Clean white snow blanketed the morning commute.
Traffic moved woozily, liked a clogged artery.
The city was having a mellow heart attack.
I parked the van in the soft parking lot of a reproductive genetics facility. A Russian man in scrubs and booties presented me with a cryogenically frozen tank. I was to deliver this to a reproductive center in the suburbs.
As I pulled out, The Russian chased after me in his booties, knocking on the back of the van. I stopped, and he popped open the case for the tank, pulled out some paperwork, and sent me on my way.
While parallel parking in the Loop, I heard a thud in the back of the van. It was the cryogenically frozen tank. I had upset it.
I quickly ran back and placed the exposed tank upright.
A queer burning sensation surprised my left palm.
That tank was cold!
As in -136 to -196 degrees Celsius!!!
The Russian in booties had not secured the fasteners on the case when he retrieved the paperwork.
I didn't know what I was delivering, but I feared that it was dying.
Freezerburn stained the sleeping bag on the van floor. The tank squealed quietly, crying tiny shards of frozen air. I fastened the case, put it in a seat belt, and raced carefully through the aging, greying snow.
At the reproductive center, a woman got on the horn.
"The driver just arrived with the embryos."
Human life was in my cryogenically burned hands.
I kept telling myself that it was The Russian's fault that the case had been left open. If anything I was a hero for closing it back up!
But I didn't believe it.
It was my fault because I am lower status than The Russian.
What's the expression...kill the messenger?
I followed a doctor to a small room where he opened the tank.
He took it to a room marked ANDROLOGY and closed the door.
Suffice it to say I was anxious.
I noticed a bathroom, and thought it a good time to use one of those.
I spoke to the door.
"Is it okay if I use the bathroom?"
Some hesitation from the other side.
I repeated the question.
The bathroom door was marked DEPOSIT ROOM.
It was dimly lit, carpeted, and featured a comfy, earth-tone couch.
Above the couch was a framed print of four nude models. They sprawled strategically over their own nudie bits like a sloppy chorus line.
I don't recall ever having masturbated to a framed print.
And while I could have used the stress reduction, this was not the time.
It was the place, just not the time.
I finished my normal business quickly so as not to give anyone any ideas.
The tank was ready to be returned to The Russian and His Booties.
I asked, "Is there anything I should know?"
No was the response.
I hauled it back through the black snow of the city.
No news is good news.