Wilfred Takes a Vacation

Dear Kathy,

Hi there.  This is Wilfred.  I’ve commandeered your email address to type you an email myself.  And if you can’t remember who I am, check out Marbles’ previous email:  “Introducing Wilfred” (https://alookatlifeinspectacularparticulars.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/introducing-wilfred/)  You know, I’m the invisible tutor seen by only those who use the appropriate amount of imagination.  My reason as to hijacking your email address is simple.  Marbles is mad at me because I said she would never make it as a ninja.  Since that time, she has neglected to share my exploits with you.  I’m sure she would say she’s been too busy with her 2 other jobs and starting grad school and keeping Dexter and Marcos out of trouble, but let’s get real here.  I know pettiness when I see it.

Anyways, I’m asking around for good vacation spots.  It has become necessary that I remove myself from the public eye as far as possible.  It’s really no fault of my own.  There I was, minding my own business in the Tutoring Center, when Silvia came in.  You remember Silvia–she wears pink glasses and drives a VW Beetle.  Anyways, she came in all aflutter because of some drastic revelation on her favorite soap opera.  It seems that on his wedding day, CIA agent Joe Suave’s cover was blown and was whisked away from his fiance.  Silvia was devastated.

“There’ll never be another character like him,” she wailed.  “CIA agents are just so hard to come by.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Dexter said slowly, grinning over her head at Drew.  “We might just have one here.”

“Oh yes,” said Coco.  “We give shelter to so many poor CIA agents.”

“Really?” Silvia paused cleaning her glasses and started to look interested.

“Not really shelter.  More like sanctuary,” added Drew thoughtfully.

“Sactuary,” Silvia repeated slowly.

“Please,” Marbles interrupted without turning around.  “Don’t use the word ‘sanctuary.’  You make him sound like Quasimodo.”

“How about asylum, then?” giggled Coco.

“Well, he is crazy.” Marbles mumbled.

“You mean there’s really an ex-CIA agent hiding here now?” Silvia’s eyes grew wider than her pink rims and scanned every corner of the room.  “Where is he?”

“Who knows?” said Dexter.  “You could be looking at him right now.”

He laughed and tried to continue explaining the binomial theorem, but Silvia was not be deterred.  “So this CIA agent.  What does he look like?  Does he look like Joe Suave in my show?”

“Silvia,” Dexter said very patiently, “no one looks like Joe Suave.  Not even Joe Suave.”

“But where is he?  I want to see him.”  Silvia crossed her arms.

“Silvia,” Dexter’s voice remained even.  “Right now, we need to see how the binomial theorem is a practical part of our everyday lives.  Okay?”

Thirty minutes later, two men in dark suits strode into the room.  I knew instantly they were with the government.  No one else wears sunglasses indoors.

Silvia fluttered even more as they asked Marbles if one of the Center’s workers met this description:  tall male in late 20s with light brown hair, goatee, and glasses.

Silvia whispered very loudly to Dexter, “Are they looking for that Edward the Snowman guy?”

“Snowden, Silvia.  Edward Snowden.”

The G-men bristled when he said that.  But I exploded.  “I’m ex-CIA.  So what?  What does that mean?  I’m a fine, upstanding citizen.  I carpool and recycle and pay my taxes.  I don’t even track dirt into my house.  Goodnight, what’s an invisible guy to do?  Do I look like Edward Snowden to you?”

I ended my rant two inches from G-man #1’s nose.  “You don’t look like anything to them, Wilfred,” Marbles said under her breath.

“Everything looks in order,” the man said, looking around for the mysterious Wilfred he couldn’t see.  “Thank you for your cooperation.”

They left.  And strangely, Silvia quit asking about our CIA agent.  Marbles gave me a red lollipop which made me feel better.  And as I sat sucking on it, I noticed Silvia adjusting her glasses in a peculiar way, as if zooming in and out.  Ah ha, I realized, she tipped them off with those special camera glasses with built-in binoculars and microphones.  She’s a CIA informer!  I about choked on my lollipop.  Silvia–a CIA informer!  Now that’s not fair.  They never gave me a pair of those cool glasses when I worked for the CIA.  I can’t help it if I’m naturally clumsy.

