Me and Mortimer: Chapter ten—”Mortimer is Back from His Honeymoon!”

Good mornin’! How was your weekend? My wife’s mother came to visit for the weekend, so I took the occasion to go fishing up at Pine Lake, but the mosquitos was really bad up there, so came back a bit early. Brought back two beautiful lake trout, though. Since my wife don’t eat fish, I had both of them beauties to myself. She did fry them up for me—a bit of butter and some sauce. Mmmml! I can still taste them!

I thought I’d try something different and come to work on time this morning, just to see what it felt like. The clock said exactly nine o’clock when I walked through the door, and sure enough, Mortimer, the ol’ company brownnoser and fresh off his honeymoon, was already at work, polishing his garden tools and placing them carefully back on their designated place he had marked for them on the wall rack.

Save time by always knowin’ where your tools are, he keeps tellin’ me. I swear, the greatest fear rust could have with Mort’s tools, would be to appear as a rust spot on one of them! That rust spot would be polished away faster than Russian President Putin could say, ‘nyet’!

I did—again—make note that Mort forgot to put the coffee pot to boil. Since he’s always the first one in in the mornin’, I naturally figures, first one in to the office should make the coffee, but he always keeps forgetting to do that.

One of these days I’m gonna have a real serious talk with that slacker about the importance of havin’ that first cup of coffee in the morning. However, considering the good mood he was in, I didn’t want to spoil it. I’ll have that talk with him another day!

“Mornin’, Mort!” I greeted him, sounding as cheerful as I could, hoping that would keep the morning pleasant. “How was the honeymoon?” Not that I really cared, or that it was any of my business, but it was a conversation starter.

“It was great!” He replied, turnin’ hisself around and actually looking directly at me. Usually he just answers with his back to me, so I figured he really must feel special this morning, if he’s facin’ me directly.

“We stayed in a beautiful, self-contained log cabin in Jasper National Park that had a small kitchen unit, so Maureen was able to brush up on her cooking skills.”

“Your wife can cook?”

Mort broke out in a amusin’ type of chuckle, like as if I had something funny. “She’s a very good cook,” he said. “She worked for an entire year as the Master Chef in the Rolling Hills Restaurant on the north end of town, but didn’t like the long hours, so she returned to teaching. Right now, she’s teaching a primary class in a small, rural school about five kilometers east of here.”

“Teaches?” I guess my face musta showed surprise, ‘cause he chuckled that stupid chuckle again. “Maureen has her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education.” Mort rehung the grass sheers he’d been sharpinin’. He seemed sorta proud that his wife was so smart and educated, and that observation really alarmed me. It’s my superior opinion that a woman should never be smarter than her husband! They gets real bossy if they thinks they’s as smart or smarter than you.

I was about to correct him and explain that it was a bad idea, letting women get higher education. I mean, sure, they can go to grade school up to Grade Eight, so they know how to read and write and answer a phone, and make up a proper grocery list, but high school and university was a man’s world, and should stay that way!

Sheesh! Next thing you know, women will want to become boss of a company, and hire men to work for them! No way! I ain’t subjecting myself to any of that kind of inequality!

By this time in our talk Mort had finished polishing all his tools, so he picked up his car keys and said, “I have to go to the gas station and fill up the gas can so I can cut the lawn this afternoon. They have a snack bar there. Would you like me to bring you a sandwich for your lunch? Treat’s on me.”

“As long as it ain’t one of them vegetarian things again,” I reminded him of the last time he bought a sandwich for me. I took one bite of that last sandwich and had to throw the rest away. Veggies is for kids and some lower-class animals, but real men that’s got a superior taste for food, eats meat!

“How about I buy you a Sauerkraut and a Bratwurst in a hotdog bun? I think they still sell them at the snack bar.”

Boy, marryin’ Maureen and the honeymoon must of really have changed Mort. I never seen him this generous before.

“Sure,” I said. “Now you’re talkin’ man’s food!” Sauerkraut on a real, German type of Bratwurst was a Friday night special at the new Tartans and Cream pub. That new pub opened up shortly after the Crown and Star had to close down. You could buy a bratwurst and a beer at their place for five bucks. That was my choice every Friday night when I went to the pub instead of goin’ home and eating that mushy stuff my wife is startin’ to make for me. My wife’s also got herself on one of them health food diets, and is trying to get me to eat that stuff, too. She sez it will make me healthier, but to my superior way of reasoning, it’s my eating at a sauerkraut on a bratwurst at the Tartans and Cream pub once a week —or sometimes, for a change of diet, I orders a Super Burger with a side of fries and a pickle at McDoogle’s Burger Stop that’s made the he-man out of me that I am today!

