Thursday, June 30, 2016

Story 141: Master of Inconvenience

            I love putting people out; it makes my day.  If I haven’t annoyed at least one person every 24 hours, then I’ve failed at life somewhere.
            Whenever I drive on major roads, I make sure to be at least five miles under the speed limit; 10 if it’s multi-lane.  I stay in the right-hand lane for that though, since I don’t have a death wish.
            On supermarket checkout lines, I always pay by cash and by credit, and sometimes even by check where I also have to write in my address, if the mood strikes me.  I also go over the limit by three items on the express lines, but I don’t pull that one too often because the same people work those registers all the time and have been known to make a scene.
            My favorite is summertime, and the towns that have the good old-fashioned drawbridges on highways.  I like to book them early and often, take out the ol’ rented boat, and just sail it back and forth under the bridge every half-hour, on the half-hour.  The lines of cars sitting there, helplessly trapped in their noxious fumes, sweat, depleting gas tanks, and dying batteries (why only a few shut off their cars for the 10-minute wait, I will never understand; the fresh air is much better than the struggling air conditioning any day) make all the rotten vegetables thrown, birds flipped, and curses flung in my direction worthwhile.  Sigh.
            When I’m at home, I make sure that my stereo is turned up to the max with my windows wide open, so all can enjoy the same wonderful music I do (not really: I listen to tracks of weird sound effects).  I also have phone conversations outdoors where I laugh a lot and/or have lots of drama, so my unwilling listeners can fill in the blanks.  None of my neighbors have complained to my face though, probably because long ago I placed a fake dead chicken over my doorway and they’re afraid they’ll be next.  The cops found out that it was fake but no one else is too sure that I don’t switch out a real one from time to time: always keep `em guessing.
            Come winter, I never shovel my driveway; why should I, when our planet’s own personal star causes the same effect with much less effort?  A side benefit is that no one can park in front of my house either, which is too darn bad for certain people who have 20 cars when all they need are three, tops – it’s the one time of year when I have an unobstructed view of the boring street.  Of course, if I’m feeling up to it, I actually will shovel my driveway… out onto said street, because why should my grass suffer further suffocation just because people need to get some place?  Surely the plow will come by again.  If not, then sue your car’s manufacturer for not living up to its all-terrain vehicle claim, what can I tell you.
            I think tomorrow I’ll come into work late, leave early, and dump my cafeteria garbage into the bin clearly marked for trays only.  People need me to keep them busy in this life or they’ll just waste away, trust me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Story 140: Bad Improv Group

            The troupe of four players took to the tiny stage at the back of the seedy bar.
         “Good evening, everyone, we are The Four Bores!”  The supposed leader of the group addressed the audience to scattered applause, usurping the founding troupe member’s authority yet again.  “All right, you all know how this works: shout out an occupation!”
            “Truck driver!”
            “Jesuit priest!”
            “Depressed bank teller.”
            “Did I hear ‘corporate executive?’”  The supposed leader asked, cupping a hand to his ear as he looked pointedly at a woman sitting at the table closest to the stage.  She continued drinking her beer as she mumbled something through the glass.  “Right!  ‘Corporate executive’ it is!  Now we need a location!”
            “A finishing school for naughty ladies!”
            “An office!”
            “Did someone say ‘department store?’”  The supposed leader asked.
            “I didn’t hear that.”
            “‘Department store’ it is!  Now we need a situation!... Anyone?”
            “Trying to get drunk.”
            “Dying on stage!”
            “Ha-ha-ha – no.  Anyone else?”  The supposed leader glared at the woman sitting at the table closest to the stage.
            The woman looked up from her crossword puzzle for a second to say,” Riding a bike.”
            “‘Riding a bike’ it is!  Brilliant!”
            “Rubbish,” was grumbled in the back of the bar.
            “So we have a corporate executive in a department store riding a bike.  I think we can work with that!” 
The members of the group huddled up, then separated.  The supposed leader assumed the position of riding an imaginary bicycle while the other three milled about the stage.  The founding member walked up to the “bike rider.”
“Excuse me, sir, but riding a bike is not permitted in our department store.”
“That’s all right,” the “rider” said, “I’m a corporate executive!”
After a pause, the woman at the table closest to the stage went “Heh, heh, heh,” without looking up from finishing her puzzle.
            “And, scene!”  The four players bowed.
            “That’s it?!”
            “Wait, what were the other two in that supposed to be?”
            “Mannequins,” the third member of the group answered: she and the fourth member never got any lines.
           “Now, we’re going to play a game called, ‘What In Blazes Am I Doing?’” The supposed leader said while the founding member ground what was left of his teeth.  “We’re going to pantomime very specific activities and you, the audience, have to guess what we’re doing!”
           “And – go!”  The four players began pantomiming wildly all over the stage and into each other.  The audience members who were still watching had glazed looks on their faces; the woman at the table closest to the stage was reading a romance novel.  The supposed leader stepped forward on the stage and tried to catch the eyes of the audience members, silently encouraging them to make guesses with his head bobbing madly and his eyes bugging out.  He then kicked the table of the woman sitting closest to the stage; without looking up from her book, she pointed to each player in turn.
          “Putting out a fire on his clothes while playing the oboe for the Philharmonic Orchestra; rescuing a lion out of a sequoia tree while a circus made up of ex-convicts watches; rocking a baby worm to sleep in a blanket made of human hair during an ice storm; driving a carriage drawn by eight camels while delivering decades’ old mail to a town in Siberia.”
            “Yes!  She got it, ladies and gentlemen – give her a round of applause!”  The supposed leader was the only one who clapped.  “All right, one more game, then, would you like that?”
          “Right!  Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been The Four Bores, you’ve been a wonderful audience, good night!”
            The four players clasped hands, bowed, and left the stage in silence until the jukebox started up again.
            “I don’t know why the boss lets them keep coming here,” the bartender said to one of the servers.  “It’s literally the same show every night.”