my coffee and move over to my desk to read the morning paper, but I can’t help thinkin’ about Mort. “I hear coffee’s supposed to be good for headaches,” I tell him. “That’s what I always drink on Sunday morning after a night at the Tartans and Cream.”

“I don’t drink coffee. I don’t like it!” Mortimer groans.

“What gave you your headache anyway?” I asks.

Mort never even answered. He just continued sittin’ there, restin’ his head in his arms on the bench. I guess he really meant it when he said he didn’t want to talk any more.

Sheesh!

I opens my morning paper and reads on the front page that there was another fight at the Tartans and Cream last Saturday, and I missed the event! The reason I missed it is ‘cause my wife wanted me to take her and the kids to the city to do some shopping for shoes. I swear, them kids can wear out shoes faster than a cop can write out a speeding ticket while you’re on your way to the mall!

Anyway, why I sez I wished I hadn’t of missed the event at the Tartans and Cream is that Baby Lou—his real name is Andy Louise, but he got that name, Baby Lou, ‘cause he has sort of, a babyface, but has a couple knife scars across his cheek from previous fights and that makes him look mean.

Anyway, he was again the main attraction at the fight on Saturday. Baby Lou don’t take no guff from nobody, so most of the guys at the Tartans and Cream stays clear of him, but when Eddie Baxter accidently spilt Baby Lou’s beer by bumping it with his elbow, Baby Lou exploded! He was about ready to send Eddie to the hospital, he got so mad, ‘xcept a couple other guys at the bar jumped on Baby Lou and held him down so Eddie could escape from the bar. That’s when the cops was called and, of course, the local newspaper took pictures of everything.

Don’t know why the newspaper has to stick its nose into our fun time at the Tartans and Cream every time there’s a fight there. All that publicity again aroused that crazy women’s league that’s been demonstrating to close down our source of superior manly entertainment, just like they succeeded in closing down the Crown and Star earlier this year.

I almost feels like writing to the editor of the paper and telling him that I disagrees with that group of silly women, and that they should just mind their own business! Them women’s gotta be told to let us men have our fun! If you thinks we’s settin’ a bad example to the youth of our town, then keep your kids away from us! We has rights to, you know!

Trouble is, I don’t have a pen or paper on me right now, otherwise, I’m so mad, I think I would write to the editor —

Oh, oh! I see Mortimer’s stirring. “Have a good nap?” I inquires.

Mortimer stretches and yawns, rubs his eyes and turns to me. “Yes,” he sez. “I feel much better now. Maureen’s lemon and ginger tea really helped settle my stomach,” he gets up and heads for the door. “I think I’ll step outside for a minute and take some deep breaths. That should clear the remaining cobwebs from my head.”

About ten minutes later Mort returns, looking like someone’s just injected him with a energy hormone. I just don’t understand that guy. How’s he do it?

Sheesh! I wish I could get rid of my Sunday mornin’ headaches that fast! It usually takes three cups of coffee and several aspirin, and my head’s still fuzzy for the rest of the morning … but I will say—and I’m not afraid to tell Mort, that there ain’t no way I’ll ever drink that lemon and ginger stuff! That ain’t no man’s drink, and I’m not about to pollute my body with that feminine vegetarian stuff!

Mort begins checking around his area of the shed as if he’s lookin’ for something. “Lost something?” I inquires.

“Yeah … ” he’s still looking, confused, and searching in more detail. “Last week, after I filled the lawn mower with gas, I brought the can with the remaining gas back and set it on my bench, right there.” He points to a spot in the corner, close to the wall. “Have you seen it?”

“Seen what?”

“The gas can! I had some gas left over after filling the lawn mower, so I set the can over there.” He again points to that spot in the corner.

“Was it a red can and had the words, ‘GAS,’ painted on it?”

“Yes! Have you seen it?” Mort was startin’ to get a bit irritated. I don’t know why. I was politely answering his questions.

“Yeah,” I told him. “My car ran out of gas last Friday, so I took it and put the gas into my car—”

You stole company gas?” Mort looks at me like I’m some kinda freak or something.

“I didn’t steal it. I borrowed the gas. My wife gets paid tomorrow, so I’ll have some money, so I’ll fill the can and bring it back to you.”

