The Escape of El Cheapo

Eyes darting from the restaurant’s kitchen to the exit, Hobart is poised to leave before the server comes back. Timing is essential. So is nickel and diming and penny pinching. He earned the nickname, El Cheapo, for suckering his friends to pay for him until they wised up and dwindled to zero. No loss for him, as he saved time and energy by not having to scour for birthday and holiday gifts through lost and found bins in various places. Right now his goal is to dash out unnoticed. He considers changing his nickname to Dodger. It sounds more adventurous.

Oops Brief: Caught in the Act

Candace pops in a coffee pod in the single-cup coffee maker. While waiting for her coffee, she looks around and sees two co-workers talking and laughing. Snatches of their conversation float her way, with the words “donuts” and “reception area” catching her attention. It’s customary at work for leftover food from a meeting to be set out by the lobby for anyone to partake. She thinks how timely to grab some donuts to drink along with her freshly brewed beverage. She ventures over to the waiting area and greets Inez, the receptionist, with a smile.

“Ooh, I see a big box of donuts,” Candace says, as she walks toward the food and lifts open the donut box.  She picks the only Boston Creme donut in the bunch, bites into it and places it on a paper plate. She decides to take two more donuts, a glazed one and a coconut-flaked beauty. As she polishes off one of them and starts on another, she sees a group of senior buyers filing in the reception area with Lauren, a marketing executive, speaking loudly, “Welcome to our office. I’m glad you enjoyed the quick tour. We have breakfast for you here . . .”

While swallowing, Candace realizes the donuts were not officially leftovers yet. Her eagerness to dunk a donut in her coffee had blinded her from noticing the overall untouched state of the spread. Suddenly, she wishes she would disappear like the donuts she just downed.

Oops Brief: Tight Schedule

Image: Pixabay

Awakened by a full bladder, Lola scrambles out of bed when she realizes her alarm clock didn’t go off. She has a meeting to facilitate at the federal building and not much time to spend showering off her sleepiness. After barely toweling herself dry, Lola grabs what she thought was a pair of underwear but sees now it’s a pair of tights. Immediately, she pulls out a skirt suit and a blouse from her closet and puts them on. She then dons the pair of tights. As she takes a step, she feels the garter of her tights slip. Thinking quickly, Lola cinches a leather belt around her skirt to help hold up her tights. Proud of her simple solution, Lola dashes out.

As soon as Lola reached her building, she goes inside and is alarmed to find a line of people of starting to form. Then she remembers the security to enter the upper floors uses X-ray machines like those found at the airport. Soon it is her turn. Hurriedly, she places her purse, jacket, and briefcase in the bin on a carousel. She then walks between the sensor poles, which beeps.

“You have to take off your belt, ma’am,” the security officer extends his hand out to take the belt from her.

Conscious only of the time, Lola unbuckles her belt and gives it to the security staff.

As she steps forward, Lola is aghast at how quickly her tight schedule and loose tights lead to her downfall—right down to her ankles. No X-ray machines required.

Mumble

“Ya got a big mouth on ya is yer problem, Eddie. How many people ya ate? Ya gotta pace yerself or we’ll get caught. I gotta do somethin’.” Royal, Eddie’s best friend glares at his shack mate, who is moaning at every chew.

Eyelids half closed, Eddie is too preoccupied savoring the last of his ill-gotten meat. There’s nothing like a good summer barbecued shoulder. Granted, it took him a few hours to wrestle it out of his prey who outweighed him by 65 pounds, but he triumphed, making him especially proud of his latest kill.

“I just looove tourist season,” Eddie mumbles, trying to keep in food from spilling out of his mouth.

With pressed lips, Royal saunters off to get his leather sewing kit. As he approaches his friend from behind, he says, “Sorry, buddy; this is fer yer own good.” Royal takes a swing at the back of Eddie’s head with a big sock filled with heavy rubber balls.

With Eddie stunned, he quickly proceeds to sew his friend’s mouth. As he almost finishes, Eddie’s lids flutter open. Eyes looking panicked, Eddie grunts, “Mmmph . . .”

“Oops, I forgot to ask if ya had any last words,” Royal mumbles, feeling a little guilty as he locks the stitches.

