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An Original Tale From The Copy Center Story

Br'er Juan is tormented. Is it the space shuttle, customers, or the full moon?


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A Full Moon Trilogy
Thursday, July 29, 1999   By: Br'er Juan

Br'er Juan is tormented. Is it the space shuttle, customers, or the full moon?

The full moon rose over the last Wednesday in July, 1999, illuminating a special event for the Florida coast – the landing of the space shuttle.  Glowing red from re-entry rockets and the heat of atmospheric friction, the ancient, graying Columbia drew the eyes of space watchers as it sonic-boomed its way from Texas back to Cape Canaveral.  A spectacular sight, illuminated by moonlight.  But while the moonlit shuttle dazzled all conscious eyes, the Moon herself got to work on her full-time activity – spreading lunacy through the gated communities of Ponte Vedra Beach – and cooking up new schemes to confound the life of a particular Copy Center associate.

 The full-moon day was exactly four hours old when she first attacked. 

Br'er Juan sits up from his sleeping couch, still monitoring Art Bell’s radio program, and tries to pry open his eyes.  The Moon, still peering over the Atlantic, looks on, satisfied as she sees his sinuses throb like the head of a cartoon character just whacked with a mallet, his stomach churn like the sea in a nor’easter, his skin splotch red like a sunbather using baby oil and iodine, and his eyes glow like the shuttle’s tiles.

 The Moon peeps as Br'er Juan staggers to the kitchen for his first defense to a full-body allergy attack – an Alka-Seltzer. The Moon chuckles as he pulls out his espresso maker and brews a huge mug of rich, strong, black Bosnian coffee, not the weak filtered American stuff.  He gulps down the drink, as he walks to the all-night convenience store for the second defense – a giant bag of Wavy potato chips – the best allergy fighter of all. 

 Br'er Juan back at home gulping his chips.

“Why aren't you reporting this war?” yelled the Caller.

“What war?” asked Hilly Rose, sitting in for Art Bell.

“Bill Clinton’s latest.  You know he declared war on the Intergalactic Federation.  Now he’s lost that war, and he’s had to pull back our last 355 UFOs and hide them near a small lake in Canada,” said the Caller.

Br'er Juan thinking, about as credible as TV news in this market.

As the full-moon day moved into its ninth hour,  The Boss Lady watched Br'er Juan walk into the Copy Center. His eyes still glowed red as Hannibal Lecter’s.  She took her morning break.

Br'er Juan, alone with his blazing eyes, faces his first customer.  She’s small and fat and gray and carries a huge purse – a bad sign – and as she walks up to the Copy Center she fumbles through that purse – an even worse sign.

 “See,” begins the customer, her eyes wide and darting over the odd, life-forms unseen inside her gated community, “she’s leaving and I get her office so I need to take down the sign on her door and put one with my name on it, one of these plastic signs, it should slide right in, shouldn't it?”

“Well,” goes Br'er Juan, still hoping for rationality, “it depends on what size hers is – What size is it?”

“I'm sure I don't know,” says the customer as the Moon chuckles.

“If you bring in her old one, I can make one for you exactly like it,” goes Br'er Juan, losing hope.

“She’s probably already taken it with her.  This size might do,” she says pointing to a display.

“For that one you have this choice of colors.”

“Oh, that’s so many. I think this color here – Oh, wait, this one.”

“That’s not a wall sign, that’s a name badge, and that color’s not available for a sign.  These are the colors you can choose from,”  goes Br'er Juan grinding his teeth.

“Oh, wait, maybe it’s this size here – yes, let’s get this one.”


“But you have to choose one of the methods of mounting, either screws, tape or Velcro – otherwise you can't put it on the door.”


“Once again, here are the color choices.”


“Ma'am, if it’s going to slide into an existing mount, it has to be one of these two sizes.”


“Yes ma'am, I'm sure that’s how you spell Hypnotherapist.”

“Well, look, I had my husband write it out for me to be sure I spelled it right.  I wouldn't want people to think I didn't know what I was doing.  But he’s Japanese, and they don't write the same letters as us, so his writing’s hard to read.”


