WARNING: Total silliness ahead! I can't believe I'm actually posting this. It's incomplete and has taken on a life of it's very own. Frightening! I have no idea where this story is going, or if I will ever finish it, or even if I should, but I will let you be the judge! ***
Bink. Bink. Bink. It’s that damn cursor thingie laughing at me. The white backdrop looks like snow, or maybe my bathtub after a date with the scrubbing bubbles. What a lousy metaphor. But this cursor thingie keeps mocking me. Every blink is another second of my life, gone forever, but hey at least my screen is clean. “Aaaaaacccchooooooo.” Take that you baneful cursor!
Okay I am getting frustrated here. I have not been this nervous since I took my driver’s test for the fourth time. Hey great idea for a story! Yes I will write about sadistic DPS troopers and the magnetic cones that would magically attach themselves to the bumper of my 78 Thunderbird. Okay it wasn’t my car, but still. When the sadistic trooper told me if the cones had been children or doggies they would have been splat I just broke down and cried. How evil! Like I would ever try to parallel park between children or animals. Actually how often would I parallel park between cars? It just feels so unnatural, so wrong. I told him I’ll just drive around until I find an open spot. Needless to say he wasn’t impressed. The man said in his 10 years as a Trooper he has never had to flunk someone five times. STOP. Okay this is going nowhere. I don’t have a clever thought inside my little head. I need help! Yes therapy too but that won’t put words on a page. Time to let my fingers do the walking. ***
Nervously I punch the numbers.
“Good afternoon this is Other Voices, my name is Rita, how may I help you,” answers a lady in an Edith Bunker voice.
“Good afternoon Rita, my name is Jennifer and I wanted to inquire about available voices,” I reply.
“Hello Jennifer, yes we have several voices available, how soon would you need one?”
“Soon,” I answer anxiously. “I have this project I’m working on and I could really use some help.”
“I have an appointment available at 11AM tomorrow. You can come in, fill out some paperwork and browse our catalog of available voices,’ she replies like a true sales pro.
“11AM sounds wonderful....do you take major credit cards,” I ask.
“Yes we do Jennifer, I look forward to meeting you.”
“Likewise. Thank You.” I hang up the phone.
I can’t believe I’m really going to do this. What will I wear? ***
“Damn I look corporate,” I think to myself as I apply another stroke of mascara to my already burdened lashes. I’m dressed for a freaking board meeting not some loony Rent-a-Voice session. Oh well at least I’ll look smart. I slide my three inch black leather Cole Haan pumps on and try not to bang my head on the door on my way out.
The half hour drive was uneventful as I made my way to the Professional Building located on Douglass Avenue. The building itself was nondescript art deco glass. If I’m lucky I can find a space outside and save $5 for lunch. I notice a spot open right in front. Ack, parallel parking!!! But I notice a motorcycle and a VW Beetle in adjacent spots leaving enough room for an Amtrak Train, or at least a limousine, so certainly I can fit; after all my Santa Fe is no 78 Thunderbird. I take a deep breath and pull up next to the Beetle. Doing my best Jim Rockford impersonation I confidently whirl my steering wheel and back into the space...and over the curb...and onto the sidewalk. An irate driver sounds a horn which frightens me at first, then agitates me. I bet he’s laughing at me. Bastard. I back up for attempt number two. This time I don’t jerk the steering wheel so tightly. I slowly back up praying I don’t hit the motorcycle. I’m in! I did it! I did it! I haven’t been so proud since I won my 5th grade Spelling Bee. And that jerk, J-E-R-K jerk, thought I couldn’t parallel park. I victoriously grab my purse, hop out of my SUV and suddenly more horns sound. Yes I know I’m a total hottie today, but please lay off the horns. Then I look back and notice I am ten feet away from the curb and blocking one lane of traffic. Well at least I didn’t hit anything I think to myself as I walk back to my SUV feeling defeated nonetheless. Besides do I really need to eat lunch? So I park in the damn garage.
I grab my purse and head for the elevator and make my way to the 13th floor. Room 1366. I open the door. It looks like any other doctor’s waiting room, blasť, but non-threatening. I’m thinking some Interior Decorator should investigate this untapped market. I make my way to the receptionist office and ring the bell. The male assistant looks pleasant enough in his khakis and pressed aqua Ralph Lauren button-down shirt. “Ms. Eckard I presume,” he inquires. “Yes, you can call me Jennifer,” I answer. “I need you to fill out this questionnaire before we proceed,” he instructs me. I grab the clipboard and find a seat near the door just in case.
