“Day 100. Can you believe it’s been 100 days Dustin?”
Ugh, Wayne. Not Wayne. It’s too early in the morning for Wayne’s psychobabble. Dustin gazed at his computer monitor, attempting to check his Email, and hoping that Wayne would stop talking to the back of his head. Wayne looked over Dustin at a distant wall mounted monitor displaying close captioned CNN headlines. Dustin wished he were deaf, at least he could watch CNN in peace.
Every office had a Wayne. A Wayne was someone that loved to hear himself talk endlessly about nothing; someone people avoided eye contact with. A Wayne had such a reputation that would encourage subtle assistance from co-workers to save one another from the misfortunes of being cornered. Here was the office celebrity, the “Wayne of all Waynes” in all his glory, an unwelcome visitor in Dustin’s cubicle, reciting CNN as if Dustin were illiterate and not thoroughly exhausted of hearing about the Gulf oil spill.
“Did you know Tony Hayward is getting replaced? I think it’s about time, don’t you?” His nasal voice spiked hatred in Dustin, but he withheld enough to reply with rigid politeness, “I can read Wayne.”
The muted news anchor had moved on to an Iowa dam break, and Wayne followed suit. “Did they explain what caused the dam to...”
“’Scuse me Dustin can you look at this ticket for me please?” It was Crystal, right on cue, sparing Dustin from further abuse. She maneuvered her stout torso around Wayne and pointed at a blank piece of paper until Wayne departed.
“Thanks,” Dustin smirked and returned to his monitor. Crystal spoke in a gossipy mumble, “Geez he’s wound up today ain’t he? There’s a full moon out can’t you tell?”
“Yeah I saw it last night.”
“I think it’s really making people extra wacky because Venus is in retrograde which is odd for the early phase of Leo…”
Oh God. Don’t go into the zodiac stuff again Crystal. Don’t do it.
“...if you saw the moon last night, you could also see Mars if you had a clear sky, it was just off to the…"
“Shucks, missed it,” Dustin spoke with deflating enthusiasm. It was too late. Crystal had claimed Dustin’s only pencil and was sketching the planetary locations on the blank paper. He put his hand to his temples, perhaps she’d understand he really wasn’t following her, nor cared to. His distant expression only provoked Crystal further. Blah, blah, blah…
“Pardon me sir but did you see Jeopardy last night,” a deep male voice broadcasted over Crystal. Dustin knew what Guy was doing. Crystal had reached Wayne status, and Dustin was offered another life preserver. The bubbly Sage of the Zodiac retreated, leaving Guy in her place. The short man folded his arms; Dustin nodded in gratitude, faced his screen, and began to type. Finally, some peace and quiet.
“No I’m serious, did you see it?”
Oh come on, still here? “No Guy I did not see it, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me all about it…”
Guy explained with the energy of a sports commentator, “This one contestant was unbelievable! Shakespearian Characters, nailed it. Canadian Provinces, nailed it. African capitals, a personal favorite… nailed! Then he gets Periodic Table and meets his match! Who knows the capital of Burkina Faso but cannot get the obvious hint of Argon? I mean, come on…”
Dustin hoped Guy’s diaphragm would cramp from not stopping for oxygen. He patiently rubbed his temples, wondering whatever part of him that was emanating ‘Come babble to me’ could be located and maimed.
Guy ceased his animated rant when a woman with bloodshot eyes stepped alongside him.
“I need to talk… I’m sorry…” the woman welled up, fighting tears. Not one for drama, Guy placed his hand to his ear, “Is that my phone? Sorry I’ll let you two…” He didn’t finish. He didn’t need to.
Dustin grimaced at Tabitha, his latest train wreck of a visitor. “Ohmigod what happened,” he made his strongest effort to not sound monotone.
“He (sniffle) hasn’t returned my text yet,” Tabitha whined as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“When did you text him?”
“Two hours ago. He doesn’t normally take that long,” she wiped her eyes, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to come over and start (sob)…” She crumpled her face and pointed at her eyes. Dustin would have gouged out his eyes and eardrums right then and there if Crystal hadn't made away with the pencil.
Dustin frowned. Yes you do. You know you meant to come over here and cry. You always do. And you cry to me because I am the only one that will look like I’m listening. Dustin offered a tissue, as was the normal routine with Tabitha. “Look Tab I don’t mean to be insensitive, but you’ll have to excuse me. I need to use the restroom.”
Tabitha leaned on his desk, clearing her eyes. Dustin really did not need to go, but sought an excuse to leave. All he wanted was a little peace and quiet; simply check his Email and do some work, uninterrupted. He walked across the office, ignoring two other counts of people trying to bleed their woes to him, before arriving at the mens room. He splashed his face with cold water and fidgeted with his hair. The furthest stall produced a flush, and the door unhinged.
The nasal voice pierced his soul, “Can you really believe it’s been 100 days?”