It didn’t take much to distract Albert. Any random thing could send his mind spinning off on obscure tangents. That’s why the desk in his home office faced a bleak, white wall.
Albert was a highly successful emoticon designer. Two of his greatest creations,
¢:-( (arrow through the head) and
¥p (bad shrimp), continued to enjoy worldwide acclaim.
Sitting on a table beside his TV stood his most prized possession, his Emotie. The Emotie is considered the Nobel Prize for emoticon designers. He won that for his iconic balding middle aged emoticon,
The days following his Emotie were hard. The pressure to recreate his success was enormous. Heady praise turned to murmuring skepticism. The editors of ‘The Emoticon Standard’ wrote articles wondering if his best days were behind him.
Albert was beginning to believe his critics. The blank wall seemed to mock him. Albert shook himself and walked to the balcony. He loved the view from his seventeenth floor apartment. He leaned over and looked straight down. Across the street from his apartment stood a block of row houses. Excitement swelled from the pit of his stomach. It was either that or terror. Heights had that effect on him.
Every time he stood on the balcony, Albert fought the urge to throw a super bouncy ball just to see if it would bounce off the street and over the row houses. He wanted to try it, but he never had the nerve.
Just then, something flashed out of the corner of his eye. Albert followed the trajectory of the mysterious object as it hit the street and bounced over the houses into a backyard beyond.
“Woo hoo!” screamed a voice two apartments over.
Albert looked over and saw the most amazing woman he’d ever seen. “I’ve always wanted to try that,” he said.
“So, try it,” she replied.
“Wait right here,” said Albert. He ran inside and grabbed a hand full of super bouncy balls he kept in a bowl on his dining room table. He raced back outside, checked to make sure the woman was still there, then launched a ball from his balcony.
They watched it curve and fall, bouncing off the near sidewalk and off the roof of the houses across the street. Albert felt his heart race as they both cheered. She threw another ball. Then Albert.Over the next several minutes the row houses were assaulted with a barrage from the seventeenth floor.
At a break in the action Albert leaned over the balcony. His head was swimming. “I think I love you,” he said.
Albert blushed. “I think I said too much.”
“Maybe you didn’t say enough.”
“So I have a chance?”
“I didn’t say that, either.”
Albert thought for a second. “What are you saying?”
“You figure it out.” She laughed again.
“I don’t understand women at all,” said Albert.
“That makes you smarter than most men I know.”
“Smart enough to take you out to dinner?”
“Depends on what?”
She pointed to the row houses. “See the birdbath in the backyard, fourth house from the left? If you hit it, I consider going out with you.”
“How many tries do I get?”
She gave him a cute smile. “Just one.”
Albert eyed the birdbath. He lined up his shot, took a deep breath and let it fly. The ball bounced off the street, over the house and splashed in the birdbath, causing a robin to flee for it’s life. Albert gave a celebratory fist pump.
“Impressive. I guess I’ll consider it,” she said. “I’ll let you know what I decide. Later.”
“Will you at least tell me your name?”
“Carolina,” she said as she closed her patio door behind her.
Albert stood dumbfounded. After a few minutes he went back inside, sat at his desk and created the emoticon @$#:-ζ (confused man with a lot on his mind). He immediately sent it off to his editor.
Within seconds he received a reply. “Amazing. Your best work yet.”