DISCLAIMER: Everything here is the product of my lovely mind. Oh, and there's just a faint whiff of cursing. Wow! It even starts the story!
Please feed the bard firstname.lastname@example.org.
By THE BARD OF NEW MEXICO
“DAMMIT!!!!!!!” Martha yelled. She angrily jammed a fist into her powder blue terry cloth robe.
Beth, her roommate of a little under a year, called down the hallway. “What's wrong?”
Martha's temper percolated at the same rate as the brewing coffee. “It's the second day after the tax deadline.”
“I thought most accountants would be happy about that. You might have to work with clients who got extensions or mop up a few things, but the pressure's off, isn't it?”
“Not really,” Martha muttered. “Not with this firm.” She test coughed a few times and tried to sound stuffed up. “I'm going to call in sick today.”
“No, you're not. Your sick act couldn't fool a fool. So what's up?”
“Got anything going on this afternoon? You'd really have to see it to believe it. Imagine a party crossed with a lot of show and tell and a little bit of science fair.”
Beth raised a red eyebrow. “Intriguing. I was going to work on some reports, but I don't have many this week. When should I meet you?”
Martha pulled her dark brown hair into a simple ponytail and secured it with a beautiful silver concho clip. “12:30. My office. We officially close at noon today, but just knock on the door and tell the guard you're there to see me.”
* * *
Banners lined the sidewalks in front of the neighborhood's apartment complexes: FOR LEASE.... ONE OR TWO BEDROOM APARTMENTS.... MOVE IN SPECIALS.... STOP BY, LOOK, AND LEASE TODAY.... A 15-story baby skyscraper stood sentry over the apartment complexes that weren't doing so well in a bad economy, although the huge SPACE FOR LEASE sign in the parking lot's corner hinted that the property rental business wasn't great at the building, either. Still, Beth had a harder time than usual finding a space in the building's front lot.
The middle-aged security guard with plenty of white hair flowing from under his cap let her in and accompanied her to the elevator. Beth could see her petite self in the polished brass door that slid open. “You'll be wantin' the second floor, ma'am.”
“I know. Thank you.”
Beth smelled coffee, popcorn, other snacks, and possibly someone's lunch when the elevator opened. Then she saw a huge banner draped across the reception area and asked herself, “Happy Everything Day?”
A blond man with movie-star good looks passed her, but stopped and reversed. He wore a suit made from nothing but silver duct tape. “Happy Duct Tape Day!” He grimaced when he stretched out his hand to shake hers.
Beth smiled politely and marveled at the impracticability of his clothing. “That suit must not be too comfortable.”
The man laughed and grimaced again, flashing perfect white teeth in the process. “It isn't. Anyway, coffee and refreshments are in the conference room. Help yourself.” Beth thanked him.
She headed for Martha's office but not without seeing people dressed in unusual outfits for what she'd expect from an accounting firm. “Happy UFO Day!” a pair of ladies dressed in UFO saucer costumes called from midway down the hall. Beth smiled uncertainly and waved before ducking into Martha's office. She quickly slid the glass door shut. “What in the name of barbecue sauce is going on here?! What is 'Everything Day'?!” She looked around the room and saw a few pictures of Martha and herself. “And why are our pictures plastered all over your office?!”
“Happy Roommate Day!” Martha yelled without much volume or enthusiasm. “I know. It's lame, but the head of the firm insists on doing this bullshit every year. He gets us into the conference room, congratulates us on another tax season well done, and announces that tomorrow's going to be...” Martha paused a beat and put a sarcastic fake cheerful tone into her voice, “...Happy Everything Day!” Her voice returned to normal. “Seriously, what is this? Kindergarten? We're supposed to make up our own damn holiday and at least partially decorate our offices and ourselves to reflect our faux holiday? And we're 'encouraged' to visit the other offices and see what our co-workers are celebrating.” Martha's tone turned slightly sheepish and apologetic. “I'm sorry to have used you this way. I just didn't know what else to do this year.”
