Tag Archives: slice of life

No One Wants to be Rover’s Chew Toy

I never really know what genre my nonsense fits into. This one starts out as a Slice of Life tale. But then, as in most of my stories, things go awry…which can be said of normal life as well. Give a listen by clicking below, and then tell me what you would call it.
Is is Slice of Life (gone awry)?
Is it Horror?
Experimental?

 

 

Late on a Friday at the end of July in a park somewhere in New England a couple walk their dogs along the footpath that winds its way under great Pin Oaks and Long Toothed Aspens. On one side of the path is a stream with a swarm of mosquitos hovering over an eddy. On the other side is grass, thin and weedy due to the shade of the mature trees. Plenty of people use the park to walk their dogs during the better part of the day, yet the usual land mines one would come to expect are absent due to the poop-bag dispenser right at the entrance. Coming from the other direction, an older woman walks her golden retriever and when she approaches the couple walking their dogs, the man has to reel his charge in because the little pooch has gone temporarily insane—snarling and barking. The man chuckles politely in a bid to minimize.

On one of the park benches sits a man in his late thirties who is aged beyond his years due to nicotine, alcohol, and a seven year affair with heroin. He wears his tattered Boston Red Sox cap backward and in the bag on the bench next to him is his self-allotted buzz for the evening—a forty of cheap-ass beer. He rations what he can barely afford, and sits in the park because its cooler here than in his second floor apartment with the single fan stuffed in the most likely window to offer relief that never seems to be enough. Everyone knows what’s in the bag. Everyone sees but doesn’t see. No one wants a confrontation mainly because it’s just too damned hot for that.

Two boys coming down the path command the attention of Mr. Ball Cap. They are young, between ten and twelve. Well dressed for boys that age, their gait is casual, and their conversation is animated. For them, it appears, the rest of the world has melted away. They are alone with each other and the man on the bench notices this, would like to take advantage of their apparent naïveté. The man would like to bolster his financial situation any way he can and as the boys draw nearer, Mr. Ball Cap decides that two forties might make the night more tolerable and the boys look like they can help the cause.

High overhead a bird calls out to the others that the show is about to start. Mr. Ball Cap doesn’t see another soul around as the boys approach and prepares for the occasion of their meeting by slipping a folding knife from his back pocket and opening it, out of sight along his leg of course, and when they are within earshot he offers his greeting. The boys are understandably wary. They look like the sorts who have been coached about strangers from a very early age. They don’t say anything and avoid eye contact enough to get the point across. During their final approach, the man stands, blade jutting from his hand and says, “Why don’t you boys give me everything in your pockets.”

The boys stop. They look at each other with stoic calm and then turn back to the gentleman with the knife. “We don’t got nuthin’ mister,” claims the boy with the blue tee shirt.

That the boys appear unflappable unnerves the man. He’s used to being feared in such situations. He swirls the blade in the air and a brief stint in a restaurant kitchen comes to mind as a flashback. He says, “Turn ’em out. I want to see those pockets.”

They rabbit ear their pockets, then Blue Tee Shirt says, “We got some money stashed under a rock by that overpass mister.”

Sure, you’d think that would raise some suspicion. But this guy’s used some of his deck in the spokes of his life. He says, “How much?”

The kid in the yellow tee shirt says, “My twenty is there.”

“And I’ve got two tens and a five.”

Mr. Ball Cap scratches at his arm and asks “Why you put your money under a rock?”

“Big kids,” the two chime in together.

That answers everything for Mr. Ball Cap and he motions for the boys to lead the way with his knife. At the overpass, the boys begin looking around like they can’t figure out which rock it might be. Soon enough, they’re on either side of Mr. Ball Cap, heads down and looking all around.

As soon as Mr. Ball Cap focuses on Blue Tee and asks, “Where’s this rock?” Yellow Tee runs at him, pulls the knife-hand into Mr. Ball Cap’s chest and wiggles and jiggles while clamping down on his jugular with a pair of teeth designed to extract a person’s life force in mere moments.

Blue Tee joins in by removing the knife and sucking on the gaping wound.

When they’re done—faces gruesomely red, Blue Tee says, “Rover will love this chew toy. Let’s go.”

