Sunday, February 22, 2015

“I Feel Kinda Outta Sorts….”

This story was written by my brother Lee, who now lives in Barboursville, WVA. Lee is retired from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and is also a writer and poet. The caricature at the left was done by one of his former co-workers.

© Lee Wright, 16 Jan, 2002

            “Hey Ted,” said Mike as he came into the office. Hearing the Oldie station in the background. Mike knew that Ted was somewhere in the office.
            “Hey Michael,” came the answer from Ted’s area. ”Is it 4 PM yet?”
            “Almost,” replied Mike, smiling.
            That was a running gag around the office. The office contained five employees: Mike, Glynn, Ted, Carolyn, and Steve. Carolyn was the Editor of the Service to the Fleet, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard newspaper. Steve was the supervisor who ran the little “madhouse” of an office. Actually, you could say that Steve was the Head Nut.
            “Hey Mike! Hey Ted!” said Glynn as he made his daily appearance.
            “Hey guys,” said Carolyn as she followed Glynn inside.
            “Hey Carolyn!” came three replies.
            “Anyone seen Steve?” asked Carolyn as she pulled off her coat and hung it up.
            “We’re home alone, at least for half a day.” replied Ted, “Steve left a message on the answering machine saying that he’d be in around lunch.”
            “Did anyone notice that the traffic was backed up more than usual?” asked Carolyn.
            “I did,” replied Glynn, “But it wasn’t as bad as last week.”
            “I know,” answered Ted, “Last week was a bite.”
            “I wonder why it was backed up today?” asked Carolyn, “I thought they had that problem straightened out last week.”
            “Guess you can’t expect every day to be perfect.” said Mike, turning towards his computer. Soon you could hear the keyboard clicking as Mike began his work on a story for the paper.
            Ted looked over at Glynn and saw that he was checking the Virginian-Pilot for the latest news. The Virginian-Pilot was the local newspaper. Ted got up from his desk and went into the back room. He returned carrying a cup of hot coffee. The back room served as a catchall for storage. Also in the back room were four televisions to keep up with any breaking news. The four TVs were hooked up to four VCRs to tape any of that breaking news.
            Ted sat down for a few minutes, got up, and wandered into Carolyn’s cubicle. He watched her as she was getting the shipyard paper ready for distribution. He probably figured that Carolyn needed a break because he interrupted her typing.
            “Do I look ok?”
            “What?” Carolyn asked, looking up.
            “Do I look ok?”
            “Depends on what you mean by “ok,” came a reply from Glynn’s cubicle.
            Ted ignored the remark and carried on. “I don’t feel all that well. I feel kinda out of sorts and light-headed. You know kinda twilight zoney, like I don’t belong here.”
            “You’ve been in the Twilight Zone ever since I’ve known you.” came a
voice from Mike’s cubicle.
            Ted ignored that one also.
            “Maybe you should sit down and finish your coffee.” said Carolyn, “You’ll feel better shortly.”
            “Maybe you’re right, but I felt strange when I came through the door this morning. I just have this odd feeling.” Ted turned away and went back to his cubicle.
            Ted was sitting by his computer, still having those odd feelings. He could hear Carolyn banging away on her keyboard, preparing the paper for distribution.
The rest of the morning was uneventful. At 11 AM Ted got up and went into the back room to watch one of the court shows. Carolyn, Glynn, and Mike, went to Roger Brown’s, one of their favorite placers to eat.
            Around 12:15 Mike, Carolyn, and Glynn returned from lunch.,
            “Hey Ted,” all three said in the direction of the back room. They could hear the TV still going. There was no answer.
            “Ted usually tapes Judge Mathis and The People’s Court. Maybe he’s watching People’s Court and didn’t hear us.” said Mike, “His hearing isn’t that good any more.”
            “I’ll go back there and get his attention.” said Carolyn.  She walked away, but came back soon after. “Hmm,” she sighed, “he wasn’t back there.”
            “Probably in the “library.” said Glynn. The “library” was Ted’s word for the restroom. He usually took whatever book he was reading at the with him when he went in there.
            Everyone returned to their cubicles. Within a few minutes Steve came in. He wasn’t his usual self. His head was down and he seemed dazed. Steve walked slowly into his office.
            “What wrong with Steve?”  asked Glynn.
            “What’s up, Glynn?” asked Carolyn, “What do you mean, what’s wrong with Steve?”  A large partition that surrounded Carolyn’s cubicle prevented her from seeing anyone entering the office.
            Before anyone could answer, Steve came out of his office. A few minutes passed before he could speak.
            “I’ve got something to tell all of you,” Steve said slowly.
            “Shouldn’t we wait until Ted gets here?” asked Mike.
            “What do you mean, wait for Ted?” Steve seemed confused. “Where is he?”
            “As far as we know, he’s in the restroom.” replied Glynn, “Why?”
            “He can’t be in the restroom,” said Steve, “I just came out of there and I was the only one in there… Now, I want you all to sit down. I have some bad news to tell you.”
            Mike, Glynn, and Carolyn pulled their chairs out of their cubicles and looked at Steve.
            “What’s wrong?” they asked in unison.
            “Was th… uh hum,” Steve cleared his throat, “Was the traffic backed up this morning?”
            “Yes it was, why? What’s wrong Steve?” asked Carolyn. Now everyone was concerned about Steve.
            “Do you know wh..what caused the backup?” Steve was having a hard time talking.
            “Just the usual stuff,” replied Mike. “Steve, I think we should wait until Ted
gets here so you won’t have to repeat whatever it is.”
            If looks could kill, Mike would’ve been dead right there. Steve continued. “This morning…..on their way to work together, Ted and his wife Marlene, were involved in a very bad car accident.”
            “Oh My God!” exclaimed Carolyn, “How’s Marlene? Ted didn’t mention anything about an accident this morning.”
            “What are you talking about?” asked Steve gruffly. “Marlene was badly injured and she’s in the hospital. They’re not sure if she’ll make it. Ted was killed instantly.”
            Carolyn felt faint. Mike and Glynn couldn’t believe their ears.
            “It….it can’t be! Ted was here this morning.” said Mike.
            Steve was helping Carolyn to a chair and Glynn was putting some smelling salts under her nose.
            “What are you talking about Mike? What’s wrong with Carolyn?”
            “Steve,” replied Mike, “Ted was here this morning. We all saw and talked to him.”
            “That’s impossible!” exclaimed Steve, “I told you that he was killed instantly.”
            “Steve, Mike, Carolyn, come here.” said Glynn, “I’ve got something to show you.”

            All four gathered at Ted’s cubicle. On Ted’s computer screen there was a small note, “This workstation is in use and has been locked. The workstation can only be unlocked by Teddy L. Wright.” Glynn then pointed towards Ted’s desk. There, underneath his desk, was Ted’s book bag. And on his desk was his latest book, waiting to be read.