Affected

Photo c/o Microsoft Office Free Clipart

Little Joey found a bag in his back yard. Its contents were a book of matches, some rags, lighter fluid, and a Mickey Mouse hat. The air smelled like barbecue and burning plastic. Joey looked to his left. A plume of black smoke rose from behind the fence that separated his yard from his neighbors’. Particles of an unknown substance whirled in the haze, tumbling and performing somersaults as the fire below drove them upwards.

Joey didn’t trust Mr. Woodsburrow. He thought it was strange Mr. Woodsburrow hardly left the house, and no one in the neighborhood could remember how long since they’d seen Mrs. Woodsburrow. She’d stopped showing up at bingo over a month before, and she wasn’t at mass to help with the collections on Sundays, either. Mr. Woodsburrow told the pastor he’d had to sell her red 1977 Buick Century. Couldn’t afford the gas, he said. Joey was suspicious.

His mom said Mr. Woodsburrow wasn’t weird. She said he was still grieving over his missing grandkids. She said he was affected by their disappearance. She said the same about Mrs. Woodsburrow, and that’s why no one saw her anymore. “She’s in mourning,” Joey’s mom said. Joey still thought Mr. Woodsburrow was weird.

Joey was startled by a loud snapping sound; it sounded like the Black Cats he lit on New Year’s Eve. One time he threw them over Mr. Woodsburrow’s fence, and Mr. Woodsburrow came into the backyard. He stormed through the gate and grabbed Joey by the throat. He screamed and shook Joey until his mom and dad came out. Mr. Woodsburrow stopped shaking Joey then and put him down. Joey slumped against the fence, trying to catch his breath. He coughed and swallowed his spit to wet his throat. Joey’s parents talked to Mr. Woodsburrow; he lied and told them Joey threw the firecrackers at him. Joey protested and told them he’d just thrown the Black Cats over the fence, but he still got grounded for a week. Joey thought it was bullshit nobody even told Mr. Woodsburrow not to grab or shake him.

The snapping sounds made Joey curious, and he felt compelled to peek over the fence. He was afraid, because Mr. Woodsburrow was probably outside. He was always outside. If he saw Joey, there was no telling what he’d do. He’d probably come grab him again, and Joey’s parents weren’t home from work. Joey looked back at the bag he’d found laying in the grass. He looked to the fence and the plume of smoke and the particles doing acrobats in it.

Joey decided to look. He decided if he were quiet enough and didn’t stand over the fence by much, Mr. Woodsburrow might not notice. He went and took the white pool ladder from the garage. He didn’t notice his bike leaning against the ladder, and it fell onto its side with the sound of metal against concrete. Joey held his breath and hoped it wasn’t loud enough for Mr. Woodsburrow to hear. He replaced the bike and walked out of the garage with the ladder. The ladder wasn’t heavy, but it was long and bulky, and Joey had difficulty carrying it. The bottom of its legs almost touched the top of Joey’s sneakers, and he was preoccupied watching his feet as he walked. He ran headlong into something hard yet pliable. It wasn’t the fence, or the house.

Having released the ladder, Joey stumbled backward and landed on his behind. He looked up to see the hard yet pliable thing, but what he saw were Mr. Woodsburrow’s large, thick hands right before they grabbed him by the throat. Joey kicked Mr. Woodsburrow’s legs and knees, but he didn’t release the boy. He held Joey by the neck; his hands were covered in soot; his shirt smelled like barbecue and burning plastic. Mr. Woodsburrow shook Joey. He held him by the throat, and he shook him like a chicken thigh inside a bag of Shake ‘N Bake. Because no one ever told him not to shake Joey.

 

Copyright Donnell Jeansonne. All rights reserved. Reproduction or duplication whole or in part not permitted without permission and credit to the author.

A Little Something About a Bunch of Nothing

My son Scoots, aka Doodles, is still sick. He’s been habitually sick since last year when he entered day care- DUN DUN DUN! That microbial house of horrors. It isn’t that I feel the day care is negligent in their cleanliness. I know they aren’t. I’ve witnessed them cleaning the place in the evenings when I go pick up Doodles. It’s not the day care personnel who are spreading the germs. It’s the other kids, and my kid, and all kids everywhere. They aren’t to blame. Little children have no concept that it’s not so great to wipe one’s nose then hold his/her friend’s hand. They like to hug and show affection and that’s fantastic. Except that at least 8 out of 10 of them are harboring some type of bacteria/virus/infectious disease. I am currently at the office secluded in my own Lysol generated force field beside a 40 0z bottle of Germ-X and a bottle of Clorox wipes.  Because Doodles loves his mommy and he loves to give kisses and cough on my face. It’s okay, I surmise. Hopefully, just hopefully, he’ll remember it when I’m past the age of independent living and I require round the clock care. Maybe he’ll pick a real nice home for me. Maybe.

