FEAR OF PIGEONS

Manny stood on his desk and prodded the air conditionerin his office with the broom he had found. Despite that for about a half a year he had tried to get Copal to get someone to fix it, nothing had happened. He didn't actually know what was wrong, but at noon his office was like a sauna. On top of that his window was stuck so he had no chances to cool downhis office.

Maybe some animal was stuck in there? Finding that out was pretty difficult, in the Land of the Dead animals didn't rot and the only way to be sure was to stick inside.

And Manny wasn't about to do that, so that was it.

With a sigh he gave up and jumpedto the floor. This was an unusual day, he had had not a single customer, so he had been allowed to do whatever he wanted the whole morning. Others shared the situation, Copal had withdrawn into his office to solve crossword puzzles, Eva sprawled on her desk reading a magazine and even Domino had been forced to come up with something to do.

It seemed as if the living had finally found a way to live forever.

Manny threw the broom away and stepped out from his office. He could as well go and have a drink and then concentrate on having a word with Eva.

But he immediately noticed that the woman has disappeared from her place.

"Hm, this is weird," he stated to himself. Usually Eva was like glued to her chair and even a sale in the stocking shop across the street wasn't enough to make her go. Oh well, maybe the sale was really tempting this time.

Manny walked into the coffee room, which was empty, just like he had assumed. He quickly snatched a glass and peered in the fridge to see if someone had remembered to order more liquorice.

There was only one bottle there and Manny took it in suspicion.

Turpentine.

"Only Copal can drink this," he saidin disgustand put the bottle back. It was a known fact that Copal had met his fate when his so called friends had switched his beer with turpentine and poisoned him. He had thought it was especially good and realised something was wrong only after he had died.

But the turpentine had been so good that he still didn't want to drink anything else if he didn't have to.

Manny shrugged in defeat, placing the glass on the table. He wasn't actually even thirsty.

But he was bored.

Eva had disappeared somewhere and he had no intention to seek Copal's company. When he had been that desperate last time he had been forced to ponder with him what was the opposite of life, started with the letter 'd' and had five letters.

So he just didn't have any other option than to return to his office or to go and see what Domino had decided to do. Probably boxing or doing something elseequally stupid.

"Hi, Dom," he said stepping into his colleague's office. It had once been Manny's office, but Copal had given it to his golden boy and Manny had been forced to settle with the old storage room.

Better not to tell him about the mould problem I discovered right before moving out, he thought to himself and stopped to watch as Domino beat the heck out of his punching bag.

"Hi. What are you looking for?" Domino asked not bothering to even glance at him. So typical Domino. Manny shrugged.

"Nothing. Just trying to kill some time," he replied.

"Here's news for you; it's all already dead in this world," Domino stated then.

"Hahaha. Very funny," Manny said dryly. He had never heard Domino tell a good joke. They were all really stupid and unimaginable. Especially the one about two nuns, the one he told over and over again.

Especially when he was drunk.

"You know where Eva has gone? If she was here I wouldn't have to be here." he continued after a while. Domino stopped boxing and placed hismouthpiece on a shelf. Why he evenbothered to use it in the first place was a mystery to Manny. Maybe he was afraid of the bag punching back?

"I don't know and I don't care. Maybe she's part of a secret rebel organisation and is using this extra day off to form plans to find out the evil plans of the D.O.D." Domino guessed in amusement.

"That's just as likely asthat you actually work for a big crime lord and are part of the biggest treachery of the Land of the Dead," Manny threw back. Domino didn't say anything to that, just looked more arrogant than ever.

Manny decided he didn't want to see Domino's face at the moment, so he calmly stepped behind his desk. There were no papers on it so he peered in one of the drawers before Domino managed to chase him away.

The drawer was full of books. Manny took the first one and grimaced when seeing what it was.

"Reaching Perfection" written by Domino Hurley.

Manny shook his head and went through the other books.

"How to Become Perfect" written by Domino Hurley
"Guide of the Perfect Reaper" written by Domino Hurley
"Perfection and How to Cope with It" written by Domino Hurley.

"I didn't know you are an author, Dom," he commented and Domino just glanced at him and shrugged.

"I take care of my customers so fast and well that I have some free time. You can write all kinds of things when you have that much time," the man explained. Manny took one last glance at the books.

"Seems like you have quite an imagination" he stated.

"Hey Cal, maybe you should borrow them for a while. Maybe they'd help you to become someone again," Domino offered making Manny glare at him.

"Yes, maybe," he said. It had been a mistake to come here, Domino managed to annoy him just by being himself and it might be a good idea to leave before he snapped. Manny closed the drawer and took a look around.

