CLAREANNE runs out, frantic. MELISSA stands next to a CHAIR.
CLAREANNE: Oh my God!
CLAREANNE: Nice chair…
MELISSA: Thanks. Family heirloom. Antique.
CLAREANNE: Oh my God!
CLAREANNE: I remembered why I ran out so quickly! My boyfriend won the lottery!
MELISSA: That’s great!
CLAREANNE: No… He got arrested for overdue parking violations on the way to the lotto office.
MELISSA: That’s not so great. So, let’s use the lotto money to bail him out. Or better yet, I have a piggy bank!
CLAREANNE: No good. We can’t get his possessions until we bail him out. Where are we going to get the money?
They both look at the chair.
MELISSA: It was my grandfather’s!
CLAREANNE: We’ll buy you a new one.
MELISSA: But my grandfather died in this chair!
CLAREANNE: My grandfather died in his sleep. It doesn’t mean I kept his bed… Gross.
MELISSA: We are not selling the chair. My grandpa killed Nazis in this chair!
CLAREANNE: Okay, fine. We won’t sell the chair…
MELISSA: Why don’t we just wait till he gets out of prison then collect the lotto winnings?
CLAREANNE: Right. Like a guard isn’t going to see that he has the winning ticket and exchange it for another one.
MELISSA: Sometimes, guards have sex with prisoners. I saw it on Netflix.
CLAREANNE: So do the prisoners! Think, if a prisoner discovers he has the winning ticket, Ted will be exchanged for cigarettes! Do you know how many cigarettes a winning lotto ticket will buy!
MELISSA: That’s right! Then everyone will have cancer from smoking.
CLAREANNE: Yeah, and we don’t want to give those inmates cancer do we? Unless we just simply…
MELISSA: Put warning labels on all the cigarettes!
Clareanne tries to take the chair.
MELISSA: You put that down! Clareanne!
Clareanne motions to put the chair down, then bolts. Melissa runs after her. There is a scuffle, followed by a large thump. Melissa wanders back on stage with the chair. STEVE runs out.
STEVE: Clareanne? Clareanne? Oh, hey Melissa. You wouldn’t believe it, but we need money to bail Ted out of prison. Hey, that’s a nice chair…
Melissa glares at Steve. She raises the chair to attack.
Get the rest of this play and more in my collection of comedy theatre work.
When I wrote Sperm Donor for a Cosmic Paradox, I intended for it to be a one off story. For every reader who wanted more from the story, I humbly thank you. I really wasn’t prepared for the question what happens next? So I gave my readers the obtuse answer, “I guess you’ll just have to wait for the next one.” After giving the obtuse answer more times than I care to count, I realized I more or less committed myself to seeing this story through to completion. So here is the next installment in the series. As for what happens after Customer Service Scientist, I guess you’ll have to wait for the next one.
Len’s decision to enter the field of genetics was a mistake quantifiable by the noose around his neck, his hands bound around his back, and a horse under his haunches. He’d seen the horse hangman death hundreds of times in movies and television, but the actual reality was quite different. The rope burned his neck and hands. The sun drained the spit from his mouth and scorched his pasty white skin. The horse let out a snort. Len only recently learned to ride a horse, and muscles he never knew existed ached just by being on the horse.
He was used to sitting at a desk. His shoulders were hunched, his eyesight was poor, and his hands had the beginning stages of carpal tunnel. Len’s aspirations as a geneticist didn’t really involve any sort of desk jockeying. He started college in the nineties at a California State school. During his freshman year, President Bill Clinton announced that they had officially decoded the human genome, and Len knew he wanted to be a part of it. He declared his major in the sciences and continued for a PHD with a focus on genetics. He pooped out and the school gave him a master’s degree for the time served.
PHDs would consider his mater’s a failure but his family considered it a triumph. As the son of a restaurant manager and a medical assistant, Len was the successful one. As a geneticist, he was at the bottom. Most people pictured scientists as people working in a lab, surrounded by high tech equipment. He had the same impression during his freshman year in college. Len pictured himself in a white lab coat, explaining to President Bill Clinton about the important work Len was doing. Genome sequencing by the time Len got involved was less laboratory and more computer sequencing. He would interpret graphs and numbers all day.
Len worked for a company that provided cheap genetic heredity tests by the thousands. Most of the lab work was done in India where even skilled labor was a bargain. Most of the results were interpreted by the doctors in India and Len really acted as drone to double check the work of a perfectly competent workforce. The tests only came across his desk when customers had a question and/or most likely a complaint about their results package in the mail. Customers felt better when a person with some official looking credentials from their own country of origin checked the work. Even though the Indian workforce was just as skilled, the company hired Len to make people feel better about their results.
That meant all of Len’s education and study dedicated to genetics, even though short of a PHD, was really just to be a customer service scientist. There was very little science involved. He looked at a test and explained the results. That was until he got the test. It was the only test to ever come across his desk that added any sort of excitement or interest to his work. Most genetic tests were pretty straightforward. Every person had a percentage breakdown of their ethnic origins and places where their ancestors came from. For the most part, his job was to officially tell someone the family lore about the Irish relative and the Cherokee decedent were actually incorrect because their genes didn’t lie about their English, German, and French ancestry. Despite Len’s fancy sounding master’s degree and the high level of accuracy of the test, people still didn’t believe him. He realized pretty early that he couldn’t argue with family lore even when family lore was wrong.
