Gratification, Inc.

After much consternation on the bus, Frederick decided he would have sex with Fiona, his high school sweetheart. No, it would be a threesome: Fiona, himself, and a younger Joni Mitchell. His mind had been made. He hopped off the bus at Leicester Avenue and walked through the entrance of Gratification, Inc.

In the lobby, he saw a Marilyn Monroe facsimile working the reception desk. The Marilyn looked up at him and smiled at him as he walked in.

“I know you! Weren’t you the first lady?”

“Yes, sir. Do you have an appointment?”

“Frederick Constance”

“Room thirteen, on the left. Go in, get undressed, lie down, and the doctor will be with you shortly”

Frederick did exactly as he was told.

After a few minutes, the doctor came in. Frederick craned his neck from the bed to watch the doctor walking to the cupboard and fiddling with implements.

“So, Frederick, what are you in for? What’s your fantasy?”

“Well, I’d really like to do it with Joni Mitchell.”

“Uh huh.”

“And someone I knew in high school.”

“Right. Well, just relax, we’ll take care of you.”

The doctor walked over and jabbed a needle in Frederick’s arm.

“Just some medicine to loosen up your brain waves. It helps the machine do its work.”

Frederick had trouble keeping his eyes open, and when he blinked he found himself at home, on his lounge. Joni Mitchell was there, and Fiona too.

“Boy, the fun we’ll have!” he thought.

Frederick woke up in his bed, smugly smiling to himself. It was a work day, and he was a working man, but he kept smiling. He performed his ablutions and got ready for work. After work, on the bus home, he saw Fiona. He tried to wave hello, but it was busy and she didn’t see. He went home and heated up some pork mass for dinner.

The next week, he saw Fiona again at his office. What was she doing there, he asked. She looked perplexed, she’s worked there for eight months, didn’t he know? No, he didn’t know.

It turned out that she actually lived in the same apartment block as him. Unit 309. She must have just moved in. He loitered around her doorway in the mornings, waiting for her to come out so they could go to work together, but she just ignored him. Funny how she acts so differently at work than at home, he thought.

Around five o’clock he sauntered over to her desk as she was getting ready to leave. They rode the elevator down without speaking, and walked to the bus stop together. She got on a bus into the city.

“Not going home?” he asked.

“Yes?” as she hopped on.

He hung around and waited for the bus to take him home. Fiona was already on it.

“Catch the wrong bus?”

“Excuse me?”

Pork mass for dinner. He knocked on 309 and asked if she wanted some, but she said she’d rather just be left alone.

He turned on the television. Fiona hadn’t told him she was on Masterchef. Perhaps that’s why she’s been acting so strangely lately, he thought. The stress. And he had offered her industrial-grade pork mass, like a schmuck!

He tried to apologise to Fiona on the bus in the morning. She had her headphones in and mustn’t have heard him or seen him. He apologised again at lunch. She said that yes, she would love to have pork mass with him tonight, and where does he live? Just a few doors down, unit 305. Surely she knew that? No, she wasn’t aware. Why don’t they take the bus home together?

At five he couldn’t find Fiona, so he just left. He’d see her later tonight. He got on the bus. Fiona was driving. He dipped his ticket and sat down. Why was Fiona driving? He stood back up.

“Why are you driving the bus?”

He couldn’t make out the mumbled answer underneath the busy hum of traffic.

“Are you still coming over tonight?”

She pointed to a sign that read ”Please, don’t speak to the driver while the bus is in motion”.

Perplexed and dejected, he got off the bus and walked up to his unit. He walked passed Fiona’s unit and noticed that the door was open. He looked inside, knocked, and saw Fiona inside.

“Would you like to come over for dinner?”

No, sorry, she said, not tonight.

He went to his unit and sat down to watch television. There was a knock on the door. Perhaps Fiona had changed her mind! Such fickleness. He opened the door, and it was Fiona. She had brought a friend. A twin sister? He didn’t know she had siblings. Fiona mumbled unintelligibly and walked inside. He tried to give her a hug, but was quite rudely and firmly pushed away. What was that in Fiona Two’s hands? A new jacket! They helped him put it on.

Amos Robinson