There’s something on my desk, and I didn’t put it there.
Everything on my desk has a specific practical or aesthetic purpose. Every item has its place. To the left of my laptop: a pen cup, a Guinness alarm clock (perpetually set to five o’clock), and a wood carving of Christopher Lee as Dracula. To the right: a 1-inch miniature of my D&D avatar, a model freight truck, a Coke with my name on it (a gift on my first day of work), a picture of my wife and me, and a miniature bear statue, named Antigonus.
Everything under my desk has its place, too. I keep a cubby beneath my feet to stow my backpack, iPad, and lunch box, and my drawers are organized for optimal performance: the bottom drawer, the largest, contains personal care items, including deodorant and mouth wash–in case I need to mask my coffee musk. The middle drawer holds filled composition notebooks, dated and filed chronologically, and the top holds fresh ones, organized by color.
I regularly readjust my space, and I dust every Friday. I’m scrupulous: I take constant inventory of my things, and I note when they move or shift.
This morning, I found something I had never seen before: a four-inch Shakespeare action figure with a brown blot on its left lapel. The doll stood lackadaisically in front of the Christopher Lee wood carving, knees bowed, arm resting on the alarm clock, gazing up at me. He was smirking. Or maybe he wasn’t. I’m not so sure now.
Where did it come from? Who put it there? I prodded E—- for answers.
“Nice,” I said. “I get it. A Shakespeare doll for the writer, right?”
“What?” he said.
“The action figure on my desk. The one next to my laptop. Did you put it there?”
“No. I thought you brought it when you started here.”
“It’s new. I didn’t put it there. I thought you might.”
“I wish I had. It’s kind of neat. Where would you get one of those, anyway?”
“Internet, maybe? I don’t know. Historic theatres tend to carry odds and ends like this in their gift shops.”
“You’re the theatre guy. I wouldn’t know.” He shrugged, turned, and got back to work.
Now that I think about it, there’s no way E— could have planted the action figure. I was the last to leave yesterday evening and the first to arrive this morning. And I’m pretty sure the janitors don’t care enough to prank me. So how did it get here?
And why does it seem to be watching me? I’ve moved it three times this morning, and its eyes seem to gravitate toward me every time. Am I imagining things? Is it an optical illusion? A painter’s trick? A trick of the light? I don’t know.
And what’s that blot on its lapel? It isn’t paint.
I’ll turn it toward the wall for now while I finish my coffee.