Tag Archives: insanity

“I’m gonna shank you” (revision)

“If you hand me that towel, I’m gonna shank you,” he tells me.

“I don’t know why I would—”

“If you hand me that towel, I’m going to shank you,” he says, this time slower. His left hand cups around an imaginary shoulder. He locks eyes with me as the right hand makes a fist, pumping a stabbing motion into an imaginary chest.

“Okay. I won’t hand you the towel!”

“No. Hand me the towel!”

“No!”

“Hand me the fucking towel!

“Why? You’re just gonna shank me.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You said it! Just now!”

“Oh, that…” he waves a dismissive palm, pushing his lips out into a kissy-face. We lock eyes and the palm turns into a fist. His face steels up again.

“But if you hand me that towel,” he says, “I’ll kill you.” His eyes widen, unblinking. Then he laughs, an open-mouthed cackle that stabs through the air.

“You’re fucking nuts! I’m leaving.” I slam the door behind me, but I can still hear that laugh. It gets louder, no mirth to it at all. He just wants me to hear it from behind the door.

Why do we have to go through this every morning?

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Unique Rabbit (Revision)

Had that dream for the thousandth time. Ice cold sweats and the hangover hits my brain like a sack full of babies hitting the pavement. Left the T.V. on the Playboy channel. It’s in black and white. Just to look classy, I guess. They’re both wearing hats like in Casablanca, but that’s about all they’re wearing. Porn directors try too hard nowadays. Why even bother?

I shovel in a handful of Lady Scout cookies from the side of my bed—peanut butter today. Breakfast of champs. I bought a hundred boxes of them from Vanessa a couple years back and still have a whole closet full. She wanted to win some day camp trip or some damn thing so she could go with her friends. The cookies are all I have left of her now. The movie doesn’t turn me on at all but I knuckle off a load anyway. Makes my headache worse but I ignore it. For a second, I think I may be the only man on Earth who’s snacked on Lady Scout cookies and yanked it before getting out of bed. But there’s probably a whole mess of jerk wads like me. It’s a depressing thought. I cram a handful more cookies in my mouth before getting out of bed.

The mattress squeals and I slowly stumble over to the fridge to get some milk to wash it down. Out of milk. Lucky me.

First day back at work after my transfer. Mouth feels sticky. Chief jumps out of nowhere like one of those long-armed monkeys and claps me on the back.

“You look like Hell, Jack.”

“You’re not the prettiest guy either, Chief.” He laughs nervously. The guy’s scared of me. I punched out the chief at my old station the day after I got off personal leave. He told me it was illegal to have a rabbit doll hanging from the windshield of my squad car—obstructing vision while driving or some B.S. I stopped paying attention after he told me to take off the rabbit. That was Vanessa’s plush doll and he knew it. He had the right hook coming. Maybe not the kick in the ribs, but he was out cold by then anyway. In my defense, he was kind of a dick. Still, it could be that I needed those anger management classes.

Been working almost thirty years on the force so they let me off with a transfer to some shitty station all the way across the state, far enough from Brooklyn not to give anyone grief. I took everything with me, even the cookies.

When I was transferred, I pretty much lost all my seniority. I mean, I have it for retirement ‘n all, but I can’t be caught spraying the toilet seat or they’ll can my ass for good.

My new partner’s name is Charley. He’s a squirrelly kid with big messed up teeth (don’t they have a dental plan in this precinct?). I like to take naps on patrol but the guy never shuts up. I think they put me with him just for a lark, but I should feel lucky to still have a job. Yeah, I’m a lucky guy.

“Hey, Jack! I got a good one today,” Charley tells me as we crouch into the cruiser.

“Not today, Charley.”

“How do you catch a unique rabbit?”

“Charley, I’m about three seconds from—”

“Unique up on it!”

I died a little inside. Charley kept yapping.

“How do you catch a tame rabbit?”

“I don’t know, Charley? With a pistol?”

“The tame way! Unique up on it!” Every day with this shit. Charley’s the kind of guy that sends you forwarded messages with pictures of adorable kittens. His parents probably said “H. E. Double Hockey stick” when they were angry instead of throwing an empty beer bottle at his head. No one can stand him, but I don’t think he notices. I think he might be retarded.

“My aunt used to tell me that one.”

“Just ‘cause you had a traumatic childhood, Charles, doesn’t mean you got to lay it on the rest of us.”

“Shut up, Jack!” he sulked, then laughed.

“Just drive, you mook.” The quiet sound of the engine kicking is usually the highlight of my day.

