Marla, an accountant and a usually levelheaded friend of mine, called late last night and told me that she had discovered the cure for cancer.
“It’s a precise mixture of sweet pickle juice and olive oil, with a dash of that orange powder on cheese puffs,” she said.
“Well, I’m thrilled for you, Marla,” I said. “I’m sure the world will hail your achievement.” I assumed that she was sleep-walking and talking and would forget all about it in the morning. What other explanation could there have been?
“Will I get a Nobel for this?” Marla asked, not sounding the least bit out of it. “The Nobel? How about a dozen of them? And the national medal of honor from every nation,” I said, not wanting to damper her enthusiasm. In fact, I found myself getting excited for Marla. A cure for cancer? Wow!
“Will you travel the world with me as I cure people and accept accolades and gifts from heads of state and surgeons general?” Marla asked.
“I’d be most honored,” I said. “But you’d best get some rest, for when the news breaks about this tomorrow morning, you’ll be the most popular and sought-after person in all the world.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Marla said. “I’ll need an agent, though; will you be mine?”
My job at the office supply store had grown rather tiresome. If I had to look at another damn pallet of paper clips, I would certainly go berserk. So I told Marla that I would gladly be her agent, but for everything to work right, she would have to place all of her trust in me and follow my every command. She agreed without any hesitation.
“So get to sleep, right now,” I said, “and call me in the morning. In the meantime, I’ll schedule an appearance on the Today Show. Wear that blue-and-white sweater I gave you last year for Christmas. Meredith Vieira will love it! Now goodnight, Marla.”
I went back to bed but couldn’t get to sleep. I was overcome with jealousy thinking about all the attention and money Marla was sure to receive, while I labored behind the scenes scheduling her media appearances, arranging her travel and fetching her bottles of water.
Marla’s a nice person and all, but not the least bit appreciative. Nor is she very cultured. Or attractive. Besides, I doubt she would have even thought to pursue a cure for cancer if it weren’t for my having mentioned a few months ago the outrageous profits pharmaceutical companies make.
I found myself in the kitchen, experimenting with pickle juice, olive oil and cheese puff powder. But I could sense something was missing. I drove to the office supply store where I work, being careful not to trip the night alarm. I returned home with a toner cartridge for a photocopier. I placed a couple of teaspoons of the toner particles into Marla’s mixture. I could tell by the look of the stuff and its surprisingly appealing odor that it would not only cure cancer, but Muscular Dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and autism, too.
I opened my closet and pulled out my blue blazer and my favorite yellow tie. In just a few hours, I was going to look quite dashing on the Today Show.
Steve Kissing‘s stories and poems have appeared (or soon will) in such print and online journals as: THICK WITH CONVICTION, BEST POEM, POETRY FRIENDS, BOSTON LITERARY MAGAZINE, BULL, BOLTS OF SILK, BREADCRUMB SCABS, BULL and PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW.