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.

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
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