“How did you come about to work at Z-Tech in the first place,” asked Polly.
“Once upon a time, I believe it was around 15 B.G. (Before Google), a fellow asked me,
“Do you want a job in Z-Tech’s Culinary Department?”
“I don’t recall exactly what the job entailed but it had something to do with determining the edibleness of wild mushrooms and clinical trials in the first stage of FDA approval. The amount offered was prodigious and my main thought was, ‘hopefully I get into the placebo group.’ But due to a deep-seated aversion to gambling and a very religious upbringing forbidding drugs and alcoholic beverages, apart from Vanilla flavoring, declined the offer.
That’s not to say I didn’t think about it. With the extra money I could start a side business raising emus on a ranch with salmon and trout streams. Emus lay the world’s second largest egg and one can make Faberge-like egg-purses for the rich and fragile. The omelets would be huge…something like 14 regular chicken eggs equals one emu egg with the only danger being a really bad case of Salmonella.
I could quit the part-time gig as an Elmo mascot at the local kid’s museum and tell people I’m an Anthromycologist at parties serving expensive hors d’oeurves consisting of rare fish, goat cheese, and the non-lethal mushrooms. Mrs. Perez, the beautiful, charming, and witty Mrs. Perez…we met at the university cafeteria and knew we were made for each other when we discovered a mutual interest in big birds, trash-can dwelling life forms, and snuffleupagus sightings…would be at my side. The rich people would come bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and $25 Starbucks gift certificates and sing praises to my name call me blessed one and a really fun guy. I would wax eloquent and give my opinion on alternatives to an NCAA D1 football playoff system called Stimulus II. And when they ask me deep philosophical questions such as,
“How do they punish a Siamese twin if one commits murder?”
I’ll say, “Bring me a sword!” and stall for time until I think of something profound and mutter obscure Latin phrases until…until I direct them to my Emu-Faberge purse web site on the new and improved Max iPad much to the chagrin of the wonderful Mrs. Perez, Proctor and Gamble, and those seeking enlightenment.
“Lesser Sensory Perception (LSP) is the path to true happiness…still stalling…if one hears no evil, sees no evil, or feels no evil, it is only a matter of time until one disbelieves in evil. So when evil comes, one calls it ‘ungoodness.’ Which, technically speaking, is not an actual English word so one might as well re-arrange the letters to make ‘goosed nuns.’ And everybody knows a goosed nun is a rare nun albeit a definite evil.”
Fortunately, the same fellow offered me another job at Z-Tech in the Pharmaceutical Department.”
“This sounds a bit like Jakob’s Predestination.”
“Or Fate,” said Maurice. “I’m still up in the air on the whole Predestination thing. How about yourself? How did you become the lifestyle editor of the Shenandoah Valley Times?”
“Well, my story isn’t quite like yours, but here goes.
Once upon a time not long ago for people with long memories, nor far away for people with access to paved roads, I was in English class studying things that modify other things. I don't know what the things getting modified were, but I couldn’t help but think what a shallow and hollow existence the modifiers must lead knowing their sole purpose was to constantly assure nouns of their true qualities. Dangling participles, hanging gerunds, or uptight adverbs arguing over objects, both directly or indirectly, was a complete mystery such that I felt deeply disturbed by the whole situation and felt compelled to ponder it. After a particularly lonesome noun spent fifteen grueling minutes getting told how wonderful, great, shiny, tall, and querulous it was, I seriously doubted if there was any hope for the little fellow and wondered if guidance counselors felt the same way about kids with consonant-heavy surnames.
After much ponder a sort of melancholy set in. This, coupled to the fact I sat in the back of the class...on a warm sunny day...by an open window...next to a large fan...and behind a rather large classmate led me into deeper thoughts until a mild depression struck. The sort of depression one feels when you discover Santa Claus isn't quite the jolly old Scandinavian you thought and Milo and Otis aren't truly talking animals. Soon, the depression merged into a cat-nap, which in turn merged onto a human nap. And that’s when I discovered the Law of the Conservation of Entropy.”
“Brains in motion tend to stay in motion, and brains at rest tend to watch hours upon hours of television.”
“And you want your brain to be…?”
“In a constant state of flux. I decided to become a writer, and rest is rapidly becoming a historically significant event in the Book of Life.”
* * *
Candy Skipper was tired. She had planned on a quiet day at work and wanted nothing dramatic, like yesterday’s Call, to impinge upon her daily plans. When she walked into her office, she was surprised to see an official of Z-Tech’s Monitoring Other’s Business section (MOB) waiting for her.
“Candy Skipper?” the man stood and stretched his hand towards her. “Lieutenant Jones from the MOB. How do you do?”
”Fine, thank you.” She didn’t offer to shake his hand. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for one of your co-workers-Maurice Perez. We are having some difficulty locating him and thought you might shed some light on his location.”
“Yes. Mr. Perez works here. Is he in any trouble?”
“Oh, no. Nothing of the sort,” he said. “It’s just that yesterday he didn’t go to the Hives when The Call sounded. Is he ill?”
“Not that I know of,” Candy replied. She thought the little man from the MOB a little square and just a little cute. “Did you check his apartment?”
“He’s not there and wasn’t seen last night returning. Does Mr. Perez have a girlfriend?”
“Not to my immediate knowledge. I’m sure he’d tell me if he did.”
“You are sure?”
“Quite sure.” Candy felt it quite silly that her heart skipped a beat at this last question.
“Mr. Perez and you are quite close, are you not?”
“We’re a bit more than casual acquaintances. I’m his secretary, nothing more, nothing less.”
“Is he supposed to be in today?”
“You’re asking the wrong person.” And a lot of them, she thought. “Why don’t you just stick around and wait for him yourself,” she smiled.
The little man from the MOB stared at her blankly.
“Why does the MOB want to see Mr. Perez?”
“Mr. Perez is very important right now. The Velkladdeur himself desires to see him, and I have reasons of my own.”
“Ohh, in that case. . .”