Beth, who'd helped herself to a seat across from Martha, sat listening, thinking, and absorbing the strange atmosphere. As Martha finished, her emerald eyes twinkled. “No sweat.” She paused. “Yes, it's strange, but it's a good opportunity to blow off a little steam after the intensity of the tax season and to be creative for a change.”
Martha scowled at practically being called uncreative. “I don't know. When I first started working here and heard about Everything Day, it was very weird in my mind, but I thought that I should just go with the flow and maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Well, it was as bad as I'd first imagined. Sometimes I got to know a little TOO much about some of my co-workers. You know, TMI.” Beth nodded. “That's why I prefer hiding in my office on Everything Day.”
“Why don't we be adventurous and see what people are celebrating?”
Martha looked doubtful. “Okay, I guess, since you're here.” She grabbed her purse, waited until Beth passed through the door, slid it shut, and locked it. People could still see her Happy Roommate Day display through the glass office door.
A large man in a black business suit covered in Monopoly $5 bills immediately greeted them with high fives. “Happy High Five Day!” He spied another high five target beyond Martha and Beth. “Hey, Rick! Hold up a second! Happy High Five Day!” He pushed his way past them and the ladies moved on.
Beth's nose led them to an office two doors down from Martha's. When she poked her head in, she saw a well-endowed honey blonde lady gazing into each of three crock pots and stirring them occasionally. She looked up when Martha greeted her and slipped off her red-framed glasses. “Happy Soup Day!”
“Same to you, Carol,” Martha said.
“Do you want to try some?” Carol stirred yet again and looked as serious as a scientist who was running a delicate laboratory experiment. She brought out a bag of small plastic cups, ladled a red broth into one, and handed it to Beth. “We have tomato, minestrone, and one that I'd like you to guess.”
Beth sipped the one she was given. “That's the tomato, of course. Not bad.”
Carol then ladled out the “mystery” soup and Beth saw a clear broth. It smelled like onion and smoked ham and had navy beans in it. Beth tasted it. “My mom used to call it Senate soup,” she stated.
“Technically, Senate bean soup, but you're right. It's served every day in the U.S. Senate's restaurant, but nobody remembers how the tradition started. There are two stories and they both date back to the early 1900s. The bare bones recipe calls for smoked ham/ham hocks, hot water, navy beans, and sauteed onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Sounds rather dull, but it's good.”
“Sure is, but I used to add a little ketchup to mine when I was a kid,” Beth admitted.
Carol served Martha a sample of the minestrone. “Good stuff! Is this your recipe?” Martha asked.
Carol smiled sheepishly. “It came from a can.”
“That's all right. One of the best split pea soups I've ever had in my life was at an airport diner. I found out later that it was from a can.”
“Want some more?” Carol asked the ladies. They both declined.
Just then, there was a small disturbance in the hallway. Some chains rattled and there was a grrring noise. A man with a California surfer's accent yelled, “Dude!” Carol couldn't have cared less about the commotion and went back to watching her soup, but Martha and Beth sprang into the corridor to see what was happening. They passed a door that was wide open. Beach Boys music drifted out of the office and small globs of slime and clods of dirt clung to a surfboard, a poster of a Southern California beach, and a large monitor that displayed surfing footage. Martha and Beth found the surfer boy whose office it was, across the hallway and two doors down confronting an annoyed petite Hispanic woman.
“I swear, Matt --”
“Moondoggie,” Matt said. He had sun-bleached blonde hair and wore nothing but baggy swim trunks with tropical fish printed on it.
“I swear, Moondoggie, I was on the phone for just a second and he got away.”
Moondoggie returned the chain leash to the woman and gave her a hand. Literally. He laid it on her desk.
Beth nearly shrieked when she saw what was on the end of the chain. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Happy Bring Your Pet Zombie To Work Day!” the lady announced.
