Tonight I will go to Jodi's house to work Scout. Tomorrow I get to go to Dianne's for a lesson…but today. Today is a long 8 hours of the soul. Government Work.
There are birds living above our false ceiling here in building
410A. It's freaking people out. Typically. They trapped the mice,
poisoned the ants, and now they can't tolerate a few chirpy little
birds living in an unused space. I keep leaving cracker crumbs and a
few raisins on my desk and on the floor around my chair, mostly because I'm a
slob, but also because I hope some friendly vermin will return to my
"THEY'LL SPREAD DISEASE!" Derito, our 'administrative assistant', keeps shrieking, covering her head with the fax machine manual.
I wonder what disease she is imagining. She perpetually sports a
weeping herpes lesion on her upper lip like some sort of prized antique
accessory to her bygone sex life. She wheezes and coughs from smoking
too much. She eats lunch every day at the McDonalds Salad Bar inside
the Chevron Gas Station. You can almost see the employee feces on her
wilted iceburg lettuce.
The new guy, Chet, seems okay with the birds. "I think they sound
cheerful!" he offers. Chet is a known Cat Fancier. No one listens to Chet. He is prone to
bringing up old Seinfeld episodes to illustrate vague points. Sadly,
I've never heard him describe an episode that I've ever seen. I think
its pertinent to mention that I own the complete Seinfeld DVD
collection and, thanks to Eric, have seen them all too many times
to care any more. Chet may be confusing Seinfeld with some other
sitcom of the 90's. I don't know. I want to like him, since he and I
stand alone together on this bird thing.
I won't be in the office tomorrow. Next week I will be in meetings. After that, I'm in and out of another agencies offices on a detail assignment; finally, I have to travel to Tucson. I'm going to be gone awhile. When I come back…the birds will be gone. I know this. It makes me sad. I'm sad for Chet, too. He'll be here to see it through.
"It's like that Seinfeld episode where George gets a kitten and his
mother doesn't like cats, only kittens, so she tells him he'll have to
get rid of it in 6 months…" Chet tells me as we stand together at the
copy machine, looking up to where the ceiling tile is missing a piece;
you can almost see the birds. They are so close.
"Yup. It's exactly like that," I agree.
Chet follows me back to my cubicle and seems as if he is waiting
for something. More conversation. I offer him a raisin. He takes it.
He declines the cracker crumb.
I tell my boss, Janis, that I worry about the new guy.
"He seems like such…a…harmless fool." I say, remembering him
delicately chewing the single raisin I'd given him. Thanking me for it.
"What new guy?" she asks.
"Chet. The new security guy. The newest old Don…"
"He's been here for 2 years, Katy," she says.