Strickland didn’t go to work Monday. He hadn’t planned on not working his first day on the job—in fact, just the opposite; he was looking forward to it. He went to bed at a respectable ten o’clock Sunday night. He’d had his last joint at seven and his final beer at eight-thirty or nine.
When his alarm went off at six-thirty that morning he didn’t dawdle in bed but hopped right out. Strickland went to his dresser and took the last of the joint, barely a half, and lit up. Just as he was about to take a mind-opening toke the “little guy” voice on his left shoulder said, “Perhaps that’s not the best idea in the world, Strickland.”
Strickland killed the joint and jumped in the shower where he washed his hair, shaved, brushed his teeth and peed before scrubbing his body with a loofah sponge. He toweled off, blow-dried his hair and dressed in the clothes he had laid out the night before—white shirt, red striped tie, gray slacks and blue blazer. He put on paisley socks and penny loafers.
Strickland felt good. He walked into the bathroom and checked himself out in the mirror. “Way to go Strickland,” Lefty, the little guy voice on his left shoulder said.
“The least you can do is tie a good knot in that tie, Strickland,” Righty said.
Strickland retied his tie. It was too long, hanging past his belt buckle. Then way too short. Next the knot was twisted. Finally it was knotted right, the length correct but hung inside out.
He squeezed his eyes shut and balled his fists against his temples, moving them in circles.
Righty said, “Leave it, Strickland. In your case practice doesn’t make perfect. And do something with your hair—it’s a mess.”
Strickland brushed his hair until he brushed the blow dry out and then squeezed some gel on his hands, rubbed it in and brushed again, flattening the hair winged out by his temples and the spiked cowlick.
Now his hair made him look like a grease monkey, shiny and stringy. “You’re a mess, Strickland. You can’t go to work looking like that—not today of all days.”
Strickland kicked off his shoes, stripped down to his boxers and lit the J.
“Ahem,” Lefty’s voice butted in.
Lying on his bed, feeling mellow, Strickland lost gravity and saw his body floating around the room, rolling over, smiling and waving to Earth from his space capsule. He pirouetted, somersaulted and spun on one finger.
“Don’t bother me,” Strickland said, “you’re always bothering me.”
“Yeah, tell him,” Righty said.
“This isn’t a good move for your first day on the job,” Lefty said. “How do you plan on explaining this to your parole officer?
“You’ll think of something,” Strickland said. “You always do.”
“Yeah,” Righty said. “Let Lefty handle it, Strickland. You’re busy right now.”
published 10 April 2013