They exit through a shimmer in the wall under the overpass dragging Mr. Ball Cap into their where—a place much different than the park it shares a border with—a border that is thinner right there in that spot. Inside—beyond the shimmer—Rover does a happy little jig on six legs that are oddly jointed. His mandibles flex open and closed while sending telepathic barking sounds to a select few.

This is the most anyone has seen of that other place, and we’re lucky—you and I—to be mere ethereal audience participants. No one wants to be Rover’s chew toy.

Heh…

***

I hope you enjoyed this craziness. So what genre would YOU tuck this one into?

Friday Fish

I had written three or four stories regarding a character I wanted to write about named Big Jim. And it seemed like the harder I tried, the more the stories I wrote about Big Jim sucked.

So I switched gears and wrote about Eileen. You know Eileen. She’s over eighty and not afraid to speak her mind. And she drives like an old lady. Okay, that’s a tired line.

Here’s a short (540 words) slice of Eileen’s life—and no, there is no cutlery involved…

   Karmic influences wreaked havoc on Eileen’s life that day at the fish market. She had stopped at Harpy’s for a cod filet and got to talking to Sandra Mason about Sandra’s daughter’s pregnancy. She was to have twins—that much she was sure of. But she didn’t want to know the sex of her children, opting instead for the magic of surprise.

Eileen told her that, “With all the conveniences that modern medicine allows us nowadays, you’d think everyone would want to know ahead of time for the sake of planning. There is nothing to be gained in not knowing.”

Eileen was a pragmatic woman and a grandmother several times over. She had had a life of surprises and didn’t expect any more. She paid for her filet and left.

Walking out to her car, she was in a distracted aura of reminiscing about having her own children. Back then there was no such thing as ultrasound equipment. You just took what you got.

Her oldest, Stephen, was the hardest. She was in labor for nine hours of utter torture. He was a big guy at birth, weighing in at ten pounds three ounces and he had a full head of hair. Too bad he didn’t get to keep it all past forty.

Stopping at the wrong car, she pressed the button on her key fob and the car behind her chirped in reply. Eileen chuckled to herself, grateful that no else had seen the error. As she walked around to the driver’s door, she remembered Lisa’s birth. Lisa, her second child, came out like she had been greased and weighed in at eight and a half pounds even. There was a full minute of silence in the delivery room before Lisa began to cry. Lisa turned out to be the quiet thinker.

Eileen got into her car and closed the door. She placed her purse on the passenger’s seat along with her fish. As she put the key in the ignition, she thought about her baby. Kevin didn’t like to be called her baby. Not only was he the youngest, he was also the smallest at seven pounds two ounces. He was born a little premature. But he made up for it with the loudest delivery room wail of all.

Starting the car, Eileen figured she had had a pretty full life, a satisfying life. She gave a quick glance around, stepped on the brake, shifted into reverse, slipped her foot off the brake and onto the accelerator accidentally and was away, tires chirping on the asphalt.

Her car darted backward across the lot, gaining speed onto the pier, between two supports, and out into the late afternoon breeze coming in off the water.

Eileen watched in horror as the view of the pier receded, her hand still on the shift lever. She removed her foot from the accelerator and stepped on the brake again just as she plunged into the water with a rush of sound.

 The car bobbed to the surface and began to slowly sink. Eileen’s eyes darted all about and she thought that this was the biggest surprise of her life.

This surprise was bigger than life.

She just hoped someone had seen her mistake.

Modus Operandi

With this one, I plunge into the dark again. I wanted to call it a ‘slice of life’ story, but not everyone would get the pun. Feel free to shout out if you recognize the setting…

A gray cat wends a figure eight around his legs. As the unnoticed feline scampers off, it fades into obscurity.

He sits on a bench facing the marina, the docks, and the boats. A voice, distant and indiscernible, sounds familiar to him. He turns toward the voice casually and seeing no one there, scans the area for the source in a more aware and frantic way. His eyes—falling on no one—feel tired and bloodshot and he worries they may not tell the truth.

When he turns back in frustration, an ethereal woman is standing some ten feet in front of him. He thinks it is number two.

