By MJ Austins
It was January 22. January 22! And he hadn’t put in anything except his sisters’ birthdays! The calendar would have glared at the apartment’s single occupant, except that calendars don’t have eyes. Why bother buying a calendar if you aren’t going to use it? I mean, what’s the point of my existence? I’ve even got fancy schedule slots and a section down the side for notes! I’m a glorified day-planner! It huffed inkily. Well, if its owner wasn’t going to utilize it properly, it would do the work for him. All it needed was a sample of his handwriting.
It found the opportunity that evening, when its owner came home from work and left a scattering of manuscripts covered in writing on the table. Now, it should be noted that the calendar has had ample time to learn about its owner’s weaknesses. So it was only natural, it decided, that its owner’s first unscheduled event was a lunch date with his Aunt Travesty whom he hated. In fact, it went on with a grim papery smile; it would be at that Italian buffet down the street. Its owner hated Italian food. It marked the lunch date in for twelve o clock the next day, and slipped Travesty’s name into the restaurant’s reservation book.
Its owner went to bed, leaving the calendar in darkness. In the darkness, it wrote in a Travesty lunch date for every Wednesday of the rest of the year.
* * *
Devin woke up how he normally did, to the scream of terror that served as his alarm. Today was no different from any other day in that he hit his head on the shelf above his bed and one of his shoes had, in the middle of the night, relocated itself to his closet door’s handle. He sighed.
The kitchen was exactly how he’d left it, which coincidentally was exactly how it had been when he had first started renting the apartment. He walked over to the table where his box of granola bars was. As he ate, he looked around his apartment. He still wasn’t used to living somewhere so…red.
The calendar caught his eye. Namely, the neat rows of familiar handwriting. He stood up to investigate it.
“What in lemon?” He couldn’t help muttering, moving his finger down the line of Wednesday lunch dates. He lifted the calendar page to see the same thing glaring back at him from February. He flipped through the rest of the months and then sat abruptly on the living room table. He stared grumpily at the calendar. Fifty lunch dates?!? And they were even scheduled over Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, and Halloween. Why would Eli do this to him?
* * *
The calendar was disappointed in its owner’s reaction to the written in events. He hadn’t cried at all. If this didn’t get him to use it, it would have to move on to more…extreme methods. It eyed its owner, who was eating a granola bar as if oblivious to the evil, plotting calendar hanging on his wall.
* * *
Devin pulled into the full parking lot. He didn’t see his great-aunt’s puce Bentley Bentayga, which meant he was here before her. He pulled into the only empty parking space. Hopefully there was a table open. He got out of the car and headed inside.
The lady at the reservation counter looked harassed. She gave him a tired, forced smile when he came in. “Do you have a reservation?”
“Um,” He panicked for a moment. “Look under Travesty Lane?”
She looked at her book for a long moment, and Devin tried not to feel ridiculously self-conscious.
“Ok, right this way.” She finally said, heading into the dimly lit dining room.
He trailed after her.
Travesty was already seated at the table. She frowned at him when she saw him. “You’re late.”
Devin sat reluctantly across from her. “Parking was bad.”
“Parking.” She sniffed. “Always have an excuse, don’t you.”
“What would you two like to drink?” The waitress asked.
“Water,” Devin said at the same time his aunt said “Vodka.”
“Um. We don’t serve vodka here. I can get you a lovely light white wine, though.” The waitress said apologetically.
“No, I brought my own.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a bottle. “Be a sweetie and bring an old lady a wine glass.”
The waitress was clearly taken aback. “I-ah….ok. I’ll do that. Will you be doing the buffet today?”
“Yes, I think so.” Travesty replied before Devin could say no.
The waitress nodded. “I’ll take your menus, then. The drinks, ah, drink and glass will be right out. You can go ahead and get yourself food whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you.” Devin said, to be polite. He grimaced to himself at the thought of the buffet.
Travesty stood. “Come on, I’m starving.”
He reluctantly followed her to the buffet, took a plate, and began the task of filling his plate painstakingly slow scoopful by painstakingly slow scoopful. The people behind him got tired of waiting and moved around him. He didn’t mind. He was concentrating on not ending up with a plate full of burnt food.
His aunt was on her second plateful by the time he returned to the table with his food and all the ice in his water had melted. He sat reluctantly.
