Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ball 8. Where's Monday?

Futility can take many forms (like being illiterate in several languages). "Where's Monday?" is a children's story condemned to the Purgatory of the Unread--although I'd like to believe not unreadable. After a decade of occasional pitches to publishers and agents, I surrender.

Wednesday was the first to notice that Monday was late for work.

"Where's Monday?" she wondered .

Thursday was doing his crossword puzzle and could not be bothered. "Ach," he grunted.

Tuesday began to fret. "I'm not ready to work today," she said, flitting about the room like an anxious sparrow. "It's not fair. For one thing, I don't have anything to wear."

"You can borrow something from me, dear," said Wednesday, who always kept an extra outfit at the office in case of emergencies. Everyone admired her wardrobe. She didn't have much, but she always dressed stylishly.

Thursday looked up from his puzzle and shook his yellow pencil at them like a conductor. "Hush," he said. "Can't you see I'm trying to concentrate?"

"Tuesday and I are concerned because Monday's late."

"Ach!" said Thursday, throwing his newspaper onto the table. "Has anyone tried to call him? Maybe he's at home."

"I did," said Wednesday. "I got his answering machine."

Friday loped in, wearing shorts and a baseball cap. He was carrying a cooler.

Tuesday ran to him. "Monday's gone AWOL," she said. "I'm going to have to work for him today. Can you believe it?"

"That's a bummer," said Friday. "I'm off to the ball game. I only came by to pick up a few files. I figure I can work on them between innings. Anyone care to join me?"

Wednesday shook her head. "Friday, I think you should help us find Monday. It won't do to have Tuesday fill in for him. After all, that means you'll have to take Thursday's place, and he says he's the hardest job of us all. Isn't that right, Thursday," she said, winking to Friday.

Thursday nodded. "Quite so, I'm afraid. It's all work and no play for me. The only day I always get off is Thanksgiving, and sometimes Christmas and New Years. You would hate it, Friday. No three-day weekends."

"Well then, we'd better find Monday, and fast," Friday said. "We can take my van."

The Days got into Friday's van and drove over to Monday's house. He lived in a small bungalow, surrounded by emerald grass and a bushy hedge. A magnolia tree, full of creamy blossoms, spread across the yard.

Thursday marched up the stone walkway and knocked loudly on the door. "Monday, are you in there?"

Tuesday elbowed him aside. "Monday, you answer this door right now. You're throwing everything off. Everything."

"Days, Days," Wednesday scolded. "Please try to be calm. We're here to find Monday, not punish him."

"Ach," said Thursday. "You think it's okay to be late."

"That's not the point," Wednesday said. "Of course it's better to be on time, as anyone can plainly see. But if something's happened to Monday, it doesn't help to make him feel bad."

"She's right," said Friday. "And anyway, nobody seems to care when I'm late."

"That's because you're Friday," Tuesday said sharply. "You're supposed to be late."

Wednesday stepped to the door and tried the knob. It was unlocked. The door swung open and the Days walked cautiously into the house.

Monday's house was a little messy, especially the kitchen. Dirty dishes filled the sink, and a pot of something that looked like beans sat on the stove.

Tuesday grimaced. "Doesn't he ever clean?" she said.

Friday walked to the bedroom and came back, shaking his head. "He's not sleeping. In fact, his bed is still made and hasn't been slept in."

"I think we should call September," said Thursday. "She'll know what to do."

September was the new president of the Months. She wasn't happy to be awakened.

Wednesday apologized. "We're so sorry to wake you," she said, "but Monday's late for work and we can't find him."

"Why are you calling me at home?" September said, her voice heavy with sleep and irritation. "Isn't June in charge this month?"

"We assumed that as president of the Board of Months, you should be informed first of any trouble."

"Good thinking, Wednesday. I'd forgotten," September said, no longer irritated. "So, you can't find Monday? This could throw the whole schedule off. I know for a fact that July is out of town and can't be reached. I'll give you another hour, and then I'll call the Years."

"The Years? Are you sure that's necessary? They're so…strict."

"And so they should be," September said. "They're the backbone of the whole calendar."

"Backbone of the calendar my foot!" said Thursday when Wednesday had hung up the phone. "We're the backbone of the calendar. Why, look what happens when one of us goes missing. Chaos. Pure chaos."

"Hush," said Wednesday. "We're all important in the calendar. Equally so. Every unit of time, from the seconds to the years, is precious."
"Ach," said Thursday, still upset. "Some time is more precious than others."

