Night dreams. What are they made of? Who knows? All I knew was, that in that particular fantasy, I was floating on a bed of cloud, watching with increasing interest, a scantily clad and an extremely attractive young lady seductively bending forward over me. She negligently revealed those secrets of feminine pulchritude normally reserved for an intimate lover. That must be me! I thought dreamily. Yippee! I felt her light fingertips gently caress my strong manly forehead, trace a sinuous line across my bushy eyebrow, slip down the bridge of my nose, and then hotly touch my fevered eyelid. I felt the lid suddenly jerked open.
“Hey, you!” I heard a tiny voice say.
I saw a blurry image of another eye peering into my cornea.
“Huh?” I asked.
My eyelid was released with a snap. The woman of my erotic dreams evaporated back into the stuff that dreams are made of, and it was, not so subtly, replaced by the reality of an excruciating pain in my nostrils. It felt like they were being crushed and twisted by a fiendishly annoyed nutcracker.
“Come on, meathead!” My nose got another jerk, “Wake the hell up!”
I did, and with alacrity. As both of my eyes popped open, they had the sensation of rotten Italian meatballs coated in gritty Parmesan cheese and left too long in the sun.
“Oh!” I moaned.
I began to rub my nose, and as I did, my hand bumped something resilient and a second later I heard a muffled, rumbling sound coming from somewhere below me. To my sleep addled ears, it sounded like a muted miniature bowling alley or the distant faded echoes of artillery fire. Thinking this brought me a touch closer to awareness, and I realized that I was lying on a sofa. When I turned my head to look down, I perceived a little man standing there. It seemed to be an animated G.I. Joe doll. I closed my eyes again and shook my head, but upon reopening them, he was still there. A ten-inch tall olive green man, with his arms crossed and a one-inch booted foot tapping on the floor, and completely nude!
“Think you’re something else, doncha?” The little chap said with a growl.
Faster than I could blink an eye (an action I dreaded), he had crawled up my dangling arm and hopped back onto my chin, from which I must have dislodged him. He straddled it and began giving me a series of tiny, but brutal head butts to my already tingling nose.
“Hey!” I yelled. “Cut that out, Mr. Gee!”
I groaned again, for by that time I had apprehended his identity. He was my boss and he is a gnome. (More about this in the Next Chapter.)
He slapped my cheeks a few times and in response, I began to sit up. He grabbed a viselike hold of my ears to keep from falling off my face, the pain of which caused me to gently remove him… at least that was my intention. In reality, it only caused an extreme stretching of my earlobes.
“Come on, Mr. Gee,” I said as calmly as I could. “Let go and I’ll set you down.”
“Right!” He replied and I placed him beside me, he looking up at me and I looking down at him.
“So, what gives, Junior?” He asked me while scratching his hairless chest. “What time did you sneak in last night?”
“I din’t sdeak id, Boss, I hab a gey.” I said, with that air of injured ego children display with a hand stuck in the cookie jar. “As you certainly well know.” I added upon readjusting my nose.
“So whatcha doin’ here this early in the goddamn mornin’?” He said, glancing at the wall clock above the desk. “Hell’s bells, sonny,” he supplemented with a punch on my hip. “It’s almost eight in the ay-em!”
Being hit by a little doll-like man may seem to you of no account. A mere brush by a gnat, you may think, or a flick of a child’s finger. But, you would be incredibly wrong. Mr. Gee’s cuff was akin to that of jab by Mr. Muhammad Ali.
I stretched, carefully avoiding dislodging him yet again; popping my neck as I gathered my fleece blanketed thoughts of why I had snuck in so early on this particular morning. I then remembered that I had received an email the night before from a prospective client asking for our services. Upon replying with my interest in the matter, I had set an appointment for eight o’clock… TODAY!
Holy, batshit! My mind screamed. She’ll be here any second!
I stood up like a rocket and frantically looked around our office for signs of disorder and then recalled with alarm that Mr. Gee was utterly unclad and flagrante delicto to most of the civilized world’s accustomed social norms. The door buzzer buzzed.
“Who in hell could that be at this ungodly hour!” Mr. Gee hollered, as he jumped off the couch.
“Uh…” I faltered. Then I said, “That would be Ms. Penny Pincher from Magnus Opus, Inc.”
