Kevin threw down the latest order in disgust. “I can’t take it any more. What is wrong with this place?”
Opal looked up from her work. “What happened?”
“The signs they want me to paint are ridiculous. I’d suspect that they were playing tricks on the new guy, but I know better.” Kevin picked up the paper and started to crunch it in a ball.
“What do you mean?” Opal set down her paintbrush.
Kevin tossed the paper at the wastebasket. He missed and Opal caught it just before it hit her arm. Kevin scowled. “This place is so weird. That’s all.”
Opal smoothed open the work order. “This isn’t so weird.”
Kevin snorted. “I’m supposed to paint a warning sign so that giant eggs don’t sit on the palace walls. How is that not weird?”
“Didn’t you hear the news? Humpty fell there just last week. Not even the king’s horses could fix him. He had to be life-flighted out.”
Kevin threw his hands in the air. “That’s not normal! Giant eggs that talk. Horses that think they’re doctors. The idea that something like that could happen again and they need to post a sign. It’s all absolutely ridiculous!”
Opal sighed. “New guys are always like this. Why did you move here if you want everything to be normal?”
“The pay was good. Housing was included. Of course, no one said it would be a gingerbread house, or that the neighborhood kids would all come nibbling at my walls at five thirty in the morning. It’s worse than rats. At least rats don’t shriek and giggle.” Kevin glared at Opal as though he believed she was responsible somehow.
Opal shrugged. “I hear that the old lady at the end of Cobbler Street is moving.”
“The one that lived in a shoe?” Kevin looked incredulous.
“Well, I admit that she did have a lot of children, so the house might need a bit of work…”
“You mean the shoe?” Kevin interrupted.
Opal looked confused. “Well, yes, but…”
Kevin rolled his eyes. “I’m not living in an old shoe. There has to be something else available.” He shuffled the papers on his desk. “You know what, I’m not thinking about this right now. I’m going to clear out the orders I have left and take a long weekend to sort out where I want to go from here. Let’s see. I have a gingerbread man crossing sign, one that warns of falling children, and… oh, look! This one’s normal.”
Opal leaned forward. “What is it?”
“Sheep crossing. I bet this one goes next to some nice normal fields near a nice normal farmhouse.” Kevin looked dreamy. “It sounds nice. I wonder if there’s a house available nearby. The commute couldn’t be that bad.”
“That one goes next to the school,” Opal said.
“What? Shouldn’t the school be in town where all the children are?”
“It is.” Opal smiled. “It’s just that Mary’s little lamb keeps following her to school. I guess they’ve given up trying to send him home and are finally going to give him an education. Think of what that will mean for all the other lambs!”
Kevin closed his eyes and shook his head. “Not thinking about it right now.”
Kevin opened his eyes. “Let me have my moment of normal. Stop telling me weird things.” He pulled an apple out of his desk.
“Don’t eat that!” Opal yelled.
Kevin paused and looked down at the apple. “When the lady at the market said they were poisoned apples, she really meant it, didn’t she?”
Kevin threw the apple at the wastebasket. It missed and thudded into the baseboards next to it. “What is wrong with this place? Who eats poisoned apples?”
“Wicked witches?” Opal said hesitantly.
Kevin stood up, grabbed his wallet and shoved it in his pocket. “I’m going to lunch early. I’ll be back.”
“But you just got here,” Opal said. Kevin scowled at her. “Never mind.”
Kevin started to stomp out and paused when he passed Opal’s easel. “What is that? Is it warning about an alien invasion or an enchanted mirror or a portal to another dimension?” He shuddered.
Opal shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m just supposed to make a sign telling people to turn around and go a different way.”
Kevin looked at the sign again. “Well, I think that will work.” He shook his head. “This place is so weird.” He left for lunch.
“New guys are always like that,” Opal said to herself as she went back to work. “They’re so weird.”