I manage some shut-eye for a while, but I have this recurring nightmare I’ve been having for several days now. There’s this big shadow just taking my Vanessa and violating her and she screams and I want to tear this guy apart limb from limb but I can’t move. I reach my hands out but it’s like I’m chained to something. So I snarl and cry my damn eyes out until he pulls out a knife and that’s when I wake up. That’s when I always wake up, as if the first part wasn’t horrible enough. Never told my shrink about it. She’d probably just give me more pills to swallow.

I’m sweating through my shirt, breathing like a chain-smoking pitbull. Charley’s staring right at me.

“Jack, are you all right? You were rolling around in your seat. Did you have a bad dream? My dog does that sometimes when she’s dreaming about chasing small animals.”

“You got a green light!” I snap. “Look at the road, not me! Ya weirdo…” While Charles is stomping the gas, I wipe the sweat off my face. I hate those damn dreams, but I’m almost glad for them, too. They remind me of her, what she sounded like, and what happened to her. I don’t want my memories of her to fade in a drunken haze like I did with her mother after cancer slit her throat. And I don’t ever want to forgive that man, either. I want to remember. I have to.

Charley’s glancing at me again. I must have looked scary or something because his eyes are stapled to the pavement ahead of the car. Well, at least he’s paying attention to the road now. The pedestrians are always ridiculous around here. I look back at the road and I can see what looks like Vanessa stepping out in front of the car. Probably the DTs. Just as I squeeze my eyes shut to make her go away, the car screeches to a stop. The shoulder strap almost knocks the wind right out my chest.

“I almost hit that girl!” Charley cries, opening the door without even checking for oncoming traffic. The way we’re positioned has us jackknifed across both lanes.

“What girl?” I snap, opening the passenger side.

Charley is helping a young girl up from the street and apologizing about a hundred different ways. She has a jPod plugged into her ear and she dropped her phone on the street (no wonder she didn’t see the car coming). When she pushes the hair back from her eyes, though, I can feel my balls almost suck back into my stomach. She’d be fifteen by now, the same age as this girl. The same dark hair. The same freckles on her face. The same mole above her collar bone. She even has the same huffy motions when she’s mad.

I’m almost afraid. I saw Vanessa’s body the night she was murder. I ran through the barricade when I overheard it my be her. And it was—I’m sure it was. I know what my shrink would say. I used to see Vanessa all the time and she’d say I was “projecting my desires.” But this is different. This isn’t the profile of some girl walking around a corner. I mean to ask the girl if she’s okay. Instead it comes out as “Are you Vanessa?”

Charley and the girl both give me weird looks. I’m even more certain now. Vanessa gave me those same looks all the time, like I was some crazy old man and she must have been swapped at birth with another kid. “Vanessa? Is that you?”

“Get off of me!” the girl shouts, kicking me, but I’m already hugging her and sobbing like an infant.

Charley is trying to pry me off. There’s a crowd gathering. “Jack, get a hold of yourself.” I’ve seen scenes like these on T.V. where the guy’s finally cracked, so I take another look to be sure. She’s still my beautiful, big-nosed Vanessa with the dark eyes like her mother. But she looks scared as a skinned hare, so I let her go.

“You don’t recognize me? Vanessa, it’s Daddy.” Maybe my memory’s just gone to Hell. Maybe I don’t know what’s real anymore.

“Charley, I’m gonna take this girl in the car. We have to fill out some paperwork.”

“We don’t have to do that, Jack. Are you hurt, miss?”

“No, we do. Remember, code 802?”

Charley screws up his squirrelly little face trying to think. “…a cat in the road?”

“I’m fine! I’m just going to go home.” The girl wiggles her hand in the air and turns to go. Not again. I grab her other arm, trailing behind like a tail. She pulls and hollers, and I grab her other arm.

“Jack! Just let the girl go!”

“Get in the car, Charley.” Vanessa makes a small kick at my shin. My grip on her arms must be hurting her, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let go this time.

“Jack, I need you to calm down and let the girl go. We’ll talk about this later. I won’t tell the chief on you or nothing. Okay?” He smiles and nods like a dashboard bobble head.

“Get in the damn car, Charley!” I can see people gathering around in the corner of my eyes. They’re probably thinking police brutality, the way the girl is screaming. Someone is holding up his cell phone, probably taking video.

“All right, but I’m calling this in to the chief.” My asshole jumps into my stomach. I pull out my sidearm. “Get in the back, Charley. You too, Vanessa!”

