Thursday, January 13, 2011

Got Coffee Breath?

"Fitz" - An Excerpt

Jason sat at his desk staring at the man trudging up the stairs from the basement. He wore olive green fly fishing pants and was dripping water all over the floor. A fish flopped out of his left pant leg.

“Jason,” said Farley Fitz, “the river overflowed and my office flooded again. I need you to help me save as much of my stuff as possible. If my wedding picture floats away again my wife will kill me.” 

Farley’s office in the basement had flooded at least once a week for the past fifteen years. Whether it was because of the river overflowing, the rain falling, or the snow melting, his office never had a chance to completely dry out.

Jason pulled on the spare pair of galoshes that Mrs. Fletcher kept under her desk and joined Farley at the top of the basement steps. The water was a good 12 inches deep.

“On three,” Farley said, “just like we practiced…One! Two! Three!”

On three, Farley tossed Jason down the stairs and into the rubber raft that he used to row to his desk each morning. Farley did a belly flop off the top step and landed smack in the middle of the raft. Jason giggled. He liked Farley. He was a cool guy and he put up with a lot.

Farley rowed the raft over to his desk. There was no computer on it because Fairfax said it wasn’t safe to have electrical wires around so much water. There were also no lights or lamps. Instead, Farley wore a miner’s helmet with a flashlight on the front.

Jason reached out his net and scooped up a couple of chocolate chip cookies, a coffee mug, and a framed picture of Farley standing next to a large trout and giving the thumbs-up sign.

Farley reached out from the raft and grabbed a handful of important papers. Luckily, Fairfax had a rule that any paperwork given to Farley must first be laminated in waterproof plastic. Fairfax installed a lamination machine next to the basement door for this very reason. One time Farley tried to laminate himself in order to stay dry. Unfortunately, he got stuck in the machine and Mrs. Fletcher had to crank him out. That was when he decided to buy the olive green fly fishing pants – they worked much better.

A sea cucumber surfed by on top of Farley’s wedding picture. Farley reached out and grabbed it, sending the cuke careening.

“Mr. Fitz,” Jason said, “why do you put up with this? I mean, why don’t you just tell Mr. Flaherty that you can’t work in these conditions? Have you noticed that nobody else in this office wears plastic pants? Why would you put up with all of this water?”

Farley looked at Jason for a few seconds.

“Look at my wedding picture,” he said.

Jason looked at the picture.

Farley Fitz’s wife was a whale.

Now it all made sense.

As a kid, my favorite book was the geniusly silly Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I’ve written Coffee Breath in a similar style, embracing nonsense as only an immature 32 year old secretary knows how.  Kindle edition available here.