I walked away briskly, not wanting to take any more chances and possibly provoke Jim to violent behavior. I really don't know him that well -- met him at work a few years ago. Bit of an oddball. Oddest thing he ever did he probably told you about already. But it bears repeating. Besides, he couldn't possibly have remembered everything.
Jim was new, and anxious to fit in, become part of the group, which consisted of: Me; Mr. Katz, the owner; Greg, who made deliveries and drove the Kopy Katz truck; Mr. Katz's son, Sonny; Ben, who cleaned up; and Farley, who kept a little side business going in one corner of the store selling fishing bait. I never understood why he sold fishing bait in a copier store in a rundown section of a large metropolitan area, but, then again, I'm just Maureen, a fictional character, trying to keep her head above water while our author, The Creator, The Great Benefactor, takes a nap. I mean, I appreciate Jim for trusting me with this, but... anyway, to get back to that day at Kopy Katz, and the Xerox machine. It was a 6100 model, a high-speed copier, with sorting capabilities, a 1500-sheet capacity, and autosnarfling. Autosnarfling? Anyway, I had hardly noticed Jim, he was only there a few days, but apparently he'd been noticing me. We had talked, briefly, but the only real impression I had of him at the time was that he seemed confused and that he looked like he'd slept in his clothes.
I was about to copy something, checking the settings for paper size, print quality, number of copies, and taste -- taste? -- when Jim appeared out of nowhere from behind the Xerox machine flashing this goofy smile. It was hard not to smile back. Then, to really get my attention, he placed his head on the copier glass and lowered the cover. I laughed. I think he said something like, "I'll take fifty copies of me, please." It wasn't the wittiest remark I'd ever heard, but, hell, after hearing Farley tell stories all day long about how the bass were biting in Alabama, a fart would seem witty.
Jim then reached across the machine and switched it on, the motor revved and the thing that slides across under the glass started to move, and then there was a bright flash, and then --
"Jim? You're back?"
Yeah. What are you doing?
"Don't you remember? You asked if I, or one of the readers could possibly fill in for you while you took a break, and I thought that I would, well... "
I see. How long was I asleep?
"How long? That's hard to say. It depends on how long it took the reader to read it."
(Editor's Note: I'll be honest with you, we didn't sign a contract with this guy -- and pay him a nice advance -- for a book written by just about everybody but him. Either he gets back to the concept first described to us in our offices two years ago, or we ask him to return the money. That usually gets a response.) (Yes sir, Mr. Note -- Ed.)
I think I have to go.
"You're entitled. Go."
Okay. But keep in touch.
"I'll see you tomorrow."
Oh, right, right.
"At eight-thirty. Don't forget."
(This ends Chapter Seven, okay?)