Nobody’s Home

After a long week collecting dubious debt for her employer Credit Recovery Associates (CRASS), Kankakee’s most shady debt-collector, Sybil Kibble is feeling stressed and irritated. 

“Out of dog-food again! Dang, I just bought some at Schmucks! How did I eat all those Alpo cans so fast? They must be making them smaller now.”

Needing someone with whom to vent, Miss Kibble goes over to the house of her best friend and next-door neighbor, Mrs. Pearl Jo Hulbutt (PJ).

“Ah my boys have not come around lately. They don’t appreciate their mother and all I do for them! Have you seen that Kitty Bee lady? Her hair is pink now!” PJ rambles on complaining about person after another. “Have you talked to your father?”

“I stopped talking to him years ago. You ask me that every time I come over. Why?”

“My father was not so nice. It says in the good book we should forgive people and pray for them to change.”

“He’s dead. His new wife was just as abusive, I hear she has an extra room. Why don’t you call her up? I am sure she would like the company. She’ll probably ask all kinds of questions about me! Go up to Chicago and spend a month or two to see what it’s like. Just call her after I leave.”

“No need to go overboard with your remarks. They are entitled to their beliefs as well. Everyone should be able to practice their faith without fear or judgement. As a person with a demon latched onto her body at the age of two that never leaves me alone, I understand fear and misunderstanding. I’ve been judged for my demeanor and nosey words my entire childhood but I still care and help others. I define me not other people.”

Rightfully livid, Sybil Kibble walks back to her home, and eats her last dog bone; much tastier than the word-salad her neighbor had spit out.

Sybil calls a bunch of friends, hoping to open up about the invalidation and gaslighting she just experienced.

Leona Krabalsky’s phone goes straight to voicemail as does her sister Leona’s. Out of desperation, she calls her hairdresser Lila Croule at her home-based salon, even though she is a week early getting her face-frame cut. She just wants to relax, but sorry; more voicemail jail.

“Why are all these people getting at the bus at once?” PJ Hurlbutt asks aloud to a bus full of strangers, looking around for someone that cares. 

An enquiring mind wants to know. PJ repeats her nosey nonsense and adds more crap to her routine. “Look at that lady with the green hair. Does she know those tattoos are permanent?”

“I’ll tell the mayor,” Dorian James deadpans, making a cheeky grin while adoring his boyfriend Ant’s half-sleeve.

Sybil drives her white Chrysler LeBaron to find find out why people are ignoring her calls and texts.

She drives underneath the I-57 underpass to seek Kankakee troll Leona. Nope, she’s not home. 

Sybil continues North toward Peotone to find her sharp-tongued stylist Lila Croule, hoping to trade barbs about stupid customers. After she parks her reliable box-mobile, she rings the doorbell at Lila’s front door. No answer. The RRRRRRGH of the lawn tractor stops and Sybil spots Lila trimming the edges of the grass using her $1000.00 hair shears.

As Sybil drives home to Kankakee, she sees her subordinate Dale Davis jogging, beeping his watch repeatedly. Dale waves to Sybil and beckons her to come hither. Her stomach turns. No means no.

Sybil drives to Major’s Supermarket and stocks up on wet and dry dog food, with which she drowns her worries at home, glad to be away from the rest of the Moroniverse. It’s too peoply out there. Can you blame her?

Aim High

“Oh man, I want to see the new movie Aim High but the tickets are all sold out. It opens this Friday, you know, the one based on the newest Nora Roberts book?” Dorian James rambles.

“Never heard of it.” Sybil tells Dorian in the CRASS cafeteria as she crunches her dog biscuits.

“I want to see it when it comes out, but the tickets are sold out because it is a Valentine’s Day movie.”

Sybil has a few extra minutes before she logs onto the phones, so she searches OKStupid for potential dates, reacting to herself as she reads through the personal ads.

“41 year old man in Chicago seeks female. Must be 18-25 and love sports.”

Nope.

“Do you like big trucks? 21 year old guy, loves beer, weed, works hard and plays hard, no games.”

Naw, I like the occasional backgammon.

“Rare frog, last of his species, seeks woman of any age to give him a kiss. Very polite tender-heart. Age 45. Bourbonnais.”