Anyways, it is very tiresome right now to be ex-CIA.  I need to get away until this whole news story blows over.  I was thinking somewhere not Russia.  What are Canada’s policies on invisible travelers?

Oh, dear.  Marbles is coming back.  Do not divulge the contents of this email!  I may or may not have had permission to access your email address.

Save the whales,
Wilfred

Wilfred’s Other Job

Dear Kathy,

Greetings from the grid.  That’s what the W looks like since our dear corner of campus started having some serious electricity issues.  A recent electrical spike sent our computer system into a frenzy, erasing all our appointments for the day and locking out both Sallie and Sabrina….not a good day in the tutoring center.  So, to fully repair all electrical weirdness, our facilities crew decided to reengineer the wiring on 3rd floor.  With all the ceiling tiles are down and the multi-colored wires exposed, the hallways look a little like the spaceship in Alien.

And yes, this does lead to a Wilfred story.  Wilfred’s latest escapade began before the electrical troubles last week.   I walked into work to find Wilfred standing on a filing cabinet removing pencils from the ceiling tiles.  Evidently, he, Marcos, and Dexter decided to try out some pencil trajectory myth they saw on Mythbusters.  Using Mythbusters as an excuse did not save them from a lecture.  While Marcos and Dexter looked sufficiently repentant, Wilfred ignored me and pushed through the upper tiles.  “Eureka!” he cried and disappeared into the ceiling.

He now routinely crawls through that ceiling corner and wanders through the building, above the electrical wiring and through the air ducts.

But now Wilfred is as happy as a lark without ceiling tiles to impede his access in and out of his private tunnels.  He uses them most often to visit the library.  Says it’s too boring to go on foot.  “After all,” he routinely informs me, “going to the library deserves to be dramatic.”

Yesterday morning he came in strangely silent.  He even walked past the donuts without taking one.  That’s when we knew something was wrong.  “What’s going on, Wilfred?” Dexter said.

Wilfred let down a loud sigh and said, “My motorcycle is out of commission.  I had to ride the bus again today.  And you know how much I despise public transportation since I contracted this wretched cold.  Now I’ll have to walk to work and all the fencing students will be without help!”

“Wilfred,” Spencer said absently, “you haven’t had a single fencing student since you started tutoring.”

Wilfred waved away the objection and slumped into his chair.  “Oh the CIA will not be happy about this.”

Since I started working with Wilfred, I’ve learned that sometimes I just shouldn’t ask questions.  Marcos hasn’t yet learned this lesson.  “What did you say about the CIA?”

“I work for the CIA,” Wilfred declared as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  “You’ve always heard about how the CIA has a file on everyone, right?  Well, they can’t have actual agents everywhere spying on everyone.  That’s what entry-level agents like me do–report on the common peasantry of the good ole’ U.S.A.”

Spencer put down his magazine.  “Wilfred, you’re a fencing tutor with a penchant for computer hacking–”

“That was not hacking!” Wilfred interjected.

“With a penchant for computer hacking,” Spencer repeated.  “How did you get hired by the CIA?”

Wilfred launched into another story and, since he’s nearly as long-winded as I am, I’ll spare you most of it.  But the synopsis is that after the CIA discovered he had the secret of cold fusion, they hired him hoping he would help out their scientists.  (He still hasn’t explained the whole cold fusion thing and I consider it better to not ask.)  Evidently the motorcycle is part of his standard CIA equipment.

As he finished his story, he sighed again.  “I’m just a tutor to help with extra expenses.  Some day I’ll be a full-fledged CIA agent.  But until my motorcycle’s repaired, I’ll be walking to and from work.  720i  Graham Place seems a long, long way away.”

“Graham Place?” Dexter frowned.  “Isn’t that where you live, Marbles?”