While Mort was gone to the gas station I thought I’d take the opportunity to read the morning newspaper. Not much news in the paper today. The editor used up a whole page just to give his opinion against that ring road the province wants to build around the town. The editor figures it’s gonna allow a lot of traffic to be routed away that would normally stop and shop in town, so the ring road would be bad for business. But the province figures it would speed up north-south traffic that crosses the province every day, and wouldn’t have to slow down while going through town. Especially them big dual-rigged transport trucks; they’d be free to just honk their horn and happily wave goodbye while speeding past our town.

I’m with the province on the idea for building a ring road. I want to keep our town small! It’s more peaceful and quiet that way, not having to deal with all that through-traffic. ‘Specially not having them big trucks slow down as they pass through town. Right now, they use their engines instead of their air brakes to slow down, and that infernal pop-pop-pop their engines make as they slow down was often the cause of jolting me awake too early on Sunday morning! I swear, them truck engines make more noise than a battery of artillery guns can make while firing blanks on celebrating our national holiday!

I see where ol’ Jake Osgood finally died. He had turned a hundred and three last January.  Earlier this summer, the town had made him Citizen of the Year to honor him for all the good work he done in the past for organizing kid’s hockey teams. All his family—it sez here that he had thirty-one great grandkids—and some of the retired hockey players that are still around, had a special honoring-wake at the funeral home. One thing I know for sure, Osgood didn’t have any beer at his party. He was a teetotaler.

Sheesh! How can you have a party if you don’t allow beer? I suppose some of the women got together and made him a frosty orange juice! Sheesh! What’s this world comin’ to when a guy turns down a beer for orange juice?

Mortimer just came in and handed me my bratwurst. He even bought a root beer to go along with the bratwurst!

“Thanks, Mort! I owe you one!” I gleefully unwraps that beauty and admires that culinary delight.

“Just remember to do the filing before you go home,” he reminds me, while digging into his own veggie salad. I had to wonder: how can a man eat that stuff that he’s eating? He ain’t no rabbit!

But I got something better to concentrate on than rabbit food! “sorry for cutting our conversation short but my bratwurst is waiting …

Talk to you again next week!

Me and Mortimer—Chapter Nine: “Mortimer’s Wedding”

You remember me tellin’ you last week that Mortimer was about to get  hisself married? Well, he actually found a woman that would tolerate his company brownnosing attitude! Honestly, I didn’t think ol’ Mort could do better, matrimonially, than find some desperate old widow needin’ help with her half-dozen out-of-control brats left over from a previous marriage, but he surprised me.

But, last Saturday, it actually happened! Mort got hitched! My wife and I was invited to the wedding, and I met Mort’s wife for the first time. I was quite surprised—and had to admit, Mort made a pretty good catch! She’s really a good lookin’, sexy broad and seems like she’s got smarts—at least more smarts than that company brownnoser she married! I just hope she can educate Mort so that he can get along better with me at work than he has in the past.

The ceremony was the usual schmaltzy stuff, with each of them trading mushy vows that made some of the guests wipe tears from their eyes. About those vows, I say there’s only one important one. A man marries a woman to take care of him, period! And that’s all he needs to tell her. I can’t understand why it’s necessary to have to add all this lovey-dovey stuff to the vows! If my wife feeds me and washes my clothes, I respects her. Sheesh! What more could a good wife want from a guy?

They also put on a pretty good lunch. My wife said—at least I think that’s what she called it: Balsamic glazed chicken thighs. Whatever—the main thing is, it was chicken, and it was good! I don’t understand why some folk spend so much time giving fancy names to what they’re eating. As if it’s gonna make the food taste better! I was gonna go and have a third helping, but my wife stopped me. She said I shouldn’t make a pig of myself.

The frustrating part of the refreshments, though, was they didn’t serve real refreshments like they do at football games. They served some kinda imported wine from Chile. My wife said—again, that’s what I think she said—I don’t pay much attention to them fancy foreign names, but I think she called it Merlot, and it was a red wine. Too sweet for my taste. I prefer beer, so I only had two glasses of the stuff. They also served the wine in those long-stemmed crystal glasses. At first, I was scared to pick up one of them glasses in fear I’d break the stem, but at this point, I really needed a drink, so I took the risk. Again, I prefer good ol’ beer glasses. They’s tough and they’re used to rough handlin’ by guys like me.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention the preacher that was there to marry Mortimer and his lady. Surprising thing is, it wasn’t a he: it was a she preacher! She was dressed in a ordinary business suit and looked like anybody else at the wedding. If my wife hadn’t of pointed her out to me as being a preacher, I’d of guessed she was just one of the several other women there who didn’t have a man to support her.

I don’t think God intended women to be preachers! Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned men-type preachers: men dressed in black with all kinds of fancy gold and white decorations on their robes and hats. Makes them look important and reverend and pious sounding—something like a politician who’s just got caught committing a mortal sin and needs confessing: makes you almost want to believe them!

After lunch they cleared the floor and brought out the band. Not a superior quality band, like we used to have when I was younger, but a bunch of kids with those loud electric guitars and drums, and they was yellin’ into their mics and jumpin’ around and twistin’ on stage like their jeans was too tight and they needed to scratch but couldn’t reach the itch! That’s when me and the wife left the wedding! It was even too much for her.

About eleven o’clock, Mortimer and his new bride took off on their honeymoon, and Mort will be gone from the office for the rest of the week.

That’s all the news I have about the wedding itself.  Right now, I’m sittin’ here at my desk in the office, just twiddlin’ my thumbs while I’m talkin’ to you …

sheesh! … Good thing you’re a good listener! Makes it lonely, not havin’ Mort here. Thank goodness at least I got you to talk to and tell you about the latest happenings here at the company and between me and Mort. Makes the day go faster when I can just talk to someone.

… Yeah, I know, know!  I could put away those files before going home early again, but the office boy only brought a few files for me to file today, and Mort’s not here to check on me, so I think I’ll wait ‘till tomorrow to file them.

What do you think of the two extra police the town’s hired last week? One of the cops is even a woman, can you believe that? What if she has to arrest some big, drunken bum? How’s she gonna get the cuffs on him?

Personally, I don’t see where crime is on the increase in town. Just ‘cause there was a drunken brawl outside the pub that hurt that one woman and her kid and the news carried it for nearly a week, don’t mean we need more cops! What was the woman with her kid doing on the streets so late at night, anyway? And where was her husband? He shoulda been there protecting his wife and kid! Anyone with superior sense, like I have, knows that women are the weaker sex and shouldn’t be on the streets at night without an escort! That’s what husbands are for: to protect their wives if they ever has gotta be out late at night.

And, as for the kids, they shouldn’t be on the streets after dark to begin with. Sure, there are more cases of drug use in our area today then when I was a kid; break-ins and vandalism, but I say, all the more reason for women and kids to stay home after dark where it’s safer and they can be better protected by their husbands.

Also, I gotta ask your opinion about our town paper. I read in the editorial that the owner is askin’ the town to pitch in with some money. The owner figures that, since his paper is a small-town paper and don’t got the circulation a big city has, nor the advertising revenue, that he needs a little extra help in keeping the paper going. He sez that a newspaper is a town’s life blood and information source, but I disagree with him.

I’m sure you still remember the Crown and Star pub that used to be located on ninth street and second avenue.  It finally shut its doors about six months ago. It wanted some help from the town, but the town said that the pub wasn’t a vital business, like a newspaper, so they wouldn’t help them, even though the pub ran weekly bingos which, in my superior opinion, made it a social center for town gossip and news, no different than a newspaper.

Sheesh! Some folk is sure picky about what they calls news!

Speaking of news and newspapers, I gotta tell you, one thing I faithfully reads every morning in the paper, it’s my horoscope. If you really want to know what your day is gonna be like, read your horoscope. Just to show you how accurate them horoscopes are, here’s what mine sez for today. By the way, I’m a Libra.

It may at times be annoying that not everyone sees things the same way as you see things, but if they did, life would be hugely boring, which is far worse.” See how factual a horoscope is? That defines me to a “T”. Not many folks agrees with my superior views, but I just gotta accept that most folks just ain’t as smart as I am!

… Oh my gosh! I see it’s almost three o’clock. I hope you ain’t gonna be mad at me for running out on you like this without tellin’ you more news, but I gotta rush or I’ll miss my bus. My wife needed the car this morning, so I had to take the bus.

See you next week!

