Asylum, Chapter Thirteen

Monday, 27 January, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Across the desk from Fred a tall gentleman was sitting. He had turned the chair around so now Fred was really facing his right shoulder, and he was facing the door, more or less. Fred had a somewhat puzzled look on his face, it was the second time he met this person and he was still very unsure what his attitude should be. The man was wearing a suit, an entirely insane proposition to begin with, and not just a jacket and pants, he was actually wearing a three piece monochrome suit, with a matching tie, something of a dark blue that didn't go with his eyes worth squat. Fred paused and considered when was the last time he saw a matching tie anywhere. Most recent fad was yellow or fluorescent green or lime ties on preferably purple shirts or red ties on cream shirts or dotted ties on striped shirts or Garfield ties on pajama looking shirts, nobody ever wore a jacket, and if they did, it was an accountant type worn corduroy jacket with leather patches on the elbows. This had no bearing at all on the man sitting across from him, or more precisely on the man attached to the shoulder sitting across from him, his suit was custom made or otherwise a horribly lucky pick, something made even more unlikely by the man's strange proportions.

He was slim. Fred could have sworn the guy is at least 30, and yet he had absolutely no belly at all. He was on the lower limit of the proportion scale, just a bit heavier than being underweight. Fred paused and considered when was the last time he actually had seen anyone who didn't have a weight problem, at all. The most recent fad was pumpkin asses attached to salami sausages, premium size, that vaguely appeared to be vestigial legs, but definitely didn't look like they could carry anyone for more than five yards. And incidentally, nobody walked over five yards anyway. And watermelon bellies and fingers that looked like balloons constricted at the joints, but otherwise more than happy to expand to the size of a mature bull's penis. If it weren't for the joints that kept them from it, mind you. And it wasn't that the man had visible muscle build, or the strong ox neck the gym gives you in the process of burning up extra calories either.

Fred shook his head. This was getting him nowhere fast. Maybe it was time for the spoken part now.

"So, you are considering joining our club?"

Fred picked up a stack of papers. Manny had some forms made for them that were entirely useless since they didn't use them for anything more than just to make a nice stack in a drawer in a cabinet they got with the rest of place and was just sitting there empty anyway. Besides, it looked a lot more serious this way, didn't it?

"What, you going to ask me name, address and phone number next?"

Fred paused with an even more puzzled look. Normally puzzled looks work like this : you get puzzled at some point, then it slowly decays over time, and before you know it you are back to your usual face. Except in this situation Fred kept looking more and more puzzled as time went by, and one could have seriously worried he might strain his puzzle muscles or something. Besides, he was running out of room on his face.

"Let's just say I'm here on a friendly visit trying to determine if I want to join or not, how's that? You don't have forms for visitors, do you?"

"Uhhh" Fred was going to say it wasn't really forms, moreover just pieces of paper of no consequence whatsoever he liked to play with... but then again, what else are forms anyway. Before he had a chance to make a stab at that, Manny burst in. Fred paused and tried to remember when was the last time he heard Manny knock on a door. It had never happened yet, Fred decided. He considered asking something angry like "do you ever knock?" or something along those lines, but gave up. After all this was a place to feel comfortable and cozy and there was no need for that.

"Do you think that sweet angel will be here today? I've been searching practically all night... she's not there. So sad..."

Fred paused to consider why he was such an idiot, never taking an opportunity when said opportunity graciously decided to bless his sorry ass with its proximity? He knew for a fact, from Ralph, this man knew Frankie, actually they might have even been friends. If he had taken the opportunity to bark at Manny over his knocking habits he could maybe have been spared this latest blunder.

"Ooo, who might that be?" the man was sitting calmly watching Manny.

"Heh" Manny was suddenly overcome with an interesting sort of home town pride, the way a dirt poor field hand with twelve kids is proud his township has the tallest church tower in the county.

"In this club we have the best looking members this side of the river Nile. Why, just yesterday, these two ladies walked in, looking as sweet as can be and..."

"You mean they walked in together?"

"No, no, there was first this one, so beautiful when she passed by you could hear angels sing like if you were drowned in honey or something."

"That sounds like a horrible death, really."

"Mhh?" Manny paused for a second, puzzled, but as he couldn't quite get what the man meant he just went on about his thoughts.

"She was tall and had beautiful eyes, green like the deep sea in the storm and she can smile a thousand ways and her hands are so soft and smooth and strong and..."

"Does this miracle have a name then?"

"Frankie." Manny sighed wistfully.

"You forgot the tits then, I'm sure Frankie wouldn't appreciate you overlooking her tits, it's her favorite part."

Manny blushed violently, making an impartial observer wonder precisely what was he thinking right before the man spoke. Fred was now convinced the man knew Frankie well enough, he didn't seem exactly the type to idly comment on women's tits after all. Presently realization struck Manny too, who went a tad purple on top of his previous rosy blush.