Charley does what he’s told. Vanessa struggles a bit, but I manage to push her into the back of the squad car, holding her head to make sure she doesn’t hit it going in.

I start driving to the sounds of a sobbing girl. Vanessa sounds a little different from what I remember, but that’s probably puberty. Charley wastes his energy reassuring her, then me. I spend a few stoplights sweating over where to go now that I’m a kidnapper. I pull off onto the 40 going east.

“Where is he taking us?” the girl asks. She’s afraid, and reasonably so, but it’s good to hear that she’s not crying. Makes my stomach rot to hear my girl cry like that.

“I don’t know. Jack, where are we headed?” Charley’s back to being Charley, now that I don’t have a gun pointed at him. “Back to Brooklyn. Maybe she’ll remember who she was.”

“My name’s Madison. I don’t know a Vanessa.”

“CAR 67. CAR 67. WHERE ARE YOU? WE’RE GETTING REPORTS ABOUT A POLICE OFFICER PULLING OUT HIS PISTOL ON 34TH. CHARLEY. JACK! RADIO BACK AND RETURN TO HQ IMMEDIATELY.”

I pick up the radio but the girl starts screaming and bawling as soon as I do. Lying to HQ wouldn’t buy me any more time if they can hear her screaming. I click it off. They’ll be trying to track me soon if people are calling in about my exploits downtown. What am I doing? My parents must have shaken me like a pinball machine when I was a baby.

“I’m sure we can work something out with the chief. I mean, you’re a cop and it was mistaken identity. You won’t press charges, will you, Madison?” Dear God. He thinks I’m some sort of psychopath or something.

“No. I won’t. Just let me go home.”

“How old are you, Madison?” I ask gently.

“…fifteen,” she sniffles.

Same age. Same looks. By all rights, this “Madison” is my daughter.

“Then it doesn’t matter whether you want to press charges. You’re a minor, so your parents are my judge, jury, and executioner.”

“That doesn’t seem very fair. I’m the one being kidnapped,” Madison says.

“Kidnapped? No. No. Look, we just need to get to a doctor I know. He can do a blood test to tell if you’re Vanessa’s twin or if you have amnesia or something. It’s the only other explanation I can think of. Maybe I’m your real Daddy. Don’t you want to know if you’re my daughter? Don’t you want to know if you had a sister?”

“I don’t think I do. You said that she was dead. I mean, it doesn’t seem like there’s any point.”

“But she’d be your sister. I mean, don’t you want to know?”

“I’m sorry. I just want to go home. I want to go back to my family. My real father is probably worried sick about me.” The car is quiet for a few minutes until Charley opens his yap.

“Hey, Madison. Want to hear a joke?”

“Charley!” I snap. “The girl doesn’t want to hear your stupid jokes!”

“Why did the woman divorce the grape?”

I growl in frustration, swerving around all the slow cars that drive five miles per hour trying not to get a ticket around the squad car.

“I don’t know. Why?”

“She was tired of raisin kids.” Madison doesn’t laugh or say anything about how lame the joke is. She just sits there in the back and I can almost hear her thinking it over. What’s there to think over a joke that stupid?

“That’s pretty harsh. So, she didn’t like the kids just because of the way they looked?” She’s taking this way too seriously.

“No. It’s just a joke—a play on words.” Charley reassures her.

“I mean, she’s tired of having kids who are raisins so now she’s going to just abandon her family?”

“I don’t know… I never thought about that. Jack, what do you think?”

“Don’t give two shits. Just you and Vanessa keep quiet. I’m gonna call my doctor friend on the cell phone.”

“My name’s not Vanessa. It’s Madison.”

I try calling but it’s his voicemail prattling on about appointments. I throw the phone in the empty passenger side. Am I going crazy? Is this girl even here? No, she’s got to be. I have to be sane. Maybe she is a twin sister that my wife gave up. They say everybody’s got a double somewhere in the world. Or did that rapist murdering fuck not really kill Vanessa? Maybe she has amnesia from the trauma? But then whose body did I see? Somebody else’s. Must’ve been. I mean, that body was almost beyond recognition. Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe forensics made a mistake.

“Jack! Sirens!” Charley shouts. Not that I’m complaining about the warning, but whose side is this numbnuts on? Does he really think I’m gonna pull over? I turn on my own sirens and step on the gas. Maybe they’re not coming after me. I click the radio…

“…67! PULL OVER! REPEAT…”

…so much for that.

