Stan, as you may recall, is the Stenny’s regular who dropped Long Haul off at Sandy Hill Country Club, allowing her to borrow and crash a golf cart and earning her a stint in jail. Like most bars, Stenny’s is highly tolerant of its regulars, and accepts Stan in spite of his quirks, which are many.

On a slow night a few months ago, Tara and Joanna were talking in general terms about his nuttiness, when they decided to cite specific examples.

“You start,” Joanna said.

“The time he came in dressed in full rebel Civil War regalia,” Tara said.

“Oh yeah, and there wasn’t even a reenactment that day. The time he said he had proof Tom Hanks was the antichrist.”

“The time he disappeared for three months and wouldn’t tell us where he had been,” Tara said.

“Right. He hinted though. Implied it had something to with a CIA mind control experiment.”

“The month he would only eat yellow foods. Lemons, bananas, cheese, butter, egg yolks, corn, custard.”

“Yes, and mustard. Lots of mustard,” Joanna said

“The time he brought a date in. He met her on OKCupid. I felt so sorry for her. She kept looking around for the cameras. Couldn’t believe she wasn’t being pranked.”

“Matt and I weren’t here that night. What was he doing?”

“He wouldn’t talk to her, not out loud anyway. He told the poor girl that they had to make a methodical transition to verbal communication, and they were only at the texting stage.”

“Yikes,” Joanna says.

“It’s hard to believe, but lately he’s taken it up a level. Thankfully, it’s at work, not here.”

Stan is a programmer, and works for a company that provides other companies with the interactive voice response systems they use to annoy and frustrate their customers—press 1 for this, say 2 for that.

“What’s he doing?” Joanna asks.

“He’s implemented what he calls a virtual kill system for clients and colleagues. He keeps track of the number of times they ask him what he thinks is a dumb question, or ask for a change too late in the process, or complain about the end result even though he followed their directions to the tee.”

“Virtual kill?”
“Yes, he has created cartoon images of everyone he deals with, and has them up on the walls of his cubicle. If the person doesn’t annoy him, the picture stays untouched. If they do, or more likely when they do, he tears off facial parts, one by one.”

“Any particular order?” Joanna asks.

“Funny you should ask,” Tara responds. “Yes, he was very specific about that. Nose, bottom lip, left ear, left eye, top lip, right ear, right eye. I just made that up. I don’t remember the actual order.”

Joanna nods. “Makes sense. I remember the time Stephen got his food order wrong and said something like I bet you want to shoot me. And Stan responded Shooting is for people who don’t enjoy killing.”

“You know, we laugh about it, say Ahh, that’s just Stan, but one days he’ll probably mow us all down,” Tara says.

“What a story that will be,” Joanna says. “In the meantime, do you have any napkins that need folding?”

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