Ding… Ding… Ding… the little silver bell on the counter rang merrily.
Stacy looked up from her monitor and rolled her eyes. It was a slow day at the Department of Motor Vehicles— middle of the month and a steady rain shower outside usually assured a day of scrolling through social media on the taxpayer’s dollar. Not today though.
It appears Mrs. Elmira Rasmussen had donned her little blue-grey bonnet for the purpose of messing with Stacy’s day. It seems that after all these years, Elmira had decided that she needed to renew her much-expired driver’s license. Probably, with the intent of casually strolling down the passing lane with her blinker on and annoying half of the Midwest in the process.
Stacy trudged down the concrete stairs to the cold, damp basement. It wasn’t often anyone went down to the ‘Hall of the Dead’. In fact, she couldn’t remember anyone ever going there. The basement is where decades of DMV records were kept in neatly stacked cardboard boxes on the rows and rows of steel shelves. Each box contained about a hundred folders of drivers predating the age of computers. Most people were assumed dead, so the effort to digitize the information was never put forth. When she had taken over as supervisor of the department, no one even bothered to mention any procedures for handling the records.
At the bottom of the stairs, she flipped the light switch. One by one the old, halogen light bulbs sizzled before flickering on. Each cast a yellowish circle of light on the floor between the stacks of boxes. Gaining her bearings, Stacy headed in the general direction of where she believed the R’s would be located— scraping the souls of her flats across the dusty concrete floor the entire way.
As she reached the end row of shelves, she hung a left past a box labeled Py-Pz. Instinctively, she immediately jerked back into the shelves as a brown ball of fur darted across her path and dove under the shelves. She winced as her shoulder struck the steel supports. Luckily, the weight of decades of bureaucratic red tape kept the shelf from tottering over on her, but it was definitely going to leave a bruise.
Finally, she reached the Ra section—lined across the top shelf, of course. She stepped on the bottom shelf and reached for a box with ‘Ras’ scrawled in faded magic marker—decades of fluffy, gray dust fluttered down upon her like winter’s first snowfall.
“Son of a…” She cursed herself for having not taken the day off.
In short order, she found the file with Elmira A. Rasmussen printed along the top. She replaced the box on the shelf and made her way back upstairs with the folder in hand. When she reached the counter, Mrs. Rasmussen was nowhere in sight.
“Hell,” she muttered. “The old bat must have gone to the restroom.” She sat the folder down on her desk and returned to her Twitter feed.
About an hour later, Stacy realized Mrs. Rasmussen had not returned.
“Great! Just what I need a corpse in the bathroom stall with her nylons tangled around her feet. Ugh.” She traipsed out to the restrooms, but the woman was nowhere to be found. With a grumble, she returned to her desk and flipped open Mrs. Rasmussen’s folder.
Driver’s License ID: 0715-03-62463ER
Name: Rasmussen, Elmira Anne
Birth Date: July 15, 1903
Stacy’s eyebrows furrowed as she studied the form. At the bottom, it was clearly stamped with an old ink stamper in bold red letters: DECEASED. In the little text box below, it said June 24, 1963.
“Dammit Hephy! I didn’t ask for you to install a chocolate fountain in the lobby.”
Brass tubing spider-webbed across the bottom of a marble blocked basin and disappeared into the steel contraption in the center. The center tube was divided with multiple tiers each fed with one end of the tubing. The entire monstrosity extended two thirds of the way to the vaulted ceiling of the Sulfur Springs main entrance.
Just then he flipped the switch and the mechanism sprung to life. I leaned in closer to inspect the monstrosity of an eyesore. “Oh… Oh… Oh!!!!! Excellent!” Just as the aroma began to hit my nose, I brought a linen handkerchief to my nose and then she appeared out of nowhere.
‘Where did you come from?”
Mrs. Rasmussen stood there in front of the new fountain with her bonnet slightly askew. She looked just as surprised as I did. “I… uhh… my apologies, sir. I don’t know. I think I was at the DMV.”
“Hephy? Did Zeus requisition a DMV too? You know the Underworld is already hellish enough without adding one of those too.” Hephy shook his head with obvious bewilderment.
“Ugh. Alright, Mrs. Rasmussen, please, get back to work—the Illithids get very agitated when their larvae aren’t properly attended too.” She bowed her head in agreement and shuffled off quickly.
“Alright Hephy. Thanks for your hard work. If there is nothing else, I need to head back to the office and get a refill on my coffee☕. And tell Zeus, although I appreciate the gift, please stop requisitioning things off of Amazon all day long.” With that I turned and headed to my office to try and figure out what is going on around here.
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