They always find him now. He squeezes his eyes shut and counts to three adding one-thousand before each number. She laughs as he opens his eyes again, but she is gone. The laugh fades to an echo, reverberant in the canyons of his mind.

He claps his hands over his ears and hunches so his elbows are on his thighs. He stands suddenly, hands tight fisted at his sides and he yells.

“Gaaagh, fuck off!”

Alone with his fears and his guilt, he came out to the waterfront for the air to clear his head. “Nothing helps,” he murmurs as an exhalation.

He marches west, back to Brewster Gardens—back the way he came. The voices whisper, a plotting fraternity of his own creation. He can’t tell what they say, exactly, in their sharp frenzied tones. But he knows they’ve found each other somehow.

He wonders what they want. Exposure? Revenge? He feels like an animal being tracked, hunted for sport. He hates it as much as he hates himself and he turns to walk backward for a few steps. Focus slow, he feels he might have missed a lurker darting for cover. Under the overpass for Main Street, he stops and waits to see if anyone is following.

He doesn’t see them, all shot through with moon glow, walking slowly at the top of the grassy hill and looking down at him.

He hates this. All those people. He wishes there wasn’t a first, doesn’t have to close his eyes to see her. She banged her head on the doorframe with the first thrust. The mirror finish of steel tainted red with gore; when he held it up he could see himself reflected back. He buried that reflection again and again hitting something different each time; bone, meat, muscle. His mind raced through the possibilities with each thrust as if tallying some weirdly wicked dart match. He remembered panting like an athlete, breathing spatter and cold air.

Past the Grist Mill and into the parking lot, clouds opened up to let the moon shine down, spotlighting the only vehicle there at this time of night—really early morning. It is an old Ford Econoline with cancerous fenders and a magnetic sign telling other motorists he is Plymouth Pool Services.

As he runs toward it he thinks he is running from the voices, but their volume never dims. The frustration of it turns to anger as he fumbles for the door key. He throws himself into the driver’s seat and closes the door at the same time. He slaps the door lock and feels instant relief—insulated from the outside. There is no dome light to time out; he removed that long ago. He sits in the darkness, eyes darting about and afraid to move. He is trembling with a fear noted in his breathing.

He has always known fear. His father instilled that emotion in him long ago and he wears it like a long coat. It occurs to him that maybe he should have passed that fear around instead of keeping it for himself. He could have dealt in fear instead of death. The idea relaxes him for a moment as if it is a revelatory bit of therapy.

Motion in his rearview mirror has him spinning around to see. Eyes pierce the darkness, staring in at him. He realizes he cannot run anymore, he cannot hide. They always find him, just like he found himself in the reflection of his favorite kitchen knife. He found temporary comfort in the neat certainty of stainless steel.

How can he run from the ones he has already slaughtered? They hunt, they plot and he hates them. Most of all, he hates himself.

He knows he is a vile murderous creature. He knows.

Killing all those people never assuaged his fears. They still come for him and he can only kill them once.

His eyebrows rise in realization of the final answer. If he kills himself…they’ll have no one to hunt.

“Ha haaah,” he mutters, and then thoughtfully rakes his upper teeth across his lower lip. “I know how to end this you fucks.”

But the idea of plunging his favorite knife into himself is, at once, repulsive. Leaving it dirty and discarded, while he bleeds out in pain is not an option he can live with. The irony of that thought process eludes him.

Another plan jumps to the head of the line and he acts on it. He uses a bungee cord to hold the rear door of the van closed on a hose running from the exhaust pipe. The drone of the engine lulls him, its exhaust slowly asphyxiates.

All of them, solemn as funeral attendees, surround the van. There are several dogs and cats in the group. One ferret chases another down the windshield.

The somewhat pink luminosity of the distant eastern sky hints at a morning he is glad he will never see.

As he flickers out of consciousness he feels he has won—feels they can never catch him now.

It occurs to him that he has changed his modus operandi and he smiles. He feels hands grabbing at him and it gives him a start.

Eyes open and outside looking in, he releases a scream that may never end.

 That’s it and thanks for hanging on to the end. I hope you enjoyed it.

Did you recognize the setting? Did the story make you skin crawl at all? Let me know what you think and please—do tell your friends about FlashTold.