Mort just stands there and stares. His face is turning red and the two veins on the side of his neck is starting to pulse like they need more oxygen—or something. His mouth opens, and he wants to speak, but the right words just don’t come to him. Finally, he closes his mouth, his shoulders droop, and he just turns and walks out.

“If the boss calls, tell him I’ve gone home for the day. I have a headache!” He sez over his shoulder before leaving.

“You’re headache’s back?” I inquire. “Want some aspirin?”

He slams the door and is gone.

Sheesh! That guy can sure get upset over nothing!

Double Sheesh! Now my coffee’s gone cold, and there’s nothing worth reading in the paper this morning … I look around … and the office boy didn’t even bring me any files this morning to put away! What am I gonna do?

… Guess I’ll just have to make another pot of coffee and make it last the day.

Me and Mortimer, Chapter Eight: “The Superior Craft of Whittling”

While I was havin’ my coffee this mornin’ before tacklin’ that stack of files the office clerk loaded on my desk last night, I was watching Mortimer use his prized wood chisels to carve the company logo into a oval slice of pine wood that the company had cut special for this project from a old pine tree that grew on the north side of the main company building. The company is buildin’ a new employee cafeteria on the spot where that pine tree was growin’, and the tree was in the way so it had to be cut down.

Mort’s been so busy carving on that piece of wood he ain’t even interested in talkin’ to me, even after I prodded him with questions about his so-called special love of wood carving, so I’ll just talk to you about things in general today.

The engineer wanted to cut down the tree and haul it to the dump, but a lot of the employees got together and asked the company to save a slab of the tree—sort of in memory of that tree many of the employees had had their open air lunch under in years past—and make it into a plaque and hang it on the wall in the new cafeteria. The boss thought it was a good, nostalgic idea.

Nostalgic nonsense from a bunch of employees who ain’t workin’ hard enough, if you ask me! A tree is a tree, and there’s a whole bunch more growin’ in the forest just west of town, if you ever want one—or a hundred, even, if you need more.

Anyway, gettin’ back to my story. The company is payin’ Mortimer extra to carve their logo into that piece of wood, and Mort’s sure taking his time in carving it! Every little detail has to be just so! Sez it’s pride in workmanship: doin’ a job right, he sez, but I think he’s just wastin’ a lot of time and company money. Sheesh! If that were me, it wouldn’t take more than a afternoon to finish that thing, and think of all the extra money I could pocket!

I always say, the guy that can make a dime without overworkin’ hisself is smarter than the guy working overtime for the same dime just to please the boss. But, I guess, each of us has his own values, and not all values are as superior as mine!

Mort really takes special pride in them wood chisels of his. Tells me that they was quite expensive when he bought them some years back when he took a design and wood carvin’ course at our local tech. I read stories where more modern wood carvers are now using electronic chisels instead of the old-fashioned hand chisels, but I guess ol’ Mort hasn’t modernized his ways yet.  Sez he feels that the real craft of wood carvin’ lies in using hand tools. Gives a fella a special pride and feel for the wood and the finished product that electronic chisels just can’t give you.

Mortimer thinks he knows a lot about design and wood carving, ‘specially since he took that course at Tech, but I tried to show him he really don’t know nothing about the real craft of wood carving, like I learned as a kid, and what we then used to call, whittling.

When I was a kid, in my home town where I grew up, a kid was considered just a baby until his dad figured he was growed up enough to own his own pocket knife. Then he’d be considered old enough to be part of the gang of the older kids.

I remember, on my sixth birthday, my dad presented me with my first pocket knife.

“Son,” he said, “I think your old enough where you can safely handle your own pocket knife!” I was real proud of my dad for figerin’ that I was a big kid now! I loved my dad, and I think he had more brains than Einstein’s pussy-cat!

My first knife was a Swiss Pocket Knife and had a black handle and had two blades, a small and a big blade. Never did figure out what the small blade was good for, so I just used the big blade for whittlin’ and carving things.

Now that I was part of the Big Kids Gang, we’d spend a lot of our time in the willow bushes by the town gravel pit. By using a trick only us Big Kids knew, we could whittle real-workin’ whistles out of a piece of willow bark. I remember, we’d blow and blow on them whistles, thinkin’ it was lots of fun, and that’s how we spent a lot of our summer afternoons.