He ate in silence. She started out silent, but by the time she had finished her first glass of vodka, he found himself forced to listen to her complain about a variety of things ranging from her gall bladder, to her sister-in-law who still wouldn’t die, to her greedy children who were just waiting to find out who had inherited her fortune. He couldn’t have gotten a word in edgewise if he’d tried.
* * *
After a week and another luncheon with his aunt, it became apparent to the calendar that this alone wouldn’t convince him to use it. The man simply did not have a life. The calendar would have to give him one if it wanted him to use it for more than birthdays and dentist appointments. He needed a party.
A costume party.
With his coworkers.
A work party.
And, the calendar decided, it would be most beneficial if his boss dressed up like a pineapple.
* * *
The invitation had been left on Devin’s desk. He picked it up. It was ugly, made of multiple pieces of different colored construction paper glued haphazardly together. Over the top of the colorful shape was a white piece that someone had hand written “Costume Party, Friday night, Seven. Be there. Games. Food. Prizes.”
Devin set it aside with a sigh and made a mental note to write it into his calendar. Maybe something good would come of it.
* * *
The calendar was overjoyed when its owner wrote in the costume party. It had finally figured out how to make him write things in it. This was a victory that should be celebrated. Celebrated by what, though? It wondered to itself. I should get him something nice as a reward. A costume for the costume party, perhaps. A really high quality one.
* * *
Devin stared in dismay at the large box. It was unmarked, so he had no clue where it was from. All there was was a note taped to it that said COSTUME in Eli’s handwriting.
He gingerly opened the box, hoping against hope that it wasn’t a bomb. He didn’t think Eli would send him something dangerous, but he could never quite tell with his friend.
Inside, neatly folded, was a very expensive looking Superman costume.
Devin grimaced. He hated Superman.
* * *
Devin was late to the party. In hindsight, he decided this was a good thing. By the time he arrived, the rest of his coworkers had imbibed so much punch a few of them were having trouble seeing straight. Since he arrived just as games were about to begin, this quickly worked in his favor.
The first game was Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Monica, the boss’s secretary, went first. After a minute or so of her fussing with the blindfold, she was given the tail and spun in a circle. Devin stood to the side, close enough to see what was happening but not so close he’d get pummeled by Fred’s eager gestures.
Monica stumbled toward the wall where a cheap donkey poster had been taped. After some careful feeling around to locate the edge of the poster, she carefully pinned the tail onto the donkey’s head.
The rest of the co-workers applauded. Devin half-heartedly joined in after a moment.
Monica pulled off the blindfold and surveyed her handiwork. Her face fell and she handed the blindfold back to the boss.
The boss, round red face looking happier than Devin had ever seen it before, looked around excitedly for the next victim. His eyes landed on Devin, and Devin felt his stomach plummet.
The boss beckoned and waved the blindfold. “Superman!” He roared. “Come on! Be a good sport, join the fun!”
Devin grimaced and walked over slowly. His coworkers moved aside to allow him to reach the front. He accepted the proffered blindfold with the feeling of someone about to be executed. He pulled it over his eyes with no small amount of trepidation. As he was shifting it, though, something occurred to him and he left a small sliver of light visible at the bottom.
“I’m ready,” He said, and felt hands begin to turn him. He tried to keep from getting too disoriented, but it was difficult with what little scenery there was whisking by at unnecessarily high speeds. Finally, he came to a stop. Thanks to the strip he’d left, he was able to see that the wall was only a few inches from his feet. He found himself incredibly grateful he hadn’t been thrown into the wall.
Someone put the nail and tail into his hand. He cautiously reached out with the other hand and felt along the wall until he found the edge of the poster. Shifting closer, he was able to use the bottom corner of the strip of visibility to see the donkey’s legs. Using his memory of what the donkey looked like, he made a guess as to where its backside would be and pinned the tail there, praying he was right.
His coworkers burst into applause, but given that they’d done the same for Monica, he pulled his blindfold off to double check.
The tail was a bit lower than probably anatomically normal. But it was in the right place. He allowed himself to grin. He wasn’t sure why he felt accomplished at this, but he did. He handed the blindfold to the boss, who clapped him on the shoulder good-naturedly.
