I’m working feverishly on university business, writing business, and editing business today. I decided to stop long enough to post something and decided on a silly short story I wrote some time ago for a contest. Yes, I know. It shows what a madman I am.
“I Want My Mummy!”
Jeannie answered the phone.
“Dallas Museum of Natural History. Robert!” Jeannie said. “It’s good to hear from you. I can hardly wait! Bert’s doing fine. Yes, I know you said he’d be difficult, but I’ve got him under control. It’s hard to believe it’s been six months. You too. Goodbye.”
Jeannie hung up the phone and meditated about her future. Robert was the Director of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Next month she would leave Dallas and move to Washington to become the Assistant Director of the Museum of Natural History. A very prestigious, lucrative position.
Bert, Robert’s nephew, was the reason she had landed the job. Last year, Robert had called the museum on Bert’s behalf, asking if the museum could use a good solid worker.
Knowing Robert’s importance to the museum world, she agreed to hire him. The next day Bert appeared, and she put him to work. A good bit above minimum wage too. And after Jeannie explained Bert’s connection to the Smithsonian, the board didn’t buck her decision.
However, she had a very real problem. Bert was pretty much an idiot.
There was also another problem. Since hiring Bert, she and Robert had become romantically involved, seeing each other once a month. It was nice, but not perfect: Robert had a great love for his nephew and when Robert flew Jeannie out, he insisted that Bert come also.
However, Jeannie also saw Kenneth occasionally. Kenneth was an IBM executive, and when in town, they would get together for a little late-night romp late in the museum. Making love surrounded by priceless artifacts of ancient history excited Jeannie. Robert didn’t know about Kenneth, and Jeannie didn’t feel he needed to know—ever. And, Kenneth’s work also took him into Washington.
Recently, the museum had acquired a mummified Indian baby, affectionately dubbed “Lime Drop.” A priceless acquisition, obtained for a small investment.
Bert was quite taken with Lime Drop. He stared at her for hours, and often photographed her. Jeannie, ignoring museum rules banning photography, told Bert that he could use his camera when the museum was closed. And in a moment of temporary insanity, she had given him a key to the museum.
Once, she caught Bert holding Lime Drop, nestling her to his breast and cooing as if he were a parent. Jeannie made him return her to the display basket, and warned him to not molest her again. But only yesterday as she returned from lunch, she found him wheeling Lime Drop in a small baby carriage in front of the museum.
“I love little Lime Drop, Miss Jeannie,” Bert said. “I ain’t never had no one I cared for so much. “ He reached down and tickled the leathery skin on the mummy’s chin. “Goochee, goochee, goo!”
Jeannie winced. She led Bert inside quietly, internally rehearsing scenes of the terror such a sight would create for the community. The backlash would be terrible. She couldn’t fire Bert, or her new job would be in peril. Yet, she also knew she couldn’t allow this behavior to go on. She was confident Bert’s uncle would agree with her decision to protect Bert from his quirky obsession.
She found Bert studying a newly acquired piece of Egyptian papyrus.
“This is real purty, Miss Jeannie. What does it say?”
“It’s an Egyptian ritual telling how to raise the dead.”
“What’s a ritual?”
“You know, like a formula. It tells the steps of how to do something.”
“You mean, like a recipe?” he asked.
“Yes, Bert, like a recipe.” She sighed. “Bert, I’ve got bad news. I’ll be taking Lime Drop with me to the Smithsonian, so I must pack and prepare her for the trip.”
“You mean, I won’t get to see her no more?”
“No, Bert. You better say goodbye now.”
Jeannie felt sorry for Bert, but she knew this was for the best. Moreover, she would be in Washington next month and Bert would then be someone else’s problem.
The next day, Bert didn’t report to work. Jeannie called him, but there was no answer. How could she explain Bert’s absence to Robert? She and Bert were supposed to fly to Washington this weekend.
She paced restlessly through the museum, willing herself to think of a solution. She paused in front of Lime Drop’s now empty display area. A sealed envelope, addressed to her, was Scotch-taped to the glass. She opened it and carefully read the two-page typed letter. For a moment, she thought the museum might be a terrorist target. The rambling, cryptic message had enough personal information about her that she knew she had to take it seriously. It wasn’t until she read the last lines of the message that she understood. “Be at the corner of Third and Main at 10:30 with the recipe and the child or you will be sorry! I’m sure Uncle Robert would be quite interested in hearing how you mistreated his only nephew. He might be really interested in knowing about Kenneth.”
Lime Drop. Bert wanted Lime Drop! She looked at her watch. It was already 10 o’clock. She was being blackmailed by an idiot! And Bert knew about Kenneth! What if he had taken photographs?
Jeannie decided to grant his demands. She slipped the Egyptian resurrection ritual into a folder, retrieved Lime Drop from the storage room, and rushed to the rendezvous point. Bert was there, his baby carriage ready.
She handed him the folder and the mummy. “There! I hope you’ll leave me alone and that I never see you again!”
Bert grinned idiotically. “Uncle Robert didn’t tell you? He’s hired me as the head janitor for the Washington Museum. We’ll all be together, like one happy family. You, Uncle Robert, Me, and Lime Drop! And Uncle Robert says he’s got a bunch more mummies I can play with!”