"You know her?"

"Ya, we used to see each other years ago, back in college."

"Really?" Manny was obviously having that ridiculous reaction silly men in love have, which is to be jealous for the most insane things, the object of their obsession's college flings being a favorite pick.

"Didn't work out too well though, she is difficult to keep pace with, you know? There comes a time you have to let things go, let a better man take a shot." the man was quick to redress Manny's worries.

"What about the other one?" Fred was carefully probing, trying to get some solid ground.

"What other one?"


"Who is Janice?"

"O, Janice is the second girl, but she is also very beautiful and lovely and... hmm, but I suppose a good hunter doesn't chase two foxes at the same time."

The man was trying hard not to burst out laughing hysterically, but not a single ripple penetrated outside, to alter his perfectly calm and relaxed outer persona.

"In that case you wouldn't mind if I took my chances, would you? Hypothetically speaking, of course."
"Oh certainly not, I will even try to help you out."

"Ooo, that's very nice spirit, really. Since you are such a nice fellow, I think I can help out some too."


"Well I did take a few classes with your Dulcinea, back before the steam engine."

"Hehehe, that is funny. She is 20ish, 25 at the very most."

"Yup, that’s her then. Was 20ish, 25 at most when I first saw her, a week before Clinton beat Bush Sr."

Manny stared blankly a while, and then simply continued as if his brain was spinning in place and plain missed the last 20 seconds of conversation.

"So how would one go about seducing the beautiful Frankie, you'd say?"

"A bold proposition my dear. It's not exactly a blueprint that's already laid out you realize."

"Me either."

"Eh? You're not a blueprint or you're not laid?"

"Uhhh... I mean I'm a sophisticated and complex person myself."

"I'm sure" the man was smiling broadly. "See, Frankie has had a rough childhood. Never quite could get to the bottom of it, but I think it has to do with an abusive father or maybe brother or boyfriend or something. You have to be nice to her, you see? But also make her feel safe and protected. She has to feel you are a real man that she's safe to walk on the street with at any hour, or go in any bar and so on, but she also has to feel you care about her and pay attention to her and think about her and so forth."

"Oh I see. So in one word, strong, but gentle."

"Well that is two words, but yes."

"Hmmm..." Manny was now mostly mumbling to himself..."I must set up a a schedule of sorts... and need to find good ideas... hmmm..." With that, and without much more than a nod for goodbye he stood up and left the office .


Ralph was dragging about the tenth overstuffed trash bag to the curb when the car pulled into the drive. There was barely room for the driver to park, as Ralph's car was out of the garage, taking up most of the space there. He certainly hadn't been expecting any company.

When he saw it was Peggy emerging from the driver's door he suddenly recalled that he had been working rather steadily at cleaning for 2 days now and hadn't really bothered with details like taking a shower. Of course he was glad to see Peggy, but the timing could have been a lot better.
Brushing off his hands on the rather dirty and worn jeans he put on a smile and went to greet her, remembering just in time not to offer his hand.

"Hi, I wasn't expecting anyone. Just doing a bit of spring cleaning."

"I just thought I would see what you were doing, we missed you at the club yesterday."

"I got started on this project and just sort of lost track of time, was there something scheduled for yesterday that I forgot?"

"No, it was just the usual bunch, sort of sitting about and chatting, I guess. Cleaning up some from the little coffee disaster, you know."

Ralph suddenly remembered his manners, standing about here in the driveway without asking Peggy in, how foolish of him. What was he thinking, would he miss a chance to spend time with Peggy just because he had been caught a bit off guard?

"Coffee, yes, please, would you like to come in for some coffee? I'd like to hear more about how everyone felt after that little mess the other day."

"Sure, I'd like that very much."

Peggy wondered as she followed Ralph into the house what he meant by "everyone", was Ralph as besotted by those two vixens as the others were? Did he mostly want to know if they had shown up again? Now she really was being silly, if that were true he would have been there yesterday, like Manny, anxiously watching the door every three seconds to see if either was coming.

Looking about as she followed Ralph to the kitchen, Peggy couldn't believe that he had actually already spent as much time as he said cleaning the place. Virtually every flat surface was piled high with something .... stacks of papers, books, CD's, boxes, discarded clothing, so much she really couldn't begin to identify things. Finally arriving in the large kitchen she could see some evidence of his labors. Here the table was mostly visible, and the counters were almost neat, somewhat organized, even if they did hold more gadgets than any kitchen had a right to.

Ralph offered her a seat at the almost clean table and busied himself at the sink washing his hands. Drying his hands on an almost clean kitchen towel he moved to the fridge and selected a can of fresh coffee beans. Then he stood helplessly, looking about the kitchen, like he had been suddenly transported to an alien spaceship and understood nothing of what he saw.

