Mr. Monk And The Day's Diminuitive Disaster
by Nicole Clevenger

When Sharona came back into the living room, Adrian was sitting on the edge of her couch with a sheet of bubble wrap in his hands. Benjy was on the floor beside an open and empty box, watching him with an expression caught somewhere between fascinated and frustrated. She could see her son's fingers twitch as Adrian continued to methodically pop every tiny pocket of air.


In order.

"Adrian, what are you doing? We've got to go."

"I know," he said, not stopping or looking up at her. "But some of these were already flat; I'm just making it even. You'll thank me later."

Four more rows to go. Assuming she could keep him from starting in on the rest of the sheets that were stacked neatly next him.

"The whole point of bubble wrap is the bubbles. Now I'm gonna have sheets of plastic that I can't even reuse. I'm supposed to thank you for that?"

He shrugged, focused on his task. She knew from personal popping experience that with the smaller kind of bubble wrap, half of them came without air already. But even those his fingers had to touch on, to make sure they were completely empty. Sharona watched him, itching to take it away and do it herself.

She glanced over at Benjy; he looked up at her, his eyes begging her to do something. To save them both from having to sit through this growing, fingernails-on-a-chalkboard kind of agony.

"Why'd you give it to him in the first place?" she asked him.

"Mom, I didn't," he protested with a quiet hiss. Not wanting to say anything negative about Adrian while he was right there in the room. Despite her rising annoyance, she wanted to hug him. "Mr. Monk noticed them when I was going through the box."

"Of course he did."

Adrian nodded. Three rows left. "Some of them were already flat."

She pulled the slipping strap of her purse back up onto her shoulder. "Stottlemeyer said he wanted us to hurry. He's afraid the crime scene's gonna get contaminated - something about the FBI. We have to go now."

That got his attention - for a minute, anyway. He looked up, fingers poised above the next waiting bubble. "The FBI has already been called in?"

"Yeah, that's what he said. FBI." She tugged gently on the edge of the plastic. "We need to go."

But his eyes were back on the sheet, his hands already continuing the pattern. It was like standing in line at the bank, with the guy behind you endlessly sucking on his teeth. Sharona fought the urge to scream.

"Just one more minute," he said.

Just one more minute. Until he looked over at the next piece and noticed that a few of those were already flat as well. They'd be there all day until he finally finished... or at least until she or Benjy couldn't take it any more, and one of them ended up strangling him. She couldn't let that happen - she needed this paycheck bad.

Plus it was always just good policy not to murder your boss.

So - backed by the looming twin specters of her overdue water bill and her empty kitchen cupboards - Sharona yanked the bubble wrap out of Adrian's hands and threw it on the ground, stomping up and down on it until she was absolutely positive that every single bubble was popped. She bent over and picked it up, brushing a piece of hair out of her face and straightening her purse again as she calmly handed it back to him.

He held it out in front of him, his eyes moving from it to her face and back again.

"Happy?" she asked.

"No," Adrian said.


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