Just a photo of his feet? A bit odd, but I can try I guess.

Before Sybil has a chance to message the stinky feet from Bourbonnais, he emails her.

Sybil and the mystery man email back and forth. They hit it off right away. The divorced man complains a lot about his ex-wife, which Sybil tunes out. Sybil talks about her love of lawnmowers and dog food, which the guy ignores only to interrupt her about his “poop elves” story.

It’s a Valentines Day in Kankakee. The birds are chirping and Sybil is tweeting online about how excited she is about her new man and the mystery gifts he keeps teasing her about.

It is 11:30 and Sybil is on the phone trying to double down on debt. Operations Manager Mike Philips comes by with a delivery.

“Flowers for Sybil!”

Sybil hangs upon the debtor and immediately logs off the telephones. The long, green and cream box, sealed with packing tape, came from New Jersey. Sybil gets out her scissors. She struggles for 20 minutes and finally opens the box. Inside are 12 longstemmed roses individually attached to the box by hard plastic fasteners.

Sybil’s frustration grows as her scissors are not enough to loosen the delicate roses from their restraints, so she grabs a set of pliers from her drawer after five minutes of searching.

Finally, the flowers are out. Thankfully, the potential suitor included a vase. Sybil goes to the ladies’ washroom, fills the vase with water from the sink, and puts the haphazard bouquet on her desk.

Sybil calls her mystery man to thank him.

“You just won Valentine’ Day!” he says to her.

“I did?” Sybil sighs.

“Well, did anyone else get as much as you today?” He asks.

“I do not know. I did not look…and I am not that impressed by gifts. I am more of an acts of service person. I like when people do stuff for me,” Sybil tells the gentleman.

“Look in the box, Sybil.”

She looks in the box. She uncovers a movie ticket.

“You and I can go to the opening of Aim High tonight! I cannot wait to meet you!” he says.

“You sound familiar. What is your name, mine is Sybil.”

“Damien.”

“Oh, you’re PJ’s son. I remember you.” Sybil tells Damien, remembering the terror that communal narcissist Damien caused by mentally abusing his former wife, Lori.

“I know, I know, I know…I will meet you tonight at the show, M’lady Madame. I have long red hair, an orange neckbeard and I wear a black fedora.”

“Right. See ya.” Sybil says to Damien hangs up the phone and laughs.

Sybil dials Dorian James.

“Yup.”

“I got a movie ticket for you. Aim High. Tonight’s the opening night. It is all yours. Have fun!” Sybil tells Dorian.

“Allll-right! Be right over.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Damien Has the Scoop on Poop


“Dorian, are you some kind of demon?” Sybil asks the CRASS Art Director, Mr. Dorian Daniel James.

“Um, sure,” Dorian replies out the side of his mouth, as he cares a metric tonne more about his project than the Lead Debt Collector, Sybil Kibble.

“I keep trying to email you, sweetie, about the Annual CRASS ReTreat. However this Mailer-Daemon guy replies instead.”

“Is this to be an empathy test?” a booming, dark haired Chief Executive Officer Mack E. Avelli asks the two bickering.

“I have no empathy and neither does she,” an mildly annoyed Dorian states plainly.

“Good. That is the kind of CRASS people we need. Be sure to attend that retreat in Chicago you guys. No blocking each other, per company policy. We need to increase production and team building.”

The two sigh and part ways, not looking forward to working on their day off.

Bourbonnais cinema clerk, neckbeard, and communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt is busy tapping away at his rattly keyboard atop a plastic box to make it extra rattly, inside his Bourbonnais neckbeard-nest. His lone wall decoration, a framed photograph of his brother Robbie singing “Burnin’ Love” in the shower as he washes his black mutton chops, sways on its crooked angle.

“Ding!” Damien Ulysses Hurlbutt’s computer sounds.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” an excited Damien replies as he logs off his favorite Men’s Rights Activist subreaditt, The Brown Pill, to check his email:

From: “Lori T. Brown” [OhLorT16@fmail.cannes]

To:  “Damien U. Hurlbutt” [connivingpimp@hautemail.con]

Friday, September 4, 2020

Subject: Re: broke up with Rachel

Hi Dam,

Yes I remember you. We were married, maybe you forgot? I am having a problem with my butt. No matter what I do to clean it, my derriere still stinks.

I live in Natick, Mass now.

-Lori

Damien immediately replies to the woman he once called “Grimace” out of pure, narcissistic rage, now changing his tune:

To: “Lori T. Brown” [OhLorT16@fmail.cannes]

From: “Damien U. Hurlbutt” [connivingpimp@hautemail.con]

To: 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Subject: Re: Re: broke up with Rachel

Hey honey puddin! I sure miss seeing your beautiful body and brown puppy-dog eyes. 

I know Chicago has the best proctologist around, Dr. Keyhoe Keyster. I used to get my high colonics there! Meet me Monday on the train in Chicago and I will drive up to Bourbonnais, with a present for you. It will be a huge surprise!

Lori agrees, to Damien’s selfish delight. He hops aboard his PeeATon bike which his mother PJ regifted him for his August 10th birthday, hoping to lose some weight in his rushed attempt to impress his former wife.

“Today is Monday, September 7th. Are you CRASS people ready to have fun?” a grinning Mack. E. Avelli asks the crowd full of relucant employees.

“I cant’t hear you!” the wannabe MC projects into the microphone atop the podium.

A slow clap emerges.

“Now, that’s the spirit. Today’s retreat is designed to help increase team-building while lowering empathy. We do not care about our debtors, right? The more money you collect, the more you make. Double down on debt for more money for you, and more money for us. Now let’s all gather into teams to form a human pyramid. Sybil, pair up with Dorian Dale with Nando, Tara with Michael…” Mr. Avelli says as he pairs up his bored subordinates.

After a long tired day, Sybil is dying for a dish of dog food and a coffee. She heads over to the Buckstars on LaSalle Street in her white Chrysler LeBaron. As she sits at a table toward the front of the cafe, in walks Damien Hurlbutt, sporting his usual goofy stride.

“Oh boy, I really have to peepee.”

Damien heads toward the all-genders washroom, but is stopped short by a barista. 

“You need to wear a mask to come in the cafe.”

“I know, I know, I am just stopping for a minute.” Damien says as he tries to head to the washroom.

“No mask, no service.”

“I know, I know, I know,” Damien replies, refusing to wear a mask.

Three baristas haul out the petulant Damien, kicking and screaming obscenities and narcississtic nonsense:

 “9/11 was an inside job! The moon landing was a hoax!”. Sybil and Lori just stand there giggling, sipping on their iced doublehsot espressos.

Sybil Auctions Herself Off

“La di da di daaaaa…” Sybil sings poorly as she logs off the autodialer. She has racked up yet another commission and is in a great mood. “Are you going to help out in the Guys N Gals auction, Sybil?” Clio asks as she hands Ms. Kibble a flyer.

“What’s that about, Clio?” Sybil asks.

“Oh, our Glee Committee came up with it to benefit the Kankakee School District Square Dancing Club. We auction off some of our employees to each other. It is for a great cause. Read the flyer.”

“Hot dog! I’ll be there! Sign me up! Can I go first?” Sybil squeaks.

“We will see. It starts today at 3:30. Employees who volunteer get an hour off,” Clio tells Sybil.

Sybil tosses aside the flyer and pours herself a bowl of dog food for lunch.

A little before 3:30 PM, the CRASS conference room begins to fill. CRASS CEO Mack E. Avelli walks over to the podium and adjusts the microphone.

“Today marks the first annual Guys N Gals auction here at CRASS. Each one of you has an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of card stock with a number printed on one side. When our Accounting Manager, Konrad Teirant calls out a bid, you interested bidders hold up your card. Our first person up for bid is the ever enthusiastic Ms. Sybil Kibble!”

Sybil silently hopes to herself that the ever so suave Dorian wins her.

“Who would like to bid first? Can I get $25?”

The ever so slovenly Dale Davis holds up his card.

Sybil dies a bit inside.

“Can we get $50?”

Mikey Philips from Maintenance holds up his card.

Sybil frowns a bit more.

