I'm really enjoying your story. I can't wait for the next chapter, although I will.
But Did I Find the Geocache?
Everybody wants to go to Heaven,
But nobody wants to die.
After all this, Steve decided that a breakfast of cheese slices and beer wasn’t the slightest bit unusual or unreasonable, even if Angel did look at him rather disgustingly. She did look really cute though with her crinkled up nose. “Why couldn’t I have something like this sharing an apartment with me while I was still alive?” he wondered. Although not a social outcast and being what could be described as slightly above average physically and intellectually, he tended to be a little on the shy side when it came to matters of the fairer gender. This resulted in relatively few romantic interludes and even fewer all-nighters. Even though she had already said nothing happened, still in the back of his mind he wondered – and sort of hoped – something did, and might possibly be repeated now that he was conscious.
Steve asked “What? You don’t like my idea of breakfast? Breakfast of champions right up there with Wheaties. Here – I have plenty!”
“No, you go right ahead. It’s not like it’s going to kill you - again. I think I’ll pass though. I’m more of a wine person and even then not for breakfast!”
“Speaking of killing me, by any chance do you know the details on what exactly happened to me?”
“I was briefed on it. You were doing that geocasting – “
Steve interrupted. “Geocaching?”
“Exactly. Geocasting. Anyway as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by you, you were walking through the woods looking at the GPS thingy and not paying attention to where you were going – you know, just like a man, I might add. Then you stepped off into a steep ravine. You tumbled right into a tree and caught your head right in the middle of two branches on said tree, breaking your neck. By the way, if it’s any consolation, the County Coroner said you probably died pretty quickly.”
“Oh yeah, that’s a really big consolation. It would have been nice though to at least have found the geocache before killing myself. Wouldn’t have made it all worthwhile, but still …”
“Actually, you’re going to find this so majorly funny, but it’s possible you just might very well have seen it before dying. It was actually hanging in the same tree as yourself, just a few inches from your nose. Ain’t that a hoot!”
“Right, You’re ‘killing’ me here. Pun fully intended, by the way.”
“By the way, just what is this geo-catching about anyway?”
“By golly, you almost got it right that time. It’s geocaching. Gee-Oh-Cash-ing.”
“Well, thank you so much for clearing that up for me. My life is complete now. Or should I say, it would be complete except for the minor detail that’s it’s been rather complete for some time now. So, are you going to tell me what this gee-oh-cashing thing is or not?
“Why yes, Angel, I would love to tell you about geocaching. And here I thought you’d never ask about it. At least not correctly, anyway.”
“Bite my butt.”
“OK, OK, what happens is someone will hide a container filled with lots of valuable treasure, like kid’s meal toys or wooden nickels or poker chips, in the woods, in parks, behind buildings, or somewhere else like that. Then the hider posts the latitude and longitude on the geocaching.com website of where they hid it. Then folks like me load the coordinates –“
“Coordinates? What’s that supposed to be, as far as this is concerned?”
“The latitude and longitude. Anyway, they load the coordinates into a GPS, excuse me, a global positioning satellite receiver and then they go out and try to find it. Since the GPS only has an accuracy of about 20 feet in the best of circumstances, it’s still somewhat of a guessing game once you get close. Anybody that’s been doing it for awhile usually has some pretty good hunches though on the likely hiding spots though.”
“Ideally without the part about hanging themselves in the same tree, I would presume?”
“It certainly does work better that way, yes.”
“The one I saw certainly didn’t look big enough to put in any treasure. It looked to me more like an over-sized black suppository.”
“Those suppositories are called bison capsules. They’re referred to in the geocaching world as micros.”
“Is that because they’re so small?”
“Wow – and to think you got that all on your own, too! I’m impressed!”
“Yes, Angel? Wait - I know – bite your butt.”
“And you got that all on your own. And what are you supposed to do after you find the suppository-looking thingy?
“In the little ones, there’s a logsheet inside you sign your geocaching nickname to, and in the bigger ones with the stuff in them, you sign the logsheet, and if you want, you take something out. But if you do, you have to put something else back in the container.”
“And what’s your geocaching nickname?”
“It’s Mallard Fillmore. I just always liked that comic strip.”
“What comic strip?”
“I do believe that would be the comic strip ‘Mallard Fillmore.’”
“Quite frankly, I think a better nickname for you would of been ‘smart-ass.’”
“That’s would have been. Sorry. Yeah, as a matter of fact, I was once told I was so much of a smart-ass I could sit on an ice cream cone and tell if it was chocolate or vanilla. Just a ‘gift’, I suppose.”
