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Fiction #228
(published May 26, 2005)
Instead Of
by R.A. Lubow
Jim loves his damn Rolodex more than he loves me. So he's going to be steamed when he gets back and sees the mess I've made.

When I say mess I don't mean the disorganized kind of mess, the sterile, everyday entropy that seems to follow me everywhere. No, I mean the kind of mess that's filthy. Bacterial.

Uh oh, here he comes now. . .

"What's wrong, you look guilty," he says.

"Well, I sort of peed on your Rolodex," I say.

"You're joking, right?" he says.

"It was an accident. Let me explain," I say.

At this point Jim can plainly see evidence of liquid on and around his Rolodex.

A deep sadness comes over him. A dead-muscle cold stare, eyebrows tilted ever so slightly like a sad cartoon bear.

Or was it an angry bear? Or an amused bear? With Jimmy, you can never be sure. Except, of course, for the bear part, which is ever-present. . . horrifyingly so.

"I needed to pee. So I figured I'd pee in the coffee cup," I explain.

Jimmy pokes at the soaked Rolodex with a long, metal, production artist ruler. The corners of the ruler are sharp, and the ruler itself probably weighs a good three pounds.

"You figured you'd pee in my coffee cup? Oh, that explains everything," he says.

"Yes. . . I thought I'd pee in the cup and take it with me when I left. . . dump it out somewhere. . . figuring you could get another cup in the office kitchen," I say.

"The cups in the kitchen are brimming with bacteria," said Jimmy, "the office manager wipes them down old school-style in the break room sink!"

The fact that Jimmy is focusing on the details leading up to the Rolodex mishap INSTEAD OF the Rolodex mishap itself, is not a good sign.

It never is.

"I brought this cup from home," explained Jimmy in ominously measured tones, "this is my cup. My father gave me this cup."

At this point I notice something like a fire department logo emblazoned on the side of the mug. I am a dead man. Who will inherit my $230, my macaroni and cheese, my furry blanket?

"Sorry, I didn't know," I say.

"Why did this happen?" he asks.

"I didn't want to walk through the halls and be seen in this ridiculous outfit," I explain, "So I peed in the cup, thinking it was dispensable."

"I can't believe this," says Jimmy.

I am still alive.

"It was the wrong thing to do," I say.

With this comment, Jimmy seems ready to move on to the next level of mourning; switching emphasis from the soiled cup to the death-by-urine of his prized Rolodex.

He punctuates this moment of closure (and turning point) by chopping the sharp corner of his metal ruler down on the Rolodex as if he is mercy-killing a sewer rat. The ruler penetrates several cardstock layers of the Rolodex, now softened by the fatal moisture I'd imposed on it. A real rat, it would have died instantly.

And now for the moment we've all been waiting for. . .

"How'd your pee get on my Rolodex?"

I hazard an explanation by way of interrogative:

"You ever try pouring liquid from one glass to another, and the liquid grabs onto the outside of the first glass, runs down it and gets everywhere?"

"Yeah, so?" says Jimmy.

"That's what happened, but with my dick!" I say. "My dick was like the cup, and the cup. . . "

"You fucking moron!" says Jimmy.

I'm safe for the moment. Otherwise, he might have spoken with his ruler. Pee on his Rolodex and blood on his ruler is no way to celebrate Secretary's Day.

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