Yesterday we had another trip to the pediatrician’s office; we’ve had so many in the last year that I’ve come to text messaging the nurse to make an appointment. The doctor decided she wanted an x-ray of Scoots’s lungs since he still sounds like he’s brewing espresso.  I’d decided not to wear my work shirt-since I was leaving straight from the appointment to go there-and instead wore a regular t-shirt, assuming that if anything were to get dirty while at a doctor’s appointment with a 2 year old whose facial orifices were leaking all sorts of nasty it would be the article covering the top of me. The lab is next door to the doctor’s office and getting there requires walking through a grassy area that at first glance seemed completely dry, but halfway through it, I realized I was up to the ankles in sloshy mud. Thank you Eris.

Needless to say, I had to go to work with muddy wet shoes and muddy pants, however my shirt was completely clean-thank you very much. You may ask why I didn’t just go home to change, but that’s because my house is 30 minutes from the doctor’s office and my job is 60 minutes from my house. And I was already 2 and 1/2 hours late. Really I should have just gone home and hid in my bed.

On the up side I didn’t spill ALL of my drink on the floor of my vehicle when I pulled into the parking lot, and my shoes only stayed wet for a little while.

An Undefined Number of Reasons in No Particular Order About Why I Envy Spongebob Squarepants

If I had to pick a number one reason why I envy this yellow and permeable cartoon character it would be because he loves his job so #^$%& much.

- Makin' Krabby Patties

I want to love my job that much. Everyone should be so happy just to have a job. Most of us aren’t, although we’re all quite aware that we would be living in cardboard boxes without our jobs. Even people with good jobs hate their jobs. But not this guy. Considering most of us spend more time at work that with our families, we should all be so damn elated to go there. He flips burgers and loves it. I’ve worked in fast food. I’d sell my body before I’d go back to it. It’s miserable. But somehow he loves it. He doesn’t even care that he’s mistreated by his boss.

-Spongebob Squarepants

I guess number two can be that he is happy about every damn thing all the time. Rarely is Spongebob presented in a bad mood. Except for that once when he got an abrasive side . . . . He is the picture of glee, we should all take a leaf from his book. Of course most of us can’t without the aid of prescriptions-which help, too. Any day is cause for celebration in the life of this sponge who appears to have gone down someone’s kitchen sink and drifted to the bottom of the ocean.

-Not Spongebob

The third reason is he’s a very crafty bubble blower. Yesterday my son and I sat outside blowing bubbles, and between the two of us maybe got five whole bubbles. Mostly we just blew strings of bubble solution at each other.

- Porous Pockets

My final reason: he’s super popular and his career is far more lucrative than mine will ever be!

But I don’t begrudge this sponge. I only wish that I could share his positive outlook, find beauty in simple things, and be so grateful for being alive. Although he isn’t. Because he’s a cartoon. But still.

(Spongebob Squarepants, created by Stephen Hillenburg, is a trademark of Viacom International Inc.)

Ways Not to Impress Your New Boss

Decent work is scarce in today’s world. When upgrading from a not so great job to a better one, there are things that will not make a favorable impression on your new boss(es).

Broadcast your upcoming employment at your current job, to the person who will be your next boss.  This is not helping your image.  If you work in retail, food service, or any job in which you meet the public, there is a level of professionalism that should be maintained. I’ve always thought so, anyway (and yes I’ve worked in both fields). So if you are still working at your current job but have been accepted by a new employer, it’s probably best to refrain from announcing to all present that you will be leaving your current place of employment for greener pastures. Especially not in the presence of the person who will be your next boss. Just like the slogan says, first impressions do indeed last a lifetime.

Put your feet up and don’t pay attention. Supervisors, managers, office managers, and trainers don’t like to waste precious oxygen talking to someone who isn’t paying attention. While in training, it is in a new employee’s best interest to exhibit some sort of interest in the procedures and protocol of his or her new job. Sit up straight and pay attention, or at least pretend to. 

Kick off your shoes. This isn’t the Beverly Hillbillies. Please remain fully clothed, including your shoes, at all times when walking around the office. At your cubicle is one thing, but in the head manager’s office is quite another. I don’t know where this trend started, but I’ve observed it in more than one of my coworkers, current and past, and also while I was still in college. Also going to class in pajamas. Never got that one either.

Be the loudest and most obnoxious person in the room. This one is annoying to not only your boss but to everyone around you. Your new coworkers want a chance to get to know you. Cut back on the energy drinks and take a breath. 

Pull rank. Your dad/mom/uncle/aunt/grandfather/grandmother is your boss’ boss’ best friend. That’s great and probably how you got your job, but keep it to yourself. It isn’t impressing anyone, and announcing it makes you seem like a jackass. If you pay attention and learn your job and do it well, you won’t even need their recommendations.