Word Perfect.


December 21, 1997

She thought they could use a good lesson.

The primary teachers had spent the entire morning in the converted music room training to compose a Christmas form letter, wondering if Mary Pat was still sleeping with Bob from software. Carol knew Mary Pat was better in her own mind than she was in bed. Kate was sure Bob was a putz who probably broke those wet sweats. Helen was outraged at sex in the workplace and wondered whether it was hard to breathe near the end. Bob, fighting a bad case of constipation again, knew that today would be his last day running training at this site if he didn’t put out later.

Gina kept giving Bob those two-second indirect glances like she used to when they first met; odd how, after the burn-out, the same moment that once jolted his circuitry now produced no current at all. His system was definitely down; would the bathroom be empty by quarter-past? Tiffany flicked the corners of her long, wavy hair off of her shoulders, arched her back, and sat up. Bob leaned in one more time to check Tiffany’s work.

Mary Pat’s feet hurt. Heels were higher now again. At least they kept her a full inch above the word-processing pool. The haircut, however, was a mistake; too much chin, not enough eyebrow. And, Bob was looking at Gina again.

Elisabeth’s eyes faced the terminal. Her gaze followed the picsiles trickling jerkily into a fully-dressed Thanksgiving turkey. Ephemerata. Fruit flies. Nine thousand dollars per year per anum per one hundred fifty thousand electronic blinking impulses shooting randomly across high chaos. Press Delete. Twink. Constellations again, maddening constellations. The illusion of perspective. Neitszche. Voltaire. Was the Liquid Fire draining the tub, or would there be five inches of standing slime for the Caldwells to see when they took their turns on the toilet before piano lessons? Yeltsin ailing; one lone woman breeding greenhouse beds of resistant bacteria; and, it was clear to anyone, Gina watching Bob think about Mary Pat.

Elizabeth looked at Tiffany. Marvel of instinct. Baboons in the wild. Nobel Prize for Oblivion. A dog-eared issue of Mademoiselle sat on top of the Jostens manuals. Elisabeth picked it up. Horoscope by chapter and verse; sex by five-thirty Tuesday except where prohibited by original bone structure or bad hair. Life by periodical. Love by popular demand. Time to learn.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Tomorrow would be soon enough. Word would come to them all by phone relay in time to cancel the second session. Ignition. Followed by wonder, excitement, anticipation. The quickening fuel. Brief obsessing over what to wear. (Carol: high-heels – higher than Mary Pat’s; Kate: something loose and cool; Helen: best basic black, for the most respected, cleaned and pressed; Gina: the boat-neck navy, Bob’s favorite; Bob: next suit.) Mid-day, before the weekend, would be best; perfect early out. All present and accounted for. Elisabeth sighed, and set the cursor:

“Dearly Beloved……”

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

12/21/97

all rights reserved. Selah.

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