“Wait, there’s what I want,” says the Hyptnotherapist  (as she decided to spell it). “I want one exactly like the picture in this book.”

“I'm not sure it’s really that color – the colors in this catalog are off a bit,“ whimpers Br'er Juan.

“It’s what I want – you write down there that I want one exactly like the picture on page 29.”

“Yes, ma'am.”

 As the Hyptnotherapist left, the Boss Lady came back.

“Why’dItTakeYou40MinutesToSellHerThatSign?” she asked.

“Do you realize how close to death you are?”

Luckily the Boss Lady finds Br'er Juan amusing.

As the full-moon day entered its second half, The Boss Lady left for lunch, and a pleasantly smiling woman carrying a stack of color photographs approached. The Moon laughed out loud.

“I need color copies of - ,”began the pleasant lady.


A smaller blonde knocked her out of the way.

“I need this copied – I need it now – I've had to leave my kids in the car and it’s almost 100 degrees outside.”

“Go ahead,” says the first customer as she stares in disbelief.  The kids-in-the-car woman darting over to the door, dancing back and forth as she looks outside.

She grabs her copy, runs to the cashier, breaks into line there with the same “I've had to leave my kids in the car” screed, pauses long enough to make some vague complaint about the copy,  trying to get it at half-price, and darts out to her car.

The pleasant lady turns to Br'er Juan and says, “Didn't New York police arrest Jean Kirkpatrick for leaving a dog inside a car?  How does that woman dare use her own irresponsible behavior to get waited on sooner? – but, I guess it worked.”

The Moon roared as her day entered its 16th hour.  The Boss Lady went home, and her relief, a native of Oriental, North Carolina of all places, long-time fan of former WITN-TV stars Ben Pringle, Brad Zaruba and Bob Buckley, arrived.

Oriental Boy spots her first – about 50, thin, disheveled clothes, and hair dyed black as the mop of a 15-year old Goth Marilyn Manson wannabe.  He busies himself loading paper in a copier.

But he watches as an unwarned Br'er Juan approaches her.

“Can I help you?”

“Mmm-mmm-mmhhh,” says the Goth lady, speaking down into the counter.

“I'm sorry, I don't hear well,” says Br'er Juan hearing in his mind the car-crash sounds of Joe Grenade playing his cymbals with small baseball bats at the Teen Club in Milledgeburgh.

“Mmm-mhh-mmm,” says Goth, and Oriental Boy watches as Br'er Juan drop his head to counter-top level, trying to read her lips.

Oriental Boy already knows she doesn't move her lips when she talks.

“Ten copies?  Is that what you said?”

“Mmm-mhh-mm, good paper.”

“We have paper samples there in the corner if you'd like to pick something out.” Oriental Boy watches her walk over to the paper, pull out a sheet and wave it in Br'er Juan’s direction.


“I'm sorry, I can't hear you.”  Oriental Boy still watching as Br'er Juan walks around the counter to get within hearing range.

“AHHHHHHH – AHHHHHHH,” she screams, jumping back about three feet.  “DON'T YOU GET CLOSE TO ME.”

Br'er Juan runs back around the counter.  “I've told you I'm deaf – Either I'm going to have to get close to hear you – or you're going to have to talk louder.”


“Whatever,” mutters Br'er Juan, wishing, as he began making copies, the snack machine in the lounge had potato chips.

“Hey, this phone’s for you,” says Oriental Boy, aiding the Moon in her final plot.

“Juan, this is Julia – calling about this sign you ordered.  The colors in the picture in the catalog are off a bit – we don't make one in those colors.  And I think Hyptnotherapist is misspelled,” she says in her wonderful Tennessee mountain twang.

“That woman took 40 minutes to order that sign, and that’s what she wants.  Spell it that way – I guess I'll have to call her about the color.”

“I feel sorry for you,” goes Julia.  “I've heard these stories all day.  It must be a full moon.  Either that, or the space shuttle brought something back.”


Tales and Humor  

(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren