Harmony Hill Part 2

Betsy sat on the lobby couch and did her best to settle the rambunctious kids as they climbed and jumped from the pebbled table. “Settle down!” she shouted and then collected herself. “Your father has an important meeting and he needs to concentrate.”

“Harold, please, the Queen will see you now.” Dirdax announced, unable to soften her concerned scowl. She gestured toward a cavernous door which appeared freshly dug by Harold’s estimation.

Harold paused pacing and nodded. He turned to his family. “Betsy, kids, I love you. Everything will be ok. I’ll come back out when it’s time for the sugars.” Betsy clutched her mug tightly and fought back tears to remain strong for the kids’ sake. Harold then made his way into the Queen’s lair.

The Queen, with her back to the door, poured nectar into a glass. “Harold, I presume.” She turned around. “Oh. Oh dear.” Her eyes darted to, then quickly away from, Harold’s jam-smeared crotch. “Harold, please, you didn’t need to… Please, do you have something to wear?”

Harold recoiled. “I’m so sorry. I thought this was procedure.” He shamefully uttered as he stumbled backwards toward the door. “I’ll send one of my kids home to get my pants. I’m so sorry.”

“Your kids!” The increasingly appalled Queen sputtered. “You.. brought your kids, Harold?”

Harold squeezed his eyes shut and lowered his head. “My whole family.” He whimpered with the heavy shame of a half-naked, jam-genitaled idiot smacked with a series of mistaken assumptions all coming to light. “Wife and kids.”

The Queen proceeded cautiously, “I trust they’re..”

“They have clothes on.”

“Splendid!” The Queen cheered the first good news of her encounter with Harold. “If they are comfortable, they are of course welcome to stay. If they would prefer to leave, Dirdax can arrange an escort home if they would like. It would be no problem. Nevermind about fetching pants. If you don’t mind, there’s a robe in the cabinet there.” The Queen indicated toward a small cabinet to Harold’s left. “...Please.”

“Yes. Yes, of course.” Harold mustered. He opened the cabinet and, uninterested in spending any more time than necessary, quickly grabbed the robe on top of a stack of folded robes. He hastily unfurled the robe, threw it on, and tied the waist shut. Harold sighed when he realized his robe quite closely resembled a watermelon. The print inside the robe was red with black spots as seeds and the outside was green “rind”. “Uh, do you mind?” He nodded toward the office entrance.

“Please, speak with your family, Harold. Arrange for their comfort. Take your time.” The Queen graciously agreed.

“Thank you so much.” Harold wheezed. He sheepishly crept back through the door into the reception chamber, his head down.

“Daddy! Daddy!” The kids shouted as their father emerged. “Here, we didn’t forget!” They ran to his side holding pouches of jujus over their heads. Betsy stood and prepared to part with the mug of sugar.

“No, no. Everything is ok, we don’t need the sugars. I think I made a mistake” Harold happily admitted.

“A mistake?” Betsy asked, puzzled yet relieved. “What about the paper? The escort? What are you wearing? Harold, how can this be a mistake?”

Harold explained, “Yeah. I think I may have heard some bad advice. We can talk about it when we get home. I need to finish up this meeting, but it shouldn’t be long. You guys can leave now if you want or you can wait. The Queen gave me the robe, uh, because of the mistake. Jesus.”

“We’ll wait.” Betsy declared immediately. “Kids, sit down, your father won’t be much longer. You can eat the jujus.”

The kids crammed jujus by the fistful into their frothing mandibles.

“Ok, be back soon.” Harold adjusted his robe and returned to the Queen’s lair. Dirdax, pleased with the improvement in Harold’s attire, smiled politely as he passed.

The Queen sat at her desk sipping nectar as Harold came back through the door. “So, Harold.” She began. “First of all, thank you for answering your summons. I appreciate you taking the time to come to Harmony Hill.” She sighed and leaned forward. “Let’s get it out of the way. I assume you haven’t taken the company’s sensitivity training course yet have you?”

Harold’s thoughts drifted to visions of his email inbox. The “Unread” counter incrementally ticking upward. Reminder emails falling by the wayside in lieu of other legitimate, but perhaps less important, responsibilities. Stretching yet another layer of shame, this one more metaphorically and less watermellon-y, over himself, he answered. “No. No, I haven’t.”

“You’ll take it first thing the next time you’re on shift though, right?” The Queen sternly suggest-asked. Harold nodded. “Good.” She continued. “It will clear up some things. There are a lot of… ‘misconceptions’ is the polite word.. A lot of misconceptions about Harmony Hill. And Harold? Harold, your misconception wasn’t the worst I’ve seen or heard of. I hope we can move past this and I think the training will be helpful.”
“Yes, of course I will take the training. And again I want to apologize for being so insulting. Thank you for thinking about putting this behind us.” Harold replied in a daze, reeling from his numerous failures.

“Alright.” The Queen continued with forced cordiality. “Is your family still here?”

“Yes, they’re going to wait.” Harold affirmed.

“Very well. We won’t be much longer. Here, take this home and review everything.” The Queen produced a small package from her desk drawer and handed it to Harold. “Think about it, and you can email me your answer. Now go on home, Harold. Thanks again for coming in on a day off. Oh, take the robe with you. Bring it back next shift. Steerax will escort you home.”

Harold nodded. “Thank you.”


Harold and family emerged from the peak exit and found Worker Steerax waiting. They began walking down the slope toward the 600 block of Harmonyville. Steerax, unable to keep his chitterin’ hole from flapping, winked at Harold and quipped, “Thought you were in a jam huh?”

“You could’ve said something.” Harold forced through clenched teeth. “Fuckin’ asshole.”

Steerax chuckled. “Ain’t the worst I’ve seen.”

© 2021 StoryBarf