Every inch of me wanted to say “No”–that I lived anywhere but Graham Place.  Before I could answer, Wilfred leaped up.  “You do!  Why this is perfect.  We can carpool.”

And what could I do?  Be an ogre and say, “No!  I don’t want to save the planet by carpooling!”  Well…I decided against being an ogre.

That’s why I’m dashing off this garrulous letter to you now.  I’m about to leave my house to pick up Wilfred.  I now carpool with an invisible guy who lives at an imaginary address.

If I don’t contact you within 2 weeks, come looking for me.  Forget about the spectrum of craziness–bythattime, I’llprobably have gone officially insane.  The things I do to cut down on carbon emissions.

Your eco-friendly,
Marbles

Wilfred Has a Cold

Dear Kathy,

Happy Summertime! Now that you’re out of school, you must come say HI to us here at the W. Your law internship can spare you a half-hour visit to your lowly alma mater. Drew’s not working this summer and neither is Ty, but they both said they’d be dropping by from time to time. We seriously need to have some sort of party when Coco finishes Elementary Statistics. She’s taking it this summer. Personally, I think our brilliant friend is crazy. Anyways, she deserves a party when she gets done and Wilfred is demanding a party for when he gets over his cold.

Good grief. You have never known a hypochondriac until you’ve met Wilfred. The first day of summer school tutoring he came in with a scarf wrapped around his head and a portable vapor machine.

“What are you doing Wilfred?” Ella said confused, pausing her sketch.

“Nothing,” he replied loftily, “I am sick.”

He walked through our midst and sat on his favorite couch sniffing loudly. Since it was the first day, we didn’t have many students. And Sabrina from the computer lab has started working there in the Tutoring Center–she’s our supplementary desk worker since Sallie has such a heavy class load this summer.  And you know us.  Without students, the conversation turns quickly to other more interesting things like movies and books and art and the purpose of Silly String.  (That last topic was courtesy of Marcos.)  Today, our conversation was more refined–mostly due to Sabrina’s stack of books about painting.  Once we finished discussing watercolor triumphs of our childhood, we started a fairly intellectual debate concerning Van Gogh and Picasso.  The whirl of opinions had reached a crescendo when Wilfred let out a hacking cough.

“Bless you,” I said.

Wilfred glared at me.  “I do not deserve blessing because I coughed,” he said imperiously.

I don’t know when I picked up this habit, but I always say “Bless you” when someone coughs or sneezes.  “Sorry,” I shrugged, “I didn’t grow up here.  I get confused.”

Sabrina smiled.  “That’s been your excuse for everything today.  First for not knowing who Andy Warhol was and now for saying ‘bless you’ for a cough.  And don’t try to tell me that’s how you used to do it in Bolivia.”

To be honest…no, it wasn’t.  But I could hardly confess that in the face of everyone laughing.  So I said nothing, trying to look as imperious as Wilfred did at that moment.  It didn’t do much good.

“How’d you get so sick?” said Coco, putting down her Sudoku book.

Wilfred breathed in deeply through his vaporizer before saying, “Ah.  Therein lies a morbid tale of germs and public transporation systems and unwashed hands.  I will explain, but I warn you…it is a grizzly story.

“I ride the bus to work.  You know, ride the bus and save the planet?  Well, being invisible usually allows me to sit wherever I please.  Three days ago, however, was different.  As I mounted the bus, all the seats were taken!  And do you know who was on it?  An entire league of–of–texting teenagers.  And in the midst of that sea of iPods humming and keypads beeping, someone was coughing.  And not just any someone.  The only someone with a seat open next to them.  So I sat by that specimen of technological slavery and societal ignorance.  He coughed right into his hand and then offered to shake mine in greeting.  And what could I do?  He could see me right away.  He didn’t even have to think about it.  And that doesn’t happen very often–people have so little imagination and well…”

Wilfred paused and affected a lordly condescension.  “It was my duty to acknowledge the boy.  So I shook his hand.”

His noble demeanor shattered.  “And I’ve been coughing and sniffing ever since.  Achoo!”

