Flash Fiction Friday: Desperate Measures – Part One

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There were seventeen cats living in Louie’s basement.  Louie wasn’t sure how it got so out of control, but he knew he had a problem when incessant meowing had become the background music for dinner.  Louie really thought he was doing the right thing, but it seemed at some point in the last nine months he became a compulsive cat hoarder.

It all started when Pawsie and Meowlofur were left after his sister Shelia’s death.  She had asked Louie – while infested with tubes on her death bed  – to take her precious felines.  Louie had begged her in the hollow hospital room to let someone else have the pleasure, but Sheila was adamant.

“Take the precious ones, Louis. Take them and protect all of-” Sheila’s last words.

“All of what, Sheila?  All of the cats?” Louie asked.

Sheila’s head drooped forward.

“Alright, I’ll do my best, sis,” Louis sighed. That was his last memory of his sister.

Fluffington, a black and white tabby, came next while Louie was taking the recycling out the back of the office building he maintained as a janitor.  Fluffington, who was nameless at the time, cried under the dumpster while staring at Louie.  Louie stomped his feet.  The cat meowed.  Louie charged the cat.  The cat flipped over and rolled in the dirt all the while purring.  Louie dropped to his knees and scooped the long-haired cat up.

Caring for the cats became increasingly difficult after he adopted Cat 9, but Louie was a sucker for a furry face and every cat he saw outside without a collar he took back to his little house and put in his basement.

Litter had become so expensive that he decided it was best to just dig a ditch in the basement floor.  The ditch was four feet long by two feet wide and roughly a foot deep.  Realizing that he dug the ditch for economical purposes, he pondered how expensive filling it with litter would be.

There was a schoolyard down the street with a big sandbox, Louie remembered.  Each day he would stroll by careful not to alarm anyone about an older man skulking the play yard.  He couldn’t let anyone think he was a weirdo!

After realizing that his pockets were not adequate to transport his free kitty litter, Louie had cut off of the top of a gallon milk container to get sand.  He would go to the sandbox at the playground, careful to make sure he was alone.  He’d look around, and he’d chop his arm down in one big swoosh like a pendulum and fill the container with sand.  He didn’t even miss the days that it rained.  Those were the days he was sure to bake the sand and remove any unmentionables along with the dampness.

But the biggest problem of all was food.

How would Louie feed all these cats? 

…to be continued…

Flash Fiction Friday – The Broken Road

There was this road; this cracked, steamy, dilapidated road that I heard about in a bar about twenty miles outside of the small town of Centralia, PA.  The gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who spoke of the road was so inebriated, I could scarcely tell if he was telling a whacked out story handed down through generations or if there was truth to the tale.

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Photo: DAM Steelman (Centralia, PA)

But I had to know.  That was my nature.  I had to get to the bottom of everything.  So, like a snake slithering back into the trees, I slipped out of the bar unnoticed, and headed for Centralia. I drove around that bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and then I saw the sign:

CENTRALIA – 2 MILES

Yes!  I overheard the road was closed.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Apparently, it was in no condition to handle any kind of traffic.  There were cracks and graffiti; steam and overgrown weeds. I came around a bend and saw the cemetery on Highway 61 that was mentioned. It was old Highway 61 I was searching for and it shot right off of new Highway 61.

I made it!  I could go back to the city and tell everyone about the broken road I stumbled upon.  Well, I could have.

You see, there was a large crack in the road, I hadn’t noticed it really, if you could believe that.  I was too busy gazing at all the profane graffiti on the sun-baked asphalt while catching glimpses of steam shooting out from cracks far down the broken road.

There was no rumble when the ground opened wide and swallowed me whole.  It was almost as if the broken road had been waiting to feast on something to quell its burning innards.

I always did have terrible timing.

*This piece is a repost from an older blog. It is one of my favorites.

Short Story: Cotton Balls of Justice

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(NSFW – Language) I had this dream last night.  Real trippy shit.  Cotton balls. First, I thought it was because I went to bed drunk again, but then I remembered I hadn’t had a drink or a drug for close to seven months. So I chalked it up to too much television. You know, the standby excuse for all bad things is always too much television.

I thought it was a dream until I woke up to the silent dancing of flashing red lights. I don’t live in Las Vegas, so I knew it wasn’t a two for one special at Whores and Spores – Barbie’s Bouncy House.

It was a fire truck, two police cars and an unmarked.

Huh?

I grabbed my pants off the floor, walked over to the window while putting them on feeling like some suave, g-money gigolo, but a glance in the mirror at my doughy, bulbous body and crop circle bald spot yanked me back to reality.

After I stumbled to the bathroom, images resurfaced in my foggy brain about last night as I reached for some aspirin and stuck my face under the faucet to wash them down my parched throat that felt like a cactus riding a cheese grater.  I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything like that, but I was damn sure it was close to what was going on inside my gullet.

