Roddy and the Hairball

Hello readers. This is a bizarro fantasy sort of tale, which seems to be my thing lately. Tell me what you think, even if you think it blows chunks.

Donald Conrad

Roddy and the Hairball

It all began for Rodolph Engel in the most unlikely of places; the shower. What he saw when he looked into the stark white plastic shower enclosure, directly under the soap shelf, was round and hairy. Smaller than a marble and larger than a pea, he thought it was a bug of some ominous design. He half expected eight legs to unfold and suspend the hairy body in preparation for attack.

He reached in, turned the faucet, and aimed the shower head to rinse away the intruder while waiting for the hot water to arrive from the basement boiler. The intruder did not sprout legs. It was as if someone had run a few fingers over the drain, extracted what hair was there and rolled it into a small ball. It was a disheveled thing with loops and ends sticking out randomly.

The hairball seemed reluctant, resisting the water flow as if it had weight to it—as if it had a choice. Once it had washed down the drain, Roddy took his shower with a nagging apprehension that the hairball was somehow alive and lurking just below the chrome drain, ready to do its nastiest deed while he was naked and vulnerable. By the time his shower was finished, the hairball was forgotten and Roddy was thinking about other things.


The next morning Roddy woke with a start well before the alarm. His bed was jumping around as if it had a mind of its own, set on escape. Roddy kept from rolling off his bed by throwing his arms wide to ride out the storm. He couldn’t understand why no one came to his aid; surely someone had to hear the ruckus.

The bed was still for some time before Roddy’s eyes returned to their normal size and he retracted his arms. Whatever it was that caused all the commotion must still be under the bed. He sat up and looked around the room. What caught his eye was a baseball bat standing in the corner.

With furtive movements he crawled out from under his covers to the corner of the bed. He paused; all was quiet except his breathing which came in quavering exhalations. Roddy was a naturally slow waker-upper, but this morning he was hopped up on adrenaline and hyperaware. He launched out and away to avoid the lunatic malevolence hiding in the nether reaches of the under-bed. He hit the ground running for the bat; collapsing into the corner while raising it as if to bunt. It was an instinctive move to defend.

He crouched low for a better view, saw nothing until it blinked in the darkness.

“Come out,” he demanded. “Come out from under there.”

He was surprised at the determined sound of his own voice. He rose to standing as it came out. It got to its knees and then to its feet and Roddy saw that it was taller than he, yet not as tall as an adult. Through the mat of tangled hair he could only make out the eyes for certain; lots of white surrounded one bright red eye and one violent green eye. Recognition came to Roddy slowly, that this creature looked so very like the hairball he had rinsed down the drain the night before, yet much larger. It blinked at Roddy who was ready to swing for the fences. They remained at an impasse until it began to yawn like a large Muppet.

“Stay where you are,” said Roddy.

It did that very thing while Roddy got dressed and went down for breakfast, always an eye out for the hairball. His mother served up Pop Tarts and chocolate milk without a word. He liked the blue dress she wore but thought the gi-normous red clown shoes were a bit over the top. So he left for school.


In between classes, Roddy went to the boys-room nearest the gym. It was the least used. Just as he was finishing up he heard the door rush open followed by voices. He turned to face the three boys who had been bullying him relentlessly throughout the school year. They were all together, a triple threat. Roddy swallowed a dry lump.

“Well,” said David whose horns were partly hidden by a shock of red hair, “look who we have here.”

“Rudolph the red-nosed butt head,” said Jason. His horns were the largest.

Roddy was looking behind the three, watching as the hairball entered. It had grown to over seven feet tall.

David said, “What are you looking at, faggot?”

Tom, the third horned bully said, “Let’s try flushing his head.”

The hairball moved in behind the three. It raised a mitt-like hand.

Roddy said to the hairball with some concern in his voice, “I wouldn’t do that.”

Jason said, “Why? Who’s going to stop us?”

David and Tom began moving in on Roddy. Jason couldn’t; a single hairy mitt held one of his horns.

What happened after that, none of the three would talk about. Not to Mr. Steele, the gym instructor, who found them sprawled in separate corners dripping wet, battered, bruised, and out cold. They said nothing to the Vice-Principal and then the Principal of the school. They were even interrogated individually by a visiting police detective who was determined to get to the bottom of things quickly so he could return to his online chat with a girl from (but that’s another story).

Roddy was long gone when the three were found. He left the melee early and because the other three said nothing on the subject, he was never brought in on it. The rest of the school year moved along uneventfully and nobody bullied Roddy ever again.

Several years later, Roddy saw the hairball lurking outside the library and waved. The hairball smiled back with a mouth full of jagged chrome teeth. Roddy kept walking, vaguely wondering about those teeth and what they might mean.


I borrowed the idea of the website from an audiobook I recently listened to. I had no idea it would actually link to something until I checked it. I left it in, figuring that anything I put in its place would probably link as well. At least it’s not porn.


15 thoughts on “Roddy and the Hairball

  1. David G Shrock

    I like it. It has the same feel as many others in the weird. The description of the hairball captures the reader and lets us know something weird is coming. The hairball years later gives us the hint so we can use our imaginations to fill in the details. Overall nice tone and good pace. Enjoyed it.

  2. Marisa Birns

    Actually quite a good bizarro story!

    Glad that hairball and Roddy became nodding acquaintances. Jagged chrome teeth? Yikes.

    *goes to clean out trap in shower*

  3. Heidi Conrad

    Freakishly odd… and your story’s good, too, Dad (hahaha). In all seriousness, it’s the quality of the writing that made me finish this one; your attention to details, etc.

  4. lauraeno

    Great bizarro! I’m glad the hairball proved friendly to him. Like Marisa, I’m going to go check out my shower now…

  5. Cecilia Dominic

    My cats cough those things up regularly, but I don’t think I’m going to see them in the same way ever again. I liked your story a lot — you have a great imagination and a different way of seeing things. 🙂


  6. Lou

    This week I’ve read about dust-bunnies, hairballs and vampire spiders. The human mind is an amazing thing.

    I have to admit, I find those jagged chrome teeth particularly haunting. 😉

  7. ganymeder

    I thought this was great. I think you could’ve made up some obscure site name though that still would’ve been funny. Weirdly wonderful writing.

  8. John Wiswell

    I love the idea of the killer hair ball coming for the bullies. I figured it was coming very early into the story and then sort of sat back waiting for it. I hate children and am quite happy with stories that have monsters batter them into unconsciousness and/or humility. They’re lucky they didn’t get eaten.

    You asked for feedback, so here are the two negative criticisms that struck me. The first was the part “Roddy said to the hairball with some concern in his voice, “I wouldn’t do that.”” It seems very cinematic. Part of that is it is something that would come across better on screen; we’d have a camera angle and be looking right at what/whoever was important at a given time. In prose it felt like it needed one or two sentences more of description to get across what was happening with elegance; unusual because elegance usually comes from less description, but here it’s sort of like a stage direction for something that would be neat if it were filmed. If you saw it, it would only take a second and you’d get all the emotion of it; in prose it needs more of a setup since the words are your camera and actors.

    I don’t like ending the story with a “Several years later” paragraph. Especially since you did scene cuts early in the story, it’s awkward that within the same text block we jump ahead, and jumping ahead in time doesn’t feel right given the immediacy of things a few paragraphs earlier.

    I hope this is helpful. I still liked it but wanted to give constructive feedback.

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      Wow, John. That’s awesome. Too often people look for the pleasant thing to say without offering true feelings on what they’ve read. So comments like yours are like gems found in the detritus of a city street. Thanks and thanks again.


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