To Multiply and Replenish
By J. J. Dewey
This was one of my first stories written ibn 1961
“Don’t quit — please. I’ve got so much work I’ve…”
It was no use — she turned and walked away. Not even a good-bye. It’s too bad, she was a pretty one. I guess I shouldn’t have chased her around so much. Terrible habit of mine! Terrible. Lose more secretaries that way. It’s been going this way too long. About time I changed. The next one will be — different. That’s it — a change in figure will allow me to get something accomplished.
After dialing the phone … “Employment center???”
A very stretched out one word solos: “Yeeesssss?” (A short pause) “To whom am I speaking?”
“A. L. Fergot … PhD. S’il vous plait.”
“Me for the last time,” I said; proud the way I did — so — authoritative, so very authoritative. “I’ll have the usual. That’s it — a secretary. One difference, this time don’t put emphasis on the looks — I want someone efficient. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
I remember so very, very clear the first time my eyes feasted upon her. Her presence was made known by a knock on the office door. An open door usually leaves a hole, but not this one. The gap was completely filled by a big blob of a thing I considered to be on my opposite sex — woman. “Good morning Miss Appetite” (the Miss I assumed) I almost said. “A good 1/7 ton” I said to myself. “Closer to 1/6 — scrutinizing her — maybe 1/5 … nah, not quite.”
Some of my other thoughts “Wow would you look at that double chin — and those cheeks — real hefty. I mean there’s enough to heft. Now a real lover, I mean a real lover wouldn’t pinch her on the cheek — he’d grab a handful and squeeze: develop a good grip that way you know. That nose!!! Wide as the length of the average finger. “Her eyes, her eyes — her dark blue eyes” I thought passionately — humoring myself, “look like hell because of her long droopy eyelashes.”
I could go on, but we shall stop at the eyes for it was there I discovered that she was fanning me more than I her. That cow-eyes stare gave me … shall we say “the creeps”. Her eyes gawking at me made me feel like a luscious watermelon just ready to eat. She looked as if she were planning on doing the eating — and lots of it.
Her infernal gaze shocked me into motivation. “Er — Have a chair, Miss…?”
“Fairbanks” … “E. S. Fairbanks,” came her reply.
“Fairbanks, Fairbanks,” I mumbled under my breath for the sake of memory seating myself at my desk thinking, “That voice, that voice — that penetrating voice,” again humoring myself with passionate thoughts, but then thinking harshly, “Can only be compared to a thumbnail scraping across a blackboard.”
I got a file sheet, wrote down her name, and without looking up (very businesslike) I asked, “Age?”
“Have done secretary work since I was 18.”
Oh, but they were great in number. So great were they, that I scratched a line over the single name, I did write down and perished the thought of approximating any number.
She would say something like, “Oh, yes, then there was Mr. Harris. A very dear man, but I didn’t like his round nose. I never did like round noses. Ever since I was this tall (motioned with her hand a few feet from the floor), I’ve had a phobia of round noses. I quit working for him, I don’t get fired — if anything I quit. Yes, sir, I told myself, ‘Now Miss Fairbanks, you just can’t go around working for someone with a round nose — it just ain’t ethical;’ sooo I quit, that’s what I did.”
“I seeee.” I said in the state boredom like an Eskimo watching a glacier melt.
“Then there was Mr. Lopez with the long earlobes…”
On and on and on until I interrupted. “Er — Miss Fairbanks — as you’ve probably heard I’m working on a time machine. I have many notes, equations, and formulas I need typed and filed. I shall give you the material with simple instructions. All you need do is follow them. Is everything clear?”
“Why of course…”
I interrupted before she could utter her next word. I knew her open mouth was filled with boredom. “You shall work in Room 2. It is furnished with all the necessities.”
I got up, opened the door, and motioned her down the hall. My thoughts exploded, “Wow talk about a broad!” “She’s broad alright — about three ax handles from hip to hip … nothing exact of course.” “… And the momentum of that swing. Man like that would break the jaw of the strongest hippopotamus!”
Out of courtesy, I accompanied her to her office. “You shall work here, and please disturb me only when necessary. I’m rushed on this machine. The government’s willing to pay a large price, and I want to be first.”
