Lorraine didn’t believe in astrology. Nor did she, as so many people do, open a book, point to a sentence and use that as a guide for the day. Further, she had no truck with runes or tarot or any other fortune-telling schemes.
She had something much better than all those petty and discredited oracles.
On Monday morning, Lorraine bopped the alarm clock and sat up in bed. As always, she felt the sense of the day’s mystery both surrounding and permeating her. She got out of bed, made it carefully, and went in to shower.
After drying her hair, she poured her usual bowl of bran flakes and made two pieces of toast with elderberry jam, which reminded her of her father. Just before eating, she reached into a drawer. Inside were a little transistor radio, a pair of scissors, and fifty-four unopened packages of AA batteries, two to a package. She drew out the radio, the scissors, and a package of batteries. She cut open the package of batteries and opened the radio’s battery compartment. After placing the scissors back in the drawer Lorraine put the batteries in the radio.
The radio was already tuned to the only station Lorraine listened to, a station that played only the greatest hits from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Here was the wisdom of the modern era, delivered to her through the pure airwaves for her to meditate on and emulate for the day.
She turned the radio on and set it next to her. She ate her breakfast as several commercials played. Then came the station’s jingle and identifier. Lorraine tensed and set the spoonful of bran flakes back in the bowl. It was time to learn how she should relate to the world today.
The music began and she gasped. She knew this one instantly, and her heart soared. Today’s guide was none other than the Fab Four Themselves. Lorraine was always ecstatic when The Beatles directed her steps. She resumed eating as she listened intently to the lads sing You Won’t See Me.
When the song ended, Lorraine quickly shut off the radio and withdrew the batteries. They were good now only for lesser purposes and they went into a nearby drawer that was almost overflowing with double A batteries.
Unlike some mornings, this message from the oracle was perfectly clear. She wouldn’t be going in to work; that was obvious. When her boss called to see where she was, she wouldn’t answer the phone. If her mother called, she wouldn’t answer the phone. If she went out to the store for anything, she would be uncommunicative and opaque to one and all.
She bowed her head respectfully to the quiet radio and put it gently back in its drawer until the morning. Then she set about some light housework, trying to keep her thoughts even from herself. She considered shutting the phone’s ringer off, but then she wouldn’t know when someone was calling so she could ignore it. Obedience to the oracle demanded awareness.
Tuesday morning came and Lorraine repeated her familiar ritual, infused with the daily mystery and eager for her instructions. A new set of batteries briefly powered her connection to the direction her life was about to take for the day.
She came in on the end of Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime. Since she wasn’t hearing the song from the beginning, this was not the day’s oracle. Absently listening to the lyrics, she wondered what she would have made of her day had that been the song. It faded away and she held herself still for the oracle.
She knew this one, too. Sonny Curtis sang to her, as he had for Mary Tyler Moore, and told Lorraine that Love is All Around. She hurried through breakfast and raced to get to work a little early.
She found her boss, Karl, first thing.
“I’m so sorry about yesterday, Karl,” she said, being as sunnily contrite as she could. “But I’ll make up for whatever I missed. It’ll all be done by the end of the day and it’ll be done right.” And with a happy smile she bounced off to her cubicle, greeting wary co-workers on her way.
Karl watched her go and wondered, not by any means for the first time, whether Lorraine was schizophrenic. She certainly marched to the beat of a different drum. He sighed, knowing he would let her get away with almost any behavior she cared to exhibit because when she did the work, she was a super trouper. That was her saving grace for the times she didn’t show up, or showed up half-drunk at 9 a.m. Or there was the time she tried to coax Phil … and John … and Sam … and Karl himself … and Sara … to have sex with her in the hallway. That one had had him thinking of the old Beatles song Why Don’t We Do It In the Road? for the rest of the day – possibly because Lorraine insisted that no one would be watching them.
Phil appeared in Karl’s doorway. “Wherever Lorraine’s mind is today,” he said, “it’s a good place.”
“Yeah,” Karl agreed. “She might just make it, after all.”
Phil snorted. “Still three more days this week.” He moved on down the corridor.
Karl sighed again and turned back to his computer. His radio, tuned to the oldies station, quietly played Eric Clapton singing I Shot the Sheriff.