The leather chaise took up most of the floor, but left a couple of pacing lanes open. The room was surrounded by dark wooden shelves that held books, knickknacks and the occasional picture of something ocean related. The room was warm, but was as personal as a very nice funeral home. The desk was at an angle to the chaise and behind it was one of those large captain’s chairs that looked like it could swallow the woman who normally sat in it. Sarah Collins was currently sitting in a much more modest chair set next to the head of the chaise. Her blonde hair had started to escape out from the tight bun she corralled the rest into. Sarah kept tapping the top of a spiral bound notebook with her pen like a metronome that was a bit off.
“So do you have any gender issues?” Sarah asked.
John Smith sat up from where he had been lying on the chaise. John was the poster child of average. Criminal sketch artists practiced John’s portrait without even knowing why they did it. He had no identifying marks or traits. Everything John did screamed of blending in, something he did well. Actually John did it too well. That was why he was here.
“Doc, I know I’m man. I’ve never had an issue with that,” John said.
Sarah stopped tapping and pointed the pen at John. “No, I mean has anyone mistaken you as a woman? You tell me everyone mistakes you for someone else. Does this occur cross gender?” Sarah asked.
John thought about that for a moment. “I don’t think so, I mean.” John paused and then his eyes lit up. “Okay, yes there were a couple of times. “
Sarah put pen to paper. “Continue then Carmine. Tell me about it,” she said.
“Doc, my name is John,” John said.
Sarah hastily wrote something down in her notebook. “Sorry,” she said. “I was mistaken. Please continue.”
John paused, then laid back down on the chaise. “Well it all started when I went for a loan at the bank. I figured I could use my gift for my advantage.”
“That doesn’t sound too ethical, John,” Sarah said.
“Well, I needed some money so I figured I would give it a shot,” John said.
John sat in the bank lobby, dressed in a really bad suit and tie. He had the start of sweat stains blooming through the jacket. He kept looking at the loan office where a young couple with a small baby was talking to an imposing loan officer behind the glass doors. John tried to lip read, but after thinking the woman had to grow an avocado he gave up on that.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” asked a female voice from behind him. John turned to see the woman who had pointed him to where he currently waited. She was pouring a cup already, and the smell made John’s stomach rumble.
“No thank you,” John said. “This loan thing has me pretty nervous. I don’t need to embarrass myself with having caffeine jitters kick in.”
The woman pasted on a smile and saluted him with her coffee cup before returning to her desk. John watched her go while he listened to his stomach lodge a formal complaint. John wondered why didn’t just accept the coffee and dealt with the consequences. He had just made his mind up to give into his stomach when he heard the glass door opened. He spun his head back around to see the young woman walk off towards the restrooms. That left the man holding the baby.
Even with the glass door closed, John could hear the baby starting up the sound works. The loan officer began talking with his hands more, and the man holding the baby used the kid to try to make his point, but all the charades were lost amid the tears of the screaming child. Finally the man looked out into the waiting room and fixated on John.
John tried to avoid eye contact, but it was too late. The man got up and pushed his way through the glass door. The full effect of the sonic attack by the baby was unleashed upon the bank. John was sure that the ceiling was about to cave in due to the assault of sound waves. The man almost sprinted to where John was sitting.
“Mary, that was fast. Why didn’t you come back in?” the man asked over the screaming child.
John held his hands out in front of him in protest. “Look, I’m not,” was all he could say before the man was shoving the baby into John’s hands.
“Give Maddie a little to eat, and then come back in. I’ll work on the paperwork until she’s happier,” the man said. John had to grab the Maddie because the man let her go. The man gave the baby a kiss on the forehead and then planted a quick kiss on John’s cheek. The man turned to go back into the office.
“Wait,” said John. “Where’s the bottle?”
The man laughed. “Funny woman. Just give Maddie a breast and then get back in here. It’s only our future at stake,” he said. With that the man reentered the glass fishbowl of an office.
John looked down at the screaming child. “Come on Maddie. Calm down little girl,” he said. The baby opened her eyes and stopped screaming. John immediately relaxed, but Maddie started up again, but this time she took her screaming to military jet afterburner levels. John tried to insert his pinky into her mouth, but the baby immediately spit it out and screamed even louder. John looked around for her mother, but she must have still been in the restroom. The woman from the bank was looking annoyed. John felt his world shrinking down to just him and this mass of solid sound he was holding. John became desperate to make it stop. His hand drifted to the buttons on his shirt.
Sarah paused in her note taking. “So how did that go?” she asked.
John looked uncomfortable on the couch. He muttered something.
“What did you say?” asked Sarah.
John jumped up from where he had been sitting, twisting to the bank woman for help. Maddie was attached to his left nipple and John looked like he was about to pass out. “Get it off!” he screamed. “Get it off!”
“Overall I think I handled it well,” John said.
Sarah put her pen into the spiral part of the notebook. “If you can’t be serious, Carmine, I mean John, then how am I supposed to help you?” she said.
“I am being honest,” John said. “You’ve got to believe me.”
“You must admit that seems a bit farfetched,” Sarah said.
John nodded. “I know Doc, but that’s why I’ve come here. I know I need your help.”
Sarah took back out her pen. “Okay. Let’s leave that story for a moment,” she said. “Have you had any other dealings with babies that you want to share?”
John shuddered. “Yeah, there was this other time…”