“Bless you,” countered Marcos and Coco in unison.

“Thank you I suppose,” said Wilfred grudgingly.  “Though it will come to no good.  I’ve been infected with an insidious cold by nefarious villains.  I can feel my bronchial tubes swelling.  The rhythm of my diaphragm has been growing more ragged.  It’s probably to the point of diphtheria by now.”

Did I mention he was a hypochondriac?

At the mention of diphtheria, Dexter assumed his most doctor-like expression and commanded, “Turn off that ridiculous machine and take a seat on the table.”

Wilfred obeyed.  Dexter pulled out his flashlight key chain and said, “Say ‘Ah’.”

“Dexter, you have a Despicable Me keychain!” said Marcos in delight.  “Those are so cool!”

Dexter lowered the flashlight and pronounced a solemn diagnosis–“There’s nothing wrong with you.  Stop using that crazy machine.  Take your vitamins.  And may the force be with you.”

In response, Wilfred coughed loudly.

“Bless you!”

Have a germ-free day, Kathy.  See you soon.

Your Friend,
Marbles

Disclaimer:  This, and all other stories documenting Wilfred and the tutors at William Henry Harrison College, is a work of fiction.  All similarities to other personages, real or imaginary (or invisible), is a slight coincident.  😉

Introducing Wilfred

Dear Kathy,

What’s up?  The tutoring center just hasn’t been the same without you.  Everyone said to tell you HI.  (I think Sallie would feel better about your safety if you were still here at WHHC.  She wanted me to ask you about your stock of pepper spray.)  On that note, how’s JMU?  We lowly community college tutors have missed you, but know the world will be a better place when you get your degree in law.  Imagine what the Supreme Court will think when you get up to present your case and we announce you as “Hopscotch Nancy”?  🙂  And you thought we forgot your nickname.  No, it will be with you forever.  You’ll be getting 75th birthday cards addressed to Hopscotch Nancy from Renegade, Skippy Kippy, Falstaff, Meeko, Pistachio Man, Dark Eyes, and well, me—the one without a nickname.  And yes, we still bicker about the color marker used for our appointments on the schedule.  Anyways, enough of that, any chance you’d be taking summer classes at WHHC?

Well, I guess I should get around to why I’m writing this letter—Wilfred.  I shouldn’t have mentioned him during our phone call…especially if I’d known the reaction I would get from the words “our new invisible tutor.”  Actually I always seem to get that reaction.  Anyways, since I’ve opened this can of worms, I may as well fork them all out.

It all started the second Friday we were open.  The first week was insanely slow—Dexter even brought eggs and boiled them in the coffee pot to make egg salad.  But of course, by the second week we were swamped with anxious pre-nursing students struggling with biology, funeral services folk baffled by chemistry, and our usual crowd of frantic developmental math students.  For the entire week, we passed out forms faster than flat-screens on Black Friday.  In the flurry of answering phone calls, giving directions to the records office, and tutoring world history, I’m afraid none of us even noticed the people who came for tutoring interviews.  We knew another tutor was needed—someone who could tutor all those obscure classes you were so good at.  But I had thought little about it.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got to work Friday morning to find the office open and the lights on.  Sliding my bags behind the filing cabinet, I tore off Thursday’s schedule and tossed it toward the trash can.  And, as usual, I missed.

“Watch it,” a voice said.

At first, I saw no one.

“Over here,” the voice repeated.  And the wadded-up schedule flew back through the air and hit my knee.  I looked over and leaning against the wall was a tall guy in a brown jacket.

“Excuse me,” I said, “who are you?”

“Wilfred, the new tutor.”

Before I could respond, Ethan came in for his algebra/Spanish appointment.  So I hardly thought of Wilfred until 1 o’clock when I had my first break.  I pulled my chair up beside Sallie and said, “So how’s Wilfred on his first day?”

Finishing her latest discussion post, she turned to me, frowning.  “Wilfred?  Wilfred who?”

“Wilfred,” I said, pointing to the new schedule.  Highlighted in lime green were the words:  “Attention:  Wilfred starts today.”

