Friday, September 14, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 9: The Final Chapter

Dear Diary,

The police had just come charging into the cavernous basement office of our building’s technician where Dino, the technician, and Derek, the guy I hate the most at the office, were bruised, bloodied, and unconscious in a locked cage as I stood just outside of it, raising a large knife with my eyes bulging from fear, animal-like desperation and human-like insanity.

Detective Vuotto, the skinny, tall, female detective with a giraffe neck looked me in the eye as everyone from the force kept their guns trained at my head.

VUOTTO: Eric... please put down the knife.

ME: You don’t know what I’ve been through today. I could just kill someone right about now.

Detective Mallory, the squat, sweaty, male detective took a cautious step toward me.

MALLORY: Eric, you don’t have to kill anyone today. You can just relax now. It’s all over.

Tears pooled my eyes.

ME: Is it? Is it really over?

I closed my eyes then, as I cried like a baby. And swung my knife all over with each heaving sob.

ME: I just want it all to be over. I just want to end today. How do I end today?

MALLORY: Whoa! Whoa! Be careful!

I was stumbling aimlessly, as I continued to swing the knife all about.

ME: Where am I? Oh boy, I’m just a mess right now. Forgive me.

Next thing I knew, all twelve of the uniformed police officers had me pinned to the floor as Detective Mallory wrestled the knife away, and Detective Vuotto kicked me in the gut for good measure.

MALLORY: Eric, you are under arrest for the abduction of Derek Wellington.

ME: Whatever. Just get me out of here. It’s so damp.

Detective Vuotto kicked me in the face.

VUOTTO: Trust me, you'll never be back here again. You’re going away for a long, long time.

ME: Yipee.

Detective Vuotto slammed one of her knees down onto the side of my head.

DEREK: He didn’t do it.

I turned my aching head toward the cage where two officers were helping Derek up.

DEREK: Dino did.

Dino, our building technician, was just coming to.

DEREK: But it wasn’t really an abduction.

I couldn’t believe it. Derek was covering for Dino. He really had forgiven him.

DEREK: We were just goofing off.

Sheila, our boss, walked into the basement office then.

SHEILA: What happened?

MALLORY: Everything's just dandy. Looks like they were having some kind of fight club down here.

SHEILA: Fight club? Isn’t that against the law?

I jumped to my feet.

ME: No. It was a hug club.

I ran inside the cage and threw my arms around Derek, and then reached out to Dino, who immediately hugged us back.

ME: See. We were just hugging down here. In the basement. In this cage.

All three of us held each other tightly, while lovingly swaying back and forth.

ME: We weren’t doing anything wrong.

SHEILA: Then why are these two all banged up. And dripping blood?

ME: There was just too much hugging.

SHEILA: There’s something not quite right here.

VUOTTO: Actually, if more people hugged like the three of them, there’d be a lot less crime in this town.

MALLORY: She's right. These boys have been doing a lot of good down here.

Police officers started entering the cage then and surprising us by wrapping their arms around us and holding on tight. It felt wonderful.

VUOTTO: You know, every year the department raises money for children at risk. This year, we’d like to donate all of our money to this Hug Club. I think it would really help the community.

ME: We could use more cages. And with better locks. We could sure use this money.

And that’s how I started the Hug Club in the basement of our office building, with the guy I hate the most at the office and a psycho who despises hugs more than anything else, but is now forced, one night a week, to hug many men inside a locked cage.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 8

Dear Diary,

Derek, the guy I hate the most at the office, had just been imprisoned in a cage by Dino, our office building technician – all because an accountant that works in my office, Charisse, has a crush on Derek but could not care less for Dino, but would care even less if it was possible. You see, everyone in our office building already thinks Dino is a psycho, and now, Derek and I were about to confirm their suspicions. Inside Dino’s dark, vast, cavernous basement office, Derek and I had just managed to lock Dino up in his own cage.

ME: There’s some cops upstairs looking for me. Let’s get them down here so they can arrest Dino.

DEREK: I forgive him. He didn’t know what he was doing.

ME: Dino was my friend first. Don’t try to steal him from me.

DINO: I hate the both of you. When I get out of this cage, I’m strapping you two to a wheelbarrow and rolling it off the roof.

ME: I’m going in the cage. He needs an embrace from a man who cares.

DEREK: You’re absolutely right. I completely agree with you.

ME: Don’t copy me. He’s my friend so I’m the one who gets to hug him. And give him lots and lots of hugs if I feel like it.

DINO: If anyone tries to hug me, so help me God, I’ll tie their arms up in a knot through their nostrils like a nose ring.

I turned back to Derek.

