real lj idol | week 9 | 675 words
Bewitched and Bewildered
The first time, it was just a miracle cleaning solution. The box showed up on the porch in the middle of a Wednesday.
"I did not order that!" Rex Blackmun said.
His wife, Cora, was unconvinced. But since they'd already paid for the product, she decided to try it out. It seemed to work—the grout around the kitchen floor's tiles had never looked so good. She decided it hadn't been a complete waste of money.
The issue, however, was far from over. Rex arrived home on Friday to find Cora waiting for him at the door.
"Seriously, Rex?" she said. "A vegetable juicer?"
"What about it?" said Rex.
"Why on earth did you buy it?"
"I didn't!" Rex squinted at the new appliance, labeled The Juicinator Supreme. "What would we need one of those for anyway?"
"Hmm…" Cora thought for a moment. "Maybe someone got ahold of your credit card number. We should cancel it and get a new account."
Rex agreed. He re-packaged the juicer, and shipped it back for a refund. A week later, he'd already forgotten about the whole thing.
The next Tuesday, Cora was at work when she got a call from the next door neighbor.
"The UPS man is trying to get me to sign for a delivery," Mrs. Friebert said. "The box is huge. It says, 'Ultracore Exercise System' on it. Are you and Rex starting some kind of new health regimen?"
Cora dropped her head into her hands. "Oh, for crying out loud!"
That night, she thrust the invoice for the home gym under Rex's nose. "Are you trying to make me insane?"
"I'm not trying to do anything," Rex said. "I don't think I am doing it."
Cora pointed to the top of the paper. "This is your name on the order, and this is our credit card number."
"Yeah, but why would I buy something like that? They're ridiculously expensive."
"That's my point! I'm afraid you're going to bankrupt us the minute I turn my back. Please, promise me you won't buy anything else."
Rex nodded. "I promise," he said.
Cora arranged for the fitness system to be shipped back for a refund, hoping to God that would be the end of it all. She and Rex ate dinner and then watched reruns of Law & Order, both feeling a little easier. With another workday looming ahead of them, they were in bed by ten.
Later that night, Cora got up to use the bathroom and discovered that Rex's side of the bed was empty. She went out to the living room and found him sitting there, staring blankly at the television set. His hand slowly reached for the telephone, as if it had a mind of its own.
"Oh, no you don't!" Cora said, snatching the phone away from him. She turned off the television, and touched Rex's face gently. "Come back to bed, honey."
Rex blinked as if he'd just realized she was there.
"Come on," Cora said. "No more late-night television for you."
In a high-rise building across town, two researchers for the Innovative Marketing Corporation watched the whole thing unfold on a four-foot high display screen.
"Nuts," said the first one.
The second one shrugged. "It was bound to happen eventually. At least we know it works."
"True. He bought most of our impulse-enhanced products, apart from the sessions when he was asleep."
The second one checked his notes. "It's probably time to move on to the next subject anyway, to broaden the pool of data. We've got a lot more homes to get through. So, I guess we should set up a service appointment to remove the equipment. Maybe tomorrow?"
"Nah," said the first one. "What's the rush? Let's give it another week or so."
"But why waste the time? Old Rex here is obviously a success."
"Yeah, but still… he's bound to get insomnia again soon."
"So, I want to see just how far we can go with this. Hey, maybe next time he'll even pop for a sofa!"
Community-only vote this week, here. If you've ever thought about joining, now's the time. The Green Room alone is worth it!