Mr. Gee resumed his perfectly practiced stance of folded arms and toe tapping the linoleum.
“Ms. Who from what-the-hell?” He sputtered.
“Yes,” I said, snatching him from the floor and quickly carrying him toward his box.
(One must understand that his box is a refrigerator packing crate filled to the brim with personal amenities, including a privy, a wet bar and a home entertainment center, minus a kitchen; we normally ate cooked food deliveries. So, please do not contact the ASPCA. Besides, Mr. Gee is not an animal and regrettably is not under the law of humanity, although he does share some of the Homo sapiens genome; pun not intended.)
I kneeled down and released Mr. Gee, shooing him toward his cardboard domicile. (Walls reinforced with carbon nanotubing, roofed in terracotta tiles, pleasant beige stucco walls on the outside and polished wood paneled interior, and all electric utilities.) He reluctantly complied, but before he streamed his normal torrent of abuse and protestations to the contrary, I shoved him inside and slammed his miniature door. (Oak carved with inset beveled, diamond shaped, stained glass panes, composed of rather bizarre images of his home country… and brass fixtures.) I hurriedly explained the situation to him through his opened window (triple-pane bulletproof acrylic optical polymer).
“Sorry, Mr. Gee.” I said. “This client may be a wonderful source of ready cash, and it would be a dire shame if we let this opportunity fly with the wind and out of the door.”
His beet-red face nodded, yet I could see that he wasn’t entirely mollified by the minute flecks of foam splattering through the window.
“Office mortgage due the fifteenth.” I reminded him. “Be back post haste, Mr. Gee.” I said.
Straightening up, I became aware that the buzzer had ceased buzzing.
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “It may be wise to get dressed, sir, just in case.”
He answered me with the slam of the window
In severe and fluttering anxiety, I sprinted to the front office door, fearing that our prospective client may have truly gone with the wind. This entailed my making hasty detours around various furniture and picking up sundry items of clothing scattered by a gnome with little or no housekeeping wherewithal. Then I flew through the small conference room, and emerged in the front hall. As I bypassed the empty receptionist’s booth (Kriśna having gone to Calcutta on holiday), I threw the lot over and behind the counter, giving the smelly pile a good kick under it for good measure.
Approaching the door, I peered into the peephole to verify what I had seen on the LCD monitor. I confirmed that our visitor was indeed a young woman in a blue pinstriped suit, with wavy, shoulder length, brown hair and wearing huge glasses framed in black plastic. I couldn’t see her shoes, but instinctually I knew them to be sensible and very probably brown. She was dangling a tannish briefcase in her left hand, and by this token, I absolutely knew she really meant business. Flicking the alarm off, I unfastened the three deadbolts, and opened the red painted steel door. Flashing my brilliant one thousand-lumen smile, I asked her to come in, with a grand sweep of my arm and a slight suggestion of a bow.
Glancing at our business card in her right hand, she nodded pertly in return and asked me, “Do I have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gnome?”
“No,” I said, closing the door. Then after refastening the locks and resetting the alarm, I added, “No…uh…Ms…” Due to the rush of the moment and the dazzling beauty of her face, I had forgotten her name.
“Ms. Pennypincher,” she said, with a crooked smile, looking up and down my six foot six, (if I do say so myself) athletic, muscular frame. I courteously returned this kindness with an appropriate gaze, yet mine took a bit longer and had more intensity. She was not fazed one little bit, which deflated my ego with an audible sigh.
“I am Thomas Douteux, Ms. Pennypincher,” I said with a discrete nod. “Assistant to Mr. Gnome, who is regrettably not here at the moment.”
Noting the disappointed look in her eyes, I added, “But, I assure you that I have Mr. Gnome’s complete confidence and can initiate any and all business matters in his absence.”
Indicating a deep and maroon velvet armchair, I motioned her to sit down. Having sat, she set her briefcase upon the glass coffee table. I sat down; but only after she did. (Savoir faire is my middle name, Mr. Gee has told me on a number of occasions. It is one of the main reasons he hired me; the other was my discovery of him, a tale of which I will relate in the next chapter.)
2. NEXT CHAPTER (if anytwo are interested...)