I look over some of the questions.
2. Have you ever had voices in your head before?
Mmmm....no I check.
3. Have you ever been committed to a Mental Institution?
Mmmm...no I check.
I continue filling out the questionnaire, no...no....maybe....no. Suddenly a stylishly clad fortyish woman clutching a Prada handbag in one hand and a Barbie doll in the other sits right next to me. I glance up at all the empty seats feeling a bit uncomfortable with her choice. “Your first time,” she asks. “Yes,” I reply not wanting to sound rude. “My name is Strawberry Shortcake, what’s yours.” she blurts out. “Shirley Temple,” I sarcastically reply. “Tiffany and I are redecorating Barbie’s Dream House. Do you want to play Shirley,” she invites. “Who is Tiffany,” I ask. “Tiffany is my inner child, my inner voice. My husband bought her for me so we can play doctor. He’s not really a doctor but we pretend,” she giggles in a child-like voice. This is a bad idea I think. I’m so out of here!
“Jennifer I’m so happy to meet you,” echoes a familiar voice. It was Rita. Rita was a portly, bookish woman, perhaps fifty years old, who strikingly resembled Janet Reno. “Come this way Jennifer,” she commands.
In a catatonic state I follow Rita Woolworth into her uncomfortably cluttered office. “Please sit Jennifer,” she commands. I sit and gaze at rows of books, mostly psychiatric manuals and then look up at the walls to see not one, not two, not three, but four huge paintings of Sigmund Freud ominously peering down at me. Genius of Behavioral Science or dirty old man. The latter I think. “Would you like some Kool-Aid,” she asks while visions of Jim Jones dance through my head. It was all too surreal! She grabs a book and hands it to me, “Before we go through the catalog I would like to ask you a few questions Jennifer,” she states. “Yes, me too,” I mutter as she looks over my questionnaire.
“I see you are in your late thirties, never married, no history of psychological problems. Are you a lesbian Jennifer?”
“What kind of question is that,” I return slightly annoyed.
“Well you do not fit our typical profile. Most of the women we see are bored housewives with successful husbands and older children. They are seeking an escape from their mundane existence.”
“No I don’t fit that description nor am I a lesbian,” I assuredly reply.
“That’s a pity Jennifer. I’m quite certain you would make a wonderful wife or domestic partner. Your very pretty Jennifer. Would you prefer a fine Chardonay instead of Kool-Aid? Perhaps a massage? You seem so tense Jennifer. You are captivating ....,” Rita seductively speaks as she loosens the top button of her blouse.
“Can we please....”
“Of course dear. I’m terribly sorry, that was so unprofessional of me. I just thought perhaps you and I....” she sighs...”nevermind.” “So Jennifer you want to rent a voice to help you with a project. Is this business related.”
“Not exactly,” I reply.
“Please elaborate dear.”
“Well this is going to sound silly but I need a voice to help me with a writing project,” I sheepishly reply.
“What’s so silly about that Jennifer.”
“It’s not for work, it’s for a Reality Show forum called SurvivorBlows. I promised I would write a story and I’m just overwhelmed.”
“Yes. Earlier in my life I wrote all the time. Ideas flowed so naturally into words. I’m not sure what happened, . but after all of these years my creative juices ran dry.”
“What you need is some good lubrication dear,” Rita responds with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
“Lubrication,” I mutter half expecting Rita to produce a tube of KY Jelly.
“Yes lubrication dear. You need some oil to get those pistons in your head churning again. A voice is just what the doctor ordered Jennifer. What kind of voice were you looking for?”
“A female voice. Creative, fun, artistic, hopefully with a strong vocabulary. An English Lit Major perhaps,” I wishfully reply.
“Oh you would love Emily.”
“Emily. What a beautiful name. Yes I’ll take Emily.”
“Unfortunately Emily is on assignment. Oh I think Anna is a perfect match. She is young, sassy and extremely talented.”
“Anna. I like that name. Yes please give me Anna”
“Oh I’m so sorry, Anna is on assignment also.”
“Can I just look at the book,” I impatiently ask.
“Yes dear. We have short bios on all our voices. Gender, age, personalities, talents, and any other quirks. At the bottom you will see our price list. How long will you need a voice Jennifer,” Rita asks.