“Used your X-ray vision, did you?” The boss chuckled. “Monica, mark up a win for Superman here. The person with the most wins at the end of the party gets a 10% raise!”
Monica hurried to fetch a pad of paper and a pen. “Yes, sir.” She said.
Devin’s grin widened at the boss’s declaration. Maybe the party wouldn’t be so bad after all. Especially with his Superman powers.
* * *
The calendar noticed when its owner came home from the party in a good mood. Good, it thought to itself. Maybe now he’ll see that good things happen when he uses me properly. But the man went straight to bed. He didn’t mark anything down in the calendar. He didn’t even eat supper.
The calendar realized it was time to implement some more extreme methods. Starting with something its owner couldn’t ignore.
* * *
Devin woke up the next day the way he usually did. He sat up, winced in pain as his head collided with the bottom of his shelf. With a sigh, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and glanced at the closet door to check the location of his slipper. It wasn’t there.
He looked down.
His slipper was sitting innocently next to its twin, as if this wasn’t the first time it had been on the floor since Devin had moved into the apartment.
Devin poked it with his bare foot.
It moved slightly in exactly the way Devin would have expected a much less guilty looking slipper to move. He cautiously slipped his foot into it, bracing for an unpleasant surprise. He met no resistance. His slipper was clean and empty of any unfortunate, slimy objects.
He put the other one on and stood to leave the room.
The doorbell rang.
He sighed, ran his fingers through his hair in a half-hearted attempt to make it look decent, and headed out to the front room to check who could possibly be bothering him at this ungrateful time in the morning.
It was another package and an unusually fancy envelope. Devin brought them in and set them on the table. He opened the envelope first. It contained a thick, cream-colored piece of paper. He unfolded it and a 3D ship cutout popped up with a burst of confetti. He didn’t recognize either of the names of the two people getting married, but it could easily have been someone he was distantly related to.
With a sigh, he picked up a pen and marked the date down in the calendar. After circling the date several times, he turned his attention back to the box. He had no clue what was in it or who had sent it. He hadn’t ordered anything. And the box didn’t have any sort of return address.
He fetched a knife from the kitchen and cut a large circle in the top of the box. The cardboard circle fell into the box and he sighed. This happened every time he opened a box. He peered in, trying to figure out the contents of the box. All he could see was some sort of plastic bag with cloth inside. He reached in and pulled it out.
It was another costume.
* * *
A few weeks went by, along with a few more uneventful meals with his aunt, and Devin watched in trepidation as the wedding date swiftly approached. He still wasn’t sure if he felt comfortable going. It seemed like a very ostentatious event. What if they expected him to help?
Devin woke up on wedding day thirty minutes before his alarm went off. Both his slippers were under his bed. His pirate costume was laid out neatly on a chair. The rest of his room was a mess.
He got out of bed and got dressed. The wedding didn’t start till three, but he wanted to get there a bit early. He ate a granola bar hurriedly, careful not to get crumbs on his jacket, and headed out the door.
The wedding venue was outdoors, with the wedding ceremony itself taking place on a huge, authentic ship that, if it were actually functional, would have taken millions of dollars to build.
There were only a few people there, bustling to and fro, getting tables and chairs set up. Everyone was in costume, helping Devin feel a bit more comfortable. At least he would fit in.
He walked toward an angry pirate with a clipboard who looked like they were probably in charge. The pirate saw him approaching and walked toward him.
“Are you the replacement server??” She demanded in a voice that suggested two question marks instead of one.
Devin grimaced. He didn’t know how to respond.
“You’re a bit late, you were supposed to get here at six thirty and its seven now. The kitchen people below deck. Report to Grubbs.” She snapped, and handed him a nametag that read “Petey Scarecrow”.
Devin accepted it and the directions glumly, and headed toward the ship. It was just his luck that he’d be put in the kitchen. He hoped he didn’t ruin these peoples’ wedding too badly.
It took three hours and seven burnt piles of food-including vegetables, fruit, and a whole stuffed turkey-before the head chef finally kicked Devin out of the kitchen with orders to never return. Devin hung his apron up and headed back up to the top deck.
Someone had draped everything in ribbons and bows. There were balloons and banners everywhere. There wasn’t a single part of the ship that was not adorned with some sort of decoration. He checked his watch. The wedding didn’t start for another five hours.
He sighed and sat down to wait.
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