I am going to change the direction of my blog. I’ll be honest when I’ll say that I started the blog because I envy Dave Barry’s job. Say what you will but I couldn’t think of a better job in the entire world than to write silly stuff every week. So back in 2010, I decided to write silly stuff every week. I figure I would treat it like my job even though I was not getting paid. And sometimes, it did feel like a job. I felt I had to post even though I wasn’t feeling funny. Aside from the December break from writing, I’ve been fairly faithful to the idea. For those of you who have been faithful to reading my silly stuff every week, I humbly thank you for your support and probably would have quit long ago if it wasn’t for regular traffic to my blog.
But I have to be honest with myself that my writing energies have been focused on my first love of science fiction and horror (my stories from high school were poor retellings of Ender’s Game, Aliens, and Terminator). I wrote a novel last year and one of the only reasons it’s not out on Kindle Direct Publishing is my wife’s advice to make a go at a publisher. But to satisfy my DIY writing addiction, I’ve been giving out short stories for free when I can on Amazon.
So I am going to widen the scope of this blog to more than just silly posts. For the fans of the silly posts, I promise you that I will still write them. They just will not be as frequent as they used too be. Most of my weekly writing energy is being consumed by the fiction so I may not blog every week. For those of you who have been keeping up with the fiction. Yes, I am planning to write more in the Sperm Donor for Cosmic Paradox universe. I really intended it to be a short story but it wanted to be more. And those of you who asked me for more, more is on the way. For those of you that just want to ask me a question, send me an email:
My most popular post was about what would happen if we legalized Gay Marriage.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
The DNA test was a mistake. An email appeared in my inbox one Wednesday morning. I was at work with nothing to do. Facebook status updates, The Huffington Post, and The Onion didn’t seem to change much after I hit the refresh button for the seventh time, so when the email about tracing my genetic ancestry hit my inbox, I clicked on the link. I almost never click on the link. My email was cluttered with offers, deals, and promotions and I deleted them. The offer was simple. I’d pay a company a flat rate. They would send me a kit to collect samples of my DNA and I would mail it off. They would run some tests, and report my genetic history down to the village where my distant relatives farmed the land to prepare for the harsh European winters.
The day the test was scheduled to arrive was in the thick of winter. A company representative wanted to schedule a time to speak with me about the results of the test. I told him to come by after work. The fee I paid for the test didn’t seem like it merited an in-person visit. I was also pretty sure they would just send me a package with the results. But I didn’t really question it because I really didn’t remember what the paperwork said. When I got home, there was a squat pudgy man with glasses sitting in a black car. He stumbled out of his car before I was halfway to my door. He exuded a nervous energy.
“Mr. Ruttle.” He shoved his hand in my face. His face was red from the freezing air, and I could see his breath form steam. I was holding a messenger bag in one hand and an empty lunch container in the other. After an awkward moment of shifting my items in my hands to accommodate a handshake, he launched into some scientific chatter that went over my head. He produced some documents with graphs I couldn’t identify.
“Slow down,” I said. “Come inside and we can talk.”
I let him into my small nine hundred square foot house. The living room consisted of two mismatched couches I found on the roadside with the words “free” taped to the side, a coffee table cluttered with empty beer bottles and fast food wrappers, and a Craigslist purchased entertainment center. The TV was the old square variety that weighed a ton. The game station was a first generation Xbox that I took with me from my parents’ house. I never upgraded because the games were insanely cheap for the old systems. Most used game stores tried hard to get rid of the old games. The clerks would save the choice ones for me. I swept the coffee table clear in one swoop, and all the trash crashed into a bag I set down to collect the trash.
“You want a beer?” I said as I dragged the trash bag into the tiny kitchen. My ex-girlfriend used to complain about the size of the kitchen, and she always fantasized about what life would be like with a larger kitchen. I assumed she got her larger kitchen because I hadn’t talked to her in a year. The fridge had beer, leftovers, and condiments. I pulled two bottles from the twelve-pack and popped the tops. I tossed the caps into a small pile that had accumulated on the countertop.
“No thank you,” the man said as I wandered back into the living room with the beers.
“More for me,” I said and set one on the coffee table and sipped from the other. “Now, let’s start with your name.”
“Oh,” the man seemed taken aback, “Doctor Leonard Schuasenburg but you may call me Len.”
“Call me Jed,” I informed him. My name was technically Earl James Ray Ruttle III but most people called me Jed. It was a nickname from high school that seemed to stick. The only person who refused to call me Jed was my mother and my ex-girlfriend. They insisted on James because my father was the Earl of the family. We had come from a long line of Iowa farmers until the corn conglomerates swept into the country buying up farms. My father used the money from the farm to buy out a hardware store in Des Moines. After my father died, my mom closed the store. Large chain stores killed the business years back but father refused to be run out of a second business. What money was left from the business bought my mom a tiny condo, and she worked part time as an educational assistant. My older brother was practicing law in Boston, and my older sister was off in some other country living in a hut and working for the Peace Corp. That left me to stay in Des Moines to look after my mom.
“Mr. Rut… Jed.” Leonard launched into an explanation. He pulled out the same confusing paperwork that he tried to shove in my face earlier. It didn’t make sense then and certainly didn’t make sense now. “The autosomal and mitochondrial test both…”
“Whoa! Whoa! Doc, in English.”
“I am speaking English.”
“You are your mother’s grandfather.”