Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A story basically about Sugar

A story basically about Sugar.
Molecat Jumaway

Josephine hated people with clipboards; maybe hate was too strong a word. She was wary of people with clipboards. They came up and started with asking whether they could ask questions. She did not like that one bit, it felt wrong. If she said no, she’d be still answering their first question. She’d try to just walk by quietly, in a stern but humble fashion. When they followed her she really hated that, they wanted something from her, she just knew it. ‘Can I have a moment of your time?’ Sent shivers down her spine, almost begging but worse, ‘time vampires!’ That was it she thought, they were time vampires. Ready to suck those precious moments from her private time. They did not come into her work, and take from there. Those moments belonged to someone else. Tea breaks, shopping, rushing from one place to the next, at home having a tea, her private moments.
She was crouching at the side of her window, peaking out the corner like a little mouse watching a man, in a suit, with a clipboard come up her pathway. She sat on the floor and took a deep breath. The doorbell rang, she held herself there, holding her breath in. The doorbell rang again.
‘Oh, go away you man with a clipboard!’ She thought to herself as her face slowly grew red. The doorbell rang again. ‘There’s no one home, go bother next door.’ There was a silence; she suddenly thought it was extremely dense to be holding her breath. Of course he could not hear her breath; that would be ridiculous.
She let out her breath in a big gasp. Suddenly the doorbell rang in three quick successive rings. She had to stifle a little cry.
He had not heard that surely? There was silence and then Josephine could hear him stepping off the large front door step and walking away slowly. She rose a little and peeped over the windowsill and saw him walking back down her path. He suddenly turned and she ducked with her hand over her mouth. She gave it a second and peeped again.
Her neighbour Tom was coming around the front of their fence and up towards her house. The man with the clipboard went to intercept him and he made quite a rude waving off gesture at him. The man with the clipboard moved back down her path and then out onto the sidewalk.
The doorbell rang and rang and rang; Tom was trying to make a melody with the chimes and doing a terrible job at it. It rang and rang again as she sat there on the carpet with her back to the wall. It rang and rang some more.
“Oh bloody Thomas I’ll wring your little neck!” She growled and got up, stormed over to the door and flung it open.
“Thomas you have no sense of manners or rhythm….” And she then stopped dead. Tom was standing at the doorway with his cheeky grin but off in the distance the man with the clipboard stood silently staring.
She stood there silently staring into the eyes of this inhuman clipboard holder.
“Halo Truffles!” Said Tom in his usual jovial way. “Just popped by for a bit of a…” He then realised that he did not have Josephine’s full attention. He looked at her stare and turned around to see the man at the end of the path holding his clipboard. “Oh Will You Sod The Bloody Hell Off!” He yelled at the man waving another unkind gesture. “We don’t want your cheaper rates, or your new God or your expressions of gratitude for answering a few of your bloody inane questions!” He yelled which snapped Josephine out of it. The man with the clipboard moved away without a sound in a creepy fashion.
“Oh Thomas, you are a brute!”
“I do what I can ma’am.” Tom said and made a little bow. He dramatically cleared his throat and repeated himself. “Halo Truffle! Just popped by for a bit of a chat.” He paused and wiggled his ear nervously. “Well, that’s not true; I came by to see if you could spare some sugar?” He said and beamed smile while holding up an empty cup.
“Come in Thomas, I’m sure I’ve got a bit left to spare.”
“Thank you kindly Ma’am.” Said Tom theatrically as he followed her through the front door. “And you can call me Tom.”
“I know.” Josephine replied and then the phone rang. “I’ll just be a second.”
“Hello, I was wondering whether you are the lady or man of the house.” Said the unemotional voice on the other end of the line. Josephine took the receiver away from her ear and stared at it in confusion.
“Can’t you tell?” She said.
“No, I can’t tell if you are the lady or man of the house.” The anonymous voice said. Josephine stared at the phone another time, she thought she sensed a clipboard being held somewhere on the other side.
“Vampire!” She screamed and slammed down the phone. The little thing made a distressing bell sound as the receiver struck the cradle.
“That’s very unlike you Jo.” Said Tom in the background. “Screaming at someone and slamming down the phone like that.”
“Bloody Time Vampires!” Grumbled Josephine she thought for a second and at a later stage in the day wondered whether it was because she was already in an angry moment. She turned to Tom. “How is that unlike me?”
“Well usually you’re very…” Tom knew he was getting in bad territory and paused, he could not think of a suitable word that was not going to get him in trouble.
“Very…” Tom was pondering.
“Yes, out with it?”
“Well, usually you’re very, well… Mousy.” And just as he said the word he knew he was in trouble.
“Mousy!” Repeated Josephine in shock. Suddenly Tom thought of the right word but it was too late.
“I mean lady like, lady like, you’re usually very courteous.” Said Tom rapidly trying to fix the rut he’d gotten himself into. It was too late though; Josephine was standing there with her bottom lip out. Tom stopped talking and just simply waited for the repercussions.