Moondoggie kept talking as if there had been no interruption. “It's okay, man. Just keep a closer eye on him.”
At the last words, the zombie reached for his face and plucked his right eye out of his head. As slime dripped off it, he placed it on his shoulder and grrred.
“No, Dave! Bad Dave! Don't do things like that!” the zombie's owner admonished him.
Dave gave Moondoggie a freaky one-eyed stare that Moondoggie just shrugged off. He passed Martha and Beth. Then he remembered something and called over his shoulder, “Hey, man, tell him to quit sniffing my head. There's nothing for him there.” Martha suppressed a giggle.
The zombie towered over his owner, Bonita – as Beth noted on a nameplate – but he was docile and let her slip his chain back over a filing cabinet. “Stay!” she commanded him. The zombie grred. Bonita grabbed a diaper bag and unzipped it. “Damn zombie! Normal people have diaper bags for diapers, wipes, and other baby crap. But noooooo, I got a pet zombie and had to buy a diaper bag for all the tubes of Superglue I need to patch up ol' Humpty Dumpty over there -- Hold still, Dave!” She produced a roll of paper towels from the diaper bag and wiped his eye off carefully. She put a thin layer of Superglue on the back of it and popped it into place. “Hold this,” she instructed the zombie. The zombie put up his left hand to hold his eye in place, but his left hand was still on Bonita's desk. “Oh, for heaven's sake,” Bonita muttered. She grabbed his right hand and placed it over his eye to hold it until the glue dried. She repeated the same delicate procedure on his left hand. Then she noticed a strip of grayish flesh hanging loosely off his forearm and repaired that as well.
Martha outright laughed as she watched Bonita put Dave back together. Beth caught her breath after the dismaying surprise. “Wh—where did you get him?”
Bonita didn't look up from her work. “The classifieds. You wouldn't believe the stuff you can find there.”
“I didn't think you could buy and sell humans.”
“Well........ You really can't. Dave is a special case, though. He's a zombie because of some ritual voo-doo something-or-other gone horribly wrong. Technically, he's dead. An unperson, if you will. The law doesn't recognize the fact that people can die and come back to life – or I don't think it does.” Bonita wrinkled her nose. “It's hard to say what to classify Dave as, isn't it boy?” Dave grrred. “Is he goods or is he chattel? Since he's animated, people tend to describe him as chattel, so then the options are narrowed of where to list him in the classifieds. His previous owners thought of him as their pet, so Dave was almost listed with the puppies and kittens. In the end, the newspaper people created a special section just for him...Paranormal Pets.”
Martha was laughing so hard that she flung herself into the nearest chair instead of falling down. Beth chuckled at the unbelievable problems and insanity of owning a pet zombie.
“We're just about done, Dave. If you're a good boy for the rest of the day, maybe we can swing by the university's medical school and see if they have any fresh brains that they've finished practicing on.”
Martha and Beth quickly took their leave and went to freshen up in the ladies' room. As Martha reapplied lipstick, Beth quickly powdered her nose and watched Martha's reflection in the vanity mirror. “So where's our next three-ring circus?”
Martha grinned. “Funny you should say that. Next stop, ground floor, back parking lot.” Beth got a sinking feeling.
On the way down, they heard the awful racket of a vuvuzela. “That's one of those annoying horns the soccer fans play, isn't it?” Martha asked as they peeked inside the office. A man with mussed dark wavy hair had a vuvuzela in one hand and what appeared to be an empty bottle of champagne in the other. His charcoal gray business jacket lay half on a chair, half on the floor and his red necktie hung loosely on his neck. He leaned so far back in his swivel chair that it looked like he'd topple at any moment. He hefted a foot on top of his desk and waved the bottle around joyfully. “Happy Slacker's Day!” The ladies waved to him.
