Horace and Doris are in charge. Horace and Doris are in charge of watching. Formulas #304 and #320 are strung on separate strings around Doris’ neck. Whenever Doris begins to feel her nerves she alternately unscrews the dropper tops of the bottles of #304 and #320 and pinches. Then a droplet of either #304 or #320 falls upon, and is absorbed by her tongue.
Horace has a special job other than watching. Horace is the Doll Manager. Horace manages the dolls. Specifically, along with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snacks, Horace hands out dolls. When Horace pushes the dolls through the E1617E, 549FF1, or FEE97F stroked triangular flaps, it is his job to ensure that the pointer on the dial underneath each doll’s overalls points to the name matching the name embroidered above each flap. After 46 years of being the Doll Manager, Horace has only 11 times pointed the pointer on the dial to a name that did not match the name embroidered above the flap into which the doll was being pushed.
This afternoon, Doris would drop 5 drops of #304 and 6 drops of #320 onto her tongue. Horace would also mismatch names for the 12th and 13th times in his lengthy career.
Like Horace, Doris also had an additional task other than being in charge of watching. She was to ensure that not one of the 455 she was in charge of watching ever sang. On her first day of work at age 22, the bosses informed Doris that singing was absolutely a “worst-case-scenario” type of situation. The boss standing to Doris’ left plopped their hand down upon her shoulder, looked Doris square in the eye with eyebrows raised, and reassured Doris that “Really, it never happens. You have nothing to worry about.” Doris smiled politely, laughed “Heh”, jarred her head to the right, looking on the other boss, now nodding with his lips a little up-puckered.
“Time to get the dolls now, Doris. I’ll be right back.”
“Is it lunchtime already?”
“Yep. Did you remember to put the chocolate milk cartons in the refrigerator this morning?”
“Oh shoot, I didn’t.”
“Ah, that’s ok. I’ll go get the dolls.”
There were 6 dolls in total. Divided into two subsets, Male and Female. Each subset contained a black, brown, and white doll. The funny thing is, there were only two types of dials, Male and Female.
The Female dial had 14 names to point to: Guadalupe, Barbara, Martha, Esther, Lisa, Jane, Neus, Minerva, Laurel, Shawn, Cassandra, Elizabeth, Mary, and Montserrat; while the Male dial only had 11 names the pointer could point to: Mark, Steven, Eric, Paul, George, Fox, David, Matthew, LeBron, William, or John.
Doris met Horace in the double doorway that to this day leads into the gymnasium. Horace hugged all 6 dolls to his chest while Doris pushed a cart holding 228 lunch trays, each hosting a rectangular slice of Tony’s Cheese Pizza, a serving-size container of Mott’s Apple Sauce, carrot and celery slices, a plastic cup 75% full of Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing, a Capri Sun, and either a cold skim, 1%, or 2% milk carton, or a warm chocolate milk carton. She believed coasting downhill was only satisfying after climbing up one.
Horace and Doris crossed the threshold from their florescent-lit watching area into the gymnasium. The illumination of the gymnasium always came from any number of the 455 televisions within each one of the 455 stationary canvas shelters. Each shelter has a square base and a circular crown. These shelters are constructed with non water resistant canvases – the sort painters usually buy at Dick Blick Art Supplies – PVC pipes, and a little bit of thread. Each one houses a child. Horace and Doris are in charge of watching these children.
Horace and Doris approach the shelter of the first. Doris hands Horace a lunch tray. Horace pushes the lunch tray through a 549FF1 stroked flap. Horace then raises his eyes, and double-checks the name embroidered above the flap. The name reads “George”. Horace then picks up a Brown and Male doll. He unfastens the overalls of the doll and grabs the dial on the doll’s back with his thumb and forefinger. He points the pointer of the dial to the name ‘George’, pulls the string, re-fastens the overalls, and pushes the doll through the flap. As Horace and Doris move on to the shelter of the second, voices can be heard. If Horace or Doris hadn’t worked as Doll Managers, Lunch Ladies, or been in charge of watching for 46 years they would have heard these voices.
Supervisors, Bosses, Visitors, Flies-on-Walls, and Walls always heard the voices. The Brown Male doll spoke to the first:
“Hey George, Georgie, Georgie-Boy, Georgie-ol-Boy! How are you doing today? Hey! I’m your Dad! I love you! I love you George. I love you Georgie. I love you. I love you George. Hey! Lemme put your Ma’ on!
George? George? Is that you? George! My Boy! How are you George? This is your Mom! George? Hey! I love you George! I am your Mom. I love you George. Give me a kiss. Come on. Give your old Mother a kiss. That-a-boy. Ok George. Be good now. Wait a second! Guess who wants to say hi? That’s right! Dog is here! Go ahead Dog, say hi to George.
Hey George, it’s your Dad! Did you hear Dog? Dog loves you! Ok. Hey George, me and your Ma’ gotta’ get going! Ok George? See you tomorrow! Have a good day at school, George. We love you. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. No singing now! Ok Georgie-boy! Take care now.”
TO BE CONTINUED…