After a second Josephine made a little ‘humph’ sound and turned away from him. She went to the pantry and searched the shelves silently.
“Jo-Jo, what’s this about vampires?” Asked Tom but got no response. She came out with a large metallic jar and put it on the bench. She held out her hand and it took Tom a second to realise she was demanding for his cup. She waved her hand around impatiently and Tom put the cup in it. She opened the lid of the metal container which was marked ‘Sugar’ and looked inside.
“Damn and blast.” Josephine said and brought down the cup on the bench shattering it.
“Hey, that was my good cup!” Cried Tom.
“Well that will teach you for calling well mannered ladies ‘mousy’.”
“But..” Started Tom but found that Josephine was heading away from him. “Where are you going?”
“’We’ are going to the market to buy sugar, I’m all out.” She said as she grabbed her bag. “Come along.”
“Yes ma’am.” Said Tom and started to follow her as she left her house.
“Idiot.” Mumbled Josephine.
“What was that?”
“Come along, stop dawdling.”
“You called me Idiot again!”
“Did I?”

Josephine pulled up into one of the few remaining car spots and sat there in the car with Tom looking very apprehensive beside her. She preferred the smaller supermarket as opposed to the large corporation but this meant a smaller amount of car parks. She was amazed and ecstatic with her luck, though she did not show it to Tom who was still to know her wraith.
“Mousy.” She grumbled again just to show him.
“Look I’m sorry.”
“Sorry-s are easy for men.” She said. “Just like other words that describe people and rodents.” On the inside she was thinking ‘this is a great spot, close but far enough away to avoid….” Then as she thought about them so did they appear, men with clipboards. “Shit!” She said.
“Wow, you are a grumble bum today.”
“Bloody Time Vampires!” She said as she saw them huddling around the front door. Trying both professionally and desperately to intercept as many people as they could. She got out of the car slowly, trying not to look at the congregation. In her mind she had decided that they had a medusa like power, meet them in the eye and time stands frozen. Your time; your most personal and private time; time that belonged to you alone and these things were trying to steal it. She grabbed her bag and Tom got out as well. Even though it was a central locking system Tom locked his door before closing it, bless the oaf.
Head down, Josephine headed towards the doors of the supermarket. She had almost the inclination to retreat back to the car and drive to the larger place. What was the point though, she’d achieved a high-ranking status in car spots and there would probably be more of these clipboard things at the other place. She came to the double doors with Tom in tow and she glanced at one of them.
Time stood still.
It was him; it was the man that was at her front door. How the hell did he get here so quickly?
“Hey Jo-Jo.” Whispered Tom and prodded her. She jolted back into life and found the men with clipboards slowly encroaching on her. She tried to keep her head down and move forward.
“Excuse me Young Lady?” and “Do you mind if I just…” and “Can I trouble you with…” All coming up in a flurry of clipboards and questions.
“Oh rack the hell off.” Said Tom from behind her.
“Tom! Language!” Cried Josephine in astonishment.
“Sorry Ma’am.” Said Tom and the two of them moved slowly through the crowd.
“We just need some sugar, there’s no need to be obnoxious.” And with that Josephine moved in to the store, past the counters and into the isles. She knew this little journey well, one item and just one item. She found herself mumbling the word ‘sugar’ over and over, even when she was standing in the freezer section staring at very tempting ice cream. It was the temptations that blew the budget; one small bag of sugar becomes a load of groceries she did not need. You don’t need but you could imagine those two minutes of pure love. Like eating a bowl of vanilla with raspberry and chocolate ripple ice cream.
“Thomas, I suppose it would not hurt to get some ice cream to have between the two of us. I mean it is on special and…” She turned to look at Tom in the mousy way she did but he was not there. “Tom?” She called but there was no response. She made a growling sound; I mean he knew he was in her bad books. Even though it was just an imaginary book, the sentiment and end result should be the same.
“Tom!” She cried and left the ice cream section. She walked the isles, crying his name. She was a bit miffed at his sudden disappearance, it wasn’t like him. He was her neighbour, he came around to borrow this and that, and they would end up talking and watching the television. She was sure that she could go to his pantry right now and find stacks of sugar. She loved his attention and was waiting for some kind of fruition of said attention; it was not like him to wander off like this.
“Tom!” She yelled and found him standing at some stall at the end of an isle. Someone had set up a taste tester, and a man with a clipboard stood there behind a sign that said ‘Old West Chilli beef!’ Tom stood there silent, stationary and still. There was no small cup of chilli beef in his hand; he just stood there uselessly. The man with the clipboard stood there silently, pleased with the situation before him.
“Tom!” Josephine yelled she ran over to him and pulled him arm. It was as if someone had made a statue to look like Tom and then clothed it in his clothes and now she was pulling at that sturdy, relentless arm.
“Tom!” She wailed and pulled and pulled. The man with the clipboard turned slowly to her.
“Madame, if I could just spare a minute of your time?”