“A few days I guess,” I respond as I thumb through the book. “I want her. Sexy Sadie”.
“Sexy Sadie is our most popular voice. I’m afraid she is booked through next fall.”
“Okay, how about Vicky the Vixen.”
“I’m sorry but Vicky is on vacation dear.”
“Ashley the Angel.”
“Wanda the Witch.”
“Debby the Diva”
“On maternity leave.”
“Maternity leave,” I bewilderedly ask. “How can a voice get pregnant.”
“Well dear some of our clients order multiple voices. It so happens she was paired with Fertile Freddy,” explains Rita.
“I see. How about Patti the Punker.”
“Okay can you please tell me who is available,” I beg.
“Maria is cute. Do you understand Spanish dear.”
“No I don’t.”
“How unfortunate. We have Senile Sally but she doesn’t remember much, Matilda the Mute who doesn’t speak. Or Teary Terri who cries all the time.”
“None of those voices will work. I need someone who will stimulate me, someone who will motivate me” I desperately plea.
“Stimulate. Did you say stimulate.” Rita unfastens another button on her blouse.
“No, no not like that. I need someone to stimulate my mind so I can write,” I cautiously reply.
“Well I am sorry but those are the only female voices currently available. I have some due back next week if you can wait.”
“No, no I can’t wait.”
“Well dear would you consider a male voice. The majority of our clients are women so most of our men are currently available.”
“That’s not exactly what I had in mind, I already have enough trouble with men,” I reply.
“We are running a special on several of our men. 7 days for only $299. Please at least take a look Jennifer,” Rita bargains not wanting to miss out on a sale.
“Okay, I am desperate here; I will look, but no guarantees.” I thumb through the expansive catalog browsing countless bios.
Russell the Redneck. Perry the Pimp. Ivan the Idiot. Jazzy the Jerk. Horace the Hairdresser. Cletus the Cowboy. Michael the Misogynist. Danny the Dude.
“Hmmm Danny is kind of cute. But it says here he is obnoxious. I’m not exactly looking for conflict.”
“Danny is one of our newest voices. Yes he’s somewhat obnoxious but also quite charming. Perhaps just the mix you need to finish your story.”
“I don’t know.”
“Jennifer I like you. And since I am so disappointed we do not have the voice you are seeking I will offer you Danny for $199. Or free if you will have dinner with me tonight.”
I contemplate the offer. “Deal”.
“Wonderful Jennifer, what time do I pick you up,” Rita excitedly asks.
“No, I’ll take Danny for $199,” I reply.
“Very well Jennifer. I really wish you would reconsider my offer but I won’t push you anymore. Now I need you to sign this waiver and follow me to the next room.”
I sign my life away and follow Rita to the next room. ***
“Dear please disrobe and put on this gown.”
“I don’t want to get any of the serum on your fetching outfit.”
“And when your done could please put your feet in these stirrups.”
Rita smiles. “A joke Jennifer. Lighten up dear this won’t hurt at all.”
“How exactly will we put Danny in my head. I’m terrified of needles.”
“Needles are the fastest and most efficient method, but we can also vaporize Danny and you can inhale him. It’s just like laughing gas. Totally painless. But it will take longer and the vapors smell like Old Spice.”
“Ick. Still better than needles,” I reason.
“You can put on your gown now dear,” Rita commands hoping to get a glimpse of my naked body.
I put on my gown and await Danny.
Rita and Matthew, her assistant, wheel in this strange metal contraption as I lay as vulnerable as the day I was born. The mask looks like something you would see on Star Trek, and I nervously wait for Rita to beam me up while wondering if I will ever be the same again. Matthew sets up a projector. It’s pointed towards the ceiling. Rita gives me two pills and a cup of water.
“This will calm your nerves Jennifer. You will be conscious throughout but I assure you this will be painless. Matthew is setting up a projector, the soothing images will help you relax. He can also pipe in music if you desire,” Rita instructs.
“Yes music would be nice.”
“Don’t worry you will be fine Jennifer. It will take about two hours to fully inhale Danny. The fumes will render him unconscious and it will be about eight hours before he wakes. You will be groggy throughout the ordeal but will be okay to drive home when we are done. Unless you want to reconsider my offer for tonight,” Rita says.
“No thank you Rita, Danny is enough,” I say.
Rita fastens the mask onto my face. No turning back now.
“Are you okay dear,” she asks.
I can’t speak so I nod yes.
“If you need anything dear please press this button. I will be in to check on you,” she says.
