“Only fourteen more days until it snows,” he said
through his false teeth. They clicked in his mouth like
river stones. Cornlin Farrot also wore a fake moustache
and a coarse black wig, with a yellow baseball cap
perched on top.
The bus driver said, “Is that so?” The bus
drivers knew Cornlin. Anyone riding the 150 route
at this time of morning had seen him at his perch,
the first seat to the right. The drivers had even
given him a nickname, Mental Magic, for Cornlin
had an amazing knowledge for numbers, he was
like an almanac.
He pointed the thick sleeve of his green
rain jacket straight ahead out the sheet of windshield.
“The pancake house is closed. It was open for 22
With a grin, the driver asked, “How many
days is that?”
“8,030,” Cornlin replied. “Soon it will be
a Mexican restaurant. When it opens I’ll have to go.”
As the bus passed the blank concrete building, Cornlin
turned in his plastic seat to watch. The thick tinted
glasses he wore hid his eyes. The sight of it seemed
to remind him of something else, something that
Some mornings Cornlin would go on and
on like a radio, but now he seemed preoccupied,
weighed down by a heavy thought he wouldn’t share.
For the rest of the ride he remained silent, clutching
his blue cloth shopping bag on his lap, staring at
the window. When the bus stopped and the door
clacked open, he stood up and left without even
The driver watched Mental Magic get
lost in the streetlights and shadows. Maybe
tomorrow he’d ask him if he was doing okay.
Cornlin’s shuffling walk across the
damp stone pathway of campus began to change
the moment he opened the glass door of
Accounting Services. Once inside, it was like
another pair of legs was walking him, taking
him swiftly down the hall, around the corner
to the men’s restroom, out of sight. True,
he used to worry about being spotted, but it
was always early when arrived and some time
ago he had taken the precaution of informing
the custodial staff to clean this floor last.
He could make decisions like that. Corlin
Farrot was the director of Accounting Services.
He shuffled past the sinks, the wall
of mirrors, and entered the furthest stall.
He set the bag on the tiled floor. He took off
his yellow cap and wig and hung them on
the silver hook of the door. Then piece by piece
he removed his bus riding disguise, replacing
it with the carefully folded suit in his blue
shopping bag. The false teeth he tucked into
a pocket of the rain jacket. The transformation
was complete. The tennis shoes were gone too.
Instead, he wore expensive leather wingtips
As he left the stall, gone too was the
shuffling gambol, now he walked as if he had
been starched, rolled in a fresh American flag.
He stopped in front of the row of mirrors and
cleared his throat.
“Redefining the academic workplace…”
he said. It only took that long for him to find his
voice, it was deeper, grating as an asbestos panel.
“Necessarily, it has become strategically imperative
at this time…” His face was set between
thoughtfulness and a frown. He slipped one hand
in the pocket of his suit, the other he used to jab
the air. “I know we’re all aware of the severity
of the budgetary climate…” He paused again,
rose on the tips of his shoes and settled again.
He still had an hour before the staff meeting
when he would announce the elimination of two
staff positions. “I see this as an opportunity for
reshuffling responsibilities at the job core…”
He did enjoy the sound of his voice. He smiled.
Then he heard something move over
in the stalls.
Cornlin caught terror in the mirrored
eyes staring back at him. Someone was in here,
had been in the stall next to him the whole time,
and knew about his disguise.
If it was one of the cleaning ladies,
he would fire her on the spot. But what if she
threatened to tell? Walking towards the stall
Cornlin actually considered murder.
He stopped at the first stall. His hands
had become fists. “Who’s in there?” he growled.
The silver latch scratched and the door swung
Cornlin took two steps backwards.
He was facing a gorilla.
Actually it was someone in a gorilla suit,
but the scare had been just as real.
“Look…” the gorilla began, “Don’t get
any weird ideas, I didn’t mean for anyone to find
me in here…”
“Who are you?!” Cornlin demanded.
The gorilla sighed, bowed and took off
his head. A red faced and sweaty man in his fifties
blinked at Cornlin. “Name’s Marty, Marty Brickles.
This is the first time I ever come in this building,
Mr. Farrot. Usually I hang around the Steam Plant.”
“What exactly are you doing?”
Marty shrugged. He chuckled, “Ahh, I
don’t know…I like to put on this costume and stomp
around in the woods before work. I never hurt anyone.
Every once in a while I give someone a scare, that’s
all. Hey, you’re not going to turn me in, are you,
“I know you’re a big man around here,
Mr. Farrot, but you don’t have to say anything…
Besides…” he turned the gorilla mask in his hands,
stroked it like a rabbit, “I guess you got a secret too.”
Of my hundreds of unpublished short stories
(add this one to the parade) every once in
a while, a guy in a gorilla suit appears.
That source would undoubtedly be all
those 1940s/1950s black & white movies
seen on Saturdays back in the 1970s.
The gorilla suit was also a fixture of
television variety shows and cartoons
of the day. Besides, what else could
possibly confront Cornlin Farrot?
allen frost December 9, 2011