Jacque was standing in line at Disney World, waiting to meet Minnie Mouse for the third time that week. He wished his wife gave hugs like Minnie.
“Hey, you in line for Minnie?”
Jacque turned around to face a man with a I❤️ NY tee shirt, looking at him with a big grin.
“I sure am!” Jacque replied. Somehow Jacque knew they were going to be best buds.
The new friend told Jacque about his dream of visiting Egypt and about why his mother named him Julius even though she despised that name. Julius was quite the talker.
“I’m from North Nebraska, but now I’m in South Nebraska.”
Jacque was beaming. “Right on, man. I’ve always wanted to visit Nebraska.”
When the line dwindled down, and it was their turn to meet Minnie, Jacque and Julius looked at each other and smiled.
“Let’s take this picture together!” they yelled in unison.
Disney World employees were confused. These men were both about 55, which is not at all too old to have fun, but it definitely was a strange duo for the Florida theme park. They shared many laughs with Minnie Mouse, and she pretended to kiss them both, which they found adorable.
“She’s really quite exquisite” Jacque said.
Julius agreed. “That girl is a hoot!”
That evening, Jacque took Julius out to dinner. After they finished their fifth bread basket, Jacque leaned in close.
“You know, I told my wife I’d be back in France tomorrow, but I don’t think she’d mind if I stayed here just another month or two.”
Julius gargled some water.
“I have no agenda,” he said as he sifted around for some bread crumbs. They high-fived and ordered some lasagna. Jacque was spending money by mooching off his wife, and Julius’ financial situation remained unclear. Jacque booked a new hotel room for a 45-day stay. There were two queen beds, but occasionally the pair fell asleep together because they enjoyed cuddling while watching Fox News. On the 45th day, neither one of them wanted to get out of bed. They lay together in silence for a painful but cozy seven minutes. Finally, Julius opened his big mouth.
“I don’t want to say goodbye.”
Jacque aggressively rolled around in his sheets. He was stressed to say the least.
“I’m coming to South Nebraska!
They hugged so tight, Julius had an asthma attack.
While lying in the emergency room, Julius had a big grin on his face. A nurse popped her head in the door.
“Visiting hours are over now.”
Nobody acknowledged her. And how could they? They were best buds hanging out in a hospital bed together. But the nurse persisted.
“Sir, you cannot be under the covers with a patient.”
Julius replied without hesitation. “A cuddle a day keeps the doctor away.”
The nurse supposed this was a sweet sentiment, but it was also incredibly false. She was not a big fan of her job though, so she decided to walk away and go on break.
Julius and Jacque ended up moving to West Nebraska and lived in a small home together. They never got married, mainly because Julius was asexual and Jacque’s wife had blocked him, so he was unsure of how to go about getting a divorce. In retrospect, Jacque believed she wouldn’t have blocked him had he not sent her every picture he took with Julius. But he didn’t care. Now, Jacque’s wife lives alone but sleeps around often. “With my hectic work schedule, anonymous sex gives me great joy,” she told her therapist. But she still found herself drinking alone and googling facts about Disney most Thursday nights. Jacque had always truly adored his wife, but he had never loved anyone until Julius. He occasionally found himself sexually frustrated, but by punching walls he somehow managed to let it all out that way. Julius was also pleased with their situation, but became worried about memory loss. He told Jacque the story about how he sang at a jazz club in Cairo, and Jacque told him he had told that story nine times that week. I wonder if I ever even went to Egypt, he thought. But he probably should’ve been wondering why Jacque felt the need to listen to the full story all nine times. The nurse at the emergency room soon got fired for giving a patient the wrong medication on three separate occasions. There was a pamphlet for Omaha on the hallway floor when she left, so she ended up taking her talents to East Nebraska. Minnie Mouse continued working at Disney World and hated her life.
During their four-month anniversary, Julius read Jacque a poem before bed.
“Jacky. It’s been a pleasure with you.
If I wasn’t asexual, I’d call you my boo.
You hog the sheets, you scream in your sleep, but when it comes down to it,
I love you.”
Three years later, they went to Cairo to see the grand opening of the first Disney World resort in the Middle East. Everyone at the resort spoke Arabic, so Jacque and Julius had some troubles. Jacque was stressed, but Julius didn't mind because he had always enjoyed stealing things and sneaking in places anyways.
After stealing food from three different restaurants, they made their way into the resort before quickly being chased down by security.
"I love to run!" shouted to Julius to nobody. "I feel so free!"
He felt free, but he was soon not a free man as he was locked up in prison. Jacque was in a nearby cell and diligently mastered the Arabic version of Duolingo after four months. Feeling proud of himself for this feat, once he explained his way out of prison, he bought a place in Cairo. He attended the Disney World resort seven days a week, and quickly started dating the woman inside the Minnie Mouse costume. Her name was Edrice Fadul, but he always called her Minnie. Friends and family would have told them this was strange, but unfortunately they didn't have any.
Julius enjoyed his stay in the cell. He never even thought of downloading Duolingo because he had the Blackberry Bold. He enjoyed his meals and made sure to play with his food before he ate it because he remembered his therapist tell him about the importance of play even as you age. Playing with food kept him entertained. Seven months later he died after an allergic reaction to dust mites.
Dear quaint French tourist,
I am writing to inform you the current whereabouts of myself on the day that is this.
This morning, I awoke at roughly ten of the clock. I formalized my thoughts and grievances into prose in a lined notebook. As my stomach grumbled within, I felt a wave of peacefulness and tranquility rush over me as my eyes met with my stale box of Kellogg’s All-Bran Fruit’n Fiber cereal. With each handful of stale crumbs, I selectively placed the kernels of delight into my quivering mouth, hoping to experience the tumultuous hunger come to a halt. I then had the temerity to sit in a park sin shirt and read an exquisite book of poems.
Anticipating your curiosity of what my rapid brain was ingesting, I will give you an example of the poetic words my eyes glossed over:
There’s no place like Paris
Its beauty is all around
Eat some crepes, gain some weight
And soon you’ll be nice and round
To be completely frank, this is merely me paraphrasing. I yearn for the day that you may read what I read before turning the page and making eye contact with an obese turtle. It may be an arduous task for you to imagine an obese turtle, but it is truly quite the sight.
Due to these unusual circumstances, I felt I had no other option than to turn away from the turtle and shun him. Or her. I am not a turtlogoist nor are you so do not judge me with a look of distaste.
I set forth one foot in front of the other and then put the previous foot in front of that foot. I was embarking on a journey anew without the turtle. If you should ever come in contact with this timid turtle fellow, please give him or her my warmest regards.
I dream of turtle. I think of turtle. And sometimes, I am turtle.
Tracy from the bookstore