Looking back from my current, advantageous position, I think about the day of September 5th, 1994. I think about the events that challenged some of my basic beliefs of the supernatural, and improved my ability to persevere an incredible amount. Had I known what lay ahead for me, I more than likely would have had car trouble that day. Even now, two weeks later, I quake at the remembrance.
The day began as any other normal day begins for me. I clocked in, went to the break room to get a pop, and leisurely found my way back to the display department of the store. I rounded the corner into the display room, and noticed a large, flat cardboard box lying on the center table. Sending a prayer up for deliverance, I crept, hunching my shoulders, closer to investigate the ominous object that lay innocently still on the smooth, waist-high surface of the table. I gasped and my eyes slowly widened in horror. I read the words, in capital letters three inches tall: “CARDBOARD DISPLAY FOR ASSEMBLY.” Shudders of reaction coursed through my body, threatening to buckle my shaky knees. I backed away from the table until I was against the shelving that lined the walls. It was then that I saw a small piece of white paper taped to the top of the large box. Bending as close as I dared, I read, “For Alex Coven,” penned in the unsteady hand of my esteemed coworker, Bertha Maude.
Reeling from the impact of my new-found knowledge, and with my hair whipping about my face, I frantically searched the room for some lowly peon on whom to delegate the awe-inspiring responsibility of the construction of the monstrous artifact. I spied no one in the area, so I began walking towards the sales floor. I thought to look in the hardware department of the store for a likely seeming victim. It was no mere coincidence that was the same area in which Bertha Maude worked.
I pushed through the double swinging doors and saw the back of Bertha’s Orangutan Pink coiffure disappearing into lawn and garden, by the dual purpose, 9.0 HP weed eaters. Seeing that I had been foiled again, I did an about face, and went back to the eerie, taunting atmosphere of the display room. It was in this room that I was sure I could hear preternatural giggles fading away.
I walked over to the center table and shoved the dastardly incarnation of despair away from my immediate vicinity. The cardboard made a loud slapping sound as it collided with the hard concrete floor. I cut the confining tape from the box flaps, and a smell of old dust rose in the disturbed air currents, causing me to sneeze heartily and nearly lose my balance. I pushed back the impeding flaps and took a deep breath to prepare for what was coming.
I slowly drew out the largest piece of cardboard. It was labeled “A.” I gave a reserved sigh of relief: at least they were not carrying things to the third decimal so far. I began to root for the directions, which were to be found beneath the smallest piece of cardboard, on the bottom of the box, folded in a three and a half inch by five inch rectangle. I pulled it out, and with a jaunty snap of my wrist, laid the sheet flat on the table.
I began by creasing peice “A” along fold “1.” The I repeated step “a” for piece “B” and fold “2.” It was when I was diligently trying to cram one-quarter inch thick tab “J” throught one-eighth inch slot “O” that I realized that the instructions were upside down. My muscles spasmed valiantly in frustration. This action forced the second finger of my left had to insert itself into slot “O” up the the third knuckle.
Catching movement from the corner of me eye, I swiftly turned my head and saw Bertha Maude tiptoeing past the door of the display room. “Bertha!” I bellowed (rather sweetly, I thought). She gave a frightened squeak at the over-bright glint in mine eye, but she replied, “What can I do for you, honey?” I asked her if she knew anything about the note in her handwriting that was taped to the box, which now lay at the bottom of a cavernous trash bin. “I might have written…,” her admission trailed off because I was advancing on her, leaving bright red steaks on the floor from the cut on my finger, and the large, heavy piece of cardboard hanging from my knuckle. Bertha blanched, and the small chunk of chocolate clinging precariously to her upper lip, from her most recent raid on the break room vending machines, trembled violently. She turned tail and fled, screaming incoherently.
It was about then that I realized my knuckle was beginning to hurt. I grabbed the chainsaw from the peg on the wall, and wielded it with surprising accuracy. The donut shaped hole I was able to cut around slot “O” allowed me to free my suffering digit. I made a trip down to the first aid cabinet, and using only three rolls of gauze, was able to staunch the bleeding.
Much refreshed from my little breather, I returned to the task at hand in a lighter frame of mind. A curious, shimmering quality in the air engulfed me as I walked down the hallway leading to the display room. I inexplicably became anxious not to continue forward to my destination. Calling on reserve forces of will power, I forced my grudging feet to function. I trudged reluctantly forward until I could peer cautiously around the edge of the door frame with half an eye. With what I imagine a bolt of lightning feels like, a bright, searing flash lanced into my brain. I staggered with agony as my middle name for what seemed like hours, but was probably only seconds.
When my vision cleared enough for me to perceive shape and color, I received a shock. I am sure one can realize my astonishment to find that the horrific tool of torture that had tormented me was completely and correctly assembled. I do not know who did it. Maybe there are powers that be who govern over carboard displays specifically, but I suspect I will never know. However it happened, I am now more confident that I can triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversity.