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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Special Delivery

Gil had finally started writing.  For a while, he had been stuck, but now his “writer’s block” was gone and the ideas were starting to flow from his brain to his fingers and from his fingers into the computer.  At last, things were moving again.

Ding, dong.  The doorbell rang.  It was the postman.

Since Gil was expecting an important package, he got up from his chair, went to the foyer and opened the front door.  The postman didn’t have the package, yet, but handed Gil several letters and left.  Shutting the door, Gil opened one of the letters.

“Keep your woman happy all night with our revolutionary male-enhancement product.”

As he sat back down at his desk, he tore the letter in half and dropped it into the trash.  Now, where was he?  Oh, yes!  His main character was just about to discover something disturbing.  Gil turned back to the keyboard and began typing.  About ten minutes later, the doorbell rang again.

Ding, dong.  The postman had returned.

Gil stopped writing again and went to the front door a second time.

“Hello.  As an official of the government of Nigeria, I would like to request your assistance with the transfer of $23,320,000 (twenty-three million, three hundred and twenty thousand U.S. dollars).”

Rip! Another letter landed in the waste bin under his desk.  Once again, he continued writing.  Once again, the doorbell rang after about ten minutes.

Ding, dong.  Once again, it was the postman.

Back to the door he went, once again retrieving a letter.

“Hi!  It was so great to meet you the other night.  Let’s get back together again.  If you answer this letter, I’ll send you a photo of myself.”

Rip!  Another one bit the dust and Gil returned to his novel.  Ten minutes later, there was another ring.

Ding, dong.  This time, he just switched on the intercom.

“Hello?”

“You’ve got mail!”

“This junk is really interrupting my work.  You may as well just go ahead and drop it into the garbage can at the end of the driveway.”

“Suit yourself.”

Gil kept the intercom on “listen” until he heard the lid of the trash can punctuate the sound of the postman’s receding steps.  From that point, he was able to write, uninterrupted, until dinner time.

After dinner, he dumped the contents of his den’s waste bin into the bag of kitchen garbage he needed to take to the curb.

He arrived at the sidewalk as the garbage truck was just a few houses away and he lifted the lid off of the large trash can.  As he picked up the bag he had brought from the kitchen, he looked down at the garbage already in the can.

There, sitting right on top of the previous day’s kitchen bag, was the package he had been expecting.

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Mom Always Knows

Timmy crept quietly into the room.  His little brother, Seth, was already sleeping soundly on the lower bunk and had no idea Tim was standing there.

Since Seth was sleeping right at the edge of the bed, Tim couldn’t resist pushing him off while climbing up to the top bunk.  As soon as he was up there, he pulled the covers over his head and pretended to be asleep as his brother began crying so loudly Tim thought the whole block could probably hear him.  Even so, Tim continued his fake sleep until their mother came into the room.

“What happened, Seth? Are you okay?”

Seth, who, by then, was sitting up on the floor but still wailing, answered, “I fell out of bed!”

His mother gently picked up Seth, placed him back onto the lower bunk, tucked him in and gave him a kiss.  Then she stood and faced the upper bunk.

“Timmy? Don’t make believe you’re asleep. I know you pushed Seth out of his bed.”

Tim, knowing there was no use trying to lie his way out of this one, said, “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“Don’t you think you should tell your brother something, as well?”

“I’m sorry I pushed you, Seth.”

By then, everyone was very tired and Seth went right to sleep again, anyway, so their mother thanked Tim for being honest, told him not to do it again, then tucked him in, kissed him good night and left the room.

The next morning, Tim woke up early and managed to climb out of the top bunk without disturbing Seth.  As he walked across the room to head toward the bathroom, he noticed something strange on top of his desk.  It was an eyeball!  In fact, it had been turning this way and that on the desk, scanning the room and had stopped moving as it looked right at him.

He screamed a shrill shriek that woke up his brother.  When Seth saw the eyeball, he started screaming, too.  They had often believed that some strange monster had been living in the closet, hiding under the bed or watching them as they slept but, for the first time, they could actually see it for themselves.  It wasn’t the gigantic, hairy kind of monster they had imagined, but only a single eyeball that was much smaller than either of them.  It scared them so horribly that their yelling continued.