ME: Why don’t you go in there and hold him down. And then I’ll hug him.

DEREK: That’s a great idea.

DINO: I swear… I’ll twist your head ‘round and ‘round ‘till it snaps right off.

Derek unlocked the cage then and stepped inside.

Dino lunged at him, and they proceeded to scuffle, both falling onto the cage floor. They continued to wrestle while grunting and then letting out terrifying yelps of pain.

ME: Derek, you let me know when you want me to go in there to hug him.

Dino now had Derek in a headlock. He rammed Derek’s head against the cage bars. Repeatedly.

ME: You just let me know when he’s ready. I got a really good hug building up inside me right now, so I think we should take advantage of that. I can’t wait to let it loose on him. Just to feel all that love flowing through our bodies, you know?

Derek now had Dino’s hair in his grip and slammed Dino’s face against the cage floor. These two were really busting each other up.

ME: I can’t wait to get in there. I care so much for that Dino.

Dino now kneed Derek in the head.

ME: The thought of putting my arms around Dino just makes me feel so vibrant.

Dino now head-butted Derek – so hard that both men fell to the floor, unconscious.

There was now only silence. No one moved.

ME: I guess that’s my cue to dispense some hugs.

I snatched Dino’s knife off the floor, just outside the cage. I needed a weapon in the event Dino suddenly came to.

ME: Ewwww…

Dino and Derek were all bloodied and bruised, and gross looking. I held on tight to the knife, scared that Dino might awaken any second. My eyes bulged in fear.

ME: Dino… I’m coming in. Get ready for my hug.

I raised the knife over my head as I prepared to enter the cage. I hadn’t even opened the cage door yet when, abruptly, the door to Dino’s office almost flew off its hinges and Detective Vuotto, Detective Mallory, and a dozen uniformed police officers came barrelling into the room, guns aimed straight at me.

VUOTTO: Sir, put the knife down!

MALLORY: Oh my God! Look at what he’s done to them!

ME: Don’t worry about me, everyone. I am not hurt. I was just going to get a hug from this guy. And if he didn’t comply, I was going to stab him.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 7

Dear Diary,

It was 1:50pm and I was inside our building handyman's vast, cavernous, basement office. I had just discovered that Dino, our gruff handyman, had Derek, the guy I hate the most in the office, gagged and imprisoned inside a large cage because Charisse was about to ask Derek out and Dino was jealous. What a joke. Charisse isn't even that hot. Anyway, after pretty much calling Dino pathetic but offering him lots of hugs, he came at me with a hunting knife.

DINO: I am not worthless.

He slashed his knife at me.

I moved off to one side, luckily avoiding the blade.

ME: I didn't mean it that way. And who cares, really? You have this job that is perfectly suited for you. You're hidden away down here for most of the day so no one really ever sees you, or sees what kind of person you are. You have it good, Dino.

Dino lunged forward too fast, clutching one of my wrists while slicing down at me. As the blade cut toward me, I gripped his knife-wielding wrist, trying to hold it away from my chest, but it was so difficult.

I looked over at Derek as he stared at us, gagged with a purple handkerchief and standing inside his cage.

ME: Do something!

Derek looked back at me with his wide, frightened eyes, and just shrugged his shoulders.

I turned back to Dino.

DINO: Tell me I'm not pathetic.

ME: Okay, but don't look at me straight in the eyes when I say it.

DINO: Say it!

I shut my eyes.

ME (as quickly as possible): You are not too pathetic! You are not too pathetic!

I opened my eyes.

Dino was still pressing the knife toward my chest, and I was holding him back as best as I could.

DINO: What do you do here?

ME: What?

DINO: What's your job here? Nobody has any clue what you do around here?

ME: I do lots of stuff. I'm really busy, you know.

DINO: What's your purpose?

I was now really confused.

ME: What? Purpose? What?

DINO: I was like you. A long time ago.

ME: I doubt that. Very much. I wouldn't work down here. Maybe someone would who's pathetic... Oh, sorry.

DINO: You've done absolutely nothing with your life.

Tears came gushing to my eyes then. I was so embarrassed.

ME: You're hurting my feelings.

DINO: Let me end your misery.

Dino's hand now possessed way more force as it pressed down with a strength I could no longer fight against.

I was going to die.

ME (screeching, and making my lungs almost bleed): NO! PLEASE! FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE! PLEASE!


Dino fell to the floor.

I looked up.

There was Derek, still gagged, but free from the cage, standing before me with an oversized rubber mallet. He had just knocked Dino unconscious.

He pulled down the handkerchief gagging him.

DEREK (catching his breath): I was able to grab his keys from his back pocket when he walked past a while ago. I just needed him to get distracted by something or someone so I could open up the cage.

