• Mary Elizabeth Dawson

In Which Our Hero Is Sent on an Errand

Updated: Feb 13

By Mary Elizabeth Dawson.


“Great sex,” said Verily Veritas as he rolled over to check the time on his phone. “Well, I really must be going. I’m afraid I haven’t got time for pillow talk today.” There is nothing like a night—and morning, as Verily would vehemently add—of unprotected coitus to lift the spirits of our dear hero. Yet a waning beam of languid mid-autumn sunlight was beckoning Verily for a contemplative stroll through Riverside Park. Maybe it was time for him to try rolling his own cigarettes again.


“Verily, my darling, if it’s not too troublesome, could you pick up something for me when you go? I can’t bear the thought of never seeing you again, and with this request, I hope to ensure your return to my abode,” his hookup said, blinking up at him through a curtain of self-cut bangs. Or, at least, Verily thought she said it. He hadn’t really been listening.

“You rapscallion, you! If you wish so ardently for my return, all you must do is ask, you know,” he replied.


“What? No, seriously. I need you to go buy me a Plan B.” Ah, so this request was genuine. Verily supposed he was somewhat obliged to comply with this one, and besides, he fancied himself quite the gentleman. The seldom-trod corners of Riverside, and the next entry in Verily’s little black book, would have to wait.

Verily marched down Amsterdam, relishing the characteristic upper Manhattan gusts of wind and the crunch of leaves beneath his Nike Killshots. “A fine day on the Upper West Side! A fine day indeed!” Verily declared in his traffic-halting bellow. His fleeting gap semester fantasies were now long in the past—after all, what was Morningside Heights without its dictator of taste? Verily ultimately felt obligated to return to the plague-ridden streets of New York, citing worries that the neighborhood might regress in his absence.

In his cheerful state, Verily felt that a stop at the Hungarian Pastry Shop was in order. Yes, a bit of the old brew would do Verily well right now. Surely he deserved a reward for the (forthcoming) completion of his onerous yet valiant task.


Stopping to admire his debonair appearance in the window of the café, Verily grew even more elated. What a lucky dog I am, he mused. I’ve put just the right amount of gel in my hair today. Verily leaned closer and closer to his reflection in the glass, absolutely entranced. Was it possible the organic cotton face mask made him look even more attractive than usual?

Just as Verily was about to inflict self-harm of grossly Narcissian proportions, something stopped him. Inside, a girl stood at the counter, pointing at a slice of lemon cake. In her non-gesticulating hand, she clutched a strategically spine-cracked copy of Wuthering Heights. Certainly, Verily had time for a chat. After all, this lover of gothic literature and citrus confection was practically begging to be noticed. Verily was just reaching for the door handle when the vibration of an incoming text, and then another, and yet another, jarred him from his internal monologue.


did you get it yet?

i’ve been waiting for like almost an hour

??


With an inward groan, Verily managed to type out a response. It occurred to him that he had become entirely too reachable. He would have gladly spurned his smartphone in favor of a vintage, ideally only semi-functional flip phone long ago if it weren’t for the many young academics and aspiring Francophiles pining for him through the screens and algorithms of Tinder. Yes, it wouldn’t be fair to leave them, thought Verily.


Back to the task at hand. Verily swept into Duane Reade with perfect posture and an air of superiority. Oh, Duane Reade. A bit of a pedestrian establishment, really, but Verily knew from previous experience that emergency contraception was generally unavailable at his preferred local apothecary. Unfortunately, he had found neither tonic nor tincture to achieve the same desired effect.


Verily sauntered up to the pharmacist’s counter, leaning in with utter disregard for social distancing regulations to convey the purpose of his visit in a necessarily hushed tone. “Right, so you need Plan B,” the pharmacist announced. Did she intend to reveal the object of Verily’s quest to the entire store? So much for confidentiality!


Quite flustered, Verily pulled out his embossed leather billfold. Best to pay and exit as quickly as possible. But—it can’t be—was the correct balance displayed? Either the price of Plan B had gone up, or Verily had gotten a bit too used to borrowing money from his romantic encounters.


“All this for one little pill? I’m shocked. Nay, I’m positively indignant! I’m afraid I am no longer able to frequent this establishment, as you clearly wish to take advantage of those in this terribly stressful situation! I bid you good day, madam!”


Verily stormed through Duane Reade’s automatic doors with all the histrionics he could muster. As he stalked home, he yanked out his phone to record a brief but damning voice memo: “Duane Reade. Never again!” Perhaps the smartphone was good for something else after all.


Then, before he could forget, he typed out and sent a text message.

It wasn’t in stock. So sorry. Perhaps you can handle this one yourself?

Verily thought he deserved the rest of the day off.


#December2020

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