Register Tuesday | June 25 | 2019

Pulpy and Midge: Part Four

A final sneak peek courtesy of Coach House Books

             When he’d finished eating, Pulpy brought a plate of food to the receptionist.

            ‘Thanks.’ She scratched her cheek. ‘What is this, strudel?’

            ‘It’s puff pastry. It’s supposed to be puffier. It’s got jam inside.’

            ‘Huh. Why’s this rice so sticky?’

            ‘It’s sticky rice.’

            She picked up the plastic fork he’d given her and dangled it above the plate. ‘Wait, what did he bring?’

            ‘The Jamaican patty’s his.’

            She lifted the patty by the edges with her thumb and forefinger and pitched it into the garbage. ‘There. That’s better.’ She looked at him. ‘Nobody in this office cares whether I live or die, except for you. You’re the only one.’

            He focused on the pearly grains of rice on her plate, clumped into a small peak. ‘That’s not true. Nobody wants you to die.’ ‘Pulpy!’ Dan yelled from the top of the stairs. ‘In my office, please. Emergency Social Committee meeting. I’ve got Beatrice on speakerphone.’ ‘Coming!’ he called back, and then shrugged at her. ‘I’d better get up there.’ The receptionist gave his pastry a jab. ‘Duty calls.’

                        *  *  *

            ‘Beatrice, I’ve got Pulpy here,’ Dan said to his phone.

             ‘Pulpy!’ Beatrice said, loud enough to distort the speaker.

            ‘Hi, Beatrice.’ Pulpy waited for Dan to tell him where to sit.             ‘How’s Midge?’ she said.

            ‘She’s fine.’

            ‘That’s good. We miss her!’

            ‘Enough chit-chat,’ said Dan. ‘We’ve got a situation here.’

            ‘What’s the situation?’ said Pulpy.

            Dan rolled his eyes. ‘Were you not there at one o’clock?’

            ‘Was it fun?’ said Beatrice. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it. I just didn’t feel like leaving the house today.’

            ‘It was nice,’ said Pulpy.

            ‘Oh, good. Did everyone like the Jamaican patties?’

            ‘Everyone,’ said Dan, ‘was four people.’

            ‘Only four?’ she said.

            ‘It could’ve been five,’ Dan muttered.

            ‘What was that, dear?’

            ‘Never mind. What we’re here to talk about is staff morale, of which we are sorely low on. Of which we, in fact, have none.’

            ‘Maybe people just weren’t very hungry,’ said Pulpy.

            ‘Or maybe they didn’t know about the event,’ said Dan.

            Pulpy’s arms dangled at his sides. ‘I sent the emails.’

            ‘You sent them too late.’

            ‘I posted the sign-up sheet early.’

            ‘I saw your sign-up sheet. It was very well done,’ said Beatrice. ‘I liked the font you used.’

            ‘Thank you.’

            Dan slapped his palm down on his desk. ‘We are not operating on optimum drive at this office! We’re operating on something more like non-optimum drive.’ ‘What does Pulpy think we should do?’ said Beatrice. Pulpy tugged on the lanyard around his neck. ‘I think things are fine the way they are.’ ‘Well, you’re wrong,’ said Dan. ‘In the ideal state of affairs, things would be the way they should be, but they aren’t. This is not an ideal state of affairs.’

            ‘You should make a policy, honey,’ said his wife. ‘You make really good policies.’

            ‘Thanks.’ Dan trailed a finger along the side of his handset. ‘Maybe I should.’ He looked at Pulpy. ‘What are you and Midge up to tonight?’

            ‘Tonight? Oh. Well –’

            ‘Great. Tonight it is. We’ll all make a policy together.’

            ‘I’m not sure if I can make it,’ said Beatrice. ‘I’ll see how I feel.’

            Dan shot an angry look at his speaker. ‘I’ll call you later,’ he said, and hung up on her. ‘I’ve made reservations for the four of us at our new favourite restaurant, Pulpy. You and Midge can meet us there at seven.’

            ‘I’ll have to call her,’ said Pulpy. ‘I think she might have plans.’

            Dan stared at him. ‘Seven o’clock.’ He nodded. ‘Seven will be fine.’