ME: Just because I just saved your life doesn't mean you can just talk to me now. Or look at me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 6

Dear Diary,

It was 1:35pm and again I found myself dashing down a hallway in the building where I work, the two gold medals around my neck jingling and jangling. The small accounting firm I work at is on the eleventh floor. I was now on the tenth, having fallen through the ceiling with a bunch of smokers.

I burst into the stairwell and started racing and leaping down the stairs, almost tripping a few times. I finally made it to the basement. Derek, the guy I hate the most in the office, hadn't come in for work yet today and the cops wanted to throw me in the slammer for doing away with him, which I didn't recall ever doing. If anyone would know what was really going down, it was Dino, our building handyman. Hopefully, he was now in his vast, cavernous, basement office.

I knocked on the door. It opened a crack and there he was, peeking at me from the other side: Dino, 50s, gruff, and wearing his navy colored, building technician uniform.

DINO: I told you never to come back here again.

ME: Everyone's always warned me that you're a complete psycho and that you probably have dead bodies down here. But you're my Boo Radley, and I know I can come to you whenever I need someone to fix something, require information found only on our security cameras, or I want to give somebody a hug who desperately needs it.

DINO: I'll slice you up.

ME: Listen to me: people have been talking about your attitude ever since I started working here. You should know that. They're scared of you. They're scared you're going to saw them in half and it won't be part of a magic show, and there won't be any magic. But I know you better than that. You've helped me in the past, and I know that deep down you are a caring, loving, completely gorgeous man. I'm married and straight so it's okay if I call another man completely gorgeous, because I mean that they're gorgeous on the inside. Where it counts. Just let me put my arms around you. Please. It'll feel good once I squeeze and rub my hands all over.

DINO: I'll burn you in the incinerator, like a marshmallow.

ME: Or a weiner. You need to know... that someone cares, Dino. I have never kissed a man before, but I will peck you on the cheek if need be.

DINO: With my bare hands, I'll rip your face, right off.

ME: Why do you push everyone away? Why? Be honest for once in your life. Let's be friends and we'll just hold each other. That sounds really nice to me.

I saw something behind him.

ME: Hey... is that a cage? Is that Derek?

Dino grabbed me by the arm then and yanked me inside the room.

ME: What's going on here?

Inside Dino's dark, cavernous office, Derek stood inside a large cage, gagged and gripping the bars while staring pleadingly into my eyes.

DINO: Now I'll have to imprison you both. You know my secret.

I turned and saw Dino holding up a large hunting knife toward my neck.

ME: Trust me, your secret is safe with me.

DINO: I don't trust you. You're too lovey dovey.

ME: That's just because no one cares about you, and I do. Because I know the real you. And the more I get to know you, the more I love you, Dino.

DINO: Shut up!

ME: Are you telling me to shut up, or your heart to shut up, as it's telling you to reach out to me and show me how you really feel?

Dino violently waved his knife around.

DINO: You! You shut up! I'll disembowel you!

ME: All right...

I made a zipping motion across my lips, and then locked them with an imaginary key. I then grabbed Dino's free hand, placed the imaginary key into his palm and lovingly closed his fingers onto it.

I smiled at him then, silent for a moment.

ME: Now what?

DINO: I thought I told you to shut up.

ME: You didn't say anything about being curious.

DINO: I'm putting in the cage.

ME: I don't want to be in there with him. I really don't like him.

DINO: Join the club.

ME: Really? You don't like him either?

Somebody else didn't like Derek? This was unusual.

ME: How come?

DINO: Because he's perfect.

I knew I liked Dino.

ME: I know. I totally hate that bastard.

DINO: And because Charisse was about to ask him out.

Charisse is another accountant in our office.

ME (excitedly): Oh my God! Charisse! I can't wait to start teasing her in front of everyone while she's trying to work. That's hilarious.

DINO: He thinks he can just steal her away from me.

ME (more excited): You like Charisse! Oh my God! I can't wait to start teasing you in front of everyone while you're trying to work. What a laugh that's going to be!

DINO: Well, let's see how everyone feels when he's not around. Let's see if everyone still loves him then.

ME: They'll love the memory, Dino. You're just making him a martyr right now. It's like Obi Wan Kenobi. By getting rid of him, you're just making him stronger. He'll actually become better looking in their minds. And by comparison, you'll get uglier. It's sick, I know. People like you and me, we're not the same as people like him. We're small. Invisible. Worthless. Dino, you're pathetic, ugly and worthless. You should be the one in that cage, really. Like a freak. The world would be a much better place without you.

