Untitled Story, Part Four: In Which I Work Towards a Title

I’d probably win an award for most delays on a story. After MONTHS of struggling to find a work-life-creativity balance, I’ve finally written the next part to the adventures of Robert Ericson! There’s actually a title to the story now, but I’m skipping it for this entry because it’d probably spoil a development that comes up in what you’re about to read here. As usual, the linkage for the other parts, if you haven’t check them out yet:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

And now, the story continues!

**********

Ordinary animal actions can be surprisingly quick, in terms of frequency. The average house cat, for example, purrs at a frequency of up to 150 vibrations per second. The average bumblebee, on the other hand, beats its wings at a far more impressive 190 per second. Robert Ericson, in his current state of panic, might have been considered stiff competition for the creatures with his stammering.

Not that Thorsen would have noticed. As Robert sat up on his former bed, face contorted from a mixture of horror, worry and confusion, saying “Oh my god” so quickly that the elderly would mistake it for a low din, the former-janitor-now-creepy-hobo lay on the ground, trying to keep any more blood from leaving his wounds. Thorsen probably never even heard Robert, as he was too busy speaking at his own frenzied pace.

Thankfully, Robert paused from his panic long enough to realize the old man was speaking something of import. Only, it was outright gibberish. “Little people done plant pole ship floating take fruit baby no no no,” Thorsen said without the polite consideration of putting spaces between words, before finishing with the incredibly bizaare, “momagusaur nurm orbeye”.

At the mention of these three words, Thorsen suddenly became aware of Robert’s presence. He looked up at the utterly perplexed former finance analyst and, with great urgency, yelled it, “MOMAGUSAUR NURM ORBEYE!!!”

For some reason, the sight of Robert seemed to trigger even more alarm. Thorsen screamed the three strange words again and again, all the time looking Robert in the face.

Four things flashed through Robert’s mind during the hysterics: one, Thorsen ‘s quite literally bloody screaming; two, a wish that he had taken some time off today to say a final goodbye to his loved ones; Thorsen had burn marks to go along with the wounds and bruises; and the realization that, after all this time, he had just noticed Thorsen’s Nordic accent.

A fifth thought – that Thorsen probably needed his help – flashed shortly after. Robert had just begun wrestling with the logistics of picking up a wounded, screaming geriatric, carrying him to his car, and driving to the nearest hospital when Thorsen promptly lost consciousness. Not wanting to jinx this sudden yet much-appreciated coincidence, Robert pulled the sheets off of the bed and started mopping up the mess Thorsen had made on the floor. He ripped off a few strips of fabric and made crudes bandages out of them around the old man’s wounds. After stuffing the blood-stained blanket into his strictly-for-show briefcase, Robert then clumsily lifted Thorsen onto his shoulder, a feat that was so surprisingly easy that he briefly toyed with the idea of turning it into a regular workout. After all, he needed to start exercising if he wanted Vanessa to fall madly in love with him.

Robert poked his head out the door and, after ascertaining no one else would be in the office at this ungodly hour, crept his way to the elevator. On the ride down to the building’s fifth basement level, he broke the awkwardness of this absurd situation by singing “I Feel Pretty” for West Side Story, a childhood favorite. He stopped when Thorsen began to stir – he already had Thorsen screaming at him about god-knows-what; he didn’t want to get an earful for his amateurish singing, as well.

He shortly learned from experience that a fully-grown man limped on one’s shoulder was a rather large deterrent to opening one’s car door. Robert carefully leaned Thorsen onto the backseat door, and then searched his pockets for the key. He fumbled around for a few minutes, paused in a moment of sheer terror, and ultimately realized that, despite not remembering, he had already taken the key from his pocket and was holding it firmly in his left hand. The odd combination of sighing in relief and trembling with panic caused the key to jump from his hands. It fell somewhere underneath the car.

Robert reached out to get the key, but quickly pulled his hand back. The day had started strangely enough to warrant an extra precaution. He got on all fours, peeked underneath his car, and timidly asked, “Anyone down there?”

Satisfied with the lack of an answer, he felt around for the key. He got it on the second try, shortly after pulling out a day-old orange slice. He made sure his grip was sufficiently tight this time. The door opened without a hitch.

He walked over towards the backseat and opened the door there, as well. There was no way he was going to drive around with someone’s grandfather looking like he was half-past dead in the passenger seat. The pleasant mundanity of the proceedings reminded Robert of the happier, simpler times when his life was dreadfully boring. The rare Zen state was broken, of course, when Robert turned to pick Thorsen’s body up and saw that the old man was wide awake and staring at him like a hungry animal.

At this point, Robert had been sufficiently shocked beyond reason to react to the surprise with little more than annoyance. “What the bloody hell???”, he exclaimed, “Stop freaking me out like that!” Thorsen, the beacon of communication that he was, responded with a half-mumbled “mo-mo-momagusaur.”

Thorsen seemed cooperative enough when Robert tried to assist him into the car’s backseat, and slumped himself sideways onto the upholstery. He continued to speak unintelligibly, and was just barely audible when Robert finally got the motor running.

On the way out of the parking lot, Robert pondered on whether he should take Thorsen to the hospital, or to the nearest mental health institute. On the one hand, the stark raving lunatic would probably get the medical intention he needed at the asylum. On the other hand, the institute was a four-hour drive from the office, and Robert wasn’t too sure if he could ever get the smell of freshly-dead homeless person out of his car.

He took a look back at Thorsen – and his seats – and thought, Hospital it is. He hadn’t realized that he had been voicing his thoughts this entire time, and Thorsen sprang to life with violent objection. “No! No hospital! Nononononono!!!”, he screamed. The old man was throwing a tantrum and kicking at Robert’s seat with remarkable strength for his age. It took all of three seconds of this behavior to convince Robert to think of an alternative. “Fine! I’m taking you home, then!”, he conceded. Thorsen immediately quieted down.

“So where do you live, anyway?” Robert asked. Thorsen stared blankly at him. “Right,” sighed Robert, and he turned the car towards the street he lived on. He figured he could at least house Thorsen for the night. If the old man was strong enough to cause that much lower back pain, he could probably make it through the night. Robert repeated this thought in his mind for the duration of the trip, trying to convince himself he was right.

He got his much-needed confirmation when Thorsen made it up the two flights of stairs to Robert’s flat unassisted. Having never had a guest over, badly-beaten or otherwise, he was exceedingly polite to the old man who had somehow broken into his room at the office just under an hour ago.

Robert walked ahead of Thorsen and started pointing things out. “That’s the kitchen over there. You can get anything from the fridge except the orange juice – I’m afraid it’s on its last glass, and I need it for breakfast. The bathroom’s the door right next it, so hop on in there whenever you feel like taking a shower. Do knock first, though. I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself in front of you.” He stretched out the finger a little further into his home. “That there’s my bedroom. You can… you can sleep there tonight; I’ll take the couch…” He turned to check if Thorsen was listening to all this only to find that the old man was already crawling into the storage closet by the front door. “O-or you could sleep there. The closet’s fine, I suppose. There are blankets there if you, uh, need them.” He heard the familiar click of the closet door locking, gave another sigh, and bade propriety a reluctant farewell.

He briskly changed out of his clothes, set the alarm next to his bed for 7:00am on-the-dot, and crashed into sweet, sweet sleep.

**********

So yeah, the title has something to do with something in what you just read. Can you guess what it is? 😀

Here’s hoping I can keep this up and finish this damn story in a sane amount of time!

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