Matthew flips on the projector and Rita turns on the vaporizer.
“You will do fine dear,” Rita says as she turns off the lights and walks out the door.
I stare at the ceiling, a pleasing field of daffodils. This won’t be so bad I think. Then music is piped in.
“I write the songs that make the whole world sing..........”
Barry Manilow. Help! OMG where is my button. Where is my button. Help! What am I going to do! Tune out the music and look at the flowers. Tune out the music and look at the flowers. Don’t get your panties in a wad. Where are my panties? Ick it smells like Old Spice in here. This is a nightmare. Please somebody help. I stare at the ceiling. It’s Rita! In a thong bikini exposing ripples of cellulite! Oh my God I’ve been deceived! I can’t get up. Somebody please help me.
“I write the songs that make the whole world sing.....”
Two hours later Rita and Matthew return. I am groggy, numb and the only thing in my head at the moment are bad 70’s songs. Rita unfastens the mask and lays my clothes on the table.
“The procedure went well Jennifer. No complications. Right now Danny is asleep; it should be about six hours before he comes to. Would you like some coffee,” she asks.
“Yes coffee sounds nice,” I reply while contemplating what had taken place. ***
I arrive home weary from the day’s big event. I smell like Old Spice. A bath would be nice I think. I draw water adding a generous supply of Bath & Body Works Relaxing Bath Bubbles, light a candle, and pour myself a glass of wine wondering if this will be the last tranquil moment I ever have.
An hour later I towel myself dry and collapse naked on my bed clutching Happy, my teddy bear. I quickly drift asleep. ***
Chilled in the dead of night I awake. The clock blinks 3:11 AM. I rub my eyes and turn on a lamp. Suddenly I hear a whistle.
Groggy and startled at the voice I wonder if I forgot to lock my door.
“Awesome,” I hear the voice again.
I grab the pepper spray on my night stand prepared to fend off this intruder.
“Mmm...mmm I think I’m in heaven.”
I sit up, pepper spray in hand, cautiously surveying my surroundings. No one is there.
“You’re a freaking hottie...”
I glance at the foot of my bed and see my teddy bear Happy staring at me, and when I hear another whistle I instinctively unleash the Pepper Spray on my unsuspecting plush toy. The voice laughs. I turn red.
“Did I mention you have nice boobs..”
WTF? Embarrassed and bewildered, I pull the sheets up to hide my breasts. Then I remember.....
“Danny is that you....” ***
Usually the first time I meet a man alcohol or cappuccino are involved, so why should this be any different? Okay so this isn’t a date, but if a man is going to reside in my head for an entire week introductions are in order. I just hope Danny and I are compatible because I can’t just walk out on him like I have so many bad dates. I savor the cappuccino, feeling more comfortable and less exposed. All of the sudden my head begins to pound, but this isn’t one of my typical migraines, instead it feels like a baby rattle, or maybe a Metallica concert. Or both.
“Danny what are you doing up there,” I ask.
The pounding stops. “I brought my skateboard,” Danny answers.
“Skateboard,” I ask wondering what else was in my head.
“Yeah I brought a skateboard. It can get pretty boring in someone’s head so I always bring stuff to keep me entertained. And I must say this is the most spacious head I have ever seen,” Danny muses.
“Are you trying to tell me something Danny,” I reply not the least bit amused.
“Don’t worry I think airheads rock!”
“What else do you see up there,” I ask
“I see everything. You have an interesting cerebrum. Do you know your temporal lobe is covered with dust bunnies? I bet you can’t remember where you put your car keys.”
This is spooky, he’s right. “Go on Danny.”
“You have an awesome medulla oblongata. I can’t wait to play with it, and your corpus callosum makes an excellent skateboard ramp. And I swear your cerebellum is whacked. Your not very graceful are you?”
“What’s that suppose to mean,” I return slightly annoyed.
“Just saying, that’s all.”
“So tell me Danny, how do you survive. Do you eat? Sleep? How do you use the bathroom.”
“Don’t worry I have everything I need. Everything you eat, I eat. Everything you drink, I drink. I sleep when you sleep. And bathroom? Oh I have a port-a-potty if I need it but I usually just go on the pituitary gland.”
“You better not pee on my pituitary gland,” I respond totally spacing out over the situation.
“Oh don’t get emotional on me or I’ll have to tickle your parietal lobe,” he responds.
Great, I hate him already.