It was soon apparent I did not possess Mary’s instincts for genius in children’s entertainment. Work, such as it was called, amounted to reading an incessant influx of unsolicited scripts. Topics favored the supernatural, and all were laced with syrupy morality messages. Where Mary saw magic I saw putrefaction. My job was to read and reduce these scripts to one hundred word reports. So like school, I marveled. I was printing out my latest report, one hundred words meant to eviscerate a script about a ‘good’ pirate, when I heard:
“Yoo-hoo!” Mary screamed from her office. By now fully on automatic, I eased from my chair to the doorway of her office in a single fluid motion.
“I want the first banquette at Mondiale for twelve-thirty and then confirm the reservation with Pig.” Chomping on her headpiece she handed me a scrap of notepaper with the word ‘Pig’ and a phone number.
For all of Mary’s eccentricities, she had a spotless track record producing hits. She claimed she had a formula for auguring, and amazingly, she was always right, one saccharine children’s brain-rot after another. I had already figured out her secret formula. She passed everything by Willow, her eight year old daughter.
Mary brought Willow to work some days and gave me the odious task of escorting the small child to the bathroom when the need arose, and the need arose all day long.
Back at my desk I phoned Mary’s favorite bistro and reserved the booth for two near the front door. I was feeling like I was definitely getting the hang of things. It was going to be alright after all. Just do my time and presto! Travel and hammocks forever. Before Mary left for lunch I maternally retrieved the iron scaffold from her head.
Down the hall, in a small room filled with machines, the printer was retching a piece of paper. I pulled on the page and got squirted in the chest with ink.
“Cannelloni.” I whispered as loudly as I dared into the intercom.
“Canne-LEO-LEO-LEO-ni.” He sounded exasperated.
“Help! Copy room.”
In moments I heard the sounds of Cannelloni’s bulk lumbering along the hallway and I felt a twinge of embarrassment as the formerly noble printer was reduced to beeping and grinding.
Like a detective come upon a crime scene Cannelloni loomed and coolly absorbed the evidence. He read the clues expertly and crossed the room to the bucking printer. He flicked open a plastic panel and extracted a tumor of crumpled pages. “I’m selling two tickets to the ballgame this Saturday. It’s the fiancé’s birthday and she wants me to take her to the mall and then out to dinner. I hate going to restaurants with her. She’s always telling me I’m too fat, and she doesn’t let me eat anything. She’s a pain in the ass.”
I took my ruined documents and dropped them into a plastic tub labeled ‘Recycle’. “I don’t get it Cannelloni Why are you with this girl? You’re always complaining about her.”
“What can I say? She’s got great tits.”
I returned to my cubicle and lazily rolled back in the comfortable office chair, and fell fast asleep.
“Yoo-hoo!” Mary’s voice pierced some intense dream of a beach and a storm and something to do with running. “Santa!” Mary continued to shriek so that the sound scooped me up and had me standing at attention before I was even fully awake.
“How was lunch?” I asked, gathering myself.
“I can’t understand it. I waited an hour at the restaurant and Pig never showed up!” Mary prattled while she bolted on her head gear and began to slurp on the mouth bit.
From nowhere, a blast of radiation, I knew what had happened. “Ah, um,” I began, the searing heat of clarity microwaving me as I realized I would surely be fired. Reluctantly, I pointed to Mary’s office and said, “I am so sorry, Mary, you might want to sit down for this.” Single file we trooped in and took our positions across from one another at her immense desk.
“What’s with your shirt?” Mary stared at me, her eyes wide with wonderment.
I looked down to see the printer fluid had stained a patch of my blouse. “That’s another story.” I said, and cleared my throat, “I never phoned your friend, Mr. Pig. I guess I forgot. I’m really sorry.”
Mary eyed me, the tip of her tongue flicking against her mouthful of metal, and then she heaved forward and exploded with the laughter of a pack of hyenas. She spluttered until tears gushed from her eyes.
“Everyone makes mistakes.” She said, and she dabbed at the brine with a tissue.
…TO BE CONTINUED