We Are Not Responsible

by Nathan Alling Long

Mrs. Greene, please stay calm. I understand you are sure you left your husband here last week. However, we have no record of it, and you don’t have your ticket. Do you want to look through your purse again for it? It’s light green with numbers at the top.

As you can see, we receive hundreds of adults and children every day. And what you see behind me is just today’s pick-ups. We have a large storage room in the back for up-coming deliveries and the undelivered.

You said you dropped him off on Thursday or Friday. Any chance you can remember which? We catalogue everyone by the day we receive them. And, rest assured, no work is done off premises, so if you did deliver him here, he is in the back somewhere. I’ll have Chin go back and look. He knows the inventory very well. He’s worked for us for over thirty years and has never lost a person.

Still, as the sign says, we cannot guarantee returns without a ticket. It’s our policy. Otherwise, someone might come in and walk away with the wrong person. You wouldn’t want your husband being picked up by someone else, would you?

Might you have dropped him off at another establishment? We’ve had cases where someone comes in and says they’d been looking at the wrong shop for months.

Fortunately, we keep all deliveries for a year.

After that? We bring them out and have a huge sale. It’s really a great event. Everything is sold cheap. If for some reason you don’t find your ticket, or we can’t find your husband, you might consider coming to it. You’re sure to find something. Your husband, or maybe even something better! And all at very reasonable prices.

Nathan Alling Long lives in Philadelphia and teaches creative writing at Stockton University. His work appears in various journals, including Tin House, Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, and Crab Orchard Review. He is currently sending out his flash collection The Origin of Doubt, and can be found at https://blogs.stockton.edu/longn/