Saturday, April 27, 2013
Tell Me A Story, Mommy
Somebody on Facebook said that today is officially "Tell Me A Story Day." I don't know if he just made that up, or was ashamed to call it "Casey Kasem's Birthday," but I'm going to give it a try.
Jesse MacDonald had discovered a rare pleasure: spoiling things for those around him. It had started years ago, when he’d actually made a pre-teen girl cry by telling her “Snape kills Dumbledore” when the sixth Potter book came out. It was a powerful reaction, and it thrilled Jesse to no end. Since then, he had a new hobby, as Doreen, his soap opera-loving wife, could angrily attest.At work, folks knew to avoid him if they didn’t want to know who got dropped from last night’s reality show final, or sports scores from games happening while they were stuck at work. Heck, if he had a way to figure out the gender of unborn babies, just to tell their prospective mothers at inopportune times, he’d leap on it.
Jesse saw Patrice, the new secretary, sitting at her reception desk, paging through a paperback book. He squinted at the cover. It was Daddy’s Gone A Hunting, by Mary Higgins Clark. He promised himself to go online, read the end of the Wikipedia entry, and casually give away who was the killer before work today.
That reminded him. He dialed up Scott Henreid’s extension, eager to leave him a voicemail.
Scott picked up. “This is Scott.”
“Hey, Scott, I—“ Jesse began, trying to keep the smile out of his voice.
The young department manager interrupted. “I haven’t seen the game yet, so please don’t say anything.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Jesse said. “Just wanted you to know our department still hasn’t gotten the toner for the back copier. Light’s blinking again.”
“Alright. I thought we had ordered that on Tue—“
“Oh, and a shame about the Redskins beating the Patriots like that, wouldn’t you say?”
Scott hung up on him. Jesse wished he could see his face.
He heard someone laughing, and glanced outside his office to see Eric and Pierre, the two geeky data entry guys who sat across from each other, talking about cartoons and comic books half the time. He had prepared for this yesterday, and rose.Jesse’s heart swelled when he saw Eric’s face redden upon hearing about Black Widow’s death in the Avengers sequel, which didn't even hit theaters for a month.
“That might not be accurate, Eric,” Pierre said, standing up in his cubicle. “These rumors always fl—"
“No,” Eric muttered, “It’s exactly what that bastard Whedon would do.” He slumped in his seat.
“I’m sorry,” Jesse said, as insincerely as humanly possible. “Did I say something wrong?”
“Some people like to save themselves, Jesse,” Pierre growled.
“Like you two are for your wedding nights?” Jesse retorted. Alright, he didn’t actually think of that until he was halfway back to his office, but it was a nice slam anyway. Stupid nerds.
Jesse was out in the warm sun, walking through the aisles of the farmers’ market, looking for organic lettuce and celery, when a Chinese woman with a display of undersized vegetables nodded at him. “You looking for carrots?” she asked.
“Nah,” he said.
She was around fifty, but wore the cat-style glasses popular in the Sixties. She stood up, showing off her produce like a game show presenter. “You like onion? Very good onion.”
He just shrugged.
She was persistent. “Green bean. No chemicals. Best quality.”
“Sorry,” he said, and started to walk by.
The Chinese woman cocked her head, looking up. “October 29, 2021,” she said, as though reading it.
He looked back at her. “What?”
“'Clement Jesse MacDonald, age 47, passed away yesterday after a long battle with stomach cancer,’” she recited. “’He is survived by his parents, Annabelle and Jerard, and an ex-wife. Doreen.’”
Jesse’s mouth opened, but he said nothing.
The middle-aged Asian woman swallowed, then shook her head. She turned her bespectacled eyes to his, and said, “You sure you not want carrots?”