One problem we Big Kids had with pocket knives was that most of us would end up cutting our thumbs with the knife until we learned to respect and use them properly. ‘Cause I was smarter than most of the other Big Kids, I only cut my thumb twice before I learned to use it properly, but Reggie Allred was just the opposite. Reggie was bigger than me, had curly black hair, and was the goofball of our group. He cut his thumb more times than a duck said “Quack!” after laying its batch of eggs in the marsh.

Reggie and I became best friends. I remember once, Reggie convinced me to join him in sneakin’ under widow Anne’s window in the afternoon while she was trying to sleep—she slept a lot in the afternoons—and we’d try to drive her crazy with our constant whistlin’. She took it for a while, and we were almost ready to give up on our prank, thinkin’ it wasn’t working, when she complained to my dad, so my dad took away my pocket knife for a week and made me promise never to bother widow Anne again.

Anyway, all this reminiscin’ is meant to show you what real whittling—or wood carving really is. Kids now-a-days, with their iPads, just don’t know what real fun and craftsmanship is about!

Anyway, it’s getting’ near lunch time and I still have to do all that filing. Normally, I’d just leave the filing and do it all on Friday afternoon, but my wife made Mort promise to snitch on me and tell her if I ever slacked off again, ‘cause if I did, that meant no supper and no TV when I got home from work, so I’ll stop talkin’ for a bit and do the filing, then I’ll talk to you again after lunch.

——————————

Well, ol’ Mort never even took all of his lunch time that he’s entitled to, he’s so involved in carving that company logo. I think that’s treasonous on his part—I mean, not takin’ all of his lunch time. If he keeps doing that, pretty soon the company will expect the same from the rest of us, and I ain’t about to sacrifice my free time! No, sir! We got union laws in this company, and I aims to respect them!

Oh—before I go home early this afternoon—goin’ home early ‘cause I finished my filing, so no use staying around here, I gotta tell you something. In case you hadn’t already hear about it, Mortimer’s getting married this Saturday! That’s right. He’s finally found someone that’ll tolerate his company brownnosing attitude and marry him! Me and the wife got an invite to his wedding. I wanted to go fishing this Saturday, but one look from my wife—she shoulda been a Sergeant Major, I tell you; I pity the guy who’d ever say “no” to her!

My wife bought them a expensive Wedgewood bone china breakfast set as a wedding present. When I heard what she spent on that breakfast set, I was gonna mention to her that I coulda, instead, bought that expensive fishing tackle box with all the fish hooks I’d ever need in it, that I always wanted, but I hadn’t finished my supper yet, so decided to say nothing!

I haven’t met his future wife yet, but I hope she’s gonna be good and firm with Mort, ‘cause that guy can sure use some smartening up, if you ask me! I gave you an example earlier, where Mortimer didn’t even believe me when I explained to him that whittling was a superior art to wood carving, and that’s just a small sample about the way he thinks!

Oh well, not everyone can have the superior upbringing like I had. Some of us, like ol’ Mort, for example, just gotta learn the hard way that you gotta grab what’s yours, and not wait for someone to hand it to you—like Mort not taking his full lunch hour at noon today. That’s breaking union rules, and it can get me so mad!

Sheesh!

I turns to Mort, who’s got his back to me, and sez, “Good night, Mort. I’m goin’ home now. Don’t forget to lock the shed when you leave!” I figured I’d best tell him that I was leaving, in case he turns around and finds I’m not here anymore.

 

Me and Mortimer—Chapter Six, “Gone Camping”

Well, like I promised, I put my foot down and insisted the family go campin’ with me up at Pine Lake instead of goin’ to Marine Land. The wife didn’t wanna go campin’ with me—sez she’s not one to rough it and sleep outdoors in a tent—Hmph! I guess, like most delicate women, she prefers shopin’ malls and sidewalks instead of fresh air and nature! And the kids—’specially the kids—they didn’t want to go campin’, no way! They had set their heart on visitin’ Marine Land on Vancouver Island, and no amount of persuadin’ or bribin’ on my part could convince them otherwise!

Sheesh! Kids, now-a-days. They just don’t have no appreciation for nature anymore! Anyway, like I said, I put my foot down and told them, it’s my way, or the highway! Even threats of lowerin’ their allowance wasn’t gonna persuade them otherwise.

Turns out, when I gave them that kind of an ultimatum, they preferred the highway. So, come late Sunday night, when I was packin’ my pup tent and fishin’ gear into the car, I decided to give them a final chance: enjoy nature, or eat smog in the city.