Soon, their mother returned to the room.  This time, even though she certainly felt compassion for her two frightened little boys, she also seemed… Well, she actually seemed embarrassed about something.

She walked straight over to the desk and picked up the eyeball.

“Well, now you know,” she said to her scared and confused sons. I’ve TOLD you before that I have eyes in the back of my head.  How do you think I knew you pushed Seth out of bed, Tim?”

The two kept staring at their mother in disbelief, still not fully comprehending what she had just said.

She continued, “I’m sorry if this scared you, but I just wanted to make sure you two were okay last night.”

She opened her hand, raised the wayward eyeball up to the middle of the back of her head and popped it into place before moving toward the bedroom door.  As she walked out into the hallway, she turned back to them one more time.

“Now go get cleaned up and ready for school.  I’ll have breakfast ready soon.”

—-===—

I would like to acknowledge Lisa McCourt Hollar (@jezri1) and her daughter, Rylie, for the inspiration for the eyeball in this story.

Their original story, “Emma Learns the Truth” is currently (as of the time of this comment) free for Kindle on Amazon.

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A Sunday Drive

There were lots of pedestrians today.  Kevin saw only one or two other vehicles and they were behind him.  Instead, people were walking on either side of him and even in front of him.  As the car pushed slowly forward, he turned the steering wheel to avoid someone who couldn’t have been more than a foot away.  Someone else walked by and Kevin turned the wheel in the other direction.  When he pushed the centre of the wheel for the horn, it didn’t make any sound, but the music that was playing continued.

The car kept on surging and the people kept on walking all around, but even though there were so many of them, none showed the slightest concern for the car – none really seemed to be in any danger.  In fact, one woman had been right beside the car the whole time, almost as though she were watching him.

Finally, the car came to a stop and Kevin looked out the open window at the woman.

“Mommy, may I go again?”

Kevin’s mother looked down, inserting two more quarters into the coin slots.

“Okay, Kevin, but we need to get home and make dinner for Daddy, soon, so this is the last time.”

Once again, the car started surging forward and back, the music started playing and Kevin was driving.  The horn never did work, but the people going back and forth in the mall continued their shopping without paying any attention at all to the car or its driver.

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If, at First…

Jessica saw him at the bar.  He was gorgeous!  He was gorgeous and she was – well, she “had a nice personality,” as everyone would say.

“Good game,” she said as she sat down beside him and nodded toward the big TV in the corner.  When he turned his head to look at the screen, she emptied the contents of a small vial into his glass.  He didn’t notice.

“Yeah,” he responded, turning back toward her and taking a swig of his drink.  “This has been a real ‘Cinderella season.'”

She could feel the intensity of his gaze increase as she searched his eyes for a reaction.  Abruptly, she changed her tone.

“You know, if you like, we could finish watching it at my place and see if there’s a happy ending.”

He smiled knowingly, paid the bartender for his drink and hers, then followed her through the front door and out to her car.  During the short drive to her house, neither of them spoke – neither had to, since they both knew where this was going.

As they got out of the car, the automatic garage door closed behind them and she unlocked the door into the house.  Upon crossing the threshold, her visitor began walking very unsteadily – just barely managing to make it from the door, through the kitchen and into the dining room.

As Jessica turned toward the bedroom, her guest collapsed completely, striking his head on the edge of the china closet and falling down dead.

“Damn!” she cursed, “That’s another dud.  So close, too!”  She took the vial out of her purse and began washing it in the kitchen sink.  “If this next one doesn’t work, I’m giving up,” she sighed, peeling the handwritten label off of her latest failure and tossing it into the trash.  It landed, face up, in the bin: “Love Potion #8.”

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The slaughter continued.  How many carcasses had they thrown into the pit already?

There would be no investigation.  Many of those involved were members of law enforcement or even their families.  In fact, the Mayor was the one who had gotten things started, but he had already left to take care of other issues.