She examined the schedule, as if trying to identify a forgery amidst the green ink, before saying, “I don’t know who he is, but I haven’t seen him.”  The phone rang fortuitously and our conversation ended.  All the time I could see him sitting in the corner, engrossed in a paperback Indiana Jones novel from the 80s.

Then the afternoon shift came in—Spencer, Marcos, and Dexter.  The Center had started to calm down a bit.  We alternated appointments for the next two hours and I waited for a better moment to ask my colleagues about Wilfred.  The drama died around 3:30.  And as Sallie was on her break, the meeting of the minds had gathered around the farthest computer.  Spencer, Marcos, and Dexter were joined by Ty and Drew (Thursday morning’s crew) and all were discussing different scenarios starting with “If you were on a train traveling at the speed of light…”  After that, it ceases to sound like English.

“What’s up?  You look like you just finished tutoring T. S. Eliot to engineering students,” Spencer interrupted my musings on the incomprehensibility of Tesla and Einstein.

“I wish,” I muttered. “Have you met Wilfred yet?”

“Wilfed?  Isn’t that one of Santa’s reindeer?” Marcos said confused.

Spencer rolled his eyes.  “Not unless Rudolph got replaced.”

“I haven’t seen anyone new at all,” inserted Drew quickly, eager to return to the fascinating conversation about photons.

“He’s right over there.”

All five guys looked to the corner where I pointed, but showed no reaction.  “Is he in the computer?” Spencer asked slowly.

“Ha ha, Spencer,” I said dryly. “He’s sitting by the printer.”

“If he’s by the printer,” said Ty slowly, “then he must be invisible.”

“Never mind.”  I left the conversation quickly without allowing any more questions.  Sitting down at my desk, I tried not to think about why no one else could see him.  After about twenty minutes, I lifted my head from my reading to see Wilfred in the door, carrying a handful of papers.  He slid them onto Sallie’s desk and went back to his corner and to his paperback novel.

Moving over by Sallie, I said, “So what do you think about Wilfred?”

“Honey, I have yet to see this man you keep talkin’ about.”  She pushed her lollipop back in her mouth and continued typing.

“He brought you the copies you asked for!”

Sallie picked the copies up and thumbed through them, frowning.  “Well, these are definitely the ones I asked for.  That doesn’t mean some invisible tutor got them for me.”

“I am not crazy,” I insisted.  “Come with me to the computer lab.  Surely someone else saw him.”

Let me assure you, Kathy, it was not easy to convince Sallie to come with me.  But at last we found ourselves in the computer lab…alone.  “Rats,” I said aggravated.

“I always knew your mind was a little messed up,” Sallie teased.

“Can I help you?”  We turned to see Sabrina Mitchell, computer lab monitor and art conoisseur extraordinaire.

“Sabrina,” Sallie said, wasting no time, “have you ever seen Wilfred?”

Sabrina frowned slightly and shook her head.  “Not that I know of.”

“Did you see a tall guy making copies for Sallie?” I interjected.

“In a brown jacket?” she said perking up.

“Yes!”

“Of course, I saw him.  We talked about early existentialist art.  He knows quite a bit about it, but kept trying to tell me that Beatrix Potter was a secret member of an existentialist literary society.”

We were quiet for a minute before Sallie shook her head and muttered, “Nutty as a fruitcake.”

With at least Sabrina believing me, I felt somewhat more sane.  We returned to the Tutoring Center where Wilfred was sitting at the edge of the physics discussion.

“What I want to know is,” Marcos was saying, “why pretzels are shaped the way they are.”

“You ought to know, pretzel baron,” muttered Wilfred with a smile.

“Did you seriously just say that…aloud?  That had nothing to do with physics,” Spencer said, hitting Marcos on the back of his head.

“Unless you’re discussing the intermolecular forces of dough,” Wilfred returned.

“But that’s chemistry,” I said.

The conversation stopped.  “What’s chemistry?” said Drew.