Friday came back from the living room, where he'd been snooping. "I think I've found something." He held up a scrap of paper. On it was written: Dinner 7:30.

Tuesday frowned. "This doesn't tell us anything," she said. "It could have been written weeks ago."

"Maybe," said Friday. "But I bet it's important."

"Friday's right," said Wednesday. "If Monday had dinner plans this weekend, we need to find out who he ate with. All I know is, it wasn't me."

"Not me," said Thursday. It wasn't Friday or Tuesday, either.

"Then it's obvious," Wednesday said. "Monday had dinner with Saturday and Sunday. Let's get in the van."

*** *** ***

Saturday and Sunday, the twins, lived on a ranch not far from town. They had everything a Day could want. A swimming pool, a volleyball net, a tennis court, a softball field. They had hiking trails and a fishing hole, stables and hammocks. In the summer, Saturday and Sunday would host cookouts for the rest of the Days. Sometimes the Months and Years would be invited.

Friday stopped the van beside a neat row of bicycles.

They walked to the door, and were about to knock, when it swung open and Saturday appeared.

"Thursday," she said with surprise. "And Tuesday, and Wednesday and Friday! What are you doing here?"

"We've come to find Monday," said Wednesday. "We thought he might have had dinner with you last night."

Saturday's mouth opened wide as a kettle and a gentle giggle escaped into the morning. "Come with me, but be very quiet," she said. She led the Days down a hallway, and stopped in front of a bedroom. "Listen," she said.

They heard a low, slow rumble. Someone was snoring.

"Monday?" asked Wednesday.

Saturday nodded. "Sunday and I invited him over. He spent so much time in the swimming pool yesterday that he got too tired to drive home. I forgot that we don't have any alarm clocks here."

She opened the door and the Days looked inside. Monday was in a waterbed, lying on his back. The light woke him.

"What time is it?" said Monday, blinking.

Saturday didn't have a watch, either. "It's a few minutes after nine," Thursday said sternly.

"What?" Monday shouted. He struggled to sit up, but the mattress was like pudding and would not cooperate. "I'm late for work!"

"Of course you are," said Saturday, helping him roll out of the bed. "That's why all the other Days are here. They were worried about you."

"Ohhhh," Monday moaned.

"Now, now," said Wednesday. "Don't get yourself all worked up over nothing. We're not angry. We just didn't know where you were."

"That's right," said Friday. "We thought something might have happened to you. We even went by your house. But you weren't there."

"Of course he wasn't there," said Tuesday. "He was here. Sleeping away the morning."

"I'm sorry, Tuesday," said Monday.

"That's good. You should be," said Tuesday. "But it doesn't help much. You're still late."

Monday covered his face with his hands. The Days heard the sound of sniffles.

Tuesday looked at her shoes. "I'm sorry, Monday," she said. "I shouldn't have been cruel."

"It’s not that," said Monday, wiping tears from his cheeks. "You're right to be mad. It just reminded me how much people don't like me."

"What are you saying?" said Wednesday. "Everybody loves you."

"No. Everybody loves Friday. People are always saying how much they hate Mondays. 'Oh, I wish it wasn't Monday already.' 'I'm so glad it's only a four Day week.' There's even a song: 'Monday I've got Friday on my mind.'"

"I don't know that one," said Friday. "Who sings it?"

"What's the difference," Monday said. "The point is, none of you would want to switch with me in a million Years."

Wednesday put her arm around his shoulders. "I know it's hard on you, Monday, but you have to remember that every Day has a purpose that no other Day can play. Without you, we wouldn't be able to start the Week."

Monday brightened up a bit. "So what's your role?"

"My job," she said, "is to make sure we keep from driving each other crazy."

*** *** ***

Saturday walked the other Days to Friday's van. "You really should visit more often. Sunday's a whiz at the barbecue and the pool's always warm."

"They also make the best frozen drinks," said Monday, who was now feeling much better. "Thanks, Saturday. It was so much fun."

"It was," she said.

Friday started up the van and headed down the driveway. As they passed the pond, it suddenly occurred to him: "Say," said Friday, "did anyone see Sunday?"


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  2. Reminds me of a mystery in The Manual of Detection -- http://www.thirdarchive.net/blog/index.php/the-manual-of-detection/ -- the story of the Man Who Stole November 12th. The book is great, I'd recommend it.

    Ivan Oransky, MD
    Executive Editor, Reuters Health
    Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program
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    Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
    Blogger, Embargo Watch http://embargowatch.wordpress.com (a blog independent of Reuters that does not necessarily reflect its views)