Rock and a Hard Place

Beelzebeth poured Jiggs a small glass of wine and rubbed the back of his neck to help calm him.  He told her about the appliance store with its strange assortment of hardware, and about Szymon and his narrow escape.

“Oh Baby!  It’s no wonder you were shaking so hard.  That’s scary!”

“Yeah, it’s scary… Freaky scary!  Guess I had better go ahead, bite the bullet and call Professor Kavalioŭ.”

Jiggs reached over toward the kitchen wall to make the call when, with his hand millimeters away from the handset, it rang loudly.  Jiggs jerked his hand away from the phone, leapt from the chair and made for the back door leading out of the apartment.  Beelzebeth caught his shoulder with her left hand, but he spun free and grabbed the doorknob.  As he was about to bound through the door, he realized that it was only the phone, and he had intended to pick it up anyway.  Why had it frightened him so?  It was still ringing, so Jiggs, blushing now, returned and picked up the handset.

“Hello?  This is Jiggs,”

“Mr. Foonman,” The handset mimicked Professor Kavalioŭ’s voice.  “I understand that you are looking for new washing machines for your study.”

How did Kavalioŭ know that?  Jiggs hadn’t yet discussed the potential purchase of new hardware with anyone other than a couple of appliance salesmen.  He had just begun looking at prices.

“My friend Szymon called to say that you were in his store earlier today, but that you have not yet decided to purchase from him.”

Whatever Jiggs had decided to say to Kavalioŭ when he was preparing to call, whatever explanation he had struggled to develop had flown from his mind.  All he could do was clear his throat and shudder.  He hoped that Kavalioŭ didn’t hear the shudder.

“Yes sir, I am concerned that the washers we have may be injuring our socks, and am looking for a different, more humane washing machine design.  I looked earlier at the store where we purchased the existing washers, and I believe that they have exactly what we need.”  Jiggs was certain that there was nothing humane about Szymon’s appliances… any of them.

“Nonsense Mr. Foonman!  I want you to return to Szymon’s store Monday morning and select suitable washers.  Your success here hangs in the balance.”

“Yes sir… Monday morning.”

The End

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