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

Sometimes life just ain’t fair! Take this mornin’ for example. My wife and kids got up early, even before the neighborhood sparrows had started their infernal, irritatin’ chatter, so that she and the kids could get a early start on their trip to Vancouver Island. The kids, especially, was up even before my wife got outa bed, yellin’ and screemin’ and runnin’ around all excited and makin’ enough noise to wake a grave digger’s catch of the day!

Of course, the family decided—without my input, as usual—to use the family car for their holiday, which meant I would have to catch the bus to work all this week.

Before she closed the door behind her on the way out, my wife made sure I was awake so I wouldn’t sleep in and be late for work. Sheesh! As if anyone could sleep through the racket those kids was makin’!

I glanced at the alarm clock. Seven o’clock? I ain’t gettin’ up this early, so I rolled over to catch a few extra zees before I’d hafta face the day for real. Besides, it only takes me fifteen minutes to drive to work, so, why get up this early?

Like I said, sometimes life puts you behind the eight ball, no matter what you do. Those extra zees I decided to take turned into an hour-long nap, and I still had to make some breakfast before heading out to work! And, I’d completely forgotten that I’d have to take the bus all this week, which means it takes longer to get to work than by car.

Of course, bein’ late, I missed the bus I shoulda took, so I had to wait for the next one, which made me half hour late to get to work! Sometimes, I swear, if I didn’t have any bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all!

Fortunately for me, when I finally did get to work, Mortimer was already out mowin’ the grass around the company parking lot, so he never noticed me sneak in late and wouldn’t be able to snitch the fact that I was late again to my wife—or, so at least, I thought.

Meanwhile, back to the present.

That Mortimer!  Sometimes I have to shake my head when I see how he forgets his priorities. He forgot to make coffee again, leaving that responsibility up to me. How many times must I tell him, first guy into the office in the morning, makes the coffee!

So, naturally, the first thing I had to do was make a fresh pot of coffee. While I was waitin’ for the water to boil, I opened the mornin’ paper and read the headline: “Senator Drymann refuses to support Parliament’s bill to buy ten new fighter jets for our armed forces.”

For you folks out there who don’t know, Drymann’s the guy our Prime Minister recently appointed to The Upper Chamber and he’s been makin’ a real name for hisself among the flower power radicals by refusin’ to support any kind of bill the government tries to introduce that will increase defense spending.

Sheesh! You’d think those young tree-huggen’, pot smokin’  radicals had better things to do than spend their time parading in front of the parliament buildings, acting like they knew better than us old folks do about what’s best for the country.

That news headline got me so mad at ol’ Drymann I was ready to sit down and write to him and tell him he was wrong for not supporting our troops … but I see the water in the coffee pot’s boilin’ so, instead, I had to close the paper and go make the coffee. At the same time I was makin’ the coffee, Mortimer comes into our office, grass stains all over his knees where he’s been kneeling, and oil all over his hands.

“You have to come and help me with the lawn mower,” he sez to me, completely ignorin’ the fact that I was already busy with my own priority—makin’ the coffee—and didn’t have time to help him with his stupid lawn mower. “The blade broke and I need someone to help me tilt the mower and hold it so I can unscrew the broken blade and install a new one.”

I was about to give Mortimer a piece of my mind for interrupting my important coffee-making chore and to go find someone that was doing nothin’ that could help him with his lawn mower … but then I thought, maybe this could be a good time to discuss Drymann’s stupid decision with him and see what he thinks, so I turned off the boiling water and went out to the parking lot with him instead.

“Here—I’ll lift up the mower on this end, and I want you to hold it in that position while I take off the blade.” Mortimer lifts up the side of the mower and waits for me to grab hold.

“Why don’tcha just get a piece of two-by-four and prop up the mower? Then you wouldn’t need my help.”

“Just hold it steady—like this!” He snaps at me.

Sheesh! I thought it was a good idea. Anyway, I dismiss ol’ Mort’s snarky comment, thinkin’ he’s probably having a bad morning, with his lawn mower being broken and all that, so I asks him, “What ya think of Drymann’s decision not to support our troops?”

Mortimer stops unscrewing the bolts on the lawn mower blade and looks up at me, sort of funny like, like as if I hadn’t made myself clear.

“You know,” I sez, making it more simple so even Mort could understand, “voting against the bill for our government to buy those ten new jets.”

“I think Senator Drymann made a very responsible decision in voting against that purchase,” Mort turns back to unscrewing the bolts and removes the broken blade. “I’d like to see our country become more interested in promoting peace, rather than fighting wars we don’t need to get involved in.”