Again, they stubbornly chose smog over fresh air! So, come Monday mornin,’ I just started off for Pine Lake all by myself!

Of course, nobody told me that it was a long weekend so there was more campers at the lake than ants in a anthill! I had to drive around for a while, but finally found a spot that was a bit distant from the lake itself. The ground was a bit soggy from last night’s rain, but my pup tent had a waterproof floor, so I wasn’t gonna get wet sleeping at nights—at least I hoped not to get wet.

I just got my tent up and settled down when a guy with one of those god-awful dirt bikes, snortin’ noise and exhaust, comes roarin’ down the trail, almost on top of me, not slowin’ down or carin’ about my safety, and splashes mud all over me and my tent! I jumped up and was gonna grab his bike and throw it in the lake, but he was too quick for me.  He just goes roarin’ off, laughin’ like a insane hyena that had just escaped from the zoo, sprayin’ more mud in my face on the way out.

I forgot to pack some extra water for washing, so I had to walk all the way down to the lake to wash off the mud. Of course, it was dusk and the sun had just set and the night air was gettin’ cool, so after washing myself, I shivered all the way back to my tent where I had forgot my towel. I lit my small camp stove, and it gave me enough heat so I could stop shiverin.’

What a way to end my first day campin’!

I was woke up early next mornin’ by a bunch of noisy crows squabblin’ over some smelly thing they had found near a tree stump. I threw a stone at them and they scattered. I tried goin’ to sleep again, but couldn’t, so since I was awake anyway, I thought I might’s well get dressed and try some fishin.’ Trouble was, a dozen other guys had the same idea, and all the nice spots were already taken. So, again, I had to move up a ways over some slippery rocks before I could get into an area of water that I thought might hold some fish.

Lucky for me, I caught my first fish in less than half an hour of casting! But, now I had a problem. No use me catchin’ more fish, ‘cause I could only pan fry and eat one fish and I didn’t want to quit and go back to my tent so soon so I released that fish back into the water, and baited my hook with a new worm and kept on fishin.’

That was a mistake! Noon came, and I had not caught another fish! A guy just down a bit from where I was fishin’ caught four beautiful, nine-inch-long lake trout, so when he packed up and left I took his spot, hopin’ I’d have the same luck as he had.

Three o’clock, and no luck! The fish just wasn’t biting for me today, and I was startin’ to get a bit tired, standin’ like this in the water in my waders, so I just packed it up and walked back to my tent. Lucky for me, I was smart enough to pack some extra grub—just in case—so I opened a can of Spam and had it for supper, pretending it was a lake trout that I had caught. To help with the taste, and make me feel  better, I even imagined that I had fried it in butter, lightly salted and turned to perfection, over my camp fire.

Evening was turning out to be just perfect. There was no wind, and the lake was calm and smooth as glass, reflectin’ all those nice evening colors of the sunset. God just don’t make more beautiful evenings than like tonight!

But, that nice evening didn’t last long. A bunch of young punks, closer down by the lake itself, decided to have a party! I could see them haulin’ out cases of beer and settin’ them next to a huge fire they had built out of dead tree sticks the lake had washed ashore.

My hunch was right. By midnight, them punks was hootin’ and hollerin’ and makin’ more noise than a bunch of howling banshees at a family reunion!

I guess somebody musta complained to the cops about them, ‘cause it wasn’t long after midnight when two park rangers came by and sorta busted up the party and ordered the punks out of the park.

I started walkin’ down to the punk-party-that-was to add my complaint to the park rangers, but it wasn’t necessary. By the time I got down there, the punks were already on their way out. But, talkin’ to the rangers, I did find out some news I was glad to hear. Remember me tellin’ you about the guy and his dirt bike that nearly ran over me? Well, turns out that he hit a fallen tree just a bit past me and my tent and he and his bike went flyin’ and tumblin’ down through the brushy slope, nearly into the lake itself! He ended up with a broken collar bone and a broken ankle. And I didn’t have to throw his bike into the lake. When he hit that fallen tree, that tree did a better job on his bike than I could have even imagined!

Well, the rest of the week at the lake was pretty quiet. I did catch a few fish and ate them for my supper—I like ‘em best when they’re fried in butter and with a bit of salt on them, so the week wasn’t entirely wasted.

