"Tim has an apartment?" I blurted out.
Jess sat on the floor, cross-legged, eating some Chinese noodles out of a can. I looked around the dorm room curiously. Had Marlene rearranged everything again?
"Yeah...says he got it real cheap...I know he doesn't have any money..."
"Where is it? Down by South Campus?" I asked.
I walked over to her and plopped my 200-ton book bag down. I wondered where Jess' derranged roommate had wandered to.
"Is Marlene coming back?"
"Sheís out for a smoke..."
I sighed. We wondered if sheíd made that name up when we met her...along with her tales of Mafia encounters and the shady "connections" she had meeting her at Starstrucks Coffee.
"Not at the reservation, again..." I laughed. Jess giggled and lay on the floor sighing.
"I suppose it was tea with Princess Di and... Clark Gable..."
Jess made no effort to peel herself off the floor to get her phone book. She reached with her toes to pull it out of the shelf. Notes and papers fell all over the floor, making quite a mess.
"Tim gave me directions..."
Curious. Although, what wasnít curious about Timothy? I grabbed the paper away from her, scoffing. There was his illegible scrawl in green crayon, all over the back of a map of Pakistan.
"Frock Hall? Thereís apartments on the seventh floor? The University must be getting cheap..."
"Tim said itís a bungalow, not an apartment, anyhow..." Jess laughed. I figured that must be like the difference between a frog and a toad. I groaned and turned on my side, reaching for a Rice Krispies snack I had hidden away in my bag. I didnít mind that it was three months old and smashed flatter than a pancake. Jess dumped the can of noodles out on the rug and picked them up with her tongue.
"He called you?"
"Is Mikey coming over too?"
"Yeah, later...and Dan said he needed to do a safety check..."
"Oh, brother..." I groaned. "What timeís your next class?"
Fifteen minutes later, I was dragging Jess away from her soap opera, and across the parking lot to Frock Hall. Such a creepy place. Five floors of classrooms, with a large glass front over-looking the back parking lot. Just behind it were the two largest science buildings on campus. They loomed like great fortresses and cast long shadows over the smaller history and political science building. Jess had one or two classes there at times, but I never went anywhere near it. I was a music major. This meant being confined to one building on campus, hidden away in a very small padded room with a flute for ten hours a day. Jess studied psychology.
"This is going to be so weird..." I said, straightening my hair. "Heís up there waiting for us?"
"He made lunch..."
"Oh good..." I chirped happily.
I admired him for staying out of the dining hall as much as possible. He claimed that he was frightened by the vents in the walls that would frequently hiss during dinner conversation.
"I just hope he doesnít mix that peanut butter and tofu again..that was sick, Jean..."
"Iím not crazy about it either..." I groaned.
Jess opened the door and we were hit with a blast of dry heat. Students rushed through the halls. Some were sitting on benches near the elevator, glaring at newcomers pushing through the door.
"I know..." I said, stopping dead in the middle of the lobby. "He wants us to help him unpack!"
"Unpack WHAT? Heís only got that stupid kimono and those ugly shoes.. ..Ē
"Heís got records..."
"Okay, and his records..." We waited for the elevator and read the bulletin board.
"Dr. Zilch is having another lecture on the 25th.. Some speaker is coming to talk about the political impact of sporks..."
"Where does he get these people?"
"I think the dining hall..."
"What floor?" I asked her, ready to push the button when the elevator door finally opened. Some unhappy people waddled off down the hall and Jess and I stepped in, facing the doors as they closed.
But there was no button for a tenth floor!
"Are you sure itís not the fifth?"
I grabbed the paper away from her and read aloud.
You will not find a button for the floor.
When you enter the lift, youíll see the emergency box
on the right hand side. Open the box and underneath
the phone is a green button. Push it..
"Push it..." I scoffed. "Heís nuts, Jess...you know that?" I shook my head, glaring at the grotesque green smiley face that stared up at me from the page.
"Did you know the capital of Pakistan is Islamabad?"