Huh!” Mort’s remark shocked me to the core. I hadn’t expected that kinda unpatriotic talk from him! “You mean, we shouldn’t defend our country and not give our troops the best fightin’ machines we can?” I didn’t think Mort was that kind of guy, not supporting our government in fighting terrorism.

“Defending our country can often be better accomplished through peaceful talks, rather than preparing for war.”

“Well, I say, the best way to have peace is to prepare for war!” I snapped back at Mortimer in a finality that prevented any chance for him to disagree with my superior views. He now had finished attaching the new blade, so I was able to let go of my end of the lawn mower. Good thing, ‘cause my arms was getting’ pretty tired holding up that stupid, stinky thing.

Mortimer just shrugged off my superior argument, and, instead, began priming the engine on the lawn mower. “That’s why it’s such a privilege to live in a democratic country like ours where each of us can express our opinion, and not be silenced by dictatorial rule.” The mower started real easy so Mort wasted no time in leaving me stand there while he finished cutting the lawn.

“Yeah? Well, I think ol’ Drymann’s just a sleezy politician not caring about whether our country’s defended or not!” I shouted after Mortimer, but I don’t think he heard me over the racket that noise machine of his was making.

Having to walk all the way back to my office in the tool shed from the parking lot really left me tired. I looked at the stack of files on my desk that needed putting away, and that made me feel even more tired. At that point, I really wanted to quit—but I knew my wife would get really angry at me if I did, so I started filing …

… “Coffee!” I shouted aloud. With havin’ to help Mortimer, and him getting me angry about how Drymann was letting down our troops, made me completely forget that I hadn’t had my coffee this morning. I walked over to the table and turned on the coffee pot, then sat down and again open the morning paper, ignorin’ the headlines about Drymann.

I needed a rest!

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!”

 

 

Me and Mortimer, “My Wife is now My Boss” Chapter Four


Do you remember, last week me tellin’ you all about my sunburn that I got from going to the beach with my wife’s sister’s kids? Well, after ol’ Mort left in a huff ‘cause I didn’t tell him right away that the boss wanted to see him, I poured myself another cup of coffee and started readin’ the mornin’ paper, plannin’ to have a restful day and heal my sunburn.

Well, I suddenly got the urge to go and relieve myself, and the only bathroom close by was in the company’s main building, ‘top of the hill. I didn’t want to put on my shirt ‘cause my sunburn still hurt, so I went to use the company washroom without my shirt on. No problem, I thought, ‘cause I ain’t exposing myself—got my pants on, haven’t I? —and what the heck, who ain’t seen a guy without his shirt on before?

A bit later, as I was just comin’ out of the washroom—it’s on the second floor where all the brass and their uppity lady secretaries have their offices, when one of the ladies—Actually, hag is a better description of her, comes out her office door and into the hallway where I am waiting for an elevator. When she sees me she stops, sudden like, and with the most horrible surprised look on her face, like, as if she’s just seen the end of the world, points her gnarled, witch-like finger at me and yells, “Sir, what are you doing here with no shirt on? That’s indecent exposure!”

This lady looked mean, I tell ya, so I wasn’t about to stand there and explain all about my sunburn and how I couldn’t wear a shirt, so I forgets about waitin’ for the elevator and ducked into the stairway, hopin’ she wouldn’t follow me.

So, I barely gets back to my office here in the Maintenance Shed, out of breath ‘cause I was runin’ all the way, when the shed door bursts open and my straw boss, Jason, bursts in with his wicked witch of the north secretary tailin’ him like a devoted lap dog.

Just as a side note, neither of them likes me, and especially that secretary. She’s had it in for me right from the start.

Jason ain’t the CEO of the company. Jason’s the guy who was told by the boss to hire me, but he’s been trying to find an excuse ever since to fire me. Figures I’m not good enough for the company … Hah! At least I ain’t no brownnoser like he is!

As I said, this little runt—and I calls him that ‘cause he really is little more than four feet tall, comes burstin’ into the shed, completely ignores Mortimer who’s standin’ quietly over there by the lawn mower and he comes to face me where I’m sitting at my desk.

“What were you doing in the main office without your shirt on?” He sorta half yells at me. He’s sure upset, and that secretary-hag tailin’ him gives me a look that would melt the armor off a battle ship. “We’ve got strict dress codes in our office,” he continues. “Besides, I told you before that the main office is off limits to you!”

I started explaining to him that all this was ‘cause of my sunburn, and I had to relieve myself, but he wasn’t listening, and I think quite on purpose. Looks to me like that witch-secretary of his did her job of makin’ him hate me on their way over here.

“I’ve had it with you and your crazy antics! You’re nothing but a screw-up! You’re fired!” Then he and that secretary-hag of his turn, and like they was one in mind and intent, start for the door. He stops long enough to look back to tell me, “you can pick up your paycheck just before five this afternoon, and I don’ want to see you on this property again! Is that clear?”

It was actually a bit surprisin’ … I mean, the way that little runt was actin’ so angry all of a sudden. I know he don’t like me, but normally, he’s usually a quiet guy, so I think he was usin’ this whole incident about me not wearin’ a shirt as final excuse to fire me—and, of course, that skinny secretary of his backin’ his hate for me, made his anger for me even worse!

“Sheesh!” I shake my head and mutters to myself. A lot’s happened in just one minute and I gotta sit down to think things over. Maybe me bein’ fired ain’t such a bad thing after all! I’ve been with the company long enough now where I can draw employment benefits, so I don’t need to work for a few months … and with today’s pay cheque I can go buy that fishin’ pole I’ve always wanted, and relax, and do some fishin’ on the lake instead of wastin’ my time here in this stupid office! … that’ll teach the company not to be so hasty in firing a good employee like me!

In all this commotion, I forgot about Mortimer. Suddenly I hear him move in the shadows somewhere by his work bench. He starts whistlin’

Yankee Doodle came to town

A-riding on his pony

He stuck a feather in his cap

And called it Macaroni.

For a moment, I was so dumstruck—I didn’t expect him to make fun of me. That whistlin’ of his obviously was a victory whistle tellin’ me he was glad I was fired and no longer be in his maintenance shed! I jumped up— Ouch!—too sudden like. I wanted to go over and punch him in the nose, but my sunburn hurt more than my for Mortimer, so I sat down again. Just then the door again opens and the Straw Boss, Jason, comes back in, only this time he ain’t got his hag-secretary with him: he’s got my wife with him! I was so surprised I even forgot about my sunburn!

Jason doesn’t look me in the eyes—just sorta looks down, then mutters, “Looks like you’re not fired after all.” He half turns his back to me, and I can see that it’s hard for him to say this, then blurts out, “The boss called me in and—uh, we talked … and—uh,  looks like you’re not fired.”

“And you can thank me—and Gertrude—for your boss changing his mind about firing you,” my wife butted in.

“Your wife’s going to be your new boss for a while,” Jason added. Then, without further explanation, he just up and leaves without further explanation.

My wife don’t look happy—much like a mad hen that’s been disturbed off her nest. I move to behind my desk. Not out of fear or anything like that, but thinkin’ it safer if I put some distance between her and me right now. My wife looks at the heap of files on my desk.

“You have some filing to do, mister!” she tells me, and I got a feelin’ she means it! “You don’t leave here until all those files are put away!”

I looks at the clock. It’s quarter-to-five! My heart sank. “But I don’t got time to put all them files away before five!” I protest. Out of the corner of my eye I see Mortimer put on his cap and silently sneak out.

“You should have thought about that earlier in the day when you did have time!” she informs me!   I was thinkin’ of objecting, but the look on her face made me think otherwise.

“And no supper, no television tonight, until those files are all filed away!”

My sunburn ain’t nothin’ compared to the stare I get from my wife. Slowly, painfully, I pick up some files and start filing.

 

Me and Mortimer. “Death in the Saddle,” Chapter Two.

If you’re like me and got kids, you know that proper schoolin’ takes up a good part of their lives. I got a teenage daughter who’s just graduated into high school and she sez she wants to major in journalism after she’s finished with school. I told her she’d be better off if she’d go in for bein’ a doctor. She’d make much more money, bein’ a doctor than a journalist, but, no! She’s as stubborn as her mother. A journalist is what my daughter’s gonna be, and that’s it!

Her teacher keeps givin’ her a bunch of homework assignments. Sez they’re good practice assignments to help her become a better journalist, but I think she’s as wacky as a dodo bird tryin’ a backwards flip!

Back in the days when I went to school we had no homework—or if our teacher was stupid enough to try and force homework on us, I just wouldn’t do it. After school was fer other, more important things, like playin’ ball, or meet the gang at the local pool hall, not homework!

