RockTeethMothEyes:Handle With Care
rating: 0+x

Sitting on a stool at the Fun And Fast Food Diner™ was the boxy frame of Block Roberts, the most recent addition to the Toy Creation Department. At this present moment, his left hand was serving as a pin cushion for more than two dozen wooden splinters. He laid his head down in his arms, letting his face be warmed by his breath as it lifted off the diner's bar. Block wasn't in his best mood and it was tough to disguise it. He figured it was best to hide it for now.

Block felt a rapping of taps on his right arm. He peeked his head out and caught the waiter briskly making some distance between the two of them. Typical. More importantly, he saw his order: a Sweetly Sweet Strawberry Smoothie™.

In a glass.

Without a straw.

Block closed his eyes hard in the hopes that, maybe, if he pushed his eyelids together hard enough, he might be a little less frustrated. He reopened his eyes to be once again greeted by the delicious fruit beverage. He glared at the small drips of condensation gliding their way towards the bar surface. It looked good. It looked like just what the Doctor ordered. One deep breath later, Block reached for the glass, slowly taking it in his hand one finger at a time. Pointer, check. Middle, check. Ring, check. Pinky, check.

And now the thumb.

Alright, now to just bring it clo—



POP!



Block's right hand was now covered in pink juice and clumps of well-blended fruit. He stared at his fist, feeling the warmth being soaked up by the smoothie dripping onto broken glass. He didn't need to look around to see if anyone saw what happened, mostly because he was certain he could feel their eyes looking at him ever since he walked in.

Block sat still, his face feeling warm as the blood rushed into his head. His throat clenched and his jaw tightened. He remembered his breathing exercises. He felt that he desperately needed them, now, right now. In through the nose, out through the mouth. A couple of those and he'd be fine, just fine.

In.

And out.

In.

And out.

In. And out.

In and out. In and out and in and out and in and out and… and…

He couldn't do it.

Block's eyes burned, searing from holding back his frustration. As if responding to a command of release, he jerked his arm upright, his hand in a tight fist as he prepared to bring it back down into the diner bar.

"Hey, hey! It's Buddy Block! Long time no see! Howsit goin'?"

Block halted his swing when he heard the familiar voice from the door. It was Gordy, his friend and former co-worker. Block released the tension in his hand to wave at Gordy.

Gordy walked into the diner, hiking up his pants as he strolled over to Block. "I knew you'd recognize me! How could forget your best bud, right? Gosh, I haven't seen you in at least a we— what's going on with your grabber?"

Block remembered his mess. He pointed to the puddle on the bar.

"They served you glass? Ah shucks. They don't know you like we do at the Construction Department, Buddy. Shame. Real shame. I'll get some napkins. Sit tight."

Block nodded. Eight sheets of paper towel, a mop, and a handful of time later, all the evidence of Block's accident had been cleaned up. He could already feel his shoulders let the moment fall into the past. Gordy made himself comfortable on one of the free seats next to Block.

"Gosh, you'd think how often you're here, they'd remember to get you something more durable, like plastic. Not the cheap stuff, either." Gordy hailed the waiter. "Hey, excuse me? Yeah, I'd like a Lean Mean Vanilla Bean Malt™ and get the big guy another one of those smoothies. With a straw this time, please?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah, coming right up, yeah," the waiter replied with the kind of professional composure you'd expect from a lemonade stand start-up.

Gordy turned his attention to his friend. "Oh, hey, I forgot to check on your hand. How's it lookin'? You okay, Buddy?"

Block exposed the palms and backs of both of his hands.

"Ah, good, good. Good to see you haven't lost your thick skin! … Oh, but what's this here? You got some wood bits in your other hand. What happened there?"

Block frowned. He set his elbow onto the diner counter and raised his hand, then brought it back down. He continued the motion a couple of times, mimicking a drinking wooden bird.

Gordy put his finger to his chin, contemplating the action. "You, uh, beat someone in arm wrestling?"

Block shook his head. No.

"Pull a tree out of the ground?"

No.

"… ya broke something, huh?"

Yes.

"Aw geez. That's no good. What'd ya break?"

Block scratched his head for a moment before placing his palms flat on the diner bar and spread them apart from each other.

"You broke a bar?"

Block teetered his hand back and forth. He wasn't good with words, and handling props wasn't something he was about to do after breaking two things in one day. He finally came up with his answer when he looked at Gordy's ID badge. Block reached into his pocket and pulled out the ID.


BLOCK ROBERTS
APPRENTICE TOY TINKER


Gordy's eyes peeled open and his mouth broke into a smile. "You're kidding! That's where you've been? No wonder we hadn't seen ya in a while! I'll tell the guys back in Construction all about it later." Gordy nodded, letting the reminder swish around his brain for good measure. "… but I don't know what this has to do with breaking stuff."

Block narrowed his eyes. As comforting as it was to know that he wasn't the only dense person around, he could only handle so much. Maybe Gordy just needed a little bit of time to figure it out.

One Mississippi.

Two Mississippi.

Three Mississippi.

Four Mississip—

"OH! Oooohhhhhhh. Oh no. I'm sorry, Block. I guess I'm just used to watching you in Construction. Gosh, I'm happy for you, but, man oh man, that must be stressful. Working with small bits."

Block nodded. It was stressful. The waiter returned with the order, setting each down in front of their respective recipients. Block nudged his smoothie closer as Gordy paid for it all. They each took a moment to enjoy their drinks in silence.

"So, why haven't you had those splinters taken care of yet? Don't they hurt?"

Block shook his head. He then made a subtle motion towards the nearby seats.

All of the barstools were empty. The patrons had all opted to take seats at the booths or tables away from him.

It was Gordy's turn to shake his head. "You'd think people would have seen a big guy like you before. Well, I'll tell you what. I know a gal up in the Medical Department. Real nice, real sweetheart. I'll give her a call and let her know that you are on the way up!" Gordy beamed his winning smile at Block. It was one of the few comforts that Block was able to enjoy, seeing people's smiles directed at him like that.