I guess I could mention to you about a little incident that happened on Thursday. Thursday, just before noon, I had caught my fifth lake trout of the week—a real beauty, I might add, only this time I wasn’t gonna be silly enough to throw it back into the water and keep on fishin’ like I did on Monday. No sir, not this time! “Once fooled, shame on you. Twice fooled, shame on me,” I always ses.

I unhooked the fish from my line and carefully laid it on a rock outcrop in the water just behind me and kept on fishin’. Well, not even a minute later—with my luck, wouldn’t you know it—and quicker than a politician can deny he said somethin’ stupid, a sea gull swooped down and snatched that fish off the rock, and before I could turn and grab it back, it and my fish was gone!

“I hope you choke on it!” I yelled and shook my fist at that departing thief. I was so upset I just spit in the lake and quit fishin’ for the day. Lucky for me, I still had one can of Spam left, so I had that for supper!

Lookin’ back over the week, it was disappointing. I got a rash on my arms from all those mosquito bites—and, of course, forgot to bring insect repellant with me to stop ‘em from bitin’ me. I tore a long rip into the seat of my pants from a branch I accidently fell against, so after that, I had to watch that I didn’t expose my backside to anyone I met on the trail, and I accidently spilled into the water the remaining can of worms that I was using to bait my fishin’ pole. All told, I was havin’ a bad week, so decided it was time to get outa here!

When I arrived back home late Sunday night I found my wife and kids had their travel bags all packed and ready to go first thing Monday mornin’.

“You had your holiday, now we’re having ours!” she bluntly told me, without so much as askin’ how I enjoyed my campin’ trip.

“—Oh, and here.” She passed me a postcard that the mailman had delivered to the house. It was from Mortimer.

“Welcome back to work on Monday!” the card read. “I missed our arguments!”

Sheesh!”

Me and Mortimer, Chapter five—”My Wife is Still My Boss!”

“Sheesh! What a week!”  I had to work ‘till nearly seven o’clock last Friday night to get all those files put away, and my wife would come and check periodically to make sure I was filin’ them right! When I finally was done, and could go home, I was so tired I didn’t even want supper, nor watch any television. I just went straight to bed. Workin’ overtime—and especially not gettin’ paid for workin’ overtime, is downright torture on a fella’s constitution!

When I have times like last week, I think my wife can be a worse boss than ol’ Jason, my Straw Boss. Sometimes she can be sweeter than a Baskin-Robbin ice cream—’specially to the kids, but when she sets her mind on something, she can demand more respect that her will be done than a muleskinner’s bullwhip on a long haul! And on top of her bein’ my temporary boss, she gives me a warning that I gotta get every piece of that filing done before five every night or no supper and no television!

At first, I tried to convince my wife on my view of things regarding filin’ all those files, and why I wasn’t filin’ them all the time. Like, I sez to her, “what’s the use of filin’ all them files when, in the mornin,’ someone’s gonna come down from the office and take back one or two of them files ‘cause they needs them again that day. I know it don’t happen often, but I remember it has happened,” I tells her, “so I figure, “why bother filin’ any of them in the first place?”

My wife just scowls at me. “Very funny, but no cigar!” I don’t see her laughin’ so why’d she say it was funny? Then snaps, “Get ‘er done, or no supper!” Then turns her back to me and goes over to chat some more with Mortimer.

Oh, and I also gotta tell you, she’s been comin’ in to my office here in the Maintenance Shed real early every day—about three in the afternoon, to make sure I get all the filing done. Sheesh! As if I need someone to tell me how to do my work. Who’s she think I am? Still a kid?

She’s also been getting’ friendly with ol’ Mortimer. When she’s not watching me file, she’s chattin’ away with ol’ Mort about all kinds of things. Last Tuesday Mort even took the time to show her how to properly—at least that’s the way he calls it— sharpen a lawn mower blade. Hmph! As if my sharpenin’ wasn’t good enough for her. Mind you, the way I figures it, a lawn mower blade don’t need sharpenin’ more than once every five years—and we’ve only had our new mower for not even four years, so why’s she taking Mort’s advice instead of mine?