Anyway, as I was sayin’, the teacher keeps givin’ my daughter all these journalist practice assignments, and so I finally caved in and promised to help her become a good journalist, so this mornin’ I brought some paper and a pencil with me to show my daughter what good journalism is like.

I pour myself my first cup of coffee for the day, read only the headlines in the newspaper so I can sooner get down to writin’ and show my daughter what good journalism is.

So now I’m sitting here at my desk, thinkin’ hard about what would make a good western story. I’m bein’ as quiet as possible and not disturb Mort. So far, he’s in a pretty good mood, and I don’t want him to get angry again and stomp out of here, like he did last week. I write …

Like balls of weightless cotton, the fog drifted down the mountains, covering the Pecos Valley in a thick mist as if it were trying to hide the terrible black secret hidden__

“Nah! That’s no good!” I crumple up the paper and throw it into the garbage and try again.

The sharp crack of three rapid gunshots echoed across the sparse cactus growth of the parched, choking valley floor, shattering the stillness of the growing purple shadows of impending night. At the first crack of the rifle shot, jack rabbits leaped to attention, their ears perked, frozen in fear—

“Eh, even worse!” I try once more.

The full moon hung low over the horizon, like an outrider’s beacon, guiding the lone rider, pushing his horse to the limit, ever westward through the tangled sage—”

“Aw, this just ain’t workin’!” I said out loud, I throw down my pencil and lean back in my chair. I’m gettin’ nowhere—looks like writin’ is harder than I thought!

“What are you trying to write anyway?” I guess I shouldn’ta spoke out loud ‘cause it attracted Mortimer’s curiosity. He stopped rummaging through the old tobacco can full of saved nuts and bolts and looked at me.

“My daughter’s got this western pulp fiction literature assignment for school and I said I’d help her. Sez she might be a journalist some day.”

“Did she ask for your help?”

“Well, nah! You know how kids are. Too independent. Think they know more than their parents, but I thought I’d just show her up by writin’ a good story.”

“So, your daughter is interested in becoming a journalist?”

“She talks all the time about it. I told her that if she’d go ahead with her plans to be a journalist, she’d be as poor as a crop sharer on a flood plain, but you know how kids are. Never listen to their parents.”

“Many journalists make excellent careers out of writing. Good journalism is important to our society. It keeps us accurately informed about world events.”

“You mean, mis-informed! What this country needs is some good old fashioned teachers like we usta have, and some morals like we usta have!”

“Your daughter’s school assignment is to write a western pulp fiction story? That doesn’t sound much like a journalism assignment.”

“Well—that’s not what her teacher wants her to write about. Her teacher wants her to write a research paper on early life of—get this: ‘Early Northern Inuit Life Before Whiteman came.’ How about that fer a stupid title and subject? Hah! In my time they was called Eskimos, not Inuit. And what kinda life did they have anyway—they had no history before we came and gave them guns so that they could hunt better and build wooden houses instead of them igloo things.”

“But, that’s a real journalism assignment—I mean, what the teacher gave your daughter.”

“Yeah, that’s what you and that stupid teacher say. I told my daughter that, if she really wants to get ahead in this world, she better learn how to write good western fiction! I grew up on dime wester pulp fiction, so I know. They’s the backbone of our society!”

“Well, I guess she’s your daughter—” Mortimer just shrugs and turns back to his can of nuts and bolts. I make another attempt to write an opening paragraph.

Vultures circle over the dying cowboy’s horse—”

“Shouldn’t you be filing that backlog of files on your desk instead of working on your personal stuff?”

Mort’s comment makes me see red! That man just ain’t got no sense of good literature! I open my mouth to yell at him, “What’s more important: filin’ some stupid files that someone’s gonna want pulled again later anyway, or teachin’ a child about literature?” But I keep quiet ‘cause it’s almost lunch time … what the heck, why let Mortimer ruin my day? I decided, instead, to go plug in the coffee pot and, while I’m waitin’ for the pot to start boilin,’ I sort through some files.

So far, today’s been a peaceful day workin’ here with Mort, but with his attitude, I don’t know how long that can last!

 

Me and Mortimer—Chapter One—Introduction

This is the introduction to a series of short, humorous stories in the life of a middle-aged man whom, you might say, is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – an Andy Capp sort of a guy who’s opinionated, who claims to know it all—or thinks he does and doesn’t mind sharing his version of what’s right with his co-workers, and especially with Mortimer, the company Maintenance Man, with whom he is forced to be closely associated with. Not that it was Mortimer’s idea for the two to share space but, well, as you read the story you’ll get to know how this all came about.

