15 March 2023

969, or How the New World Order Faced Lucretia and Failed - The First Episode: Meet the Guru

It's okay if you fail to click on presented links on this page to donate or buy many things - it is through your own inattention to opportunities that your life lies dismal and empty as you slide thoughtlessly into the abyss of mindlessness.  A donation or purchase will likely throw you something of a lifeline in such
desperate circumstances.  Save yourself while you still can.

It was a grey hallway with a few doors strewn on either side. Beside each door on the wall was a bit of a metal plate that held something like a name or a paper flower or a business card, except for one.

The man stomped down the hall in a tentative sort of way. He was flopping his feet down harder than was standard and it was an ineffective effort because he chose to wear loafers in opposition to regulation leather-soled shoes that would have made a far more satisfying noise in this situation. It would have also helped if the man was moving purposefully toward his intended destination rather than looking distractedly at the metal plates and their contents as if he wasn't sure where he was going. Obviously, a few years in management had not improved his confidence.

While studying one nameplate which contained a rainbow colored card that said "ZOOM" on it, the man readjusted his red bow-tie. Alongside the loafers, the bow-tie, paisley slacks, and robin-egg-colored short-sleeved shirt, he dressed himself as if he wanted to somehow stand out at the office while completely failing to exude the sort of respectability that could have helped others think he wasn't a doofus. This failure was further complicated by the fact that, as he turned away from the one doorway that he didn't want toward another doorway that he also didn't want, his right foot stumbled over his left and he swung around like a person who was wearing unfamiliar shoes, nearly losing his balance.

He was looking at the next nameplate, which had a non-descript white card with the name "Amy Smith" typed on it with what looked to be an old typewriter with a over-used fabric ribbon. Shuffling foot-scoots down the hall impelled the man to act engrossed in looking at the card so as to avoid eye-contact with the newcomer. He noted that the typed name had a somewhat purple tint, more like it could have been produced from a old mimeograph machine.

The invading feet move quickly passed the man and, only noted out of the corner of the eye of the man trying to give the impression that he was reading uninteresting name-cards, the vague figure set down a paper bag by the door that our bow-tied man was gradually approaching, quickly rapped at the door, and nearly sprinted back down the hall and disappeared.

The man turned first toward the retreating figure with a twisted brow and then back to the largish restaurant paper bag and its associated door that opened just enough to let a bangled hand snatch it up. "Miss Vordonis!" The bag and hand were replaced by a head dominated by blocky glasses and an unkempt mop of hair. Its face was more indifferent than anything else but pulled into a frown at the sight of the ridiculous man in the hall. The head disappeared and the door slammed shut.

All pretense dropped, the bow-tied man marched with mustered purpose toward the recently-shut door. He knocked with what was left of his melting resolve. "Miss Vordonis, we need to talk." There was plenty of time to see that the nameplate beside this door was empty as there was no answer. Loafers shuffled impatiently and the bow-tie was again re-adjusted. "You haven't been to work in days. I can't keep covering for you."

From the other side of the door, it was obvious that the woman had resumed what she had been doing before the delivery interruption. Seated at a rickety card table, the bespectacled woman was intently studying a supermarket checkout astrology guide. In spite of more insistent knocking at the apartment door and more impatient protests, her only response was to lightly tap a pencil's eraser on her thin lower lip and decide to draw a circle around the word "tempestuous" in the guide.

Also currently ignored, an orange tabby cat came into view around one of the only other pieces of furniture in the small room: a dented galvanized trash can with its lid dangling from an attached chain. The cat rubbed itself on the lid, rattling it against its can, which seemed to be the signal that the cat was hungry. In response, the woman took another bite of the chinese take-out that the delivery man, who had once styled himself as the woman's boyfriend, always left at the door about this time on a Thursday. The cat's appetite was triggered by the sight of food, but the woman was not inclined to share at the can's rattle.

The phrase 'You will discover a new friend' was thought over and carefully underlined in the guide.

Knocking became near hammering, the voice outside the door was becoming shrill, the can and its lid continued to rattle against each other with added rubbing, and the woman finally chose to look up from her astrological study. In response to all this racket, the woman picked up the tabby cat, crossed the room to the only window, opened it, and threw the cat outside.

This is Lucretia, a woman who lives in a fourth-floor apartment.

Adding to the beating on the door and the shouting from the hall, the screeching of a cat falling over nearly thirty meters only brought a return to the wobbly car table, another mouthful of chinese food, and the renewed tapping of an eraser-end. Lucretia squinted as she contemplated the meaning of another phrase in her guide and, brows rising, circled the word 'valor'.

"You are so fired!" All pretense that the bow-tied man was going to work his way to the point of his visit was finally gone. It took nearly fifteen minutes at the woman's door to finally get him to come out and say it, but he had finally done something vague managerial. In response, Lucretia recrossed her legs, putting left over right, and moved her newly lifted foot so that the pink bunny slipper softly tapped against her heel.

'Unexpected' was dutifully circled and the sound of rattling from the dented trashcan and lid resumed. Lucretia looked up to observe that the tabby had returned.

The sound of fist on door failed to relent. "I don't want to have to do this!" It was now more of a plaintive cry and the response was to yet again scoop up the cat, throw it out the window, and more stridently close the window against further screeching. 'You will receive an unexpected visitor' was then underlined and the word 'recieve' was enclosed in a box. The stars seemed to be trying to say something to the woman, who pursed her lips in full ponder.

From the vantage of the hall, the door finally opened and a fuming man marched into the apartment, slamming the door behind him. 

Ten minutes later, totally disheveled and missing both bow-tie and one loafer, the man burst from the apartment, crashed into the far wall of the hall, rolled along it until a doorknob jerked him straight to face the hallway's exit, which he bolted toward a full speed. The door was still slightly ajar for a few minutes and then an orange cat was thrown through the opening, crashing and hissing against the same far wall, and the door slammed shut.

Without further distraction, the chinese food was gone, the take-out box lay beside several others in the dented can, and the word 'promotion' was satisfactorily circled.