And speakin’ of lawn mowers, I gotta tell you what Mort did last Wednesday. That absolutely took the cake and made me so mad! Mort’s been brownnosin’ to the boss for quite a while already to let him take every Wednesday off so he can go over to some of the senior’s homes in town and cut their lawns for them. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to get an extra day off of work every week. Anyway, what he does on his day off is his business, but what really got me mad is that he offered to come over and also cut our lawn on Wednesdays! Sure, maybe I don’t cut our lawn as often as it should be cut, and sometimes I have to bribe my oldest kid to cut the lawn for me, but as head of the house I demand that I don’t need no welfare—’specially from Mort! And to make my point even more clear, I like dandelions in the lawn. They’s pretty little yellow spots of sunshine, that add color to my lawn.

Of course, as usual, my wife wouldn’t listen to my superior reasoning, so I just gotta swallow my pride and let ol’ Mort come over every Wednesday and cut our lawn! Sheesh! What an insult!

… Oh gosh! I see by the clock that it’s after two already, and my wife will be here any minute, so I gotta take a few minutes off from talkin’ to you and do some filin.

Be back in a minute.

——————-

There! That’s all done for another day—I mean, the filin.’ There weren’t many files—only about a dozen, so I finished early. My wife even complimented me on the good job that I did. I feel proud of myself!

Because I finished early, and she had some shoppin’ for groceries to do so she could make supper, she didn’t stay around ‘till five like usual, but left early. that gave me a few minutes to myself here in the office to just catch my breath and relax before I can go home. Mort’s still outside replacing some light bulbs in the lamp posts on the company’s parking lot. He uses the company’s cherry-picker to lift him himself up high so he can reach the light fixtures, always careful to strap himself in to the bucket with a safety harness.

Chicken! Thinks he’s gonna fall or something. He tells me he straps himself in all the time ‘cause it’s the company’s safety policy to do so. I still think he does it ‘cause he’s clumsy and scared of falling.

Anyway, I got these few minutes all to myself … sure quiet with nobody else around … Did I tell you that I got a week’s holiday comin’ due me next week. It should be two weeks holiday with pay, but ‘cause I’ve only been with the company for six months, all they’ll give me is a week. I’d like to go campin’ during the holidays up at Pine Lake—maybe get some fishin’ in, but my wife wants to take the kids to Marine Land on Vancouver Island. Should I put my foot down and insist, as head of my house, that what I say, goes? Sometimes I think I should be more of a man and insist on things be done my way!

I can’t get over a feelin’ there’s something I forgot to tell you about what happened between me and Mortimer last week … Let me think …

… Oh, gosh darn, now I remember what it is that I almost forgot to tell you about. It’s the reason why that little runt—straw buss, Jason, couldn’t fire me last week. It’s all really quite simple. You see, my wife’s best friend’s sister, Gertrude, is married to the CEO of this company, and between the three of them women, they convinced the CEO—Arnold, to hire me—and to keep me employed as long as I behaves myself and don’t do nothin’ really bad.

Personally, I think ol’ Arnold’s a bit of a whimp, knuckling under to his wife like that, but that’s his business. Of course, my wife also had to agree to make sure I don’t do nothin’ that would get me fired, so that’s why, this week, she’s sure put her foot down on me, and that’s why the CEO overruled the Straw Boss’s decision to fire me.

All I can say is, this business of my wife bein’ my boss better end soon!

“Sheesh! What a life!”

 

 

The Magic Door–or, How to Call Back Your Muse when it’s on Vacation.

Last Friday I was feeling–well, out of sorts. If you’re a creative person like I am, you’ve experienced a similar feeling: like a square trying to fit into a round hole. Nothing was going right for me. I had planned on doing some writing, but at the present moment,  felt like my muse had suddenly decided to take a vacation: gone on one of those famous Italian cruises, I guessed!

I paced back and forth in my office. I was desperate. Then I had an idea!

I went and stood just outside of my office area and, with my right index finger extended, drew an imaginary outline of a standard sized door in the space around me. I started out with just a plain outline of a basic door: about seven feet high and roughly thirty inches wide. Then I began to embellish it. I placed some large, yellow sunflowers with smiling faces about two feet off to the right, ensuring that some of their cheerful yellow heads bobbed happily into the door’s space to help break up the otherwise stark outline of the door, then added twin vines on each side,  letting them entwine as they grew upwards to end in a dense, leafy crown over the door header. Then, much like a magician would do, with the same index finger I drew imaginary bunches of tiny white snow flowers in my hand and, in dramatic fashion, sprinkled handfuls of them on the vine. They glittered and fell like fairy dust as they settled among the green, leafy vines. The whole scene looked quite pretty–and antiqued! I wanted to give the scene an old-fashioned, late seventeenth century look, and I was about to complete the scene by imagining an ornate, black metal bench just to the right of the door where I could stop to rest and drink in the tranquility of what I had created, should I choose to do so, but at the last moment, decided not to. I didn’t want to stop to rest: I wanted to open the door, and get in!

