It Came From the Water Cooler
By Tom Skuja
A woman from the
office went out on maternity leave a few months ago. Today she brought
in the results, to prove she wasn't lying about being pregnant.
The child is hideous.
I'm not a baby
connoisseur, but I know what ugly is. And that kid is ugly. When
I poked my head out of my office and saw Ethel holding it in her
arms, my first instinct was that a small woodland creature had been
hit by a car and she was nursing it back to health.
As nasty as the
little beast was, it still gathered a cooing, smiling crowd of women,
who offered a flood of nonsense words and pointing fingers. I assume
they were only pointing because they knew the gremlin's teeth hadn't
busted through its gums yet.
on?" T.R. asked me, bobbing out of his cubicle.
her baby in," I said, nodding at the gathering.
baby?" T.R. asked with amazement.
to it?" he asked.
it needed some more time," he said.
I shrugged again.
Not one to passively
collect information, T.R. got out of his chair and bravely approached.
My secretary, Alice, saw him coming. She was beaming happily, as
if the arrival of this twisted abomination had made her day.
she said to T.R. "Isn't he adorable?"
T.R. said, shoving his hands into his pockets and stopping a respectable
distance away. "What happened to him?" he asked Ethel.
you mean?" Ethel asked.
know," T.R. shrugged. "Did you.drop him or something?"
Ethel asked confused. "Why do you ask?"
T.R. said, thinking quickly. "He just looks like a slippery
"Oh, he certainly
is," Ethel said proudly. "He wriggles like crazy. He's
my little worm, he is."
sent the throng of women into gales of coos and murmurs. "Are
you her little worm?" "Are you a wriggly boy?" "Are
you a slippery guy?"
that thing?" Don asked me, appearing by my side.
little worm," I told him quietly.
that big?" he asked, horrified.
T.R. pressed on,
searching for answers. "What does your husband do?" he
construction," Ethel said.
work with radiation at all?" T.R. wondered.
I know of," Ethel answered.
T.R. said, confused. "Is your house by the power plant? Are
there live power lines really close to your bedroom or something?"
you asking all these questions?" Ethel asked, slightly perturbed.
T.R. tried to
think of an answer and couldn't think of one. "Nice to see
you again," he said, and spun on his heel to join Don and me
on the sidelines.
"Go ask her
what kind of drugs she used in college," T.R. ordered Don.
T.R. asked. "You want to ask the drug question?"
think so," I said. "I'm not sure it would be appropriate.
Since I'm her boss."
T.R. asked. "For Christ's sake, when have you ever been concerned
with appropriateness? Look at what you're wearing."
Don and I looked
he said. "Just slipped out." He sighed impatiently and
turned back to the spectacle on the office floor. "I feel the
need to understand."
some things man was not meant to understand," Don said sagely.
T.R. and I nodded,
even though we had no idea what he was talking about.
There was an ominous
rumbling in the creature's diaper that we could hear even though
we were clean across the room.
"Did my little
worm make a poo?" Ethel gurgled, lifting the malformed freak
high into the air.
I realized we
were dangerously downwind. "Meeting in my office?" I suggested
Don and T.R. quickly
We made it inside
and shut the door firmly behind us.
spends a large amount of his time working for Pink
Productions. More time than he should, really.