Only 17 hours prior, the entire Northwestern area had received a snowfall that accumulated at levels unparalleled for eight years.
At present, the snow that had once kept many schoolchildren happy at play began to depart. It had completed its task, keeping snow-shovels sold, and an unseasonable sun began to recall the clouds’ excessive shipment. Overall, it had been a fairly balanced snow day, and everyone in the Northwestern area could be considered more or less satisfied.
Not everyone. Not Charlie.
For the past four hours and change, Charlie Stood laid in the snow on his back, waiting to be asked why he was flat on his back in a pile of freezing mush, and also if they could get him a hot dog, as a cart was sixteen feet from his head.
He responded to those who asked that he’s trying to become evaporated with the snow. No one lingered long enough to offer him a hot dog, and the vendor eventually moved his cart to an area less hazardous to his sales.
Out of boredom (yet still fairly lucid, if not misguided in his endeavors), Charlie began pestering a stop sign.
“It’s like this, Ernie,” choosing the name based on his company’s slogan, STOP & EARN!, “Some people wish they could fly. Not me. I’ve always wanted to be pulled up through a straw. A rapture, I suppose.” He paused to give the vendor a dirty look. “I’ve heard that some frogs have been evaporated and rained down to earth.”
A pigeon sat on his head.
“I’m terrified of large bodies of water, so I’ve been waiting for a large enough snowfall.” Ernie politely said nothing. “STOP & EARN!, huh? My company makes its living from stealing potential clients from smaller companies. Stop other businesses from succeeding and we earn. I may not earn today, but I’ll feel good that I stopped.”
“Give me a break! Look, we all have problems, but being pulled into the sky isn’t practical, and if it was possible, it’s not the way we deal with our problems! Take it from me: STOP whining and make some constructive change. You can trust me; part of me was once Sigmund Freud’s spectacles.” This is what the stop sign would have said if it had consciousness.
The pigeon would have nodded. “How many of my brethren have been run over, maliciously slaughtered, devoured, yet not one human removes their remains? It’s disgraceful, sir! It’s, it’s distasteful, sir! But do I mope? No! I relieve myself upon randomly selected members of your species! Get up, you sad-sack!”
Rather than cooing all this, the pigeon relieved itself on Charlie and flew off.
Charlie wiped off the pigeon’s souvenir and closed his eyes.
Three minutes later, a woman’s low-pitched shriek could be heard.
Ten seconds following that, Charlie felt a sharp and wet pain in his face 36 times in succession.
Charlie opened his eyes. A woman somewhere between 46 and 46 and 11 months yanked him by his lapels.
“YOU…” Her nostrils seemed to produce their own smoke. More likely, it was the chilly winter air.
“SENILE…” The woman’s skin, normally the color of cardboard, currently resembled the shade of the hot dogs across the street. The hot dog grease on her hands and mouth added an unintended authenticity.
“FART!” She belched, trying to cover it up after the fact by placing a sheepish hand over her mouth.
“Hello, Ms. Ginley. I can sue you for assault, you know.” This possibility never actually crossed Charlie’s mind, instead begging for her forgiveness regarding whatever it was he did to her.
“You old idiot!” (July Ginley was only ten years younger than her subordinate, but she never liked to waste potential insults.)
“I find you in the snow like some drunkard layabout,” (July Ginley had a habit of drinking six types of alcohol on weeknights, eight if she was with friends.)
“And now look what you did!” She lifted a leg and pointed at her boot. “Your stupid face got kicked so much that it wore down the sole!” July Ginley wiggled her long red toes at her subordinate. Charlie really wanted a hot dog.
(This was a little prank July enjoyed pulling on her employees. All of her shoes were modified by a former college roommate to allow the sole to be detachable from the rest of the shoe. On this occasion, the sole flew from her boot into the hot dog bun of a young boy. The terrible taste of the sole would later be described by the boy as “The greatest thing that could have happened to me.”)
July licked her palm. “Wait… have you been to work today?”
Charlie confirmed he hadn’t with a tremendous lack of motion.
Brown curls flew threw her damp hands. “Do you see the button with our company logo hanging from your coat? DO YOU NOT THINK IT AS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO HAVE MY BUSINESS REPRESENTED THROUGH A FAT OGRE LYING IN THIS… SKY GUNK?!”
Charlie quivered. The “sky gunk” was melting evermore rapidly.
“ANSWER!” She kicked him with her soleless boot.
“ME!” She kicked him with her soleful boot.