And that's when Dino charged at me with the knife.

DINO (battle cry): Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!

I was petrified, as I tried to move out of his way.

ME: Miss me, miss me. Now you have to kiss me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Derek is Missing, Part 5

Dear Diary,

It was 1:10pm as I ran down the main hallway of our building's eleventh floor, fleeing from the accounting firm where I work at. Two police detectives chased after me, most likely trying to recover the two gold medals everyone thought I stole from Derek. Derek still hadn't shown for work yet.

I could hear the two cops sprinting behind me: the female Detective Vuotto who resembled a skinny giant, and the male Detective Mallory who resembled a squat tomato. I turned a corner, yanked a ventilation grate off the wall and hopped inside the duct, quickly positioning the grate back into place. Crouched down on all fours in the low space, I spied through the grate's slats and saw the detectives race past, ignorant of where I had just disappeared to.

I had to get out of this building. They would have it surrounded any minute now. Maybe I could find a way out through an unseen ventilation duct. I crawled forward in the silver duct tunnel. Suddenly, I smelled smoke. Were they trying to smoke me out? I turned a corner and was surprised to come across Charisse, an accountant from my office, sitting and hauling on a cigarette beside a grate.

CHARISSE: Eric... What are you doing in here?

ME: I'm on the run from the cops. But better yet, what are you doing here?

CHARISSE: That's my cubicle down there.

Charisse pointed at the grate beside her.

CHARISSE: I just come up here for my smoke break since we can't smoke inside or anywhere near the building anymore.

ME: That's crazy.

Charisse pointed ahead, down the tunnel. I saw grizzled, grumpy Howard by another grate, Don by another, and Dot by yet another, and all were smoking. They all waved at me. I waved back, coughing.

ME: Damn, no wonder it's always smoky around my cubicle. It's like a bingo hall some mornings.

CHARISSE: All the smokers come up here. Even Sheila.

ME: But she's our boss. And this ventilation shaft is supposed to provide us with fresh air. Not give us lung cancer!

Charisse nonchalantly pulled another drag from her cigarette. I have to admit: she never looked cooler.


ME: Well, I don't have time. The cops are all after me. Get out of my way, please. They want to take my gold medals away.

I clutched the two gold medals around my neck.

ME: And I'll give up my own freedom and basic human rights before I let that happen.

CHARISSE: The cops aren't after you because of the medals. They think you did something to Derek.

ME: What?

I stopped and turned back to her.

ME: I may want him to be really sad and all alone for the rest of his life, or abducted, or pay someone to...

I made quotation marks with my fingers here.

ME: "get rid of him for good"

I winked at Charisse twice, very quickly, so she'd catch my drift.

ME: for no better reason than I don't like how everyone likes him and he's perfect, but that doesn't make me a bad person.

CHARISSE: I didn't say you were a bad person.

ME: You just make it sound like I'm jealous of him or something.

CHARISSE: You didn't do something to him, did you?

ME: Where would I find the time? I'm too busy thinking about him all the time.

CHARISSE: Really? You didn't hurt him?

ME: Why are you so worried? Who cares?

CHARISSE: Everyone does. That's why I needed a cigarette. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to Derek.

ME: I hate Derek. I despise him from the bottom of my very being.

CHARISSE: What does that mean?

ME: Means I wish he was dead. But I'm not going to jail for something I didn't do. Nor am I giving up my medals. I'm going to find out what really happened to Derek and clear my name, and save my medals.

I crawled away, through the thick smoke, coughing a few more times. Past Howard, Don and Dot, more people climbed into the duct from other offices, lighting their cigarettes.

ME: Can you guys stop puffing for a minute? Jeeze, I can barely see where I'm going.

The duct started to wobble, as even more people climbed aboard.

ME: Guys, I think there's too many people up in here.

SOME ANGRY SMOKER: This is what we all have to live with now, so shut your mouth!

ANOTHER SMOKER: Yeah, shut it!

I couldn't see anymore. All I saw was smoke. Then I couldn't breathe.

HOWARD: This is paradise, ain't it guys? Like the staff lounge back in the seventies.

ME: Everybody, please, put your cigarettes out! I'm think I'm dying!

Everyone laughed at me.

And that's when the ventilation duct collapsed, and everyone screamed at the top of their lungs.

My head bounced on something hard on my way down. I think it was a toilet, because I heard someone screaming below me a split second before, and then flushing.

I looked up as the debris and dust settled. I was in the women's washroom. There was now a huge hole in the ceiling, and a woman unconscious under me. I jumped up and ran out, as smokers everywhere dusted themselves off.

HOWARD (angry): Great, now I guess it's back to the patch!