Sally Sat on a Hard Wooden Chair in Her Father's Office...

October 23, 2007
By Carrie Hartmann, Cincinnati, OH

Sally sat on a hard wooden chair in her father’s office, answering the demanding phone and penciling in his many appointments. Snapping her gum, she rolled her eyes over toward the clock, anticipating the moment when the big hand would roll back around to the twelve and she would be released from this purgatory. She hated this job, but her father, “The King of Exterminators,” wanted her there. “It’s a family thing,” he always said. Well, where was he now? He had been gone since before she got there.
As if he could read her thoughts, Sally saw her father’s van pull up in to the crumbling parking lot. He opened the doors and Sally noticed him talking to someone. Then she saw a boy about her age get out of the other door. He was absolutely gorgeous. She immediately began to take in his curly dark hair, glowing green eyes, chiseled cheek bones, and the touch of tan to his muscular body. Sally followed him with her eyes, crouching down to hide beneath the window. Scurrying up as she heard the unmistakable squeak of the swollen door, Sally made herself presentable to meet this Greek god. She raked her hair through her chestnut curls and checked her mirror, wishing she had make-up to enhance her porcelain skin.

“Sally!” her father boomed. “I want you to meet someone!”

Sally ran toward the main office, quickly straightening her skirt.

“This,” her father began, “is Phillip. He’s new. His days are Monday through Thursday, from three until nine. Try to schedule him with someone else, though. I don’t want him asphyxiating an entire family. Okay, that’s enough. I have to show this boy the ropes.”

With a quick spin on his heel, Sally’s father began back to the van, with Phillip dutifully following. Sally’s face fell as the Greek god left as quickly as he came in. She only caught a slight glimpse of his perfect smile. Hoping to see his smile again, she rushed to stare out the window.

“I love you,” she whispered as the van sputtered to a start and pulled away. Her tender moment was interrupted by the cry of the phone.

“I don’t love you.”
Weeks passed and Phillip finally began to notice Sally. Her father did not approve, but could not fire Phillip because he was good with bugs. After seeing Sally wearing Phillip’s ring on a chain around her neck, he knew something had to be done.

“Phillip!” He said excitedly one morning, taking the boy under his arm. “Do I have a job for you! A couple out in East Town has a cricket problem. And not just and crickets. Mute crickets. I told them, ‘Do I ever have the man for you!’ So just go on over and work that magic of yours. Make sure you bring a couple back, just so I know that you’ve done a good job. Remember, one slip up and you’re fired.”

Now, as most people could figure out, there was no couple, maybe not even an East Town, and there certainly weren’t any mute crickets. But Phillip had to find some way to prove to the “King of Exterminators” that he had in fact done the job.

Phillip found Sally on the back steps, braiding an intricate crown. Spools of ribbon surrounded her as she wove her father’s crown for the annual “King of Exterminating” Fair. It was all a big publicity stunt, but it was her father’s special day. He looked forward to its coming with anxious excitement every year.

“Sally!” Phillip was out of breath. “Your father said-”

“That you have to find mute crickets?”

“Yeah, and if I don’t-”

“He’ll fire you?”

“How’d you know that?”

“Call it women’s intuition. Come on, I already have a plan.”

For the next week, Phillip and Sally set out jars of honey to attract bugs. Phillip set aside the grasshoppers, saving them for the master plan.

The following weekend at the fair, after Sally’s father had once again accepted his crown and made his speech, Phillip took the stage to make a surprise announcement.

“I just want to say,” Phillip began, noting Sally’s father’s bald spot reddening with confusion, “that this man taught me so well. I can do anything! I even caught mute crickets!” With that, he held up the jar of grasshoppers, to the crowds’ amazement.

Luckily, the king’s eyesight was fading. He did not notice the difference. Deeply impressed, he offered Phillip joint partnership.

Sally and Phillip got married and live happily ever after with three kids, two dogs, one exterminating king for a father-in-law, and absolutely no bugs.

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