“I just… I just wanted to be evaporated.” He had no problem telling strangers, but he turned his gaze when he said it to his boss.
July’s muscles softened.
“E… evaporated? Did you say evaporated?” Her eyes grew dewy.
Charlie’s breathing overtook his ability to speak.
“Ever since I was a girl, I wanted to be evaporated, to see the heavens.”
A pregnant pause was ruined by July’s belch.
Charlie tried speaking. “Do… do you really want to be evaporated?”
July angrily squealed. She began piling snow on his large torso. “NO, YOU FREAKING DIPSTICK! I always wanted to own a large company and stomp on my enemies! There are no more dreams to conquer!” She removed her soleful boot and hit Charlie over the head, the only part she didn’t cover with snow.
“And, and EVAPORATION? Let it be understood, Stood. Under no circumstances will you be permitted to work for my company again. You are FIRED! YOU HEAR ME! FIRED!”
She tossed her boot over his face and checked her watch. Late. She would refer to it as a “company lunch.”
With the boot over his face and unable to speak, Charlie Stood was unable to get up from his snow dungeon. Later in the day, some teens buried the boot for whatever teen reason.
It was a week until the snow was all but forgotten.
July Janice Ginley was meeting with her board of directors to discuss her replacement during her vacation in “sunny Greenland.” No one liked her enough to correct her.
“Board members, my temporary replacement will be the next person to walk into this room!”
July had decided on her cousin. No business acumen, but how much damage could someone do in two and a half months?
“Gentlemen, I present to you…”
Thunder could be heard screaming outside. A sudden downpour trickled against the bricks of the building. The lightning landed through the roof, directly on top of July Janice Ginley.
A rosy-cheeked woman, 52, soaked to the bone, rose from the floor and examined her personal area, oblivious that she was on top of another human being.
The woman swept her faint blonde hair and rang the water out. “That was… that was definitely worth it,” she panted, holding a weary hand to her chest. She looked down at a twitching woman, unconscious. “I’m sorry, did I do that? Let me help you up.” She lifted July and turned to face the board.
“Oh. Hi! Um, have you seen a man with grey hair? Well, half of you have gr… His, uh, it’s Ch–”
In a spectacular bit about lightning striking twice, the woman dropped July, who was immediately crushed by Charlie Stood.
“Lorelei! Th-thank goodness! This was, was the best week of my…” Charlie rubbed an eye. “This is… was my office! Hello, Tommy!”
Tommy scratched an elbow, but Arnold wished Tommy would scratch his own for once.
“What are you… how…”
Lorelei laughed. “Turns out that the human body being made mostly of water has truth to it. And I’m not insane, like my brother accused me of being!”
Charlie clasped her hand. “Insanity runs in pairs.”
Clark cleared his throat, causing him to choke on something in there. “Um, well, they can’t be Ms. Ginley’s replacements. They didn’t WALK into the room. So who is is?”
“Excuse me,” Matt the new hire said, casually walking in. “I have some letters for Ms. Ginley.”
The whole room burst with applause. Matt shrugged.
Lorelei and Charlie live together with a crop of frogs they found in the clouds and rescued from becoming sidewalk residue. They make money through interviews, book deals, X-Treme E-vap-o-RAY-SHUN lessons, and Lorelei’s 3.2 billion dollar inheritance she received from her nephew. No longer having to STOP & EARN!, Charlie’s conscience is at peace.
Matt was so competent while July was in the hospital that the board elected to replace her. In a move lacking full knowledge of the individual, Matt brought his son to thank her and get some advice. The advice she offered them was so unpleasant that it should never be chronicled, and it caused Matt’s son, Lenny, to shove the boot sole he found in a hot dog into her mouth.
This caused her to remark how they should make “edible shoe soles,” causing Matt to take Lenny out and never return. But the remark lingered, as years later, Lenny patented various types of shoes: Shoes with replaceable Velcro straps, shoes where you could slip in a special printable paper to “Customize it to the MAX!”, one size, color, gender, or occasion fits all shoes, and of course, shoes specifically made for evaporation. Lenny never made edible shoe soles, as that would be terrible.
Being The Shoe King, marrying Lenny would have meant his wife would have shoes for life, but he happily married Greta, The Wheelchair Iron Maiden. He never looked back.
July Janice Ginley was unable to return to her office, or any office, due to medical and ethical reasons. However, her injuries are so terrible that she needs to take several painkillers a day, so she’s technically happy.
Ernie the stop sign is still unable to speak.