The following story came from a dream. In the dream, I was sitting in the green room of some local talk show and telling this joke to the other guests; Robin Curtis and Parker Stevenson. I woke up laughing and wrote the story down before I could forget it:
The floor manager of Farnham’s Department Store’s floral department pored over the notes on his
desk in excruciating boredom. Most of the papers were interdepartmental memos, shuffled and reshuffled
until everyone knew the same tedious, useless facts. The manager, David Harken, read one from the
Sports Department on the sixth floor.
From:Sports Dept. Mgr.
And so it continued. The In.’, meaning in the store’s jargon an incident’, was a shoplifter who’d been caught trying to steal a putter by sliding it down his pants leg and stiffly walking out the door. The man had been picked up by Security and the store intended to make an example of him.
Granted, it was important; any report of shoplifting in Farnham’s merited attention. It was just that Harken was sick and tired of his job in this dreary old place. Even the floral department, normally a bright spot, had lost its appeal.
At any rate, it was six o’clock. The store was closing for the day and he wouldn’t have to think about it until opening tomorrow.
His secretary, Miss Brown, came timidly knocking at his door. “Mister Harken. I’m afraid we have a problem.”
Harken sighed to himself. Why did these things have to happen at closing? “What is it?”
“Two customers, sir. They refuse to leave the floor.”
With another sigh, Harken pushed himself out of his chair. “Where?”
“They’re in the carnation section. Security is asking if they should send up a few men.”
“Tell them never mind. I’ll take care of it.”
Harken knew the floral section like he knew the layout of his own apartment. He found the couple quickly enough, a man and woman. They were well-dressed and both in their late twenties, by the look of them.
Wearing his best manager’s smile, Harken walked up to them.
“Can I help you?” he asked in a syrupy tone of voice.
“No, we’re all right,” replied the man. He sniffed delicately at one of the myriad of carnations.
“Well,” said Harken uncertainly. “I’m afraid the store is closed.”
“Yes, we know,” said the woman. She looked at the moulding over the elevator. “Look, George, they haven’t changed since 1961.”
The man nodded. “So I see.”
Harken frowned. Neither of these two looked old enough to have even been born by '61. “I’m sorry, the store is closed.”
“Don’t worry,” said the man calmly. “We just wanted a second look, on the anniversary of the day we were killed here.”
That made Harken blink. “I beg your pardon.”
“On this day in 1961, a man and woman, my wife and I in our former lives, were shot accidentally during an attempted holdup.”
“I…see.” Harken’s mind was working furiously. The holdup, the only exciting moment in his early stockboy days, was a dim memory. “Well, haven’t you, ah, relived the moment enough?”
“Hmm? I guess so. Come along, Susan. We can’t keep the store open any longer.”
Wearing pleasant smiles, the two disappeared down an escalator. Harken was immensely relieved to see them go. He went back to his office.
The papers on his desk reminded him there was a necessary duty to perform. Even though he hated the idea of it, he would have to write a memo explaining why the closing had been delayed. Better to do it now and get it out of the way before tomorrow morning.
With his habitual sigh, Harken peeled a blank memo sheet off a pad on his desk and started to write:
From:Floral Dept. Mgr.