As I peeked through the blinds, I flashed back to the bar – I’m on the nine-ball league – and there was this dude there from a different team (he was way more bulbous than me) and I remembered everyone not liking this guy.

It turned out he was my neighbor and I asked him, “What house is yours?” after we found out we lived on the same street.

He answered, “Legit, the one with all the Marigolds in the yard.”

I felt my face change after he said that. I said, “Oh, you’re the one with the stinky flower fetish.”

And he just looked at me and took his shot on the table. Five ball, side pocket.

“Yeah, it keeps nosy fuckers away from my windows.  Legit, I got some mouse traps buried in there, too.  I feel like I can tell you that ‘cause you seem like an asshole, like me.”

“Who you calling an asshole, asshole? And why are you on the other team if you live on my street?”

“I legit just moved,” he answered and chugged his beer like some 80’s punk in an afterschool special.

He missed his next shot and then I ran the table on him.

Ran it until I got to that shiny black eight ball, or it could be a white and powdery eight ball, but in this case, it was black and shiny. Legit.

“You wanna wager a wager?” He asked as he whistled for the barmaid to bring him a shot of Christian Brothers.

“Uh, sure,” I answered with about as much enthusiasm as a neutered dog at a dog park.

He snickered and threw back his shot. “Ah,” he said and smacked his lips. “Twenty bucks on the nine off the eight ball.  You gotta legit call it and bank it at least two times.” Bang. Shot glass on the bar. Another whistle.  Another fill ‘er up. I noticed the barmaid with her crinkled nose and curled upper lip.

She didn’t like him either.

“Seems fair,” I said and chalked my cue. I measured with my stick; the angles; the warps in the felt on the table.  A song by Chicago came on the jukebox as I called the rails and the pocket, leaned down and drew back to take the shot.

“Wait!” he yelled and motioned for another beer.  I flubbed on the shot and came within a hair of hitting the cue ball. “Sorry. Continue.” He laughed.

Son of a bitch.

After I lost twenty bucks, I called it a night and walked home.  The key was in the front door when I heard an incessant buzzing like a nectar drunk gnat behind me.

It was my neighbor. Bzzzz.

That’s all I remember.

Now, the street is a blinky crimson and I’m peeking out the blinds like a paranoid crackhead.

What the hell happened? And what is with all the cotton balls on my floor?

My bedroom floor – usually caked with dirty clothes and semi-clean socks – was blanketed with cotton balls.

“What the – ” before I could finish, my doorbell rang.

Another peek through the blinds revealed two detectives on my front lawn.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. What the hell did I do?” I ran down the stairs to open the door and waded through a sea of cotton balls in my living room.

“Hi!” I beamed too enthusiastically trying to block the view of cotton balls.

“Sir, we’re gonna cut to the quick on this one. Your neighbor was found dead on his front lawn this morning.  Someone stuffed about five hundred cotton balls down his throat, and well, they stuck cotton in all his orifices.”

“I’m sorry?” I heard him. I had to hear it again.

“You heard me.  Someone shoved cotton up your neighbor’s ass.  We think it was you. We heard he was an annoying son of a bitch who never shut the hell up.  Is that accurate?”

“Yes. He was a prick.” I thought of my dream.  The cotton balls, the blood, the guy who wouldn’t shut the fuck up.

Shut up!  

“Sir, that was some evil shit you did,” the officer said and slapped me on the back. “The neighbors want to thank you.”

There was some faint clapping across the street.

“Good job!” Someone yelled.

“The guy apparently was a real asshole,” he continued and handed me a piece of paper.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A citation for littering,” he said.

I said, “Is this a joke?”

“Have a nice day, sir.”

I closed the door behind me and pinched myself. What was I going to do with the rest of these cotton balls?

This story is a response to the Flash Fiction Challenge via Chuck Wendig’s blog: http://terribleminds.com/

 

Flash Fiction Friday – The Leaf

Carmine Carmichael smoked his last cigarette twenty minutes ago.  The sun rose above the row homes on Sutter Street as he sat down on the marble steps at the corner.  He hadn’t slept in three days, hadn’t eaten in two days and hallucinations were starting to begin.  His four-week old blue jeans felt crunchy as he ran his hands up his shins, to his knees and then his thighs.

A dead leaf blew down the sidewalk, past his battered sneakers and he thought of how peaceful the dead leaf must have felt. It was, after all, devoid of all feeling.  The leaf had lived its life on a tree somewhere as people passed it by without a thought.

Carmine knew exactly how that little leaf felt. Another leaf blew past and Carmine reached his filthy hand down and scooped it up with care. The weak stem felt dry in his fingers as he twirled it around, looking at the rips in the body of the little leaf.

“I’ll bet you were once so beautiful, little leaf, just like me.  I was a strong man once, little leaf.”

The little leaf stood lifeless in his fingers and Carmine felt his eyes well up as he clutched the leaf to his chest. Little leaf pieces fell to the ground as Carmine sobbed.

Footsteps echoed in the distance and Carmine put his filthy hands back on his thighs and watched the leaf blow away in a dozen pieces.  Carmine watched as shiny, pristine shoes stepped on and over the leaf.

Carmine knew just how that little leaf felt.

Flash Fiction Friday – The Darkness

Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com
Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com

I’m sitting in the dark now.  It stopped raining about an hour ago.  People are walking up and down this quaint little street in Newtown, Pennsylvania.  I tried to walk; I really did.  But it was just too much for me.  All the people. Man, the people.  Their eyes boring through my skin began to drive me mad, you see.  I could see everything.  Everything!  All their sins, their heartbreak, their desires seeped into my soul like rain into the dry, cracked earth.  I had to get away you see.

Now, I am isolated with the memory of a thousand different stares beaming into my brain.  It is just too much!

There is only one way to get rid of this torment.  I have to cut it out.  I have to let the tears bleed out of my skin.  I must release the screams from my pores.

It is the only way…

Flash Fiction Friday – Bullet

Reblog of a favorite Flash Fiction of mine.

English: Picture of a standard 'K Bullet' as m...

So I sat in a box for the last, oh, I don’t know, seven years?  Just sat there on a shelf with dozens of other boxes on other shelves with the others and I am finally free.
I don’t know who opened the box and put me in the chamber of freedom, but his fingers were fat like crinkled sausages and they smelled like shit. I guess some uprights never wash their hands.
“There you go my pet,” the upright says. “You are such a special little bullet. You were born to do great things.  You are going to change history, my pet.”
The upright talks a lot.
It’s freaking dark in here.  I have waited my entire life to get out of that damn box. I am a special bullet.  I don’t mingle with common bullets.
Seven years I have waited for this.  I don’t know what to expect. I just hear the voice.  I guess the voice thinks I can’t understand, but I can. I hear it talk about me.  It talks about my velocity, my speed and my distance.
It’s weird, you know? I don’t know what any of it means.
I can hear the upright speak as I sit here waiting for my moment of glory. He told me I was going to change history.  I don’t know what that means really…  but it sounds important.
Before the upright put me in here, it held me close to where the voice comes out.  It told me all these things.
“You’re so beautiful,” it says.
“You are the most special bullet ever, little bullet. You are going to make poppa so proud,” the voice cries.
I wanted to concur or validate the voices wishes. But what the hell, I’m just a bullet after all. A special bullet it tells me. But I don’t know what the means.  I don’t even know what my purpose is.
“Oh, special bullet. Be straight and true with your aim, young one.  Guide your soul into the heart of that bastard and save us all,” the voice screams.
The upright put me in something cold and long.  It’s dark in here.
Wait.  I just heard a loud bang and now I am zooming through the air toward another upright.  I don’t understand any of this.
Now I am in something hot, dark and wet. This is so odd.  I was happy in my box with the others.  I don’t feel so special anymore. Where is the voice?
I hear other voices now.  They are making high-pitched noises.  They are screaming, “He’s shot! He’s shot!”
My shell is gone.  I am now a flat piece of metal.
I still don’t feel special.

Friday Flash Fiction – Resistance

Minetta Tavern
Minetta Tavern (Photo credit: Gandhu & Sarah)

Carson Smithers sat on the bar stool as the clock struck the eight o’clock hour.  He had been on that bar stool for the last three hours staring at the now warm beer on the ratty coaster in front of him.  The day’s work had ended in shambles along with a verbal tirade from his boss in front of his co-workers; even Jenny, the hot girl from the cubicle at the end of the hall.

“Hey, buddy, you gonna drink that or do you want a fresh one?”  The burly bartender asked as he wiped the old, wood bar down with a wet rag.  Carson watched as the bartender methodically picked up coasters, wiped, put coasters down, and wiped all the way to the other end of the bar without missing a piece of the bar or spilling a drink.

Carson looked up sheepishly and nodded while he pushed the perspiring glass to the edge of the bar and pulled his cigarettes from his pocket.

The jukebox started playing an unfamiliar country western song as someone broke the rack on the pool table.  Carson counted three balls that dropped into the pockets without looking at them rattling around on the fuzzy green felt of the table.

His eyes gazed across the pool table, across the jukebox, across the blonde-haired woman with the heaving breasts and over to the repaired wall to the left of all the action.  He remembered making that hole over ten years ago in a drunken rage over a different blonde-haired woman so long ago.

The bar stool shrieked as he pushed it back with his legs to stand up.  All of the memories that flooded back reminded him of all the reasons why he stopped drinking and took steps to change his life.

The bartender rushed down to Carson, “hey buddy, you leaving already?  You bought two beers and didn’t take a sip from either.  What gives?”

Carson tossed a ten-dollar bill on the bar and said, “Sorry, man.  I got to get to a meeting.”