“Ooh – Ice cream sounds good! I’m headed to the grocery store later anyway. I think I’ll grab some. So far I’ve got grapes, plums, carrots, lettuce, starfruit, squash, pancake mix, hot dogs, catfish, aspirin, chicken, orange juice, pork chops, waffles, almond butter, baking soda, cookies, chips, donuts, hot dog buns, macaroni, mac and cheese in a box, apples, corn, mushrooms, butter, chip dip, shredded cheese, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, meat tenderizer, paprika, BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar, Red Rose tea, garbage bags, plastic wrap, bleach, floor cleaner, bug spray, lip balm, hand lotion, sunscreen, toilet tissue, apricots, strawberries, cherries, papaya, celery, bell peppers, cereal, ground beef, steaks, tuna, cake mix, crackers, pudding mix, croutons, Hamburger Helper, beef broth, spaghetti sauce, cream cheese, pepperjack cheese, cumin, garlic powder, cocktail sauce, salsa, diet Cokes, dishwasher detergent, glass cleaner, toothpaste, limes, nectarines, peaches, cauliflower, chives, tomatoes, bacon, halibut, pizza, cake frosting, yeast, granola bars, bread, tortillas, black beans, chili, biscuits, sour cream, oregano, black pepper, honey, hot sauce, club soda, paper towels, air freshener, fabric softener, hair spray, mouthwash, apples, pomegranate, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, sandwich meat, salmon, bread crumbs, powdered sugar, dinner rolls, rice, olives, eggs, cloves, garlic salt, sage, olive oil, pickle relish, teriyaki sauce, grape juice, paper napkins, sponges, dental floss, light bulbs, artichokes, corn, cucumbers, grits, ground turkey, oysters, baking powder, evaporated milk, brown sugar, bagels, noodles, baked beans, mixed vegetables, feta cheese, milk, curry, lemon juice, wine, furniture polish, deodorant, bananas, lemons, cilantro, ham, pie shells, pot pies, sugar, pretzels, blueberry muffins, couscous, carrots, mozzarella cheese, swiss cheese, vanilla extract, aluminum foil, laundry soap, conditioner, shampoo, basil, beets, zucchini, cornstarch, tortilla chips, creamed corn, canned soup, red pepper, beer, avocados, grapefruit, onions, potatoes, hamburger buns, peanut butter, half & half, cinnamon, coffee, oranges, garlic cloves, shrimp, lasagna, poppy seed, dish soap, kiwi, tilapia, applesauce, jelly, horseradish, pears, eggplant, pork chops, raisins, pickles, salad dressing, watermelon, peanuts, whipped cream, ketchup, steak sauce, coffee filters, sausage, popcorn, vacuum cleaner bags, flour, yogurt, broccoli, cornmeal, salt, sweet and sour sauce, bath soap, hand soap, bean sprouts, and oatmeal – and ice cream. Anything else we need?”
“Let me start by saying DAMN! I don’t think there’s anything not on the list already, including things I’ve never heard of. Is there even a such thing as almond butter? But I’m curious; if I’ve already died, do I really need to eat? I wouldn’t think I would still need nutritional sustenance, would I?”
“Well, it certainly isn’t going to kill you by any means, but you’re going to get real hungry.”
“Yes, really. You don’t have to eat, but you’re still burning up those calories, so you need to take in more calories, or else you’re going to become real skinny.”
“Well fine! If you don’t want to believe me, then just go ahead and starve. See if I care one little bit. More ice cream for me that way.”
“Uh Angel, I’m not doubting you. It’s just that the grammatically correct terms would be ‘really hungry’ and ‘really skinny’, not ‘real hungry’ and ‘real skinny’.”
“Actually in that case, ‘real’ would be the correct term.”
“Actually in that case, that would be known as sarcasm, Steve. Now, getting back to my original question – anything you need from the grocery store? So far on the list I have grapes, plums, carrots …”
“No! Don’t do it again! I’ll just go with you, if that’s alright.”
“I really hate to break it to you but, for the time being, no, it’s not alright. You can’t leave the apartment, at least not just yet.”
“Why not? Will I spontaneously combust if I step out the door?”
“No. And you won’t catch on fire or anything like that either. But until you’re far enough along in the transition, this apartment is your world.”
“Well, what happens if I do step out?”
“Why don’t you try and see? Go for it!”
“Is it safe?”
“Go ahead. I promise you won’t feel a thing. Cross my heart and hope to die – again.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive.”
“Only fools are positive, Angel.”
“Are you sure?”
“Har. Har. Hardy har. Go ahead, Mr. chicken-dookey. Take the step. I dare you. Heck, I double-dare you.”
“Tsk. Tsk. Did you really just say chicken dookey? Such coarse language from a delicate little flower of a lady! Ok, I’ll do it.”
It took several seconds and a few folded chicken-wings gestures from Angel and one returned bird gesture of another sort from Steve before he finally got the nerve up, but he closed his eyes and stepped through the doors’ threshold. Opening his eyes, he found himself stepping back into the apartment. Not quite believing what just happened, he turned around and stepped through the doorway again. As soon as his foot touched ground, he found himself stepping into the apartment again. Next, he jumped backwards through the doorway. He really wasn’t surprised when he found himself back in the apartment once more.
“Cool, huh?” commented Angel.
“Cool, no. Weird, yes. Spooky, most definitely.”
“Now that you’re finally convinced you’re stuck here for the time being, anything you want me to pick up for you at the grocery store?”