Jess took her notebook out and started another page. "Iím going to document this whole thing..." she muttered, chewing on her pen as she mused over the endless possibilities of mental health. "You know about peopleís living spaces, donít you? How they keep their rooms? I canít wait...itís as tell tale as his handwriting...into the depths of his psyche..."
I shuddered at the thought. "I hope you brought a flashlight in that bag...I donít have any food..I just ate that last Rice Krispies thing..."
"Mmm hmm..." Jess muttered, writing frantically. I tried looking over her shoulder at my psychological profile, but she turned away before I could get a glimpse.
"Did you know where his old place was?" I asked, "He never told me about it..."
Jess shrugged. "Mike said he was staying with some guy named Barry at the air field. I think he was sleeping in his plane..."
I found the box as Tim directed and opened it cautiously. "Did he put this in here as a joke?"
Jess shrugged. "I donít know, but I have this all written in his file..."
Someone had stuck dirty gum wrappers and papers into the box. I wrinkled up my nose with disgust and tried not to touch any of it.
"Want some gum?" I asked Jess. She rolled her eyes and laughed.
"Sure Jean! How about that nice orange piece with the flies in it?"
"I bet this phone doesnít even work and if we were stuck in here, weíd die before anyone even knew it had stopped..." I told her with conviction. She flipped a page back in her notebook and jotted something down.
"Nah...theyíd miss the elevator downstairs.. someone would come..."
"Yeah, right..." I muttered under my breath. To my surprise, there was a green button. Jess and I exchanged shocked glances.
"What should I do?"
"But the urge would be more natural if it was red!"
"Oh, let me do it!!!" Jess whined, pushing me out of the way.
At once, the elevator shook and the most disturbing, horrid creaking noises rang though the cold metal of the confined space. Jessís eyes were wide with fear. In another moment, a gush of warm air whooshed through the elevator from some unknown source and the door popped open. The bell chimed with the efficiency of a microwave. I couldnít help but laugh.
"I guess weíre done..." I whispered. I started humming "15 Miles on the Erie Canal" (which I always did when I was scared) and walked from the elevator. Jess held onto the handle and slowly crept outside.
"Jean!" she whispered, with terror. "Where are we?"
"Itís about time...come on, Girls. The mushrooms are on the table...Ē
Jess and I glared at an apron clad Timothy, standing in the doorway of his odd looking domain.
"Well, come on then!" he insisted, grabbing our arms. He dragged us in and closed the door, and went back over to the steaming caldron atop a hideously green stove like a Brady Bunch nightmare. Tim tasted what looked and smelled like teriyaki sauce and sighed happily. He sniffed the pot and smiled at us. "If yeíd been five minutes more, the soufflť would have been ruined!"
"Tim, for Godís sake...what is this?"
The place smelled like incense and was decorated something akin to a harem. Green and orange beaded curtains covered the five long, arched windows in the living area. There was no couch, but bean bags were placed around on the green shag rug. A row of lava lamps stood on the window sills, descending in rainbow order. Jess looked up at the ceiling, finding a strobe light system was installed, complete with a fading dial.
"Itís my bungalow..and tíank ye very much for liking it so...," he retorted sarcastically. "Just the sort of compliments Iíd expect from me best friends... for whom, by the way, I have been slaving over the stove for an hour, cooking their meal to perfection...." He sniffled melodramatically, the red cowlick on the back of his head perking up like a radio antenna.
Jess rolled her eyes and took out her note pad.
"Did you steal those lawn gnomes from the mini golf center?"
Tim wrinkled his nose with disgust. "No I most certainly did NOT! Did ye girls wash yer hands? Iím going to set the table..."
Jess glared at me and we walked cautiously over to where we imagined a bathroom would be. Sure enough there was a little corridor that lead to Timís bedroom.
"First door on yer right!"
"Okay, Tim!" I yelled back.
"He had to have painted this place himself.." Jess commented. "I donít know who in their right mind would have..."
"I know..." I sighed. "Or maybe he rented it from the Jolly Green Giant..."
"I HEARD THAT!" Tim squawked from the kitchen. It was going to be a very interesting afternoon.
The Timothy Story ©1997-2000 Zucchtoons