“The intermolecular forces of dough.”

“Who said anything about that?” said Spencer.

“Does dough even have intermolecular forces?” Marcos queried.

“Good grief!  Guys, were you not listening to Wilfred?”

They looked at one another confused.  “It’s because I’m invisible,” said Wilfred calmly, taking a bite of an apple.

“What do you mean you’re invisible?” I asked.  I was beginning to think I needed Sallie’s pepper spray.

“I’m invisible,” he said breezily. “Been that way for a couple years.  That’s what happens when you have a run-in with the CIA, a radioactive toothbrush, and a really weird vacation at Disneyland.  And the secret of cold fusion.”

Sallie was right.  He was nuttier than a fruitcake.  “Radioactive toothbrush and the secret of cold fusion?”

“Wow, Spencer.  She is crazy,” Ty said under his breath.

“That’s classified information,” Wilfred answered me through a mouthful of apple.

“Classified information?” I nearly shouted in disbelief.

“Your craziness has never been classified,” Spencer responded.

“Stop it,” I said frantically, “I’ve been talking to Wilfred and don’t you dare say a thing about his not existing because he does.  He’s on the schedule!”

Marcos and Ty leaned over to verify my claim.  “Hey,” Marcos protested, “how come the new guy gets the Lemon-Lime Surprise marker for his appointments?”

Wilfred chuckled, “You can only see me with your imagination.  I told you I’m invisible.  It’s in the contract.”

Ignoring Marcos, I pulled open the drawer where the contracts were kept and rifled Wilfred’s out.

“Read the bottom line,” Wilfred instructed.

I cleared my throat, “’William Henry Harrison College does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, or visibility.’…What?”

Drew stood up and shook his head at me.  “That’s officially the most random thing you’ve ever said…It’s a consensus.  You’re crazy.”

“Actually, everyone’s crazy,” Spencer said. “It just depends on where you are on the spectrum.”

“I’d say she’s between loopy and bonkers,” added Dexter, “what spectrum specification does that make her, Spence?”

“I’m not losing my marbles!” I shouted.

“Marbles!  That’s exactly where you’re at,” Spencer said, seizing a banana.

“Hey, Marbles, you have an appointment at 4,” Marcos called.

I walked across the office–past Sallie furiously typing, past Wilfred calmly taking notes on everyone’s behavior and muttering about our lack of imagination.

And that, dear Kathy, is how Wilfred came to the tutoring center.  And how I got my very own nickname.

 

Yours truly,
Marbles

Wilfred’s Valentine

Dear Kathy,

Winter here looks more like summer despite our two inches of snow last week.  How is your Governmental Statistics class?  I hope it’s going well.  If not, don’t let Dexter find out.  He’s dreading that class…especially since he has statistics appointments every day.  He’s pulled so much of his hair out that Spencer says he’s half bald.

Anyways, since you seemed so interested in hearing more about Wilfred, I figured you wouldn’t mind another story.

Ty and Ella were arguing about which was better for tutoring—half sheets or whole sheets of paper—when Wilfred came in and announced it was Vitamin C Day.  He was dressed in orange from head to toe—except for his brown jacket, of course.  Given the fact that he’s…Wilfred, this would not be strange, were it not for the fact it was February 14.

“Is this your version of Singles’ Awareness Day?” said Ella, scrounging out the few whole sheets of paper left unscathed by Ty’s exuberant paper-slashing.

(Yes, Ella can see Wilfred too.  Never had any trouble like the guys had.  This at least convinced Spencer I wasn’t completely bonkers.  I will write about it sometime if I can make it more interesting than “Ella walked into work on Wilfred’s second day of work and could see him fine.”)

Anyways, back to Valentine’s Day in the tutoring center.  Wilfred looked shrewdly at us and said, “No, because Singles’ Awareness Day is sad.”

