Pale morning light peeked through Marcus' bedroom window. He lay in bed snoring soundly, deep in sleep. The 'old fashion' analog alarm clock urgently swung it's (pendulum) against it's tinny bells, a half second out of time with the chimes and beeps of his cell phone ringtone. He dreamed on oblivious to the cacophony surrounding him. Though, his third shift neighbor above him, was not as deaf to the sounds of morning as Marcus. The unseen neighbor began to stomp loudly on his floor, shaking Marcus' ceiling fan; determined to succeed where the alarm clock and phone had failed. Marcus heard this distant thumping beyond his dreams and followed it to the waking world, eyes slowly coming open. He craned his head to find the blasted banshee of an alarm clock. Spotting it through dawn blind squinted eyes, he knocked it from the bedside table with a (sleep chemical)heavy hand. The endless ringing finally quieted, the fed up neighbor's thunderous soon followed. All that remained to break the silence were the soft melodious bells tolling from his cellphone. Harbingers of a furious message.
Marcus glanced through the increasingly angry texts from Dr. P. the pharmacy manager. He couldn't be bothered to move, no matter how angry Dr. P. was, Marcus knew he would understand. Though he did feel bad about not calling earlier to say he wouldn't be coming in for the rest of the week. He conjured up enough energy to dial back Dr. P. The phone rang once, before connecting to the angry man that signed Marcus' pay checks.
"You are an hour and a half late, Marc! I'm up to my eyebrows in refills and embarrassing questions!"
Marcus chuckled, knowing full well what I busy morning alone in the pharmacy felt like.
"I'm really sorry, Dr. P, I should have called much sooner.." Marcus began.
"Oh, you don't say?" interrupted Dr. P, but Marcus chose to ignore this sarcastic quip. He didn't feel much like verbally sparring with his mentor today.
"But I was exhausted from watching Shelly spontaneously combust yesterday afternoon." he continued, "So I'll probably be out the rest of the week."
Marcus expected shock and condolences and to give some, seeing as Shelly was Dr. P's niece. In fact, he was quite surprised the Pharmacy was open at all today. Marcus really felt bad that no one had told Shelly's favorite Uncle of her untimely demise and that he had to be the bearer of bad news.
"Who's Shelly?" Dr. P inquired.
Marcus pulled the phone away from his ear to look at it in disbelief.
What kind of sick joke is this old coot up to? Marcus thought.
He replaced the phone to his ear and inhaled deeply.
"Dr. P, you of all people know who Shelly is. I know it's extremely difficult to accept and I wish I didn't have to do this over the phone, but Shelly and I were sitting at Walt's Malt-Stop yesterday and she justâ€¦" Marcus couldn't bring himself to go on. He didn't know how to explain such an absurd situation. He opened his mouth to continue as best he could when he was cut off by a loud guffaw of laughter. Marcus was started a bit by the odd reaction from Dr. P.
"Alright, I get it. I was young once, you stayed up too late with a girl, slept through your alarm and now you're desperately trying to convince me of a ridiculous story so you won't get in trouble. I don't need it, I just need you in here and working. Hurry up or they will be trouble." Dr. P quickly disconnected his end of the line, leaving Marcus pissed off and even more confused. He shook his head.
It's gotta be the shock. He didn't know how to take the news. I fainted, he laughed. To each their own way of dealing with tragedy.
He tossed his phone on to the bedside table and let his head fall back to the pillow, closing his eyes.
In only a few seconds he was back to snoring loudly, lost to the haunted dreamscape of his subconscious.
Marcus stood in an endless maze, surrounded by a thousand memories of Shelly. Each, a hologram reliving different moments they had shared together. He cautiously walked to the closest image on his left. It was a holo of the first day he had met Shelly. He saw a hologram of himself standing behind the pharmacy counter. He remembered the day well..
Marcus was five years younger, so recently employed by Dr. Phitzpatryk that his lab coat was still stiff with starch. He stood, back turned to his first customer, desperately searching for their prescription bag. He leafed through the crisp, white bags several times looking for Ma. Wachowski. The name that the elderly woman,
(long, red finger nails tap, tap, tapping impatiently away at the counter),
had said she filled her prescription under Yesterday. She had said, 'Yesterday', about a thousand times to Marcus' back, implying, "Why the Hell isn't is ready TODAY?"
Marcus leafed through the bags a final time before turning around slowly. He inhaled deeply, so nervous he thought he might vomit all over the impatient woman.
