The wall of the office shook. Something was being ripped off. Off the wall it was being ripped off. The old time clock was being taken down in a process that appeared to be done in reverse. Screws were rotated in the opposite direction to leave the holes in the wall. It was happening in reverse as time was removed and seemed to stop and move forward again and all the time it was moving and accelerating forward. Something was being ripped off and replaced. The part of the hallway that had shook echoed with drilling and the bending of plastic and metal. And then it was silent again. There was a different time clock and it had the wrong time and the wrong day. It was pushing things and people ahead into tomorrow. A tomorrow that had a different way of telling where all the time had gone and where all the people were and were not.
A group of people were and were not gathered near the new time clock discussing the machine's capacity for malfunctioning.
McSpeely: And he fell from the top of my palm tree.
Dendrites: At least he didn't fall far.
McSpeely: My palm's tree over a hundred feet tall.
Dendrites: At least it was an uninterrupted descent.
McSpeely: No, he hit something on the way down.
Dendrites: As I recall palm trees have no branches.
McSpeely: I attached some wooden boards to it at 50 feet up.
Dendrites: What possessed you to do that?
McSpeely: It was a failed treehouse project.
Lambini: Is it a retina scan?
Dendrites: A what scan?
Lambini: The gadget here on the wall here right here. Does it scan our retinas for identification?
Fraskoggon: It's too low for that.
Lambini: Grelcher in Accounting could get her retina scanned. She's not above 4 1/2 feet.
Fraskoggon: She is rather stunted. I wonder if it was her mother or father who sabotaged her growth?
Lambini: I think it was both her parents who damned her to a life of being looked down upon.
Fraskoggon: When she clocks in do you think she would have her left or right retina scanned?
Hondrillo: It doesn't scan your eyeball.
Mintab: How does this one work?
Fraskoggon: I don't look down upon her.
Lambini: You don't look down upon who?
Fraskoggon: Grelcher in Accounting. I don't look down upon her. I mean she is down below me I mean that most of her hair ties come up to about my sternum.
Lambini: Are her hair ties the uppermost altitude of her structure?
Fraskoggon: Well, I'm basing it on when she puts one of her pencils in her hair and it looks as if it's her tallest point like a radio antenna.
Lambini: If she puts the pencil pointing straight up.
Belbesh: Grelcher usually puts her pencils in horizontally.
Fraskoggon: Horizontally? Are you certain?
Belbesh: I'm pretty sure because she puts a pencil in before she goes out of town gambling.
Lambini: Like a lucky ritual or something?
Fraskoggon: Maybe if this thing takes pictures we could see if she wears her pencils horizontally and on Fridays like Belbesh says.
Lambini: I don't think it takes a photo of us. At least I hope not.
Dendrites: So did the wooden deck you built at 50 feet up at least break his fall?
McSpeely: No, the wooden deck snapped and broke off.
Dendrites: Did he impact the wooden deck with his feet first at least?
McSpeely: No, he hit it head first.
Dendrites: Top or back of his head at least?
McSpeely: No, he smashed into the deck with his face.
Dendrites: Oh, crap.
McSpeely: And then it was an uninterrupted fall from there the rest of the way.
Dendrites: This is the palm tree you have in the backyard?
Dendrites: Then at least he landed in your pool at least.
McSpeely: Yes, but we drained it the week before.
Dendrites: For crying out loud.
McSpeely: No, actually, he didn't make a sound.
Mintab: Does this thing work with a voice ID or something?
Hondrillo: If that's the way it's going to be from now on then Tessporp will have a difficult time of it with all the mumbling he does. I've given up asking him to repeat things. Listened to him at lunch the other day for over 10 minutes and thought he was talking about golf and then I think it ended up being that he had a friend or it was his father named Ralph who went through a windshield in a car accident or that he was actually recovering from gout.
Lambini: Does Grelcher really only come up to your sternum?
Fraskoggon: I'm basing that on all the chest pain I've been experiencing recently. I get lightheaded and when the stars begin sparkling it reminds me of how Grelcher comes up to right about there at my sternum there by all the pressure there.
Lambini: Are you kidding? How long have you been having chest pains?
Fraskoggon: Only a couple of months.
Lambini: A couple of months? Have you seen your doctor?
Fraskoggon: Not really.
Lambini: Why not? Don't you want help with that?
Fraskoggon: Not really.
Lambini: Why not?
Fraskoggon: I figure since he got in the way of my being taken out by the pneumonia and then the lung cancer that if I stopped going to him I could finally go peacefully. I mean what peace is there left? I want to make my exit. I am growing tired of the noise of the drama the same tired old drama and play acting everyone does and watches and does. I want to divest myself of this thing this costume and be rid of the lumbering movement between audience and stage. When I lie in my tub at night free of my outfit, I still feel like somehow someone is watching me and reporting to someone else who reports it to someone else. I can't just close my eyes at least not yet. I still have too much life in me that flows through my body my skin that's another costume that has to keep playing it straight and moving my head all around like some crazy bird looking for holes in my bathroom walls the little pinholes little camera eyes looking and recording and reporting making stacks of reports. If I'm not seeing those sparkling stars I think I see nothing but little pinholes that poke into the other side of the universe that's just one big dark room full of nothing but wall to wall video screens flat screens for a world that still thinks it's flat.
Lambini: That sure is one strange last name.
Lambini: Tessporp. It starts out nice and then loses a wing by the end.
Mintab: I think Fraskoggon is right.
Lambini: About what?
Mintab: I think this does work by taking pictures. It looks like it has some kind of a pinhole.
Mintab: Right there. See? In the top left corner there? Right there.
Hondrillo: Oh yeah. Looks like there could be a camera in that hole like some dark eye.
Lambini: Great. Are you trying to bury Fraskoggon? You may as well just keep shoveling dirt on him after you push him into his grave.
Fraskoggon: Nautilus pompilius. The pinhole eye of the nautilus.
Hondrillo: A cephalopod that lives in the ocean and floats along in its shell.
Fraskoggon: Haven't evolved much since the Cambrian over 500 million years ago.
Lambini: Really? That's a long time of the same thing.
- Max Stoltenberg