I feel refreshed, gunning it past the cars as they make room for us, at least until I reach a barricade of squad cars at the tollbooths—toll roads bust my balls every time. I hammer on the breaks, and I can feel the tires on the right side leave the ground and crash back down to the earth.

I unbuckle my seatbelt and raise my hands in the air until officers raid the car, pulling me out on the hot pavement to feel me up a while until they’ve got my gun and they’re satisfied that I’m not keeping C-4 tucked under my balls.

Charley’s getting the pat down, too, though not nearly as rough. Madison’s standing there, looking every bit like my sweet Vanessa. She tries to smile at me, I think, but all it looks like is pity.

In spite of myself, I’m a little relieved. I don’t know who this girl is. I really want to know. But even if she’s not my daughter, she’s still alive and okay. Maybe better than she was with me. I can see a sliver of the moon even in the middle of the day, the taste of peanut butter in my mouth. Vanessa was always such a forward, rational thinker (she got that from her mother). She was always telling me to let things go.

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Filed under Session XXIV, Short Story

Voices

The worst thing I ever did was give my voices names. Fontaine was a complete ass. I never listened to him. All he did was make rude comments toward women and I couldn’t tolerate that. Gertrude didn’t like him either. They argued constantly. Theodore was very influential. He whispered into my ear that everything was fine, that there was nothing to worry about. But it was Daniel that talked me out of complacency. He screamed at me. Everything was something to worry about. Worry about your job, about your electric bill, about every sharp thing in the kitchen. Daniel kept me alive, I think, but he also kept me from sleeping. It was Helen I turned to when I felt the most alone. How can I feel alone, you say, when I’m surrounded by voices? Have you ever felt alone in a crowd? There. Well, you have it. But Helen… she is different. I think I’m in love with her.

Helen is the beauty that would have launched a thousand ships, only she is locked within my head. She is the reasonable voice. When I am rambling, she speaks slow, when I am self-destructive, she yells me into reason. Helen is the only entity, real or otherwise, that is holding me together.

I think I’ve become too attached, though. I am sad when the voices are gone. I want them back. Especially Helen, but not only her. I can’t live without any of these voices. They are a strong part of me. I am a part of them. Sometimes, when I drift off to sleep, I may be Daniel or Getrude, or Theodore or Fontaine. Or Helen. I wish I was Helen. Yes, I want that strong kind of woman. When I see someone like that in the real world, I want to be with her, if only to get closer to being Helen myself.

 

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

What do I even say?

What do I even say to the mealy paws of addiction? What do I say to two chambers and a trigger? I want to know. I want to know what is on your mind when you look at the world like you want to set it all on fire. I want that passion again. If we could take it all back, we’d ruin it faster than we did the first time. What do I even say to you when all you do is feed me what I crave but not what I want? It’s cinnamon, cardamom, tamarind, and ginger. It’s all those things and one more. One ingredient so vile, it sucks the lining out of your gut. That’s right. I’ll say it with venom. I’ll say it with chemicals and splash it all over the walls. Never have I wanted to eat another creature’s tongue so bad. How do tastebud’s taste? Do they have any flavor at all? Finished. All done and ready for takeoff, sir or madam. Zoom.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Raindrops

A storm broke last night and I don’t even remember it. Normally I love the rain hitting the window. However, the rain glancing off the hospital just infuriates my already raging headache. I feel like I’ve woken up from a nightmare and I only have myself to blame.

Dizzie came by today along with Seamus. They’d both saved my life. Seamus looked like he hadn’t slept a wink but still somehow had energy. If raindrops were meant to soothe and rejuvenate, Dizzie was the lightning and the thunder that followed. Mom and Seamus left so we could be alone.

“Why’d you do it?” was all she said.

I actually wasn’t trying to kill myself that night. Not exactly.

“Somehow I don’t believe you.”

But it was really the truth. I just wanted to let go and forget. I didn’t want to feel like myself anymore.

“Dying would have helped you forget.”

It wasn’t my goal, though. The doctor said I probably wouldn’t die since I threw up most of the pills.

“Then what was your goal? Fucking with your friends?”

I didn’t want Mom to know. She wants to send me to a psych ward.

“Maybe it would be good for you.”

I was shocked. I figured Dizzie would be on my side on this.

“You have a problem,” she told me. “I mean, just look at your arms. They’re all sliced up.”

Not since I met you, Dizzie. I’ve stopped myself for you.

“You’re no better than Chev. You know he’s doing meth now? And he got my brother into it? You’re addicted to pain, Sadie, and now it’s affecting us. You need help.”

I thought you were my friend.

