Home > Royer's Madcap Experiences > Royer’s Madcap Experiences: The Promotional Seat Cushion

Royer’s Madcap Experiences: The Promotional Seat Cushion

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Ric Royer
File photo

We hired a girl to man the candy counter.  She had come down out of the hills a few days ago.

At the end of the first week, I asked her if she was enjoying the job.  She said that yes she was, that she enjoyed helping people pick out which candies were best suited for their own personal needs.  She did have one complaint though.

“What is that?” I asked.

“Well, Mr. Octotris, it’s this stool.”

“It’s Mr. Royer,” I corrected.  My bowels released a little.

“Mr. Roysticks, look at this stool.”

I looked at the stool.  I was lost for a moment.  I looked past her, out the picture window and saw some bushes suddenly disappear.

“Mr. Roypacks, the stool has no cushion left.  See?”

She showed me how the upholstery had been torn down to the plywood base.

“By the end of the day, Mr. Octotris, my…well…my backside (she said the word with extreme embarrassment) is red and sore, chafed even.  I’m wondering if we could get another stool.”

It was impossible.  I knew it.  But I was slowly falling in love with the girl and I knew I had to do something.  I muttered some platitude and got the hell out of there.

That night, in my apartment that had become a dark, dangerous trash-maze of my own creation, I found a seat cushion.  It had been a promotion item I had received at a baseball game and had the team name– “The Balloons” written in script across its front.  It was designed, I supposed, to help fans deal with the hard, unforgiving steel benches that passed for seating at the stadium.  I squeezed it into my knapsack and fell asleep right away in an old child’s swimming pool.

The next morning I got to the soda fountain early.  She had not arrived yet.  I tried the seat cushion on the candy counter stool.  It did not fit well but I did not want to believe it.  I wanted to believe that it hugged the stool, providing a pillowy barrier that would last forever.  Outside, I saw that the building across the street had been demolished at some point during the night.  A cordon had been fashioned to a tree and a mailbox.  I threw up a little.

I wanted her to understand that I could take the Balloons seat cushion away and that, without me, she would have no comfort.

Things moved very slowly that day.  An enormous shipment of tri-colored gums had arrived and it took hours to remove them from their cardboard boxes.  Mr. Jipps, the owner, had assigned his son Duke candy counter duties for a few hours.  I was standing right there when Duke first noticed the cushion.  He fingered its edges and almost picked it up.  But then his father barked at him and he forgot all about it.

It was after lunch when she took her place behind the counter.  The after-lunch candy crowd can be brisk and for nearly two hours she did nothing but push gummy drops into special paper sheaths, engage in restrained pleasantries, explain chocolate to nougat ratios.  I was starting to feel moist with rage.

Finally, at three, there was a lull.  She sat down and I could see the look of surprise on her face.  Then she slipped off the chair and fell forward into the display case.  I heard the sound of shattering glass, the screams of the idle women at the fountain.  Mr. Jipps shouted CALL A FIREMAN!  In the chaos that followed, I was able to slip out the back.  A billboard that had once framed the parking lot on the east side had disappeared.  I ran blindly through the alley.

I went into a fever dream.  I could see, in extreme close-up, the Balloons cushion fitting snugly across the top of the stool and people standing around commenting on it.  “Look at that fit,” they said.  I awoke at one point and was mindlessly gobbling the cans of a fat hooker in a fleabag hotel room.  She had the Balloons cushion on her head, was wearing it as a wig.  It looked beautiful.  She said, “My ex-husband followed the Balloons.  Do you remember that big brown Islander they had?  Herrera?”  I stared at her.  Then I blacked out again.

Next morning, I ended up in front of the soda fountain.  It was closed now.  They had put up a sign but someone had stolen it.  You could see the drill holes in the front door.  The candy counter was covered by a thin white sheet.

That was just the beginning of my odyssey.

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