Arriving at work today, I noticed something different. My seat by the window had been moved next to the elevators. Or, as it’s also known: the Directory Assistance Seat. That’s because as soon as anyone gets off the elevator, they stop by and go, “Do you know where so-and-so sits?”
Whoever did it wasn’t happy with simply moving me: all my stuff had been piled on the floor in front of the empty desk. When I turned to go find out what was going on, I discovered my way blocked by three of my coworkers: Pete, Ted and Ralph.
“Where do you think you’re going, John L. Monk?” Pete said, shoving my shoulder.
“Yeah, what’s the big hurry, college boy?” Ted said, shoving my other shoulder. My favorite shoulder.
Ralph was the biggest of the bunch, and as dumb as he was mean.
“No like college boy,” he growled, and threw a punch at me that, had I not ducked it, would have easily knocked me out.
Catlike, I leaped backwards onto the empty desk and assumed the Flying Lotus stance.
“Why are you doing this?” I shouted, shoutaciously.
Pete dropped into Mongolian Tiger stance and said, “As if you didn’t know! You published a book! You think you’re better than us!”
To show I wasn’t better, he did a bunch of tigery things with his hands while making “whoooooh whhhwwoooh” noises.
“You’re just a system administrator, like us,” Ted said. He raised his fist and blue lightning blazed up and down his arms (Lightning Style). “Damn you!”
I jumped seventy-two inches into the air and spun in a circle, deflecting most of the bolts Ted shot at me from his blazing karate fingers, but one of them hit me a glancing blow in the side, sending me spinning into the beige, foamy cube wall. A spreadsheet, left behind by whoever last sat there, drifted to the floor and landed next to the picture of my wife from that trip we took to Alaska for her old job. I’ll never forget that trip…we took a guided tour to the the arctic circle, out of Fairbanks…we stopped on the side of the road to pick blueberries…Dorothy looked so pretty that day…and…
“No like John L. Monk book Kick,” Ralph growled in a terrifying voice that shook me from my unexpected tempo shift. “Ralph no like first person narrative! Ralph want more pictures!”
Ted and Pete’s eyes grew wide with fear and they jumped aside–they’d seen Ralph like this before, back when Bill the help desk guy was discovered taking accounting classes at night at the local community college.
“Ralph, no!” Ted screamed, screamingly.
“Run…!” Pete interlocuted in an alarming manner.
Ralph let loose with a roar that shook the ground three cubes over, and a terrible wind flew up around the office, scattering papers and computer mice and fun little things people had brought from home, like miniature action figures and cubes made up of tiny little magnets.
“Such power…” I breathed when I came to my senses. I stared at the waste around me in mounting horror. For as everyone in the office knew: Ralph was a green belt in Volcano Style.
The good thing about Volcano Style is that, once the initial boom was over, it left the martial artist completely pooped out.
“Quick, get Ralph!” Pete shouted.
Ted grabbed one arm and Pete the other, and together they dragged him to the elevators and hit the Down button.
“We’ll get you next time John L. Monk!” Ted yelled, shaking his fist and scattering a few remaining sparks of blue lightning when he did.
“You’re lucky it’s lunch time and we have that meeting with those consultants from Oracle to go over the new requirements for our west coast datacenter, or we’d stay and teach you not to rise above your station in life!” Pete uttered coquettishly.
“Ralph want food,” Ralph said. Hungrily.
I stared at them and shook my head.
“Stupid adverbs,” I said (saidishly).
A few minutes later, while setting up my new desk, a voice I’d never heard asked, behind me, “Do you know where someone named ‘Walter’ sits? Is this the right floor?”