The Return of Percy

Painting by Jackson Sze

The Mill is not yet open. As I explained to some people in Slack, the piñata court is still covered in snow and we can’t get water to the spigot on the outside of the canning factory. No water on an outside tap doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that’s where the painters fill up their bong (they’re old skool like that), and there is no use starting them painting if every morning one of them is going to get in the van and drive the 23 minutes to Munsel’s convenience store to fill up their bong down there.

So, as much as I enjoy the snowdrops and crocuses, Spring hasn’t really sprung until the piñata court is clear, and that hasn’t happened yet.

There are hopeful signs, though. I was coiling up a rope that I had found outside of the library because… well, you never know when you’re going to need a good piece of rope, and I saw Percy, one of the women from buildings and grounds, emerge from a bulkhead wearing a white beekeeping suit.

A Conversation With Percy

“Are you going to check on the bees?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “I spilled pomegranate juice on my uniform and Brother Basil let me borrow his bee suit. It kind of makes me look like praxidike, so I’m going to apply the dormant spray to the apple trees. I don’t want to get any of that shit on me.”

“I thought you were in the business of making things grow? Shouldn’t you be dancing around a Maypole so that flowers sprout wherever you walk.”

“You and your Maypoles. I have no interest in your Maypole, and it’s only April” she said, “For the good things to grow you have to kill bad things. After I get done with the apple trees I’m going to spray Roundup® on the buckthorn.”

“Roundup®? That’s some evil shit,” I said.

“Don’t say ‘evil.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because then we won’t get paid.”

“Oh,” I said, beginning to understand what we were talking about, “We are in the middle of a native ad for Roundup? Is this part of the new monetization scheme? The regular publishing season hasn’t yet begun and you’ve already tricked our readers into ingesting a native ad?”

She smiled.

“Monsanto, though,” I said, “That’s some evil juju. I’m not looking forward to reading what t♭has to say about this in the comments.”

“Look,” said Percy, “If you want to have a nice garden, you can’t be afraid to kill the things that threaten it.”

“Medium could learn from that,” I said.

“Tell me about it.” Said Percy, “I just spent four months reading Reddit in the basement with the king of all trolls.”

“Why don’t you just ditch that guy?” I asked.

“I wish it were that simple,” said Percy. “To start with, I would lose my green card because he is technically my ‘employer.’”

“Four months is a long time,” I said.

“I’m used to it,” she said, “He keeps to himself, mostly. I just work on my core. The worst part about it is that he calls me ‘Hermoine’.”

“That’s creepy,” I said.

“Not half as creepy as him wanting me to call him ‘Voldemort.’”

“Ew,” I said, making a face. She stared back at me blankly, “So now that you’re out and about, is it spring?”

“Not really,” she said, “Give it a little time. Mom¹ and I are going to be ramping up soon. You seemed to have gotten rid of the Trolls in your blog.”

“Medium blocking and ‘show less like this’ is like Roundup® for blogs.” I said.

“Thanks for the plug,” she said, “Sam Hughes is going to be happy you did that.”

“He’s not here yet, is he?” I tried not to betray my fear and alarm at the mere mention of his name.

“Not yet,” she said, “But soon.”

¹ Her mother, Teio, is the head of buildings and grounds.

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