Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tunnel Consulting, Part 2

This is continued from Part 1.

The next day, a small man with greenish-blond hair falling over his forehead knocked on her flimsy door. As she opened it, he announced himself.

"I am the tunnel consultant, Marco Van Whimmel. Just call me Marco. Shall we sit out here?" He gestured at her peeling rocking chair and the wicker chair with a faded floral cushion.

"Yes, perfect," Julie concurred. She wrapped her cardigan around herself and took a seat in the wicker chair. Marco rocked awkwardly across from her. "So you ... build tunnels?" she asked.

"Exactly. I'm so sorry about the mix-up. I should have been here first. The bottom line is that someone has bought you a tunnel -" he flipped open a notebook and scanned down a page, holding it closely to his chest. "I can't disclose who. But the point is, you have a tunnel. So, where would you like it to?"

"To? I'm not in jail, so I'm not sure I need a tunnel to anywhere," Julie observed. She flicked the heels of her flip-flops up into her feet. "Where do most people get their tunnels to?"

"Oh, well there is no 'most.' But some popular choices are China, naturally, or the Grand Canyon, or the house of a married lover. Which reminds me - I should point out a few rules, tunnels we won't dig. No digging into bank vaults. Or jails, as you mentioned. We won't break the law, it wouldn't be good for business. Also, no tunnels into hell. You wouldn't think that'd be a problem, but we get the request every once in a while. Same concept as the jail break, I suppose. Anyways, it's more trouble than it's worth, so we've ceased doing that. Finally, no tunnels back in time. Or forward. Only lateral travel."

"Wait, China? Isn't that rather far?"

Marco glanced up at her, his blue eyes twitching. "Tunnels work differently. Nothing's 'far.' Please don't consider geography an obstacle, minus those restrictions I already mentioned."

Julie ran her fingers through her tousled hair, frowning and then repressing a giggle. "What about to your house?"

Marco pulled his lips into a tooth-baring smile that was either intended to show indifference or aggression - Julie couldn't tell. "No, I'm sorry, that's off limits."

"I was just kidding," Julie replied, releasing her giggle. "Let's see ... a tunnel to anywhere I want ..."

"You can mail me your answer, if you prefer," Marco noted, hugging his notebook to his chest.

"Oh yes? I think I'll do that. I need some time to think it over."

He handed her a business card with a simple P.O. Box address. "Send it by tomorrow and the technicians will be here in a week."

"You can't tell me who gave me this?" Julie asked as she showed Marco off her porch.

"No. Definitely not. Terms of the deal."

Julie nodded, and returned to her kitchen. She made up a pot of tea, and sat thinking about where she would like her tunnel to go.

In a week, the same booted man again stood on her front porch. Julie invited him in, and led him down to the basement.

"We can start it from here, you think?" she asked, pointing at the grey cement floor. She had pushed back her dusty boxes and broken furniture to clear a place.

"Why sure, that's no problem. But miss, uh, do I have your plans right? I mean, this is a bit unusual."

"A tunnel that loops around and comes back here? Yes, that's right. Just make sure it's cozy. It's the journey that matters, after all."

He nodded, made some notes, and thumped back up the stairs to get his equipment.

2 comments:

Gary said...

Very, very nice.
Wouldn't it be great if her tunnel were somehow transparent, so she could view and comment on what she witnesses during her journey?

Carrie C said...

Maybe! My tunnel would be underground, all cozy with plush pillows and candle-lit lanterns, but perhaps hers would go past all sorts of neat sights!

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma