Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TOM"S TALE: Chapter 1 - The New Job

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a business card. It read: "SIMON WENTWORTH - ATTORNEY AT LAW." I slid the card back into my front pocket as the elevator came to a halt. The door opened revealing a dimly lit hallway. I double checked the floor number above the elevator door to make sure that this was my floor. It was.

I exited the elevator and began walking down the damp, mildew-smelling corridor. The succession of dark empty offices that surrounded me with every step made me wonder if this truely was the correct floor. I decided to carry on to just make sure nothing was down here before I turned around.

When I neared the end of the corridor I noticed that there was a light coming from the last office on the left. The window was bright compared to the darkness that almost engulfed the entire floor behind me. "This has to be my destination," I thought to myself.

I stopped at the door and banged my knuckles against the pane of glass.

"It's open!" shouted a high pitched male voice from beyond the door.

With a twist of the rusty doorknob I swung the door open and stepped inside. The office was a pigsty. There were stacks and stacks of index cards piled high throughout the desk and tables of the small office. Coming down from the ceiling was a metal tube hanging next to the desk. The concrete floor was wet and sticky at the same time, not unlike the floor of a movie theater. Behind the desk sat a short plump man wearing a white dress shirt and a green transparent visor on his head. He looked as if he should have been dealing cards at a poker game instead of sitting behind a desk in this dingy little office.

"What can I do you for?"

"Mr. Wentworth?" I asked, quietly, uncertainty bouncing off my tongue.

"He I be. How can I help you?"

"I'm your new temp," I said.

"Good, good, very well then. Time to get started. Enough lolly-gagging around don'cha think?"

I hesitated. "Uh, sure thing. You're the boss."

I looked around the room at the stacks of index cards. They were stacked in piles.

"So what is it that you need me to do?" I asked.

"Why, my good man, you are to sit here with me and help me get caught up on my work!" he said.

This portly midget was already getting on my nerves. Not two minutes into my work day with him and I was ready to throw him out the window. Well, if this office had a window. I took a seat in the chair across the desk from him.

"So where do you keep your law books and such?" I asked, looking around for a diploma or other evidence proving that this was, in fact, a lawyer's office.

"Oh, that. Well I'm not really an attorney, but I can't advertise what I really do. You see, what I do here isn't what one would actually call 'Top Secret', but it truly is."

"Ok, then, what is it you do here then?"

"I solve, what your people call, RIDDLES"

"You solve riddles?" I asked. Then it occurred to me what he'd said: "What do you mean, my people?"

"Can you keep a secret?" he whispered, leaning towards me. I nodded. "I'm not from your world. I am a very important man where I came from. A Prince, to be exact. I was bored with my life there and wanted to help out the greater good of my people, so I traveled here and began working in this office. I know it's nothing like guarding your President or editing your movie films, but it helps our people understand the thinking process of you, shall I say, Earthlings?"

This guy was a bag of nuts and his bean has been salted long before I entered that door. Crazy or not, $15/hour is hard to pass up.

"Let's get started," the fat man said in a not so excited tone. Wentworth grabbed a few index cards off a pile sitting in front of him and handed them to me. "Start with these. Read them aloud and we will work together to figure out the answer."

"Alright." I said. I looked at the top card and read it aloud. "You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you eat?"

"Intriguing!" Wentworth said, etching bewilderment across his face.

I looked at him wondering if he was serious. "This is an easy one. The answer is corn."

"Corn! I would never had figured that one out. Good job!"

He took the card from me and wrote "corn" on the back of the card and put it in a plastic canister. "I love this part!" the fat man clapped his hands twice and put the canister in the metal chute and in seconds the canister was flying through the tube headed to who-knows-where.

"Where did you send that?" I asked.

"Not every secret can be told on the first day, can it?"

"I guess not." I said slightly sarcastic. "Next riddle?"

"Please do." Wentworth was excited and clapped his hands again. I couldn't help but notice that when he finally looked me dead in the face he was cross-eyed. I giggled inside as I looked away from his face to the next card.

"What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?" I looked towards Wentworth, he was truly stumped. "A River."

"Oh, you're good." He stated before writing down the answer, clapping, and sending it up the chute.

We repeated this process for the remainder of the day. I would read aloud a riddle, I'd answer the 4th grade level riddles, he would write down the answer on the back of the card, clap two times, and send it up the chute for destination unknown, well, unknown to me anyway.

When it was time to stop for the day, Wentworth told me that I should have his job. He had never answered that many riddles in a single day before. He shook my hand as I left the office ahead of him and praised my fine work one last time before I headed back down the dimly lit corridor, and back up the elevator.

"This is going to be one strange work week," I thought as the elevator doors opened and I stepped inside.


  1. Hell yes, it's about time you brought back Tom and Noodles :)

  2. That was very enjoyable, I hadn't noticed before the touch of old fashion in your writing. :)