This one calls for a kind of story, I suppose though it’ll be one of my beat-like stories where I digress a lot. This prompt says I find a note on the street and read it. Then, my life changes forever.
Okay. Here we go.
Walking down the street, I spot a piece of paper. Normally, I’d just let it be because I’m not at all curious about trash on the ground. This time, though, I pick it up to toss it because I’m having a bad day and this paper was offensively in my path.
Just as I was about to throw it away, a rather ornate graphic on the one side catches my eye. I take a quick look at it. The note reads “Dr. Lights” with an address and a phone number on it. The graphic depicts a bunch of cogs and that da Vinci thing with the man with many arms and legs. On the other side was a handwritten list for groceries plus windshield wiper fluid.
I shoulda just threw it away right then and there, but something about this note made me want to call Dr. Lights and it also made me realize that my windshield wiper fluid is probably low too. I haven’t had to add any in months.
So, what do I do? I call this guy. I’m standing there in the middle of Atlantic City with this stupid grocery list on the phone. I was pacing and found myself at the 7-Eleven that I hated. The owner was a jerk when I was doing work as a mystery shopper. I didn’t have to buy the crap, I just had to make sure he carded me.
Anyway, I’m greeted with a clever jingle. Sorta sounds like the theme to Cheers, but in the style of a waltz. Am I really on hold for some odd number? Maybe this is it. I call this number and I get Kelsey Grammer.
Fairly soon, I hear a woman’s voice. First it was in a language I didn’t recognize. Russian maybe?
I say “What?” and she changes her language.
“Oh, I thought this was someone else.” She says.
“No, this is me,” I reply. She then clears her throat with gusto. I tell her “Where’s Kelsey? What’s with Dr. Lights?”
Then she hangs up on me. Perplexed, I decide I wanna know what this place looks like. I hop in my car and head off towards the address. No harm in seeing where a place is, right?
I end up in the parking lot of a once thriving strip mall. I remember this strip mall because they had Digimon stuff for sale before the show got popular. The address indicated that Dr. Lights was supposed to be in one of the old abandoned stores.
I got out to take a look at the one abandoned store. It used to be a buffet before people started getting food poisoned. Apparently, all the food dropped was placed back into the serving area. Gross.
So, I take a look inside and was not surprised. It was empty. Then, some woman came up to me. It didn’t surprise me since the dollar store is kinda close to the strip mall. There’s usually people walking around here. She starts speaking in rapid Russian or something.
“What?” I tell her.
“Oh, I was looking for someone else,” she says to me.
“No. I’m me,” I tell her. She walks to the store’s entrance and opens it with a kick. She motions for me to follow. I do because why not at this point?
We end up in a back office area where the buffet manager probably ate non-disgusting food. She opens a case that’s sitting in a corner and throws whatever it contained at me. I look and it is more paper.
“Do this test,” She says. She sits on the case. I take a spot at the manager’s desk and take a look at the test. There’s 5 questions.
1: Which is the better buy? Brand A 30 oz for $7.20 or Brand B 25 oz for $5.50.
2: Which of these would make a Mummy cry?
3: Which state has a city named Houston?
4: On a scale of 1 to 7, how much does your life suck?
5: Translate the following sentence: Ivan goes to the store to buy milk and bread.
I stare at this test for a while, confused as to why I’m even here and taking it. I then proceed to fill out the answers. When I finish, the woman instantly takes the test from me as if she was watching. She then sits back down on the case and takes out a red pen. She ponders over my answers, occasionally letting out a “hmm.” Sometimes she writes something on the test.
After a while, she gets up and walks towards me.
“Tell me, Mister Rad, about your answers,” she says to me. She points to question one.
“Brand B because I don’t need as much and I’m kinda broke so I can’t afford seven dollar whatevers,” I say. She looks at me quizzically and then points to question two. “I picked D because mummies are dead and if they were energetic, they might have emotions thus making a paradox.” She then points to three. “I wrote ‘Probably Texas’ as there could be other states that have a Houston in them. I wouldn’t know.” Then to four. ” I put a 4. This is question 4, I’m not happy with my life. I think it is appropriate.” Finally, she points to five without changing her facial expression. “I didn’t answer it because you didn’t say how to translate it.”
She then walks away with the test. Her markings must have been on something else, because the test was clean.
“Mister Rad, I have decided that you may see Dr. Lights now,” she tells me after placing my test in the case. I get up from the desk, but find myself stopped dead in tracks.
Then I understand everything completely.