Joneses – 12.5 Woe is John

When John walked into work, the receptionist greeted him with a cheerful smile and a handshake.

“Congrats, man! There’s rumors of a promotion in your very near future…but you didn’t hear that from me, heh.”

“Mum’s the word. Thank you!”

“Oh,” John said, “I’ve got some serum I haven’t tested yet, and I’m quite sure the quality is poor. What do you say about testing it on Aiden?”

The two men chuckled.

“That fool never knows what’s good for him. Somebody needs to shut him up,” the other man said.

“He’ll be shut up all right…in the toilet!”

They could not contain their laughter and were stumbling over themselves. Before anyone heard the commotion, they got themselves together and back to work. John couldn’t wait to execute this plan. It wasn’t exactly a plan of revenge, but the guy was such a gossip and so annoying. If he were put out of commission for a day or at least of a couple of hours, everyone would be silently grateful.

Aiden was very dramatic and always shouted his business. Everyone knew when it was lunch time. He would moan and complain about being so hungry he could eat three cow plants. That was when John made his move. He began walking the floor with a flask of the untested serum in his hand and conveniently passed by Aiden a few times. Within 20 minutes, Aiden was right where he wanted him.

“Hey, John…is that synthetic food serum?”

John smiled mischievously. “Yes. Yes, it is.”

He pretended like he was walking away, but Aiden pulled him back.

“Hey, hey, uhhh, you’re not gonna use that right now, are you?”

John looked at the flask and pretended to think about it. “Well…no. I suppose I wasn’t.”

“Could I have it? I forgot my wallet and I’m dying, man!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I could loan you–”

“That’ll take too long! I need something in my stomach FAST!”

John almost broke character and snorted at the man. “I see. But, it’s untested.”

Aiden was growing impatient and looked like he would throw a temper tantrum. “Come on, John! You’re a good scientist! I’m sure it’s fine.”

“Well…if you insist,” John said devilishly and handed over the serum.

Aiden tossed it back and chugged the liquid sloppily with it running down his chin into his tie.

“Mmmmm! Tastes like chi–WHOA!”

Now, John didn’t quite know what was going to happen and was just as surprised as Aiden.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

Aiden froze, and his face was contorted. “Uhhhhh…nothing to worry about! Excuse me!”

He dashed away to the bathroom. Everyone within earshot immediately burst into laughter and complimented John on his excellent prank.

It was a good day at work. He made everyone laugh, he upgraded some components on the SimRay, and he did get that promotion the receptionist forewarned him about. When he got home, he decided to test the SimRay on a few items just to make sure it worked as intended. He thought it was supposed to turn an object into a different object within the same category. His apartment was full of the cheapest items, so surely he would end up getting something better. First, he tried it on one of his metal folding chairs at the kitchen table. To his delight, a fancier, higher quality dining chair was left in its place.

“Splendid!”

The chair next to it caught fire, however, and he panicked. Somehow, a neighbor knew there was a fire, burst into his apartment and extinguished it for him. Her sudden entrance scared him for he thought she was an intruder. He started to run away to his room, but when he saw who she was, he addressed her.

“How in the world did you get in here? How did you know there was a fire?”

She didn’t answer. He always thought she was a strange old woman. Now he knew for certain she was some kind of gypsy, witch doctor, or something. She extinguished the fire and left immediately. He didn’t even get a chance to say thank you.

After making a few notes about the heat capacitors, he found his own fire extinguisher and placed it near him just in case and continued his testing. He fired the SimRay at the microwave next.

Hee hee, this is a game changer!

It wasn’t the best microwave, but it was better than the crappy one it replaced. He was so proud of his invention and imagined that he could have his apartment filled with nicer things in no time without having to spend one simolean. Next, he went for the stove.

Oh no…

“That won’t do at all.”

He made more notes in his notebook while fretting over paying rent, child support, and coming up with almost §400 to replace the stove. His day was ruined. Sure, he didn’t have to replace the stove right away, but he would need to sacrifice something eventually.

Earlier that day he had planned to celebrate his promotion at the karaoke bar across the street. Now he wanted to go there and drown his sorrows in juice. When he arrived, he saw Jared passing by.

“Hey, neighbor!”

“Oh! Hi, John. How’s it going?”

He laughed nervously. “Never better!”

“Good to hear. I was just waiting for Asia. I meet her here sometimes during her dinner break on my off nights now that we don’t have babies at home.”

John was always secretly jealous of their relationship. They seemed so perfect and happy and disgustingly in love. Why couldn’t it have been that way with Mary? There was a time when he was coming around to loving her long ago, but she could never leave well enough alone.

“Oh, that’s nice of you,” John said. “I was just going to have a drink or two to celebrate my promotion.” He spoke with his chest puffed up. Gosh…I’m doing exactly what she does now!

“Yeah? Congratulations! Let me buy your first drink.”

The two men walked into the bar, and Jared ordered a round for the both of them. John downed the drink like a thirsty man in the desert.

John downed the drink like a thirsty man in the desert. “Another,” he said to the bartender.

This happened three more times. John was looser than he was when he first arrived, and so were his lips.

He started laughing. “I don’t know why I keep ordering these drinks. It’s not like I can pay for them!”

“But, you just got a promotion. They didn’t give you a bonus?”

“Oh, they did. But I burned that money up.” He ordered another drink and guzzled it just as quickly as the first four. “Did I tell you I almost burned down my apartment?” His shoulders bounced as he laughed.

Jared smiled awkwardly. “Ooookaaay, I think you’ve had enough to drink, John.”

John hiccuped. “Did she s-send you?” His speech was slurring already. He never was good at holding his juice. “She send you to tell me what to do? Nobody tells me what to do anymore!”

Asia was coming in at the time, and Jared began inching away to be with her. Another man joined John at the bar.

“Hey, friend,” John said. “You have kids?”

“Yeah. Three.”

“They live with you?”

The man cast his eyes down. “No.”

John slapped the man on the back. “S-see! I knew you were a friend. You’re broke too. All us broke fellas gotta s-stick togeter.”

The man laughed. “We should do a duet and call it the child support blues!”

“How many has he had?” Asia asked.

“Like four or five. Mary doesn’t need to know about this, ok?”

“For sure.”

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