“Well , for starters, please make sure it’s some milk that came from a living, mooing cow, not from beans. And none of that two percent or skimpy milk. Besides that, the basic stuff. Uh, by the way, are you buying? I don’t think I can quite cover the list you made, expense-wise.”
“Yes, Steve, of course I’m buying. For now, the only money you have is what’s in your wallet or you have hidden around the apartment somewhere, you know, like the 20 bucks that was stuck in your brown dress shoes that obviously you haven’t worn in awhile, judging by the dust that was on them.”
“Great! Well then, as long as you’re buying, some steaks would be nice. And beer. Lots of beer. My friends will go through a lot of beer tomorrow for poker night.”
“Uh Steve, first of all you weren’t listening. Steak and beer are already on the list. Want me to go over it again? No? I didn’t think so. Secondly, you won’t be having any more poker nights with the buds for awhile. Remember? You’re dead.”
“Well damn. So tell me, Angel - how good are you at Texas
Hold ‘em? Maybe a little Five card Draw?”
“I can’t really say for sure. What’s Texas Hold it?”
“I think you may have just sufficiently answered my question. The name of the game is Texas Hold ‘em. It’s a poker game.”
“Oh, I’m afraid I don’t do poker, but I feel I must warn you, I am one evil gin rummy player!”
“Oh joy. I can hardly wait.”
“Great! See ya later!”
While Angel was gone and Steve was stuck, he took a tour of his apartment, actually, their apartment now, to see what other differences he could find. Starting with the bedroom, everything looked exactly the same. No changes here, except it had been straightened up just a little and it looked like maybe the carpet had been vacuumed.
Going down the hallway, the next stop was the bathroom. Major changes here. “How the hell did I miss all this earlier?” he wondered aloud. Besides the pee-coated toilet lid, the toilet paper was actually in the toilet paper holder. The shower walls had been scrubbed and the curtain replaced. He thought this in itself was almost worth dying for. Taking the place of the grime and mold though, were countless bottles of shampoo, body wash, conditioner, various bath oils, face scrub, and other smell pretty stink good stuff he wasn’t even aware existed, let alone what is was used for or where it was applied. Next to the sink were His and Hers towels. However, they didn’t say “His” and “Hers.” They were labeled “xy” and “xx.” “Hmm,” bemused Steve, “methinks we have a science nerd amongst us.” Steve figured it would probably be in his best interest to clean up his recent mess before Angel discovered it. If she thought drinking from a milk carton was bad, just wait until she stepped in someone else’s urine!
The next stop down the hallway opened into the spare bedroom, Angel’s bedroom now. Steve found this particularly interesting since in the three and a half years he had lived here, this had always been a one bedroom apartment. This door had always opened into a supply closet – a rather small supply closet at that. Naturally, the urge to snoop around while Angel was gone was too great for him to resist. “Besides, might find something to help me figure out what’s happening here,” he thought. No sooner had he stepped in though, he found himself stepping right back out into the hallway. “Crap! This room is the same as outside.” Looking into the room as best he could, he saw only two things that looked remotely interesting, though. One was a book titled The Complete Idiots Guide to Transitional Guidance for Marginal Cases. “Uh oh. I guess that means I must be a marginal case.” The second item was a green file folder, labeled at the top “Dearmann, Stephen W.” He muttered to himself “Damn. They misspelled my last name, same as everyone else.”
Across from this room was the Dining/Den/Game/Exercise room. Checking on his Nintendo Wii setup, the familiar games were all in their sleeves; NCAA Football, Tiger Woods Golf, Pinball, Call to Duty, and so on. There were a couple of new ones though; Animal Crossing and Trivial Pursuit. “Not mine, must be hers,” he figured. Everything else looked the same, except for the curio cabinet in the corner with all the little figurines. There was one of just about every imaginable animal present, from birds and frogs to elephants and rhinos, all no more than about an inch and a half tall. The top shelf however did have some non-animal pieces. There was a little green leprechaun and a purple girl holding flowers among other pieces on one side of the shelf. The other side looked like some sort circus scene. It included a lion, a tiger, a couple of different clowns, a dancing poodle in a blue skirt, and oddly, two identical blue ringmasters. “Weird, I wonder why she has two of this piece and only one of everything else. Oh well, maybe she likes ringmasters.”
He eventually wound up back in the kitchen and other than the weird stuff already noted in the refrigerator and dishes that, for a change, were actually washed and in the cabinets instead of dirty and in the sink, everything looked pretty much the same.
Finished with the quick survey of his familiar domicile, Steve had one more task he had an overwhelming desire to accomplish: “I’m going back to bed so I can wake up again and realize this has all been one big freakin’ dream.”
Steve did dream while he napped, but not about Angel and dying and groceries. It was more the usual stuff dreams are normally made up of. You know, being naked in a crowded building while a tornado containing spinning sheep and giant chalupas rips through every third floor while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “You’re Having My Baby’ to the tune of “Stairway to Heaven” in the background and such as that.
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