"Ma'am, I really am sorry about the wait and the mix up. I cannot seem to find a prescription for Mariah Wachowski either in our computer system or hanging here on our bag rail. I could take it now and have it filled for you in about 30 minutes?" he explained in one rushing breath.
The elderly woman was obviously displeased.
"Young man, I do not have 30 minutes to wait when I filled my prescription Yesterday. I have been filling these same prescriptions, the same day, at the same pharmacy for the last three and a half decades. Don't you tell me you 'can't find it'. Nonsense, where is Dr. Phitzpatryk?" she asked Marcus angrily. Before he could form the first syllable of response she was knocking on the counter heavily and calling for the pharmacy manager by his first name.
"Percy! Percy, come out here and reprimand this boy! Percy!" she shouted over Marcus' shoulder.
She gave Marcus a triumphant glare and started impatiently tap, tap, tapping again on the counter.
Marcus wanted to laugh at the spectacle that she had made of herself, especially since Dr. P was out on lunch/errands for the rest of the afternoon. Customers from across the aisle were stealing glances at the pissed off elderly woman screaming for her Percy. Marcus watched them from the domed mirror hanging from the ceiling. Some onlookers snickered into their hands, others looked around confused at all the ruckus. Marcus bit his lip to fight back nervous laughter. When he felt he had enough self control to speak he solemnly informed Ms. Wachowski that Dr. Phitzpatryk wasn't currently in the pharmacy.
Irritated displeasure deepened the crow's feet around Ms. Wachowski's small green eyes; she ceased her incessant tapping at the counter, turned on a quick heel, and huffed away.
Marcus let go of his laughter as soon as he could no longer see the upset elderly woman and was sure she was far enough away that she wouldn't hear him. It bubbled out of him it quiet fits, nearly sounding like silenced sobs. Marcus collected himself and returned to his duties as a new pharmacist.
He walked behind the menagerie of pill dispensers, grabbing a cloth from his lab coat pocket and began wiping away dust that wasn't really there. He was soon lost in the back and forth movements of his light tidying, enjoying the calm after the storm.
Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding. A rapid succession of the counter bell being tolled by his next customer broke him from his trance. Pocketing the cloth, he walked around the wall of drugs and pasted a smile to his mouth. Before he was able to use that smile in polite greeting, he was struck blind by the most beautiful fairy woman he has ever seen.
She was petite, small boned, and nearly consumed by a mass of blonde, curly tress. Ringlets spun from gold cascaded down her tiny, rounded shoulders, framing her pixie face perfectly. She was dazzling emerald green eyes and pearly white teeth beneath full garnet lips. She stood looking up at him with a return smile and those eyes sparkling like huge gems in the afternoon sun. "Hi," she chirped in the most melodious voice, "My Grandmother, said you refuse to fill her prescription? I'm sure that's not the case though. She's senile. "
Marcus realized Ms. Wachowski was standing next to the fairy princess.
He tried to hold onto his smile as his heart dropped down to his feet.
Thought I was done with this fiasco. He thought to himself. Turning his attention back to the lovely new creature, he widened his smile to each ear.
"Um, not exactly. I looked for a prescription she said she had filled under the name Mariah Wachowski and I can't seem to find the prescription bag, or a record of the prescription. I had offered.." Marcus was silenced by a wavy of her delicate hand.
"I'm sorry for all the confusion. Mariah Wachowski is her favorite Daytime TV Star. Her prescription is for Susan Scythe." The fairy princess explained.
Marcus gave her a sympathetic smile, nodded and turned around to search his prescription rail for Su. Scythe. He found it quickly and easily, plucked the crisp, white bag from the rail scanned it, taxed it, and handed it over to the pretty granddaughter. She swiped her credits card, placed her pale, little finger on the prints scanner and the transaction was complete.
"Sorry for all of the confusion. Have a wonderful day, Ladies." Marcus said sweetly.
She smiled her gratitude showing off every perfect pearl of tooth and walked away with her grandmother by her side. He watched them until they disappeared inside the pharmacy's aisles.
Marcus fell out of the Holo memory, smashing his face against the floor. He was nauseous and blinded by silver spots blinking in and out of his vision. Sorrow and anger beat him down like emotional goons sent from a Lonely heart. He wanted to curse all the world, but could only muster a wimpy, choked sob. He curled into himself, holding his knees hard against his chest and cried.