"Dom, what's your screen saver password? Britney Spears?" he asked. Domino snorted.

"None of your business. Get away from my computer," he said. Manny shrugged.

"I bet it's Ally McBeal," he stated.

Domino laughed rather nervously.

"What makes you think so? What kind of man likes skeletal women?" he asked and Manny was sure he had hit the spot.

"We all," he replied deciding to let the matter be. If he continued Domino would just change his password and he wouldn't have any fun later. Then again, he would probably change it anyway. He just had to try again when he got the chance.

"Oh well, she has never been my ideal woman either," Manny said turning away from the computer. Domino relaxed immediately and looked like himself again.

Though not for long.

Manny had turned to look at the window and was already stretching out his hand to open it. In his own office he couldn't cool at all, so he had decided to get some fresh airthrough Domino's window before leaving the golden boy to amuse himself.

He opened the window.

And was in for a huge shock.

"Ahh! Shut the window Cal! Shut the window!" Domino exclaimed and Manny had never seen his colleague that terrified. He had seen arrogant Domino, sleepy Domino, arrogant Domino, angry Domino, arrogant Domino, drunken Domino, arrogant Domino and even hallucinating Domino.

Domino dived on the floor protecting his skull with his hands and continued shouting and Manny just couldn't do anything else than stare. What the heck was going on?

He had to consider if the company's mental tests really worked. If they did there had to be a really tactical reason for Domino passing them.

Suddenly Copal rushed in. He froze when he saw the window.

"Calavera! Who opened that window?" he asked and Manny glanced at the open window behind him. Gentle breeze blew in and they could all see a beautiful view in the city of El Marrow.

"I did," he replied not getting the problem. In the next moment Copal almost exploded on his face.

"You opened the window? What kind of idiot are you? Close it now!" he barked and Manny gave him a questioning glance. He had no idea what was going on.

"All right," Manny stated and closed the window.

"Okay Domino, the window is closed," Copal cooed and after making sure it was true Domino dared to stand up. He looked perfectly normal again.

"What is going on around here?" Manny asked in confusion. He had always known Domino was somehow sick and twisted, but this was probably a bit too much.

Domino and Copal glanced at him on guard.

"Nothing," Domino said quickly and looked a bit embarrassed. Manny shrugged.

"Well, if it's nothing I can probably open the window again. It is really hot here, maybe the air conditioning is broken here too," he said pointing his words at Copal, who didn't seem to take the hint.

"No! Wait! I'll tell if you step away from that window!" Domino hurried and took a desperate step closer.

"I'm listening," Manny said not knowing what to expect. Domino seemed to piece himself together and sighed then.

"I can't stand pigeons. They are always out there looking at me and I'm afraid that if the window is open they might come in," he said and for the first time in his afterlife Manny saw the golden boy really embarrassed.

What a wonderful feeling!

"Pigeons?" he asked in confusion and Domino glared at him.

"Yes, pigeons. Do I have to explain everything to you?" he asked.

"Yes."

"All right. When I was still alive I bought a sandwich and climbed on the top of a skyscraper to eat it. It didn't take long before a huge swarm of pigeons attacked me. They wanted to peck the crumbs on my suit, but I thought they were going to eat me, so I panicked and jumped off the roof," Domino said.

Manny shrugged. That was the most pathetic way to go he had ever heard of.

"You, afraid of pigeons?" he repeated not knowing if heshould believe itor not. He had thought a guy like Domino would be afraid of all the mirrors in the world breaking, but this was weird.

"Hey, everyone is afraid of something," Domino defended.

"So you actually admit that you are on the same level with the rest of us?" Manny asked. Copal was starting to get enough of this.

"I suggest that you get out of here and take care of that no one will ever hear about this. Or things might get nasty," he threatened and Manny turned to face him.

"The secret is safe... when the air conditioner in my room is fixed," he assured. Copal looked like he wanted to sprout someone and Domino wasn't smiling either. But they both knew Manny was on top now and with a sigh Copal turned and left.

"I'll sign the work order now," he muttered angrily.

Domino pointed Manny the door.

"Out," he said and Manny had no reason to resist. While stepping in the corridor he stopped once more.

"You know Dom, if you stopped playing with your domino pieces you could overcome this and your other mental problems. Why don't you play draughts instead?" he asked innocently.

Domino froze and seemed even more shocked now.

"Cal, never ever say that word near me!" he said and Manny quickly stepped away to avoid being hit.

It seemed Domino had another dirty secret, but right now he didn't want to think about it. He would find it out eventually, whether he wanted or not.

The End