Wordlotto ©2007

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Wordlotto ©2007

5 The origins of a soiled reputation.

As I sat at my desk projecting my blank mind out the window, a small crowd had silently gathered outside the door to my office. I heard a muffled giggle and turned around to meet a loud burst of cackles and snorts. “What the hell was that? Another bomb threat?” asked the first co-worker who could find his voice through his tears. I had been found out. I thought my unusual guests had escaped notice, but Joan had done an impeccable job of letting every single person on the floor file by the conference room window and take a peek while the meeting was still in progress. It was going to be a huge challenge to get out of this one with a minimum shred of dignity. However, I was damned if I was going to go down without a fight. I scanned my brain for an answer. Just when it looked as if the truth was the only option, I hit a live neuron.

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Wordlotto ©2007

“Some trainee with the Homies. The Biohazard Response Team” I stated, leaning back in my chair. “Biohazard? What did they want?” asked my Nemesis. “Just a training drill, for his certification. Asked me to fill in a questionnaire.” I punctuated this

assertion with a well-timed yawn. The mirth of the assembly lost a little steam. The giggles had run their course and now were waning down one by one. They are buying it. The group already had had an excuse for a break at my expense, and they looked like they were looking for the next victim. “I think that we should all get back to work.” in my most condescending voice “Shut up” another co-worker offered, “the last time you worked was when you to filled out the job application.” “OK,” I have to agree, “but if they see us all bunched up here we’ll get in trouble…” It was not an easy task to fool my coworkers in view of the fact that a dark spot on my record had compromised my reputation at an early stage. As it turns out, Bubbles was not my first oddball case. First came Gio. I would I say

spare you the story but since I have mentioned Gio I feel I 3

Wordlotto ©2007

have an obligation to give you the particulars. I will keep it brief. A few weeks into my new job, a total rookie, I was assigned a case. The client’s name was Giuseppe Stromba, Gio for short. He walked into my office for our first meeting carrying a medium-sized suitcase. It was not unusual for clients to bring a great deal of paperwork with them in support of their complaints. Gio was a kindly gentleman of slight build, with a gray mop of hair and a bushy white mustache. He was very polite and spoke slowly

and clearly with a slight Italian accent. He claimed that his partner was stealing his words. I asked him to explain. Gio then opened the suitcase and proceed to pull out the contents. No paperwork. It turns out that Gio was a ventriloquist, and the “partner” was his dummy Bambino, a furry organ grinder monkey with a pillbox hat, sequined vest and a squishy banana in one hand. The monkey was

rather cute, except for the eyes. I couldn’t help cringing at the possessed looked of depravity of the little stuffed animal. I can’t explain why, but those eyes reminded me of those closet voyeurs who gorge on other peoples misery by sitting at home for hours watching Jerry Springer. I mean other people. Not you of course, dear reader. I’m sure that if you watch that show, you do it simply to stay informed. 4

Wordlotto ©2007

“Bambino, tell this fine gentleman what mischief you’ve been up to.” Gio asks the lifeless dummy as he

gently slips his hand up the puppets back. “I TOLD YOU TO CALL ME KONG.” life with startling deep voice. Gio turns to me and quietly says, “Since he’s been taking V for male enhancement, he hasn’t been the same.” “WANT TO BITE MY BANANA?” The monkey lifted his The monkey snapped to

eyebrows as he waves the fruit in the air. I instinctively pushed my chair back about two feet. “At first I ignored these little tantrums.” The

puppeteer whispers while stroking the puppets head. “But now, it’s really quite disturbing.” Gio continued. “I have no control over Bambino. He’s excited all the time and is

using all my words with his babble.” “Why do you … I mean why does the monkey take V?” ask. “WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A MONKEY GRIND YOUR ORGAN?” The monkey interrupted loudly. I scooted my chair back a little more. was freaking me out. “Well, at first I thought it harmless” Gio chimed trying to calm Bambino. “A dummy doesn’t have much dignity and a little extra size couldn’t hurt.” 5 This monkey I

Wordlotto ©2007

I diagnosed a serious case of transference between Gio and his puppet. As the puppeteer sat motionless looking at me, the monkey started working the banana rather uncontrollably. I had to put a stop to this alarming situation rapidly. I had two options. I could call security and have them escorted out of the building. As a newbie, I was not sure that this would earn me points with my colleagues. There would be a big commotion and lots of paperwork to fill in afterwards. Or, I could go through the motions and schedule an appointment with the Word Commission. I judged this to be the most summary of the two courses of action. Gio’s case went to the W.C. the following week, and was flushed right out of the system in just about ten minutes. The Commission laughed Gio out of the courtroom and strongly reprimanded his Citizen Advocate (yours truly) for presenting a case without first evaluating its merits. After the humiliating defeat, Gio blamed Bambino. I never saw any of the two again. Let me correct that. I did partly see Bambino. After a while I started receiving suspicious calls, with the line going silent as soon as I picked up. Sometimes I could hear a scuffle and screams in the background. At first I didn’t relate the calls to Bambino. Truth be told, I had recently committed my 6

Wordlotto ©2007

grandmother to the New Haven Assisted Living Center and I thought the hostile calls were from her. As it turns out, Granny despised me too much to even call. Then one day I received an anonymous package and I was forced to file a report revealing the potential threat and tell them about the calls. This got all my otherwise idle co-workers stirred up so everybody gathered around to take a look at the mysterious box. Security instructed me not to touch the package and called the bomb squad. The whole building was evacuated, and the explosive experts proceeded with great care to examine the contents of the package. What they found inside would become the first stain on my precarious reputation. You will hear about it sooner or

later, so I might as well embarrass myself. In a final fit of rage, Gio had ripped off Bambino’s head and mailed it to me in the box. read: “You did this to me – Bambino.” Thus The Story of Bombino became a legend in the halls of the Word Commission, and such was the dubious source of my reluctant celebrity. It had a hand-written message attached. It

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