My next step was to mentally construct the door of deep brown walnut wood, well aged,  inlaid with garlands of floral designs in a lighter walnut. I hung the door on large, old rusting iron hinges that had been hammered  into their present  shape eons ago by an artisan who loved his craft. The door was heavy and, at present,  quite impossible for me to open unless I knew the right combination of magic words that would let me lift the iron latch that held the door firm in its place (I borrowed the design for the latch from a photo I had once seen in a magazine of a beautifully crafted latch on a door of an old castle). At first, I drew the door as being stubbornly immoveable because that was exactly how I felt–at least, creatively!

Then, another thought: what lay on the other side of that door?  To find out, I would have to think … think hard …  find the secret, magic password that would let me lift the heavy iron latch and open the door.

Abracadabra!” That was the best I could come up with at the moment. What the heck–I wasn’t creative today anyway.

To my surprise, that was it! That was the magic word: Abracadabra! Suddenly I was able to easily lift the heavy iron latch . The door objected irritably by creaking loudly as I pushed it open and walked through. In my mind, ahead of me, lay a long, narrow bench topped with plain, office quality, off-white Arborite and had several computers positioned strategically along its length. Men and women were sitting in front of these computers, each busy typing something … I dared to step closer to peek over the shoulder of a pretty young lady who was so busy typing she never even noticed my presence. She was creating a romance novel. She was dressed in a seventeenth century peasant-cloth grey dress, complete with white bonnet and apron. I named her, Annabel.  “I’ll bet she’s in love with the young prince that lives in the castle just down the road, and he most likely doesn’t even know that she exists.” I felt empathy with the young lady.

Next, I inched cautiously over to the lady–I placed her in her late 30s– short, blonde hair, very trim and efficient looking, dressed in a starched white shirt under a light grey business suite. But, unlike the previous young lady, I couldn’t go unnoticed here: she saw me, looked up from her computer and threw me a smile.

“Watcha workin’ on?” I thought I might as well ask since I had been discovered anyway.

“It’s a draft for a business plan my boss wants me to type up for him,” she offered in a tired voice. “As if I haven’t got enough other office work to contend with, now I have to  also type up his personal stuff.”

I left her to finish her draft and moved on to the next gentleman–well, surprise! I’ll go out on a limb and call him a gentleman, but he was anything but that: completely the opposite to the previous trim lady in a business suite:  he was unkempt, hadn’t shaved for a week, wore a dirty white Tee shirt stretched over an overstuffed beer belly  and was wearing  jeans that had seen better days. He even stunk a bit.

“What you want from me?” he growled as I approached. “You’re not getting any ideas from me!” He covered his monitor with an equally dirty grey hoody so that I couldn’t see what he had been typing. “I have a hard enough time coming up with ideas for my own stories.”

“Well, I wasn’t–I mean, I was just … browsing–”

“Well, don’t browse!” He yowled back that ended in an animalistic grunt. What an unpleasant person, I thought! “Go back to your own computer. You got more creativity than I’ve got.” He got up from his computer and came towards me in a threatening manor. I’m sure he meant to do me harm …

O.k., I decided that was enough! And, not a moment too soon, I ducked back to safety behind my side of my Magic Door.

Then, more magic! As I stood there, still holding fast to the latch on my Magic Door, now tightly closed  to bar that–ugh, gentleman–from grabbing me, I suddenly felt completely refreshed.

“Hey!” I fairly shouted, surprising even myself as a realized the  rush of creativity that now engulfed me. My Muse was back off its Italian holiday! With renewed confidence, I again took both hands and lifted the imaginary  iron door latch and again stepped through my Magic Door, only this time I didn’t create an imaginary scene. The scene was already there in real time!

The long  bench with its computers and people typing on ‘clickety’ keyboards were gone. I now  stood in the real world facing my own, real computer monitor. I sat down and started typing …  clickety, click-click … scenes and visions rushed into my head faster than I could type.

Thank you, Magic Door!