Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Little Buddy

"Hey! Hey! Order me a pizza!" A disembodied voice subtly whispered in my office. It was late: the clock in the corner of Windows read 5:36 PM. The rest of the floor was empty, all my colleagues were gone for the evening.

"Who said that?" I asked, "Who's there?" My fingers hovered over the keyboard, arched and tense.

I sensed someone was playing a trick on me. All too often I was the butt of office pranks, like the time Simmons in finance taped a "Dirty Dancing" poster to my ceiling, or the day Kanchelskis hung paisley drapes on my wide office window.

"Yeah, with pepperoni and mushroom," The voice replied.

I couldn't place where it was coming from. I got up from my seat, and walked the hall outside of my office. It and the adjacent offices were all empty. I returned, still tense. If it wasn't a joke, what could it be? A ghost?

"Yeah…get me a soda too," The voice mocked. It wasn't so much a whisper, I realized. The voice was full bodied, but muffled, as if it were yelling through a heavy cloth.

Confused, I looked down at my stomach, taking a moment to take in its curves, its girth. The buttons of my dress shirt were stretched by my belly, standing tall like little soldiers.

"Is that you, little buddy?" I wondered aloud. I had to admit, I was hungry. Maybe my empty stomach was trying to tell me something.

"You got it!" The voice answered.

"You want a pizza? Pepperoni and mushroom?" That seemed odd to me. I hate mushrooms.

"Do you mind? Can I pay you back later? Friday?"

I furrowed my heavy brows. Why would my stomach pay me back? How would it?

I giggled at the thought. Maybe it would finally crap out those two quarters Billy Meyer dared me to swallow back in the fifth grade. And then another laugh: I could buy myself two sodas with that half dollar.

I picked up the phone to order, my hand stretching across my desk to call the number of a local delivery place. Just as I began to dial, something powerful struck my office window, shaking the blinds and sending a reverberating rattle round the entire room.

I screamed, lurched, and came crashing down, my legs tangling heavy in my chair. In a panic, I kicked the chair away and pushed myself up to my hands and knees.

It is a ghost! My mind screamed.

Prepared to run, I looked back over my shoulder. Just outside my window, drawn up by long ropes, was a man with a bright yellow hard hat, a wet squeegee in one hand, a bucket in the other. Dark grime covered his hands and face, but his teeth were a brilliant white against the half set sun.

"Sorry…!" He waved, spotting me on the floor, the glass muffling his voice.

Disturbed, embarrassed, I didn't wave back. In seconds he was gone, onto the next window.

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