It’s been weeks since I made a request for a muse to help me with my writing. I’d given up on Ralph. By his long absence, it was perfectly clear to me that he wasn’t the least bit interested. So, I continued to bug my writer friends for some assistance. I think I pretty much worn them out. I wouldn’t call it avoidance, but they did shade their eyes from me when I approached them. They said it was the glare from the sun shining on the window. They couldn’t fool me. This was Oregon for heaven’s sake.
So, it came as a big surprise to open my computer and find Earlene, that’s Ralph’s assistant, sitting behind her huge desk, papers filed high and spilling over a box marked ‘IN’. I noted the ‘OUT’ was barely filled. A rather large sign attached to nothing hung above her head. Multi-colored words ran across in mid-air:
IDEA ADVISOR, WEST COAST DIVISION – MUSES AT YOUR SERVICE
As usual, Earlene’s mouth moved in harmony with her gum chewing as she talked into a tiny mic attached to her headset. She glanced up and pointed her stylus at me. I think she meant for me to wait. She jotted something on her iPad, then ended the conversation.
“Well,” she sighed, “it’s about time you answered my ring.” Earlene flattened the gum over her tongue and proceeded to blow a huge bubble.
If I could, I would’ve smashed the pink orb right in her supercilious face. Instead, I shrugged, “I didn’t hear any ring.” Before she could come back with a snappy answer, I continued. “Besides, it’s been two, no, three months since Ralph was supposed to help me with my writer’s block. I figured he was just way too busy to work with a novice writer.” A tinge of anger glazed over my words.
“Calm down. Chill out. Jeez, you’re not the only one who has issues,” she chastised me. “Since recovering from the bitter break up with his partner, Alph, Ralph’s had to go through a backlog of appointments.
“Oh,” I backed down a little. “Sorry, I didn’t realize.”
“Of course you didn’t. You’re just like the rest,” she admonished my selfishness. “Ralph gives and gives and gives, and the likes of you just take and take and take. It’s a wonder he still likes his job.” Earlene began poking around on her iPad.
“So how come you’re back?” I asked, not sure what her answer would be. Was she going to tell me to bug off, or was I finally going to get the opportunity to meet with the elusive, Ralph?
“Well, from what I’ve seen so far, you haven’t made too much headway since we last spoke.”
Well, duh! I wouldn’t be asking for help if I was doing okay. But how how’d she know that?
Eyeing the funny expression on my face, she gave me that know-it-all arrogant smirk, studied her iPad for a moment, then said, “I can pencil you in for a quick assessment with Ralph, right now. That is if you still want to meet with him.”
My stomach did a flipflop. I was once again on the brink of getting some help. But, I hesitated. Did I want to take another chance? I felt like Peanuts in the comics when Lucy promises to hold the football for him to kick. Will Ralph pull the football out from under me?
“Come, come, now. He hasn’t got all day. Do you, or don’t you want to speak to Ralph?”
Having exhausted all other avenues, I shrugged. What have I got to lose? Don’t answer. I know…self respect. But, I finally said to Earlene, “Yes, yes, of course I do.”
“All right, then. Stay put, and Ralph will be with you as soon as I ring him.”
The screen faded to black. I waited.
…to be continued