Alternate Ending to "The Catbird Seat" by James ThurberRated:
Insanity insues. I can't believe I wrote this as an English assignment...
Mr. Martin got to the office at eight-thirty the next morning, as usual. And as usual, Mrs. Barrows did not come bustling in until nearly a full hour later, by which time Mr. Martin was already quite settled into his deskwork. Peculiarly, for the rest of the morning, the office droned on in monotony without Mrs. Barrows’ obnoxious voice. She was unusually quiet, filing papers dutifully, although not without an impatient twitch. Mr. Martin pretended not to notice.
At a quarter past noon hour, as Mr. Martin was about to take his leave for lunch, a clearing throat broke the humdrum of the office. He looked up to see the hefty form of Mrs. Barrows parked in front of his desk.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Barrows. What assistance do you require?” said he, pleasantly.
Mrs. Barrows sniffed. “I’ve come to tell you that, indeed, last night I telephoned Mr. Fitweiler and relayed our conversation from yesterday evening to him. For your sake, he merely chuckled it off, saying you must only be teasing,” here she took a deep breath, “He has convinced me of this, and I would like to exchange amends for both our behaviours last night.”
Now, although Mr. Martin, to the pits of his soul, did not take her word for it, he smiled again agreeably and murmured an apology. Mrs. Barrows smiled back rather stiffly and reached into the large purse she was clutching tightly. She produced a bottle of milk.
“I hear it’s what you commonly drink,” she explained, “And really
, Mr. Martin, lighten up a little. I haven’t heard a laugh from you yet.”
Grasping the bottle firmly, Mr. Martin nodded thank you, I’ll keep that in mind
. He downed it within the same hour, grimacing at the slight sourness to it.
At approximately five o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Martin was once again getting ready to take his leave, but this time, for the day. As he was pulling his coat on, Ms. Paird interrupted him with an instruction to stop by Mr. Fitweiler’s office before he leaves. Frowning, he forced calm into his nerves as he walked briskly to the directed office.
“Ah, good afternoon, Mr. Martin,” Mr. Fitweiler greeted awkwardly when Mr. Martin knocked before opening the door. “Yesterday evening, Mrs. Barrows gave me some very interesting information… Yes, interesting indeed. I do hope I was correct in giving you the benefit of the doubt, after all, you’ve been working for me for nearly twenty years—”
“Twenty-two, sir.” The sour taste was still on his tongue.
“Ah, yes, of course. So, I am assuming that you were only joking around?”
“Nothing more, sir,” Mr. Martin responded. Then, a thought suddenly occurred to him. Grinning clumsily, he added, “And you know how misleading and exaggerating women tend to be.” He chuckled.
Mr. Fitweiler broke into laughter too, eyes twinkling, and said jovially, “I understand your point. They hear one thing, and repeat something completely different to another.” Together, the two of them laughed for over two full minutes, until Mr. Fitweiler couldn’t remember exactly what was so funny in the first place.
But Mr. Martin was still laughing, so he smiled again, uneasily. On and on he laughed, like he had never laughed before, and certainly, that might have been the case! He didn’t seem near the end, but Mr. Fitweiler, uncomfortably wanting to be alone again, tried to cut it short.
“Ah, Mr. Martin…it’s not that funny.”
But on he laughed some more, before he wheezed out, “Mrs. Bar…Barrows…t-told…me to…to…lighten up!” And Mr. Martin started a new round of laughter again, like as if he found what he had said to be particularly amusing. Mr. Fitweiler did not.
“Mr. Martin, I implore you! Please stop this nonsense at once!” he cried, jumping up from his seat.
“I…I…c-can’t!” the other man gasped, looking as though he wanted to stop, but couldn’t find it in himself to do so. “Need…breathe!” he huffed again.
Mr. Fitweiler was aghast, and wanted to shout obscenities at this abhorrent man who couldn’t follow orders after working for him for nearly twenty (twenty-two
, flitted a thought through his racing mind) years. And as he took a deep breath to begin shouting, his breath caught in horror as Mr. Martin gasped for his own.
Still laughing, Mr. Martin’s mind was wild as he fell to the floor. Breath. No matter how much he gasped for it, it never seemed to fill his lungs. His abdomen was on fire. He wheezed and he puffed and he panted, but there was still no oxygen.
Letting go of one last snort of laughter, a short breath drifted out of his mouth, and he sagged, leaving nothing but a sour taste upon his lips.