Drummond stared morosely out the window. Three more hours, and he was done with his shift. Make that three hours and four minutes. Was time moving backwards? It certainly felt like it. How much longer did he have to slave away at these peon posts before he finally got the promotion he deserved?
There was nothing for it. He was going to have finish the pile in front of him, at least. He had to look like he did something today, after all. He reached for the folder on the top.
DANIEL. SON OF JEFFREY AND HEATHER. DEFECTS: LAZY EYE, WILL CLEAR UP BY AGE 7. THREE BROKEN TOES, AGE 26. LUNG CANCER, AGE 68.
HAYLEE. DAUGHTER OF ANGELA AND DEREK. DEFECTS: SPINAL BIFIDA, SEVERE. NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDER, HEART VALVE PROBLEMS, ALL < 11 MONTHS.
MIRIAM. DAUGHTER OF DEBORAH AND MOSHE. DEFECTS: RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS MANIFESTING AT 16, PROLAPSED UTERUS, AGE 43, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, PROGRESSIVE, MANIFESTING AGE 46.
Blah blahblah blahblah. So what.
He glanced up at the wall, and the clock seemed to be frozen. He knew he just looked at it, but he couldn’t have just looked at it. Could he? Damn.
Blah blah obsessive compulsive, blah blah, color blind, blah blah muscular dystrophy and blah and blah and blah. He began randomly shoving papers from a file behind his desk into the folders, determined to just get it done.
Three-oh-four left. No, oh-five.
“The hell with this.” He said aloud. “To hell with all of it.”
“You have something to say, Drummond?”
He jumped in his seat, the papers flying out of his hand. He turned to see the manager of the audit division, one Mr. Brentwood, had entered the office.
“Uh – no sir. No, nothing for you sir. Sorry. I was- I – I was thinking of….something else.” Drummond finished lamely.
“I’m here to review your work,”Brentwood replied, pulling a clipboard from under his arm. “It seems there have been some peculiar gifts coming through, and an audit was requested.”
“An audit?” Drummond asked, with a slight squeak in his voice.
“Indeed. Tell me about Rebecca, daughter of David and Judith.”
“Well, I don’t have her file here….” Drummond rummaged about the desk, trying desperately to recall.
Brentwood clicked his pen. “I’ll refresh your memory. Rebecca was given the gift of ‘hypersensitivity to salt’. This isn’t even on the Index of Acceptable Gifts; Major. It’s a sub-category of a fifth level minor condition.”
“Yes sir, I know that, but – ”
“I realize you were probably very excited when they moved you up here from Minor Gift Assignments, but you’re in the major leagues now. You need to be thinking like middle management.”
“Actually sir, I was hoping this would be a good stepping stone to a career in Disability Resolution.”
“Disability Resolution!” Brentwood made a rude noise. “Bloody hell. Everyone coming in this door thinks they’ll be creating the next Helen Keller or helping some poor girl regain her balance after a bloody shark attack. It’s not all glamor, son. And those jobs are few, far between, and given to those who play by the rules. Do you understand?”
“So. ‘Hypersensitivity to salt’?” Brentwood raised an eyebrow. “Explanation?”
Drummond took a deep breath and began.
“Rebecca, daughter of David and Judith, is going to suffer from high blood pressure, among other things. It will kill her at age 71, if she eats his favorite salty foods. If she’s born predisposed to problems with salt, I prolong her life by 2 years, until a drunk driver kills her and her grandson in a vehicular accident.”
“We’re not in the business of deciding life or death, Mr. Drummond. You know that.”
“Yes, sir. But the grandson is an organ donor.”
“I see, but Drummond – ”
“And the woman who gets one of his retinas is able to regain her eyesight in one eye, enabling her to finish the quilt she had started which covered the new baby born three doors down, which is handed down before it’s sold at a yard sale to the daughter of the grandson who was killed in the accident,” Drummond defended. “She won’t know why, but the blanket will comfort her on a very deep level, therefore creating -”
“Masterson’s Perfect Circle of Metaphysical Radiance.” They said it together.
“Well.” Brentwood cleared his throat. “I must say, Drummond. I wasn’t expecting that level of workmanship here. I suppose sometimes, in the more mundane positions, we get used to the status quo. It’s good to see we have someone who goes above and beyond their job description.”
The auditor reached for the file on top, opening it and scanning.
“You gave this young woman two voices. Two beautiful singing voices, and both very different from each other.”
“Yes, well – ”
“Ah! Ah-HA! I see she’s expecting some issues. Very clever! Replacing her voice with another! And by forcing her to work so hard for it, she finds her inner voice, her true voice, thus enabling Masterson’s Perfect Circle of Metaphysical Radiance!” They both said it together again, with fervor.
“Of course.” Drummond replied with a shrug. “Isn’t that the point?”
The auditor pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket, dabbing his eyes. He blew his nose, noisily.
“It’s been an honor, Mr. Drummond. A real honor.” He pumped Drummond’s hand enthusiastically. “I’ll go ahead and re-start time now, so you can go on with your day.”
“That was you?”
“Well, of course it was. You don’t think I’m going to bloody well waste my time on this kind of thing, do you?”
Somehow, Drummond kept the smile pasted pleasantly on his face. Just barely.
“So you’ll be turning in a favorable report?” he asked.
“Most favorable. Most favorable, indeed. I see you are destined for great things, Mr. Drummond.”
“Thank you, sir.” Drummond held the door, smiling blandly until the auditor closed it behind him. He let out a whoosh of air, putting his forehead to the door.
Hypersensitivity to salt. He snorted. I’d forgotten that one. Classic. Wait till he finds “Pervasive and effusive flatulence” or “Preturnatural Rabbit Pellet Hoarding Proclivities”. Drummond laughed out loud.
He turned with a sigh to the file on the desk. Damn. He really screwed that one up. Two voices. That was a major bit of idiocy. Nothing to do about it now.
Besides, her battle to regain her singing voice inspires her grandfather in his own battle against his cancer two years later, granting him an extra few weeks of life, during which time someone goes to the supermarket to get something just for him, then sneezes, passing their headcold on to a woman who stays home with her sick child a few weeks week later, missing the cat in the road on the way to work that would’ve caused the multi-car accident that would’ve delayed the loved one who was rushing to the home of the dying grandfather’s family by ten minutes. Instead, the grandfather will die with all of his loved ones around him.
It wasn’t exactly Masterson, but it was the best he could do. Drummond opened up a new file, slouched down in his chair, and stared morosely out the window.