“Good, we have a couple bids. Let’s get a bidding war going. This is for a great cause. Kankakee Schools, guys. Let’s get $100.00.”

Dale holds up his bid card.

“Great. Can we get “$200?”

Mikey holds up his number.

“How about $400?”

Awkward silence passes for a few seconds.

“$400 going once.”

Sybil gets really nervous, thinking she will have to go home with Mikey. Sybil bites her nails.

“$400 going twice.”

Sybil’s anxiety turns to anger. This totally did not turn out the way she expected. Sybil starts visibly shaking.

“Aaaaand—“

Dorian’s card goes up.

“Great! We have $800.00 now.”

Sybil’s heart beats with excitement. Maybe she will get her date with Dorian at last! Now he has to keep the highest bid!

“$800 going once.”

A smirk begins to form across Dorian’s face.

“$800 going twice.”

Dorian’s smirk widens.

“SOLD!”

“One service worker won by Dorian James! Now Sybil, I am certain you will enjoy doing everything Dorian tells you. Have fun!”

“What? SER-vice? I thought this was a date auction!” Sybil screams.

“This is a service auction, and it is for a great cause, run by the Guys N Gals Glee Club. Now you guys go have fun!” Mr. Avelli tells Sybil.

“I need you to clean my monitor, rearrange my filing system and scrub my fish tank. I am going to keep you busy!” Dorian tells a disappointed Sybil as the two work their way out the door.

Checkmate

“We Are CRASS” is the corporate slogan for Kankakee debt-collection firm Credit Recovery Associates (CRASS), LLC.

CRASS CEO Mack E. Avelli loves to find new ways to make money for the company. Because he is running out of fresh ideas, he decides to hold a meeting with the entire staff.

“Anything to get some time off the phones, eh?” Dale Davis giggles to Linda Stay, as they walk into the room. Sybil is seated in front with a cheesy grin on her face. Art Director and Sybil Kibble’s number-one crush Dorian James is slumped in the very back row, hand running through his wavy, auburn hair. Sybil stares at her crush, who has made it clear to her many times he is not interested, and prefers the company of men. Accounts Receivable Chief Tara Bull is seated upright and uptight near Lead Debt Collector Sybil Kibble. Mikey Philips works his way into the room, along with Konrad Teirant, who is tired from having to resolve a conflict last night at his megaplex.

Mr. Avelli makes his presence in the room and the chatter subsides, eyes on the CEO.

Mack E. Avelli

“Good morning. It is 11:00. We have an hour to come up with the best ways to maximize revenue for our facility. The most creative ideas will be chosen. Give me your best and brightest ways to bring more income to our company. Who will go first?”

Sybil’s arm darts up.

“Anyone?”

“I’ve got an idea,” Sybil exclaims.

“We can advertise,” Dale suggests.

“Not a bad idea. Advertising takes out of our bottom line and can take away from our profits if it does not provide a return on investment. Who else has an idea?”

“Oohh, oooh!” Sybil gasps as she gets more excited about her idea.

“We can go on the news and talk about our services. Some companies use a public relations firm to pitch advertising stories as news. It might be a lot cheaper than advertising.” Tara Bull mentions.

“That is considered yellow journalism and thus unethical…not a bad idea. I will consider it.”

“Pick me, pick me!”

“Yes, Sybil…” Mack sighs to Ms. Kibble.

“I have an idea that will certainly make us money! Since we are debt collectors and we mail people collections letters that people just throw out, why don’t we disguise the Dunning letters as checks and people will open them instead!”

“That’s brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?” Mack E. Avelli boasts as he thanks Sybil for her idea.

The letters, which were designed by the CRASS Art Department have been mailed out to the debtors.

Calls come in, but not the ones Sybil was expecting.

“Hi Sybil? Yes, I’d like to order a pizza.”

“Is this Credit Recovery? I heard you were offering me some money! I am sure broke and can use it!”

“I like blondes. Are you single?”

Unbeknownst to Sybil, her name and photo were used on the letters! Leave it to her rival and crush, Dorian James, to pull a fancy trick like that.

Maybe disguising collections letters as checks is not such a great idea, after all.

Sybil goes home and drowns her troubles in a big bowl of Alpo.