In good form

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At first there were only a few forms coming in the mail, but the number of them was increasing geometrically, throttling the enterprises they were intended to synchronize. If the forms engulfed us, they inundated Reemis, who, at his job , was charged with their applicability, combinations, and interrelationships. ''Someday,'' Reemis said often, ''I'm going to carry a form in my hand to where people ask what it is, and settle in that lovely place, forever!''

Like confetti, forms proliferated. Each workday brought new, more complicated hybrids. ''Doesn't Central Office have better things to do than think up new varieties?'' exclaimed Fishbein, who was always exclaiming. Our murmurs and sighs were lost in the din of shuffled forms. Reemis, who shuffled more of them than anybody, complained the least, although he increased announcements of his desire. A wistful smile did not entirely obscure a rippling jaw.

Reemis was hidden behind huge stacks of forms for whole portions of each day. He labored behind forms named Hypotenuse/Activator and Stabilizer/Naturalizer and numbered one through a zillion; he drudged behind forms called Equalization/Ratification/Velocity, that were orange and blue and pink and covered with quantifications and totals and the like. Such a brave man he was.

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When Fishbein, Kinstrey, and I rolled in the train of carts laden with the morning's mail, Reemis said thank you, but his voice lacked sincerity. He tore open a couple of envelopes and threw the red and black forms with chartreuse analyzations on the pile with the merest quiver of a lip. But when Reemis opened the third envelope - smaller than a door but larger than a card table - and unrolled the form onto the floor (a form raging with arrows, dashes, italics, and footnotes, green and purple and yellow and burgundy and begonia and pumpkin, battling with numbers and letters for prominence), his face reddened, his teeth clenched, and his eyes fixed on Mr. Wheer's office. He marched to the door, opened it without knocking, and slammed it behind him so that the glass rattled.

We huddled around the door - with quick breaths listening to the loud, muffled voices inside. The door opened, Reemis faced us, frowned, tramped to his desk, and disappeared behind a city of forms. There was a furious squeaking of his felt marker. We could only guess what Reemis was up to - until he stood, hair tousled, eyes wild. He held up forms, displaying the faces he had drawn on them. On Zllllllxxxxxx1/2, a mustache, muttonchops, and a double chin. Big ears, a beard, and a funny hat on XXXYYYZZZ1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4---a. On VVVMMMRRR123456789, a nose that looked like a pickle. Reemis drew on another form, but Applegate and Kenworthy stepped in and restrained the whirling hands and removed the marker from them.

We returned to our desks and were busily filling out forms, when Reemis stood , stretched, and smiled like sunshine. We relaxed. He sauntered toward the water cooler. But instead of drinking, Reemis veered off and turned on the first large floor fan, aiming it directly at the forms on his desk. While we scurried to retrieve a tempest of forms, Reemis (ducking between Hartman and Frinchini) snapped on the other one.

In the hubbub we lost track of Reemis. When the last of the forms had drifted to the tops of light fixtures, desks, and to the floor, we suddenly realized Reemis was gone - undoubtedly with the only form we had not been able to find. None of us really believed Reemis would actually find the place he sought, but he had certainly left a footprint on our sands of time. And, of course, we wished him well.

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