“Tom!” She yelled, trying desperately to ignore the man with the clipboard that was moving into her view of sight. Tom was not budging. She could not believe it, this thing about men with clipboards and time vampires; it was just her being vindictive, now suddenly it was all unravelling in front of her. The man came closer the clipboard was almost touching her. She gave a little cry and moved back a little, still pulling at Tom.
“Oh rack off!” She screamed, she could sense the whole supermarket look her way. The man with the clipboard cleared his throat.
“Now that’s no way to talk.” He said. “You’re boyfriend talked to us in that manner and now look at him.” The man with the clipboard smirked and pointed at Tom.
“What?” Was all she could come up with, she couldn’t believe this was happening. She knew she had hypothesised on this very theory but that seemed to make it all the less unlikely.
“YOU.” Said the man with the clipboard sternly, “Will answer my questions. YOU will spare a moment of your time.”
“Why?” She asked, trying to be calm.
“It’s what we do.” Said the man. “Time vampires, don’t you know.”
There were little jugs of hot, steaming chilly on the table and Josephine grabbed one and threw it at the man’s crotch.
“That wasn’t very nice.” Said the man looking down at his pants. There was no scream of pain or anything like she was expecting. She grabbed another one of the little plastic jars and emptied it again on his crotch. Nothing, no flinching, no nothing. She was right, she could not believe that the most irrational thought she’d ever had in her life was correct. Well, there was that little Tarzan dream she had but she guessed erotica did not count.
By this stage she was noticing that other men in little uniforms and suits were starting to encompass her. Out of frustration she grabbed the man’s clipboard and hit him over the head with it. There was a moment of dead silence. The man, his hands useless out in front of him grappling for a clipboard that was no longer there stood with eyes wide open in stark astonishment. He then proceeded to collapse to the ground.
“What the devil did you do?” Cried Tom; snapping out of his vertical coma. He peered over the small chilly counter at the collapsed man with worry.
“Look around darling.” Replied Josephine as she steadied her new clipboard-weapon.
“Oh golly.” Said Tom softly as he saw people with clipboards were surrounding them. Josephine hit one of the encroaching people with her clipboard. He stood there with an expression of amazement for a second and then collapsed to the ground.
“That’s assault!” Said Tom in disbelief then Josephine did it again. “You did it again!” Then she hit three more of them in a quick succession. Then Tom was noticing that people were still coming, people with clipboards.
“Oh golly.” Repeated Tom. “May I ask what in blazes is happening?”
“Time Vampires.” Replied Josephine as though it all made sense and she hit another one on the head who then collapsed. “Come on, we’re getting out of here my love.”
“Hang on, Darling? My love?” Replied Tom, a little dazed.
“Yes, yes.” Josephine hit another on the head and then bent across to kiss Tom on the cheek. “There, see?”
“Wow.” Replied Tom. “And a little awkward considering your accosting staff with a clipboard.”
“Time Vampires.” Corrected Josephine and hit another. “Don’t make eye contact. Come on lets go.” Josephine started striking outwards to clear a passage. Tom turned and grabbed a small plastic pot of chilly beef and a spoon. “Come on!” Grumbled Josephine.
“I’m coming.” Tom took a spoonful of chilly beef into his mouth and followed behind. Josephine banging her ‘Time Vampires’ on the head as she went. They made their way towards the door and Josephine lifted up the clipboard one last time.
“Mousy!” She exclaimed as she struck the last one on the head. Tom took the last spoonful of chilly beef and placed the plastic tub next to the comatose body of the last victim.
“I’m ever so sorry.” He tried to explain to the man laying face flat on the floor but he wasn’t listening. “She’s usually very, well..” He was about to say ‘mousy’ but didn’t. “She’s usually very nice.”
“Come on!” Yelled Josephine.
“Okay Jo-Jo.” And Tom followed the fleeing girl.
They got back into the car; Josephine a little dismayed that the fruition of the good car spot had not eventuated in actual groceries. The she remembered the sugar.
“Ahhhh!” She growled and felt like hitting the steering wheel.
“What’s the matter?”
“We forgot the sugar!”
“Don’t worry I’ve got some at home.” Replied Tom, Josephine just stared at him until he blushed.

They were back at Josephine’s; She’d put the clipboard on the dresser where it joined all the other little tokens that she’d collected. Things she had collected from other little adventures. Tom had brought in the sugar and she was making coffee. She went to put a single spoon in each. She knew Tom liked two spoons of sugar but he’ll have what she darn well serves him.
“Mousy.” She mumbled to herself. She accidentally spilt a few grains here and there of sugar on the bench and now ants were marching out to collect their newfound goods.
She stared at the ants and her nose wrinkled up. She hated ants; they took things that did not belong to them and spoilt food. She did not trust them, did not trust them at all. They were going to take and take until they took or spoilt the whole world. It was as if they were… well it was as if they were....
“Bloody Ration Grubs.” She said with anger as she stared at them.