For one last time, I’ve merged TBP’s Cubing the Stories and OLWG writing prompts. The prompts are highlighed in bold type.
Why “last time?” Well, I’ve decided to stop posting prompts to The Blog Propellant. The site will stay up for a while longer because I like the idea of continuing to share all those prompts with whomever happens to pass through. But at some point I will delete it.
I looked up at the clock. An hour and a half. Just ninety more minutes, and this place will finally be in my rear view mirror.
I looked up to see Nancy, my friend and the only person I was ever able to tolerate among my co-workers. She crossed her arms and leaned against the office door jamb.
“Almost time,” she said.
“Longest 90 minutes of my life,” I replied.
“Looks like you’re all packed up.”
I nodded. “I’m just piddling around with a couple of last-minute memos.”
“You finished that report for Erikson?” Nancy asked.
“Nnnnope.” I snapped. “He’s on his own with that one. His doody, his deal. Let him explain it to the boss. I’m outta here.”
I reached into the banker’s box of office stuff I’d packed and pulled out a small, cheesy-looking plastic sunflower in a bright pink flower-pot that read, “World’s Best___________.” The blank space used to have the handwritten word, “girlfriend,” and below it, “Love, Nancy.” It was joke. A little pick-me-up she gave me after I came to work with a blotchy-red face and puffy eyes from crying myself to sleep the night before after a huge fight with the now-ex-boyfriend.
Unfortunately, a couple of co-workers didn’t get the joke and the rumor mill started churning out all manner of salacious grist. My favorite was the one that had me and Nancy moonlighting as madams of an underground S&M lesbian brothel. We took to ironically kidding around when anyone was in our presence that the first rule of SMLB was not to talk about SMLB.
After a while it all got to be a too much, so I took a Sharpie, and in dramatic fashion, colored out Nancy’s captions. I placed the cheap trinket in a prominent spot on the front of my desk so everyone would have to look at it. It didn’t stop the gossip, but it did send a clear message I knew people were talking about us. By then I’d already decided it was time to move on, so I didn’t care.
“For you,” I smiled at Nancy, handing her the flower. She let out a snort.
“Don’t go hidin’ it up on some top shelf,” I admonished. “Keep it out where everyone can see it. As a reminder.”
“You betcha,” Nancy replied. “It will proudly sit next to my ‘You’re a Shooting Star Employee’ certificate.”
I laughed. “I forgot about that! God, we work with really obnoxious people, right?”
“I think they think we’re the aliens, sister.”
“Well,” I ventured, “that’s only because we don’t appreciate the finer things in life, like Sparkly Rainbow My Pretty Ponies, or whatever that thing Sue Ann was going on about that time.”
“Oh, God, please don’t remind me. That was one of the more painful meetings with those guys from Gates Allen & Jobs!” Nancy covered her eyes with her hand.
“You mean, Pacific Northwest Software Systems.”
“Whatever, those guys. Remember the looks on their faces?”
“Kind of priceless, actually.”
“If it weren’t for us finally interrupting, it would have been just that,” Nancy reminded me.
“We never did get the credit for bringing in that account, did we?”
“That one and others,” Nancy scoffed and then sighed. “You’re the smart one to cut and run.”
I shrugged. “I’m looking forward to my new job, but you know as well as anyone that every place has its headaches.” I hoped my comment would do the trick in deflecting any guilt I had about leaving, or at least stop her feeling stupid for staying.
“Tell you what,” I said, suddenly inspired with an idea, “wanna join me in a little workplace anarchy?”
I reached again into my banker’s box and pulled out three foot-long stubs of plastic plumbing pipe with chargers poking out of the top of each. “Remember these?”
Nancy’s eyes lit up, “Oh, my God! You still have them?”
I took out a lighter from my box. “C’mon!” and hot-footed out of my office and down the hall to the lunch room with Nancy right behind me.
We made a bee-line for a table in the middle of the lunch room and set down the three cylinders. The last of the kitchen staff was cleaning up and a couple of employees were tucked in a far corner chatting over cups of coffee. All watched intently, trying to figure out what we were up to. I flicked the lighter, lit the three chargers, and stood back.
Within seconds, large clouds of pink, green and yellow smoke rose from the pipes. Nancy and I gave each other a high-five as the colorful billowing smoke spewed up. The plumes grew fast, nearly filling the entire cafeteria, rising higher and higher, with the smell of burning baking soda, nitrous and sugar getting stronger.
“What the Sam Hill are you guys doing?!” yelled the kitchen manager as he crossed over to us from the salad buffet cart, waving his hand in front of his face and squinting through the smoke.
Just at that moment the fire alarm went off, and three seconds after that the ceiling sprinklers showered down what seemed like an entire reservoir of water. People ran into the lunch room as if drawn in by a giant magnet.
“I thought, when an alarm goes off, people are supposed to vacate the premises, not come running to the scene of the crime!” Nancy joked.
“F-n lookee-loos!” I laughed. We were soaked completely through and could not get control of our giggles. I held out my arms to Nancy, “This has been so much FUN!” and gave her a huge, warm hug.
I swear, without Nancy’s friendship, my break-up, this place…all of it would have been the end of me. Thank God for good friends.
(sniff buh-bye, TBP guy! sniff)