Over the next 25 days, Clear & Obvious and DSS are raising money for Fugees Family through the power of content*. Our goal is for the 17’s to raise $1,717 this holiday season for one of our favorite non-profits. We’ve ALREADY MET OUR FIRST GOAL AND RAISED $3,000. MY GOD. WE HAVE A NEW GOAL NOW. You can continue help us and The Fugees out by donating or creating your own content (Email us! Make a fanpost! Tweet something!) to promote the GoFundMe. Contentmas is for the people. You can donate and find out more about Fugees Family by going here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/dss-drive-for-the-fugees
A Merry Happy Contentmas Day #12 to you.
*not all pieces of content will be winners but hey, what can you do?
Ebenezer Mike Petke sat quietly in a room that hated him as much as he hated it. He could see his breath. The winter cold seeping into every corner. An inescapable box of icy chill. But warmth cost money. And money could not be wasted! Blankets and sweatshirts were reusable. Warmth was not. If you failed to adequately prepare for the coming freeze and did not stockpile the blankets and sweatshirts necessary to survive comfortably then that irresponsibility spoke poorly on no one but you.
As he examined the latest financial reports, Bob Cratchit Mike Petke stumbled into the Michaels breakroom.
“Always stumbling that Bob Cratchit Mike Petke,” Ebenezer Mike Petke thought. “The coordination of his father with half the brains.”
Bob Cratchit Mike Petke joined the Michaels team only a few months ago. Ebenezer Mike Petke hired him as a favor to an old acquaintance from his schoolboy days. Ebenzer Mike Petke hadn’t heard from the acquaintance in years until the phone call. He figured he might as well go ahead with the favor rather than listen to the acquaintance blather on about some sob story. A kid or something. Either way Bob Cratchit Mike Petke had been mostly serviceable as a store attendant despite his constant insistence he try and keep Ebenezer Mike Petke company. Ebenezer Mike Petke despised company, especially when it impeded him from his daily duties as manager of what used to be the most successful Michaels in the tri-state area.
“The trick is being the only Michaels in the tri-state area,” he used to explain to laughter at the crafting parties he threw years ago. Back when he threw parties. And corporate hadn’t demanded the reckless abandonment of principles that was putting lace next to the woodworking section. Back when there weren’t 12 Michaels’ in the tri-state area.
The peculiar thing about Bob Cratchit Mike Petke is that at times, much to his horror, Ebenezer Mike Petke almost felt an affinity for the man. He would certainly never admit it, but there were even times he saw a bit of himself in Bob Cratchit Mike Petke.
“Hey, go $*^% !@%!$#%!^ ^*$@#$@ yourself, Ebenezer Mike Petke,” Bob Cratchit Mike Petke said.
“*&^$ !@$@#$ you !#@$!@#$,” Ebenezer Mike Petke responded.
Bob Cratchit Mike Petke tried not to show it, but a part of him felt taken aback.
“He’s in good spirits today,” Bob Cratchit Mike Petke thought. “Perhaps...no, no, not today...”
He looked down to check the time. He often looked far longer at the watch itself rather than the time. His wife had given it too him the first month of their courtship. He carried her everywhere with him. He had tried to sell it the other day. They needed the money for food. For medical bills. He couldn’t do it. It hurt too much. She said she understood. She always understood.
“No. Today. Today or never, I suppose.”
He walked to the other side of the break room and stood in front of Ebenezer Mike Petke. It took a moment, but Ebenezer Mike Petke looked up slowly from the financials. Bob Cratchit Mike Petke looked eager. He hated eager.
“Well, Mr. Ebenezer Mike Petke, sir, seeing as how today is Christmas Eve and you’re a !!$!@#(!@#$V!@# !@#$!#, I was wondering if I mightn’t, well, leave early to spend time with my family. You !@#$! )^((^#$% !!@#, sir.”
Ebenezer Mike Petke stared.
“Next Friday is our biggest sales day #$%hat.”
“Yes sir, I know but you always say @#$*!#@! !@#$! $%@, and I just though that mayb—”
“You will attend to the acrylics section immediately, $%!@#%.
Bob Cratchit Mike Petke retreated out of the breakroom and into aisle seven. Ebenezer Mike Petke watched every step.
“The gall of it all. To think he could leave early a week and a half before Craft Friday.”
He looked down at the latest report on glitter numbers. Over the top of the paper, a flash of color caught his eye on the white tile floor. Ebenezer Mike Petke made a point of keeping the floor spotless. It appeared that Bob Cratchit Mike Petke had dropped something.