He deposited his bag on the desk and plopped onto the filing cabinet.  “Vitamin C Day is more than an anti-Valentine’s Day advocated by lonely singles.  It’s a celebration of one of the most vital sources of our daily life.  Where would we be without Vitamin C?  And after all, it’s one of the most popular days to celebrate fruit, besides Banana Day.  When else can I walk up to someone and say, ‘Have you hugged a cumquat lately’?”

I shook my head.  “I hope you haven’t said that to anyone today.”

Ella frowned.  “What’s a cumquat?”

Wilfred shook his head.  “I see that you two don’t believe me.  Don’t you understand the pure awesomeness that is Vitamin C?  It fuels our immune systems and keeps us from getting scurvy like British sailors of the 1700s.  We’ll start a national campaign and call it “ascorbic acid.”  Children everywhere will now be interested in eating their fruit because “ascorbic acid” sounds far more impressive than Vitamin C.  Someday it will fuel our cars and break our dependency on foreign oil.  No drilling offshore.  No BP oil spill.  We’ll have Vitamin-C powered airplanes!  All we’ll need is oranges and lots of them.  Who cares about insipid holidays like Valentine’s Day?  How can commercialization and candy compare with changing the world?”

His bag chose that moment to follow over with a loud crash.  Three Raymond Chandler novels, two fountain pens, and a red card fell out.  Before he could clean it up, Ella picked up the card.  “What’s this?” she said curious.

“Nothing,” he said, snatching the red card out of her hand.

“It looked like a poem,” I commented, moving closer, “and I think I see who it’s addressed to…Violet Parr?  Wilfred, do you have a Valentine?”

Wilfred turned as orange as his shirt.  “It’s not a valentine.  It’s a…fan letter.”

“I’ve never heard of Violet Parr,” Ella shrugged.

“You’ve never seen The Incredibles?” Wilfred asked, astonished.

“You’re sending a fan letter to Violet Parr,” I said slowly.  “Don’t you realize…”

“That she’s invisible too,” he said defensively, “yes, of course, I do.  I was fourteen when I saw that movie.  She’s got to be at least 21 by now.  She’ll appreciate a fan letter.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tutoring to do.”

Wilfred slid off the filing cabinet and sulked over to the corner.

“The question is,” Ella said, grinning, “is it love or is it Vitamin C?”

Hope you have a fruit-filled February, Kathy.

 

Your Friend,
Marbles

Wilfred and the Leprechauns

Dear Kathy,

So glad to hear that law school is going well.  On that note, is there any way to get out of jury duty?  The Tutoring Center has been served a rash of them recently…yep, Marcos, Coco, Drew, and Wilfred have all been summoned to serve our country in the court system.  And, well, they all would prefer to serve our country some other way.  So I told them I’d ask you.  (They don’t have a chance short of a broken leg, do they?)  Anyways, since you seemed so amused by Wilfred’s antics on Valentine’s Day, I knew you would enjoy this short tale from St. Patrick’s Day.

I had a crazy morning.  My alarm clock broke.  I dropped my coffee cup and stepped on a piece of glass.  I didn’t know the forecast and dressed for weather like yesterday–sunny, breezy 70s.  Well, I walked into work sopping wet from the 40-degree rain and was greeted by Dexter and Coco shouting, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

“Bah humbug to you too,” I muttered and sat down in my favorite swivel chair.

“You’re not wearing green,” said Marcos with a mouthful of pretzel.

“Oh,” I looked down at my blue T-shirt and brown cargo pants, “I forgot….Marcos, what are you doing?”

“Recreational engineering,” he answered, scewering a red jelly bean with a coffee stir, “We found expired jelly beans from last Christmas in the file cabinet, so I’m making a polycarbonate chain with them.  The red jelly beans are carbon atoms and the coffee stirs are my hydrogen bonds.”

“Where’s the green in your polycarbonate chain?” Coco asked.  “You’re not being very festive.”

“I’m saving those for another project,” Marcos replied in a wounded voice.  “Don’t pick on me. I’m already wearing green and I’m not even Irish, Coco Fitzpatrick.”