Nobody had any concern for covering it up – at least not yet.  Instead, everyone proceeded happily as though this were a normal, regular occurrence.  All present were glad to be there – offering whatever help they could without so much as a hint of malice.

The parrot had been a witness to the carnage since it had started.  The pit continued to fill up as he waited on his perch with clipped wings – nervously hoping the organisers wouldn’t run out of chickens to throw into the pit for the annual Police and Firemen’s Barbecue.

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The Bereft

After the accident, Theresa lost touch with reality.  Her daily activity was nothing more than a vigil as she sat by the window, with the telephone nearby, waiting for her husband and son to pull into the driveway or for someone to call her with news of their whereabouts.

She couldn’t understand why Cal wasn’t there.  She worried about not having seen Billy for so long.  If something were wrong, surely someone would have told her.  Isn’t that right?  However, if nothing were wrong, she wouldn’t be sitting in the empty house, alone, without a word from anyone.

Instead, she sat – sat and waited – endlessly sipping from the same cup of tea.  Cal and Billy never appeared.  No friends called – not even to ask how she was, let alone to offer any information about her family.  For that matter, no other family members called, either – not even Cal’s mother, who used to call all the time.  No one from the police department or any of the hospitals called or came by.  Nobody came by.  Terry was truly alone and she felt it – every silent, scared moment of it.

—-===—-

“Where’s Mommy?” said the young boy – his eyes a mixture of sadness and fear.

“She’s in a better place, Billy,” answered his father.

“Can we go see her?” asked Billy, his eyes brightening with hope and excitement.

“We’re going to see her tomorrow,” Cal replied as he sat by the window with the telephone nearby.  He kept hoping someone would call to say that his wife was okay and that he could tell his son that Mommy would be home soon, but he knew that call would never come.  He had gone to the scene of the accident with the police officers and he had identified her body, but he couldn’t explain it to his four-year-old son.

Tomorrow they would be holding her funeral.

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Sostenuto

Sostenuto

The piano was in good condition, of course, and in tune. The one thing that distracted Rodman was a knot in the wood of the fallboard. It resembled a face, as though someone in the piano would be watching him play. Nevertheless, the estate-sale price for the upright was much less than the prices of the new pianos that Rodman could not afford.

He bought it, had it shipped to his house and had a professional tuner come to make sure the piano was in tune after the move. At last, he had his own piano and would no longer have to impose upon his friends, a local school or a nearby church in order to practice.

After the movers and tuner had gone, with nobody expected for the rest of the day, he sat down and began with some scales, arpeggios and some simple, light exercises, then segued into some Chopin Études. Satisfied, he slipped into some Scott Joplin and some Fats Waller before settling down to Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto.

Over the next few days, he continued to play whenever he could. He invited some friends over for a sing-along and they all admired the beautiful instrument – many commenting upon the face-shaped knot and a fainter, similar one beside it. He told them about the estate sale and his initial reluctance to buy the piano because of the blemish and that he had not noticed the second one – probably because the price had been too good to pass up. By now, he no longer even considered it to be a negative, but rather something that gave his piano a unique character. Either way, he loved the sound and loved being able to play in the comfort of his own home.

After they left, however, the presence of the additional knot began to disturb him. How had he missed it at the estate sale? It was certainly visible and noticeable enough. Although he would see the knots every time he sat down at the keyboard, he decided to put them out of his mind. The music was the important thing – not some insignificant whirls of wood grain.

Three weeks later, his friends began to telephone him. They had enjoyed the evening of music. Why had they not heard from him recently? Had he become too absorbed in practicing? Had he taken ill? Had they offended him with their comments about the knots? They received no replies, since all of their calls had gone to his answering machine and he had not returned their calls.

—-===—-

The piano was in good condition, of course, and in tune. The one thing that distracted Suzanne was a pair of knots in the wood of the fallboard. They resembled faces, as though someone in the piano would be watching her daughter play. Nevertheless, the estate-sale price for the upright was much less than the prices of the new pianos that Suzanne could not afford and her daughter would need something upon which to practice.

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