Ebenezer Mike Petke walked over to throw it away. Whatever it was, if Bob Cratchit Mike Petke cared about it, he would have had the sense to take better care of it. He grabbed it. Went to the trashcan. But just as he went to throw it away, he paused. He realized he held a picture. The still frame showing a family. Bob Cratchit Mike Petke’s family. All smiling. A wife Mike Petke, a daughter Mike Petke and a small son Mike Petke. The boy looked sickly. His lone crutch noticeable amidst all the frozen joy.
He threw the photo into the bin. The moment lost forever between paper plates and reheated leftovers. Staring at photos meant that the fabric section spent that much longer in disarray.
That night, Ebenezer Mike Petke lay in his bed. A small fire roared in the adjacent fire place. He had air conditioning but refused to use it. A fire would do just fine.
A draft pushed the bedroom door and gravity pulled it. A quiet rhythm keeping time with Ebenezer Mike Petke’s drowzy breaths. He looked like a stationary steam engine as he slept. The breath colliding with the chill of the air and announcing its presence in a way it couldn’t in the heat. On most nights, this pattern remained unchanged.
The rhythm switched. Instead of a swinging door, the accompaniment changed to the sound of chains. The chains clinked together and with each moment of impact seemed to become closer to Ebenezer Mike Petke. The chains ceased as the bedroom door inched open. Ebenezer Mike Petke began to shift and squirm. He woke gradually then suddenly. He sat up and looked to the door. It continued its path forward. He stared.
The opening door began to reveal a figure. If it had feet they certainly weren’t touching the floor. If it had features, they were masked in darkness and the hood of a black cloak. If it had a soul, it carried the weight of numerous chains both real and imaginary.
A voice creaked from where Ebenezer Mike Petke imagined a mouth might be.
“Who the @%$# do you think you are you %$@$@ you think you’re some kind of @#@$ !(#$(!@ !@#$!#@$! ghost or some !@#$!@#$ !@#! get the @#$% out and don’t waste my @$#$@#$%@$% time.”
“I......I am here to show you your pas—”
“Oh you think you’re gonna teach me some kind of !#$!@# !(@#(! lesson, Mr. I ain’t go no !*#$*!@#$!@ feet looking mother!#$!@# !@#$(!@#($!@#$! !@#($!(@#$(!@#$ [redacted] piece of [redacted for being too terrible to even use symbols for].”
“I just...I’m just trying to do my job man..just, like, can you chi—”
“[The words. My god the words. They probably aren’t even real. He’s literally making up new words to be hurtful. We cannot even imagine printing this.]”
“FINE. FINE! I am LEAVING. I don’t even get Dental for this, I am so tired of being trea...”
The figure’s voice trailed off as it left the building. Ebenezer Mike Petke fell back to sleep before the door closed.
Ebenezer Mike Petke woke the next morning with an idea. Something had fallen over him while sleeping. He knew a change was coming.
He rushed out of bed, into his clothes and out of the door. He sped toward his destination but approached slowly upon arrival. He knocked twice. Bob Cratchit Mike Petke stood in the doorway.
“Mr. Ebenezer Mike Petke? The %^%$ are you doing here !@#$!@# giraffe?”
Ebenezer Mike Petke looked into the door. In the dining room sat what the family from the photo crowded around a meager offering of ham and canned vegetables. A Christmas dinner for the kings of nothing.
“Bob Cratchit Mike Petke, something happened last night. I’ve had a change of heart...”
The Michaels had almost as many people as affordable cross-stitching supplies. That was typical of Craft Friday. But things were running smoothly. Thanks in-large part to a couple of new employees. Bob Cratchit Wife Mike Petke and Bob Cratchit Daughter Mike Petke had integrated seamlessly into the synergy and brand-lifestyle that’s demanded of a seasonal worker for Michaels. Allowing the family to spend the holidays together didn’t come just out of the kindness of Ebenezer Mike Petke’s heart of course.
“Could I see you in the breakroom?” Ebenezer Mike Petke said.
The pair sat down at the table next to the microwave, not the one next to the coffee maker.
“Look...it’s just not working out. You’re too !$@#! !#$!#$ and I kind of think you might be a !@#$!#$! !#$!#$!#$ !#$@$%.”
Tiny Tim Mike Petke sat quietly.
“You’re fired ^%&#* donkey $@#%@.”
“Perhaps sir if I could work in a section where the fabrics weren’t so high on the shelf, see I’ve only go this one leg an—”
Ebenezer Mike Petke dismissed him with a wave of his hand.
Tiny Tim Mike Petke walked out of the breakroom. Out of the store. And then got hit by a car in the Michael’s parking lot.
He died and no one learned anything.
Annnnyyyyway, donate to Fugees Family here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/dss-drive-for-the-fugees