“I don’t really need this right now.”

Dizzie called my mom and Seamus back in. They looked so sympathetic and it made me sick. The raindrops hit the window and each one felt like a tiny dagger piercing my brain. Is this going to be the rest of my life? Are the ones I love the most going to always leave me? My dad? Dizzie?

“You need help.” My conversation with Dizzie kept echoing flooding through my brain like a torrent. I felt that pain in the pit of my stomach like broken glass. All that self-loathing and guilt that threatened to puncture a hole in my stomach and spill out all over the floor. This is why I used to cut myself, and it was even more tempting now.

I can’t believe what happened to Chev and Seamus. Now that I think of it, Seamus didn’t really look so well and I haven’t seen Chev since after graduation. Those days somehow seem simpler now. I feel like we knew everything there was to know about life and then we just couldn’t take it anymore. We lost it. We fell from grace.

I once read a story by Ray Bradbury that really stuck with me. It was about a group of soldiers who crash land on Venus. It rains pretty much all year there and the soldiers go insane and die. Except for one who made it to this patch of sun that sounded imaginary. At least, I used to think it was. But if it is real, maybe Dizzie can make it there. Maybe she can reach the sunlight. I’d like to help her there but I’m just another dead soldier. I really can’t help anyone in this position.

“Maybe it would be good for you,” Dizzie had said.

I sigh and close my eyes. In my mind the rain takes me and I am drowning. Dizzie is standing on the shore. I reach out my hand to her and she just keeps them in her pockets and shakes her head. She’s abandoned me. I’m on my own now.

The storm tonight has been raging outside my window all my life. I’m afraid one day soon it’s going to finally break inside and claim me.

“Dying would have helped you forget.”

Somebody help. Anybody.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XIX

Dream Collection

My doctor says I should get rid of  my dreams. He says they’re not real, and they’re probably a result of stress or a tumor.

Maybe I should explain. I keep my dreams in jars. When the dreams are leaking out of my head each morning (as they do with every person), I syphon them into a jar. They glow with lights of infinitely varying colors and textures. Some are bright as the sun and others dim as the moon reflected on a bog. The walls in my house have been taken over by shelves I’ve made to support my dreams.

In spite of the beauty I’ve surrounded myself with, my doctor says to get rid of them.

“Would you get rid of your closest friends and family?”

“Of course not, Bryan, but these are just jars. What you’re telling me is you’ve become co-dependent on them, to the point that they are closer than family.”

“They are. These jars are me.”

“Bryan, for the sake of yourself and your family, you need to open these jars. Let these illusions go.”

“Never.”

“He’s beyond my help.” The chair scrapes across the ground. My sister cries.

“I can’t stand what you’ve become, Bryan!” she wails.

“I’m still the same. I just know where I’ve been now. And where I’m going.” I smile but she shrinks away. She grabs a jar and opens it. An effervescent glow, pink like the inside of a watermelon, bubbles out and dissipates. “D-d-d-don’t!” I stutter. “Don’t d-do that, Janet!”

She opens another. My doctor says something about not provoking me. I lunge at her. “Stop it! Sstop it, you b-b-buh!” I tackle her and we knock a shelf over onto the ground. Glass and dreams shatter as they hit the ground. “You’re going to k-k-kill me!”

She took a piece of glass and dug it into my cheek. Then, as I screamed on the floor, she tore apart my walls and my dreams. My doctor couldn’t do anything to stop here. Or wouldn’t. I don’t know. I fell asleep for 72 hours after that and woke up in what everyone said was a deep depression. For a year, I would let my dreams leak out of my head and evaporate. My sister went through a bit of depression of her own, triggered by guilt, my doctor said.

He encouraged me to garden to express my nurturing side to fill the void my dream collection had left. It didn’t exactly work, but then finally I started growing fruit from my trees. There were too many pears, so I learned how to preserve them in mason jars. After eating a jar full of pears, I looked at the bottom of the empty jar and I smiled that night as I dreamed bright aquamarine waves.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XVII

Pumpkin Pie (revision)

“You a pumpkin pie fan?” the old man on the porch shouted at Judy. He was creaking back and forth in an old rocking chair, looking every bit like the beginning of a horror movie that her brother made her watch last month. The man in the movie kept pieces of children in his basement refrigerator.

“Excuse me?” Judy asked, looking around, hoping he was talking to someone else. The sidewalk was void of life.

“Pumpkin pie is God’s food, you know? Warms the soul!”