When they finally got to the back door, Beth couldn't tell what was beyond it, but she smelled the unmistakable smell of animals. She also heard lively but obviously recorded music and barking. Martha pushed open the hollow metal door and Beth followed her through it in time to see a show going on in what was one of two circus rings. A black and a white standard poodle hopped on their back legs to a Bunny Hop song while a standard poodle dyed light pink pushed a miniature stroller with a white toy poodle dressed as a baby in it. After those dogs cleared the ring, another black standard poodle reached into a five-gallon bucket of water with a few roses in it, grabbed a red rose in his teeth, and trotted to one side of the ring where his lady trainer was waiting for him. They did the tango (without the dog actually touching the trainer) and the dog ran out of the ring. For the great finale, the four standard poodles and another standard poodle dyed light green lined themselves up. A black toy poodle and a white one brought up the rear of the conga line that the dogs formed. Following their lady trainer, they made a lap around the ring in their conga line formation and exited, wagging their tails and leaping excitedly when they heard the applause that they instinctively knew was for them.
“It's lovely seeing dancing cotton candy,” Beth whispered to Martha, nodding toward the fluffy colored poodles.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Happy Circus Day!!!” the ringleader announced from the second ring. “Our next show will begin in ten minutes. Help yourselves to the refreshments or go see our fabulous Leo the Lion, but be sure to hurry back! You don't want to miss our next edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting act!”
Beth saw an old-fashioned circus wagon in the far corner of the parking lot. It was red with gold trim like she imagined one would be. She heard the roar.
“Do you want to go over and see the lion, Beth?”
“No thanks. I once thought I'd like to see one up close, but then I decided the best way to see them is from the other side of a television screen as in nature shows.”
Instead, they walked over to the refreshments table and grabbed some lemonade. “I thought Happy Everything Day was just for the employees of your company.”
Martha paused with the glass half up to her lips. “It is.”
“You mean to tell me you work with circus people?!”
Martha shrugged. “Mr. Burke came across them God-knows-where and hired them. Who knew unemployed circus people were geniuses at crunching numbers?”
Beth grinned. “I certainly would never have guessed.”
“Hey! There's Bruno. He's the guy over there who's dressed like a cross between a gypsy and a pirate. Pretty corny compared to his usual business wear.”
Beth spied a wheel with bindings on it set up in the second ring. They walked over to the man seated at a card table. A set of identical knives with 5-inch silvery blades and ivory handles shone against the brown of the card table. Another one of those knives, however, was in Bruno's hand and Beth squirmed as he ran the side of his thumb against the knife edge to test its sharpness. Then, to Beth's further distress, Bruno trimmed his fingernails with the knife. He caught the parings on a sheet of white copy paper. A very nerdy-looking young lady who reminded Beth of Velma from the Scooby Doo cartoons stood next to him. Her extremely pink outfit almost blinded Beth. The white first-aid tape holding the bridge of the woman's glasses together almost made Beth laugh and she wondered if the woman was supposed to be a circus clown.
“Here you go, Madam Natasha,” Bruno said in a fake gypsy accent as he carefully folded the copy paper around the nail clippings. He offered the small package to Natasha.
She saw Beth and Martha and exclaimed, “Happy Nail Clippings Day!”
Sarcastically, Beth asked, “Toe or fingers?”
“Both!” Natasha's face brightened up. “Hey, do you wanna go upstairs and see my collection?”
Beth's mind screamed, Oh, hell no!!!!! However, even though her stomach suddenly protested, she quickly guzzled her lemonade and set the empty glass down on the refreshments table. She made a big production out of checking her wristwatch. “Actually, I have to go.” She turned to Martha. “See you at home!”
Martha shot a dirty look at Beth as Beth practically fled to the door where they'd come out. She quickly made her way through the hallways to the front door like a lab rat in a maze and chuckled to herself. As she opened her car door, she was delighted that it was her first AND last Everything Day.AUTHOR'S NOTE: Mark this date, dear readers, because today is Happy Seinfeld Story Day! That's right! This was about absolutely nothing.