Peggy sat there watching quietly, it took her mere moments to realize what the problem was, but she controlled the urge to jump up and help. Obviously the kitchen had been more or less cleaned recently and things had been moved about in what appeared to her to be an almost random order. She could see the edge of the coffee grinder he was searching for peaking out from behind a couple of contraptions that she couldn't identify, wasn't even sure they were things that actually belonged in kitchens. Then, when she realized he was giving up and opening a cupboard to retrieve a jar of instant she shuddered in horror and conceded.

"I think the coffee grinder is over there, in the corner, behind the ..." Peggy pointed.

Ralph smiled gratefully, "Thanks, I haven't got used to the way I moved things around yet."

The noise of the grinder prevented further conversation for a few minutes.
Then again Ralph was looking about helplessly as if stranded in a foreign land. This time he had the good sense to ask.

"Do you happen to see where I might have put any one of the 3 or 4 coffee makers I have?"

Peggy looked again at the amazing array of gadgets that crowded almost every square inch of the counter space. After a few moments she pointed towards the small area on the other side of the fridge, "I think that may be one, behind the toaster oven."

Ralph smiled then looked about for a place to set his freshly ground coffee so he could retrieve the machine and set it up near the sink where there was a place to plug it in.
Peggy sighed, enough was enough. She rose from the table and took the coffee from Ralph's almost limp hands.

"Let me take care of this, you look tired from a long day in the garage."

With that Ralph realized what a mess he was.

"You won't mind then if I run take a quick shower? Make myself a bit more presentable while you make the coffee?" His voice had a soft, hopeful, puppy sound.

Peggy simply nodded and turned to the task of making coffee in this kitchen wonderland.

Later, they chatted for a bit over the fresh coffee, first about the club and then other bits of unimportant small talk, finally the conversation somehow turned to movies. They discovered a common interest in, and liking for, old movies, and wound up in the living room sorting through the stacks of tapes and discs that were Ralph's proud collection.

Before she knew it, Peggy had rolled up her sleeves and was working alongside Ralph, trying to bring some order to the place, or at least to the collection of old movies so perhaps they would find something worth watching.

Peggy even smiled a bit to herself as she worked, Ralph had not even asked once about the women, maybe there were a few sensible men in the world after all.


"Interesting character."

"Manny? Yea, I think Frankie's spilling completely unhinged him."

"Spilling?!" The man had small round eyes and a bigger round mouth suddenly.

"Oh, yea, there was this silly incident, completely ruined our story night too. Somehow Frankie's coffee cup went flying in the air and most of it ended up on Manny."

"So he's burned now, is he?"

"I don't think it was anything that serious really. But he definitely had a thing for that girl all along."

"That's lovely, it really is. I really hope it works out for them."

"I for one think he's a ways to go from anything like that."

Fred was looking at the man sitting across and pondering... Could it in fact be this simple? Couples in most of the TV shows he ever watched usually started off as nothing much more than a coffee spill, didn't they? Well, some did, but not as a rule. Right then Fred had an epiphany. There was that country song... what was its name? That's what it was all about... That guy coming in every morning for coffee and then one day the waitress bumps into him and he gets drenched in coffee. What was ... oo yea, "Somebody"... Fred was silently humming the song trying to remember it, give himself a chance to maybe identify it enough to search for it.

"You humming Reba?"


"You were humming. "Somebody", was it?"

"Oh yea! That's it! What did you say before?"

"Reba. Artist's name."

"Oh really? Thanks very much." Fred's face was oozing satisfaction and gratefulness. Then he suddenly realized... If the man knew the song, he must have known what it was about... and thus, what he was thinking... Fred was slowly blushing now. Quick, there must be some way to turn this around.

"Wouldn't that be really silly?"

"Well... being silly is all that it's about, right?"

"I guess so..." Fred was pensive again. What if it really was all that simple? What if all one had to do was to be the lucky recipient of Frankie's hot coffee spills? Just sit there and be in the way.

"Ah well, you seem to have important things in your mind, and I am due a few places, so I suppose I will be back some other time, how about that."

"Oh, I'm sorry, nothing all that important, really." Fred was moving to stand up and try grab the man, but he gestured with his hand for him to sit and said

"My job here is done anyway. At least for the moment."

before making it through the door. Always quick as a weasel, this guy could probably outmaneuver a plane so that he gets before it across America, never leaving the ground. And "job done"? Whatever was that all about? Fred started off to think about it, but his thoughts weren't in the mood to listen to him, so he just drifted back to thinking about lucky coffee incidents and generally incidents and their happy amorous consequences.


Category: Cuvinte Sfiinte
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