Oops Brief: The Chicken Takes Wing

Image: Pixabay

Kelly and her co-workers take their boss out to lunch to celebrate National Boss Lunch Day. They all like their boss, who is a generous and fair man. Each of them goes around the table to say a little something about their boss and toast him. Kelly happens to sit next to the man, so she turns toward him when her turn comes around.

Enthusiastic and nervous, she barely swallows the chunk of chicken she’s been chewing. As she simultaneously chortles, raises her glass, and says, “To the best boss ever,” tiny bits of meat fly out of her mouth and land on her boss’s glasses for all to see. To make light of the situation, he says, “Thanks, Kelly. Your delivery is spot on.”

The Accident

Image: Pixabay

Vera loves wearing sandals, enjoying the variety of style from simple flip-flops to high-heeled, open-toe gladiators. One day, as she walks through a spring art exhibit, a big elephant statue fell from its perch onto her big toe. The surprise, the pain, the astonishment. Since then, she’s never been the same.

Every day, she seems to slump more, as if shrinking in stature, until one morning, she barely makes it out of  bed. Her whole body is dragging on the floor. Then, out of nowhere a little creature crawls out of her big toe and collapses. Known to its family as Tetra 12, the ant-sized being is ancient and, sadly, its existence is soon ending.

The Custodian

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

The clock strikes five. All the worker bees in Suite 320 suddenly come to life, shutting down their computers, tossing their empty coffee cups. Others lock up their drawers as if afraid somebody might steal their company-issued office supplies.

“Bye, Henry.”

“Have a nice weekend, Linda.”

“TGIF!”

Farewells among colleagues are exchanged; they give and accept their goodbyes like eager squirrels storing away their nuts for winter.

Less than five minutes later, the whole office is cleared. Sounds of rolling wheels break the silence as the little man behind a gray trash barrel comes in. As Head Custodian, he rips up all the computers, along with the desks and pitches them into the bottomless barrel. He has determined this last batch of worker bees does not work hard enough. They will not have a place to work when they return on Monday morning. He wheels away to the next floor to decide on the fate of the group in Suite 420.

Ballsy

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

“I’m not here to bust your balls. I’m here so we don’t get our balls busted,” the new CEO assured his employees.

Six months later, he saved the shareholders $6 million by letting go 3,000 workers.

Outside the building, sitting on a park bench were two former employees, Sam and Hank. Sam snorted, “Our CEO sure had us by the balls.”

Hank responded, “Yep, he had the balls to make us believe that if we juggled our schedule to fit his deadlines, we’d be having a ball in no time.”

“Turns out he thinks we dropped the ball.” Sam rubbed his eyes so his friend wouldn’t see them misting.

“Got that right. It’s one new ball game these days.”

Sighing, they both stood up and left, scratching their balls.

The Ugly Sweater Chronicles: Unraveled

[A trilogy of “seamy” stories about the lure of ugly sweaters. 3 of 3; see 2]

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Detective David LaFoote, along with his new junior partner, Detective Tobias LaFitte, shoulder their way in through the door. They look around the studio apartment, struck by the multitude of paper types pinned to a big bulletin board on the wall. Beneath all the newspaper clippings, invitation cards, and business letterhead is a large map of the metropolis. Different strands of colored yarn, connected by pins, point to specific locations on the map. Suddenly they hear a gasp and see a man cowering in the corner.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” the man whines. He is wearing a green sweater with a big snowman on the front, grinning back at them. “I’m taking what’s been due me for years . . .” He rubs his nose, as he asserts himself.

“Save your breath, buster. When I was growing up I was told to crochet my own sweater. I got a ball of yarn, while my classmates had their ugly sweaters already made.” LaFoote shakes his head, marveling at how his deeply buried memories so readily surface.

“I’m really sorry to hear what happened to you, but at least you were given some colorful material to knit something new. All I ever received when I was growing up was a picture of an ugly sweater from a mail-order catalog.” The man is now raving on and on.

“Spare me any more sob stories. You’re going down.” Detective LaFoote motions to his partner and speaks with authority. “Book him, Danno–for burglary and grand larceny!”

“Um, David. The name’s LaFitte.”

“Can’t you just be Danno for today? I’m really feeling like the 5-0 right now,” says LaFoote, harkening back to his grade school years of adoring the original “Hawaii Five-0” series on Friday nights.  LaFoote strides away, glad but weary from the long hours of finally cracking open the Ugly Sweater Serial Stealer case.

[To see the first story, see 1.]