The next few minutes were spent in analyzing our family trees for any Irish roots.  Most of us found some except for Marcos and Dexter.  (Poor Dexter could only remember his Dutch and German forefathers with lots of “van” and “von” before their last names.)  Spencer was using his gift of gab to tell us about some long-lost relatives who own an Irish castle or something when Wilfred stormed in.

“Are they here yet?” he asked breathless.

“Who, Wilfred?” I asked wearily.

He stood catching his breath for a few minutes before assuming a non-chalant expression and strolling over to me.  He put a clipboard up beside his face to hide it from everyone else and said, “The F.B.I. of course.”

“No, they haven’t,” I responded, too tired to ask why on earth the F.B.I. would show up at our tutoring center.  After working with Wilfred for a while, you just accept statements like that.

“Oh good,” he said, wiping his brow, “then the leprechauns are still safe.”

My face responded for me.  “Marbles, you look like you just swallowed a cupful of Crisco,” Spencer remarked drily.  “What did Wilfred say this time?”

“He thinks the F.B.I. is after the leprechauns,” I repeated.

“I don’t think, Marbles,” Wilfred said solemnly, “I know.  When you’ve been invisible long enough, you learn things–government conspiracy kind of things.  This is a bigger secret than Roswell.”

He then launched into his story.  I would repeat it, but it was really too complicated to remember.  Something about a stash of gold found near D.C. in the 70s and Nixon trying to cover up his belittlement of the Little People and the area around Asheville really being called Area 61.  And there was something about red-headed politicians thrown in there, but I don’t know how that connected.  As you can imagine, I responded with statements of incredulity like normal.  (How many ways are there to respond to Wilfred?  Neutrality is often the only preventative for going insane.)  Well, Dexter and Coco demanded to hear the Wilfred story, so I sat down and started re-telling the tale–with all the government agents searching for fairy rings, ATF officers outlawing mushrooms, and renegade leprechauns storming Fort Knox.  Soon Marcos put down his polycarbonate model and leaned in to listen.  Just as I was nearing the end of the story, Dexter shouted, “Holy cow, Marbles, there’s a guy right behind you.  Where did he come from?”

I looked behind me and saw Wilfred standing there with his arms crossed in amusement.

“Yikes!” Coco responded.  I see him too.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Marcos said, “how come we can see you now, but not this morning?”

“You finally used your imagination,” Wilfred said.  “I knew you all had one.”  He paused to sit on the computer table.  “You see, it takes an imagination to see your invisible co-worker, just like it takes imagination to believe I tutor fencing.  But both are true.  I am invisible and I tutor fencing.”

“But we don’t have a fencing class,” Coco frowned.

Wilfred waved the idea away.  “That’s none of my concern.  I just worry about being on time.”

“You’re never on time,” Spencer mumbled.  But I heard him…and so did Dexter.

“You could see him this whole time, Spencer?” Dexter pointed at him in astonishment.  “Suppression!”

Spencer’s eyes widened a little as he realized he had been found out.  Wilfred started laughing and Marcos choked on his pretzel.  I did not laugh, or choke, or widen my eyes.  My face just turned the shade of a Maraschino cherry as I sputtered, “Spencer Whatever-your-middle-name-is Romley, you little fiend!”

Spencer brushed away a mild blush and shrugged, “Oh come on.  When was the last time you heard any self-respecting psychology student actually admit to seeing…an invisible fencing tutor?”

He popped a few M&Ms in his mouth.  We were all silent for a few minutes.  “Hey,” Wilfred said with a burst of eureka, “why don’t we play Tesla’s Coil of Horror?”

“What is that?” Dexter frowned.

“Oh it’s this great game that’s a cross between Hungry, Hungry Hippos using Tesla’s coil set in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Wilfred explained casually.

With a sudden surge of interest, Dexter, Coco, and Marcos joined Wilfred in his game while Spencer left on his lunch break.  Sometimes, I wonder about us.  I guess Owl City says it nicely, “Reality’s a lovely place.  But I wouldn’t want to live there.”  On behalf of the WHHC tutors, Kathy…have a normal day, please.

Marbles