“Ummmm hmmmmm” she said, staring with that passionately cow-eyed glare. I shook inside. If she wasn’t yack’n she was staring. Oh, but I was joyful to be rid of her.
I had to work so hard. There I was slaving away on the time machine and I would get that eerie feeling — as if some ghoul were watching my every move. The cause was soon revealed as I turned my head and viewed one. Yep — it was her; standing over there filling the doorway, her eyes glued to me.
“Miss Fairbanks!” I said with a rather raised voice.
I nearly regretted waking her from her coma. My words seemed to be the motivating factor for her jaws. Out it came — yak yak yak yak. Such childish little questions to which she knew the answers. “Common Sense?” “Ya ever heard of it?” I thought. Then came her ideas for improvement. How to run things. Her words brought agony to my soul. How I yearned for the days of beautiful secretaries, the exercise, the short sprints, and getting nothing done — now — an ugly one who tires me with her facial features, and getting less than nothing accomplished.
She carried a suitcase to work, which very much aroused my curiosity, although I should have guessed the contents thereof. I pride myself with some common sense. At noon (Oh, you’ve guess it so soon?) I walked by her office and viewed the most tremendous meal in all creation spread all over the table and part of the floor. Good thing she had a whole hour to eat. A whale would lust after her lunch. I could also see why she needed the job.
She was a damned slow typist. She’d pluck out a few words then reach for a piece of chocolate; her lips puckered and smacked while she chomped. My very precious papers stuck together with candy, added much fuel to my frustration.
A rotten bookkeeper she was — couldn’t add with an adding machine. I’ll say one thing, the employment center filled half of my request: The no-so-good-looking part, but the efficient — ho boy: If one were negative; the other positive, they would average out neutral.
The days passed — I became uneasy, queasy, my blood freezy. I was aging prematurely. The shock of sensing someone staring with glazing eyes, then turning to view the reality of one’s fears — I’m tell’n you the shock is terrific. I figured I was aging a year a day, and at that rate I didn’t plan on living too many years.
Then came the day, “Not again,” I thought agonizingly, “Please — not again.” I turned and once again the shock hit me. There she was staring at me. My blood felt as if it were caked in globs of clot as I looked at her eyes cast gleamingly my direction. “Miss Fairbanks,” I said with a voice of thunder, “If you want something ‘get it’; otherwise…”
Her eyes opened with a frightful glare as I started my sentence, but before I could say leave, she was thundering her behemoth body my direction. What else could I do??? I ran — I ran like hell … ‘round and ‘round and ‘round the room. I glanced behind me and wondered how many calories per second she was using to keep up to me. Now I know why my former secretaries left. How I envy their escape.
The chase lasted through timeless eternities. I gasped for air and nearly fell, the only thing saving me was the “yum yum eat’m up” look on her face. By the laws of nature an elephant has to tire, but not this one. Her desire for a man kept her stampeding onward. If I were to take time to open the door, she would catch me; I just had to keep running ‘round and ‘round and ‘round until she tired or I passed out.
On our 1,684th (a guess) lap she caught me by my shirt. The centrifugal force of our circular movement threw her body toward the time machine controls. Her large carcass scraped against the numerous switches and was flung into the sending cabinet — along with me and my shirt.
The time machine hummed, lights flickered, and I bit my fingernails. “So the time machine is going to get its first test” I thought subconsciously.
Our next sight was that of a wild, but lovely flowery, fruitful wilderness. The future, the past, another world? I didn’t know where the hell we were. Wherever it was there was no way back. She was unconcerned. The hard run she had brought but one thought into her mind — FOOD! Off she went to the nearest fruit tree. She plucked some off drooling, not thinking it might be poisonous. There was none like it on our earth. She didn’t care — she chomped away on it like it had long been her favorite food.
My concerns were many — the main one being the future. Was there a way out? Then horridly wondering I asked, “Miss Fairbanks — what’s your first name?”
“Didn’t I tell you? It’s Eve,” she said, shoving some fruit my direction, motioning for me to take it.
A kind of frightful reality entered my mind as I wondered about the next nine hundred years. I realized how my first name fitted into this nightmare — Adam…
Hungered, I ate some fruit.
Sept 26, 2007
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