“It’s, um… I don’t know about that.” Judy looked around again. Sometimes, she hoped she could just latch onto some passing person’s underbelly like one of those little fish and get carried away from the dangers of awkward social encounters. No such luck today.

“Come on, girl! You either like it or you don’t! I have some cooling inside.” The man stood up on creaky legs. He lurched toward the rail to get his balance and catch his breath.

“No, really. I should get going.”

“Nonsense! Who says ‘no’ to pie?” He tottered through his front door, swinging it open. It almost shut on its own, hanging there, creaking back and forth in the wind.

This was Judy’s chance to escape. She could just run to her house down the street and avoid this way home next week. There was still time, even if she was wearing heels. She’d never talked to this old man before, so who’s to say she would ever need to again? Still, good manners kept her locked in place, if a little fidgety. She shifted to one foot, then the other, as if she had to go the bathroom. Maybe that’s what she should have told him. Maybe that’s what she will tell him.

Judy jumped a little as the door hinges squeaked abruptly. Before she could open her mouth with a good excuse, the old man began rambling again. “You know, they say Van Gogh thought yella was God’s color. Now, I don’t know much about that art crap, but pumpkin pie is definitely something out of God’s cookbook.” He walked to the bottom step but no further. Judy tiptoed toward the shivering pie plate, taking hold of it like she would a live rat. “Now tell me how that is! I been makin’ them pies for 30 years an’ I sell ’em right outta my home.”

“Oh, really?” she said, flaking off the first bite. “I’ve never heard anything about pie sales. Do you do this every year?”

“Every day! Never sell anything, though. Just sit here waiting and nobody buys anything.”

“You don’t have any signs up or anything. Do you put ads in the paper?”

“Don’t need to! Pie sells itself. People just smell pie and come running.”

“But you just said…”

“Nonsense!” The exclamation startled Judy. The old man smacked at his gums for a while, a blank look in his eyes. Judy began to feel awkward just standing there. She dug into her pie again.

Judy wondered observed the brown glob on her fork. Perhaps it was made of little bits of children. Still, it smelled pleasant enough. And it looked like pumpkin pie should. Judy didn’t want to make a  bad impression with a neighbor, so she took a timid bite.

“Pretty damn good, eh? I make it with rat testes.”

Judy gagged the pie out onto the man’s lawn. He let out a wheeze that could have been a laugh. “I’m just messin’ wit’ ya! You shoulda seen yoor face! Ha!” He wheezed again. He might have asthma. Or he was really old and his lungs were giving out. Judy hoped it was the latter explanation.

“That wasn’t funny!”

“Cheer up, girly! If you weren’t you, it’d be hilarious! Isn’t that good pie? Try another bite.”

Judy thought of shoving the pie in the man’s face and smiled. She sunk her teeth into the next bite, this time able to pause and chew it. It was delicious. The pie was hearty like a custard pie, but light and airy enough to melt on her tongue. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors swirled together like the bottom of a cup of hot cocoa. The ginger left a small bite that left her wanting another soothing mouthful. Judy bit her lip so as not to look like she was enjoying it.

“I think I’d actually deal with your shenanigans for another pie one day, Mr…” She held on to that last word. “I never got your name.”

“Name’s Curtis.”

“Well, Curtis. Your pie is exquisite, but I really need to get home now.”

“You remind me of Shirley Temple when she and I were going steady. The only way I could snag a girl like that was through my pumpkin pie.”

“You dated Shirley Temple?”

“Dated? Ha! Yeah, you could say that. She was newly divorced and I was around.”

“You were Shirley Temple’s rebound guy?” Judy wanted to wipe that image from her mind, especially since she could only think of Shirley Temple as a little girl and Curtis as, well, Curtis.

“Yeah, but then she started going steady with that Black fella. That was his name: Black. Charlie Black.” his eyes were washed away in some old memory.

“Well, I’m sure he doesn’t make a pumpkin pie like you do.”

“Yeah. Yer damn for sure, woman!” He wheezed again, started coughing and rocking back in his chair.

“Are you all right?”

“Maaah!” He dismissed it with a hand.

Judy thought about getting home again to feed her cats and watch Law and Order: SVU. She set the plate back up on the rail. “Well, I should get going. Thank you for the pie and it was lovely to meet you, Curtis.”

He hacked up a wad of phlegm and spit it into a nearby bowl.

“Well, then,” Judy said, not certain what else to say. She took one last look back at the man before going. He was rocking in his chair, creaking like an old abandoned swing set, looking glossy eyed as if inside a dream.

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Filed under Flash Fiction