—–o0o—–

This is “Me” talkin’. I do most of the talkin’ and explainin’ around here now ‘cause Mortimer don’t say much anymore. When I first came here we used to talk with each other more, but I guess he just couldn’t stand my correctin’ the way he was always doin’ things wrong, so he mostly avoids me now.

First, I gotta tell you how come I got my office moved down here in the maintenance tool shed with Mortimer. Mortimer is the company’s Maintenance Man—sort of a general fixer-upper who thinks he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things Well I think he knows something about a lot of things, but I say he ain’t no specialist in any one thing, if you know what I mean.

I joined the company about three years ago. I was hired to work on the second floor in the main Administrative Office back up there on the hill as a File Clerk. It wasn’t a bad job. The pay is good and it didn’t require much work, but my boss was one of those guys who sure didn’t know nothin’ about filing! At the time, I tried over and over again to show him how the filing system should be set up, but he didn’t seem to appreciate my help. Some boss, if you ask me; can’t take any correction!

At first, he just ignored me and just went about doin’ things his own way anyway, but later, he started gettin’ mad at me fer insistin’ he should try and do things the right way—my way. Then, one day, he just exploded.

“That’s enough! I’ve had it with you,” I can still remember him yellin’ at me. “I’m moving you out of my sight!”

An’, that’s how I got to have my office and the filing cabinets moved into the Company’s Maintenance Shed here where Mortimer works. They had to clean out a section of the shed just for me and my filing cabinets, and I don’t think ol’ Mortimer liked that ‘cause it took some space away from all his fixer-upper junk that he uses in his work. You’d think that he’d complain about havin’ less space now, but, no sir! Not ol Mort! Mort’s one of those ‘yes-men’ that the company likes to keep around. Not like me. If I see somethin’s done the way it ain’t supposed to be done, I speak out!

I’m still in charge of filing, though. The boss didn’t take that important job from me. Good thing, too, ‘cause if he’da threatened to fire me one more time, I’da just turned around and quit!

Of course, Mortimer was quick to mark off his space in the tool shed from mine. My space is over here—see, over here in the north-east corner. Problem is, I got no window to look out of, nor do I get any sunshine comin’ in, and it can get a bit cool here, so I always gotta wear a jacket.

Actually, when I saw how things was turnin’ out, I was ready to accept the boss’s offer and just quit, but I needed the job, so I agreed to the move. What the heck, I thought, I can still exert my expertise on the company’s filing system from here in the shed.

These days, Mort mostly speaks to me only when I asked him something, or if he needs something from me. You’ll see later on why he acts so funny. I’ll explain more about him and why I think he’s screwier than a backwards-threaded nut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean about the guy.  I just got to work this mornin’ and barely had a chance to finish readin’ my newspaper and finish my second cup of coffee when I’m disturbed by Mort makin’ all kinds of banging and rattling noise while rooting through his tool box. I can see he’s getting’ sort of frustrated and muttering to hisself. He usually comes in to work early: sometimes about half hour before he’s supposed to be here. The nerd! Tryin’ to suck up to the boss, I guess. Anyway, that’s his business. I don’t come in to work a minute before I’m supposed to. I ain’t no suck-hole!

“What’s buggin’ your butt this mornin’?” I finally ask Mort. The noise of his rootin’ around was interfering with me trying to solve the morning paper’s crossword puzzle.

“You seen my hammer?”

“What hammer?”

“The one that I normally leave here in my tool box.”

I had to think for a moment. “Oh, you mean the one with the red painted wooden handle? I used it to pound a nail into the wall so I could hang his girly calendar of mine. That gal’s really stacked, eh?”

“Well, where did you leave it?”

“Where did I leave what?”

“The hammer! I need it!”

Sheesh! That guy’s temper-fuse is about as short as a bull who just discovered an intruder in his pasture! “Hey, cool it, man! Who’re you yellin’ at? Here’s your dumb hammer, right where I left it … let’s see – yeah, here it is, in my bottom desk drawer.”

Mort grabs the hammer, tosses it into his tool box and stomps out without so much as a thank you to me fer handing him his hammer.

Sheesh! You’d think I was responsible for his tools! But, anyway, now you see what I mean about me tryin’ to get along with folks in this Company. As I already said, if I didn’t need this job so bad, I’d tell them where to shove it.

Until next time, hope you’re havin’ a better day than I am!

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!