The Office


It was one of those things. You know? I'd just gotten back from lunch at the zoo and was settling down to do some serious cigarette smoking over the typewriter, when I heard a commotion from outside my office door. I banged the wall for quiet. The noise continued unabated. I guess it was the nine beers I'd had for lunch, but that's no excuse for my behavior. I swished the door open and slammed the first person I saw with an ashtray. Imagine my embarrassment when I noticed I'd just crippled a nun.

Well, how was I to know my boss was bringing guests over to see the operation. I began an apology to the unconscious woman, then decided against adding insult to the injury I'd already inflicted. My boss was glaring at me from under a single caterpillar eyebrow. His face was turning purple, well maybe just a deep red, as he bellowed at me to help the woman off the rug. She was old and frail and weighed just about as much as a clean conscience.

As I hoisted her up, grappling not to touch anything in the breast area, I saw there were three other nuns in the outer office; two of them just as old and dour as the one I'd bashed, but one was about my age and very pretty. I put on a smile, which didn't fit well, and nodded to all three. There were choruses of huffs and ahem's wafting on the re-circulating air. I felt sheepish as all eyes bored into me disapprovingly. I gently placed the woman on the inner-office divan and stumbled to splash cool water in her face. My boss snatched the pitcher of ice water from my hands and told me to get back to my office. There was nothing else for me to do, I left.

I chewed a couple of mints and rearranged my hairpiece when I got back to my own little room. The typewriter was still humming and the story I'd started flopped on the roller accusingly. What the hell, I thought, she was just another victim of blind journalism. What's a nun, anyway, but a woman? I'd had my share of bashing women in the past. That didn't bother me in the least. What did bother me was what my boss was going to say when they left. I could just hear his platitudinous pontificating from his plateau of piety. (Good alliteration.) Could I take another of his sanctimonious lectures? Hell no!

While I bent over the typewriter, my nimble fingers dancing over the keys, I thought I heard a slight, very light scratching on my door. I stopped typing to listen, but the scratching had stopped with my typing. I shook my heavy head and began writing again. But, the scratching took up its eerie cadence, once more. I was sure I heard it, It couldn't be the beer fog I was working through. Then the scratching became a furtive knocking. Then a demanding whack echoed through my hollow office. I continued typing, thinking it was my boss and said, "C'mon and cut the crap."

The door opened. I waited for the tirade. Nothing happened. I turned in my chair and saw, not my boss's angry face, but the face of an angel. She was standing in my doorway, her eyes downcast and her head slightly bowed. She was the young nun. She glanced up, slowly, until the sparkle in her eyes met my own blood shot pie plates She was more than just very pretty. She was a knockout! I must've telegraphed my feelings, because her sweet little mouth curled just so, at both corners, and she smiled at me.

In one motion I swept the cigarette out of my mouth and popped two mints in. I began to stand when she nodded, indicating I should stay put. I sat, just staring at her lovely face and engrossing eyes, She had freckles and what hair I could see under her Habit-hood-hat, was auburn or red. (I can never tell the difference.) Her eyes danced with the kind of impishness you wouldn't connect with a nun. Her smile broadened to show pearls of sparkling teeth, just uneven enough to invite pleasure.

She motioned with her head toward the chair facing my desk. I knocked over my coffee cup in my haste to move the chair so she could sit. A tinkling laugh escaped from her and she covered her mouth with a dainty hand, successfully stifling the sound. I smiled, embarrassed again at my oafishness, but quickly regained my composure. I was a hard-nosed journalist. I didn't fumble and fawn over women, much less a pretty and unattainable nun. I coughed and began, "I'm sorry for decking your pal, sister. It won't happen again."

She smiled and shook her head in dismissal of my apology. I said, "What can I do for you?" She dropped her head, and for an instant, I thought she was crying. Shit. Was I really in that much trouble? I'd done worse in the past and lived to tell about it. Then she raised her head and I could see she'd been giggling. I couldn't figure her out at all, She sure as hell didn't say much. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a lady who keeps her mouth shut, I just didn't have a clue what she wanted. I asked her again what I could do for her.

She let her eyes slip from mine and wander my office, until they came to rest on my layout table. Then she looked back to me and gave me that knowing smile again. What the hell was she trying to tell me? Sex? Was the little nun trying to tell be she wanted that? No. No! Not even a guy like me would do a thing like that. Not if there was any chance of getting caught. And anyway, c'mon. She was a virgin - they all are. Mostly. Huh uh, pal, I thought, not me! A husband with a gun is one thing, but these chicks are supposed to be married to the Big Bopper, himself. Deep, deep guilt. But the look in her eyes told me she had thoughts other than staying true to her man.

She stood up and swished her black and white lithe-ness over to the layout table, glanced back imploringly at me and settled herselft on the edge of the table. She patted her hand beside her and tossed her head toward me, Again that twinkle and smile. I felt myself rising at the thought.

She hoisted herself onto the table and rested on one elbow, raising her left leg and bending it at the knee, just enough to let me see the three inch spiked heels she was wearing. Spiked heels? Who was this woman and why didn't she say anything? I tried to jump up, spryly, from my typing desk, but was brought up shortly and painfully by developments below the waist. You can bet that hurt to the roots!

I doubled over so fast, I cracked my bean on the corner of the layout table. The last thing I remember before going down for the count was seeing her red garter holding up the sleek, silk stocking at her firm, white thigh. The floor came up to meet me on my way down.

When I finally came to, my head felt like the splitting skin on a too-tight drum. My eyes slowly focused on the hazy, swirling room around me. The four nuns were lined up in front of me, mumbling concernedly and sipping tea. My boss was holding an ashtray with a clot of sticky hair still on the pointy end. I wanted to shake my head, but figured I had too much to lose, by the look of the ashtray's red coating.

It came back to me in installments. The noise outside my office, My banging then rushing out with the ashtray. Then it all got fuzzy. What the hell was going on here? The nun I'd bashed was standing with the others, sipping her tea and looking none the worse for the beating I'd given her. There was a piece missing. What happened between me and the young nun? Wasn't she on my layout table? Wasn't she trying to tease me into eternal damnation? Hadn't I been keen to comply? I didn't get it. . .
Then I did shake my head. Jeez, it hurt! My brain sloshed in my skull like a walnut in a milkshake. (If you can call that sloshing.) Then the four nuns began to melt away! Where was I, in the Twilight Zone? They seemed to waver in the air before me, then they actually began to shrink. Four full sized nuns shrank to the size of tiny, little birds. Four tiny, little penguins. I was going crazy. Nuns can't turn into birds. Not in real life!

Sounds came faintly to my ears. The sounds resolved themselves into my boss's voice. He sounded angry. Maybe that's not quite accurate. He sounded more than that. At first I couldn't figure out what he was saying to me. Then selected pieces began slithering into my beleaguered mind. . .

". . .do you think you're doing? I've put up with your crap long enough. First you just came in drunk, I could handle that, you're a good editor. But showing up three hours late, pissed out of your mind with four stolen penguins is too much even for me! And the next time you try feeding me sardines from a dirty ashtray I'll not only crack your head with it, I'll fire your ass off this magazine.

" And stay away from the zoo for a few days. Maybe they didn't get a good look at you."

Guy's got no sense of humor since the vasectomy.

The End