Truck Stop

The air wedge slid silently into the space between the truck door and the window weather stripping. Jonas pumped up the wedge just enough to fit a five-foot bendable rod through the narrow opening and into the cabin of the semi. With some finesse, the hook at the end of the rod grabbed the truck’s door lock, a small, vertical cylinder that, when pulled straight up, will unlock the door. He struggled to see clearly in the moonlight and carefully worked to avoid scratching the interior window as he pulled the rod up. Click! The door unlocked.

At the rest stop that Jonas had come to, there was only one sedan that left shortly after Jonas arrived. There were seven trucks and the one that he was working to unlock was the seventh in line. Now that the door was unlocked, that wasn’t the end of his job. He retrieved his air wedge and bendable rod, slipping them into the small red toolbox that he had sitting on the ground next to him with the words “Harold & Co.” scribed on the outside.

Jonas walked back to his tow truck and placed the toolbox in the passenger seat. He went into the popular truck stop and listened to the dripping of recently running shower heads and the shower curtains blowing in place from the cross breeze created by the opening at the front and back of the building. A quarter dinged its way down a vending machine and a stream of coffee started pouring into the disposable foam cup that Jonas set there. He took a deep breath in as the coffee assaulted his senses, evaporating the crust from his eyes and the oil from his creased, aged hands.

A familiar beep rang from the machine and the coffee finished it’s piddly drip into the cup. Jonas picked it up, placed the rim of the smooth foam on his upper lip and smelled the cheap Colombian mixture. He sat down in a stained green loveseat that was straight out of the 70’s and let the pointed springs poke his denim-covered thighs and ass and laid back into the stain of many locksmiths before him.

Again, he smelled the coffee, listening to the dripping and dropping of the shower heads, waiting for it to cool enough so as to not burn his mouth, but so that he could feel the heat inch down his esophagus. Several minutes passed and he dipped his pinkie into the rejuvenating serum. Just like the final porridge, it was just right. He smelled it one last time and lifted the cup to his mouth, tipping it back and swallowing the almost burning drink.

He pulled his flip-phone from his pocket and opened it. The time was 2:22 AM, and he had no messages. It was late but, with no family to be pulled from, Jonas didn’t mind coming out here at this time of night. Outside, he watched the flickering bulbs of streetlamps hanging overhead, creating a stream of light around the sidewalks that led him from the building to his tow truck and to the semi’s that he was equipped to unlock. With a second and last deep breath, he tipped the remaining contents of the cup into his mouth and put the cup under the nozzle of the coffee machine, adding another quarter.

Jonas pushed himself up from the dated loveseat with a grunt and his hands pushing from his thighs for support. He got up and stretched his arms into the air as high as he could, then bent down to touch his toes, then rocked left to right to stretch his core. He pushed the door open as the stream of coffee started pouring back into the cup. The cold breeze touched his face, his warmed body welcoming the change in temperature. He took in a deep breath, smelling the dew turn to frost on the unkempt grass growing along the sidewalks and buildings outskirts.

The seventh truck in line, the one that he had just unlocked, was unmoved. Jonas walked closer, examining the six trucks before and nothing caught his attention. He was almost done for the night and he had already finished the hardest part of this job. A semi blew by the stop, driving up the highway at 70-something miles per hour, but there were no other cars in sight.

He went back to his tow truck for the small red toolbox and carried it back to the seventh semi. Walking back to the truck, he thought about the cheap coffee waiting for him inside and hurried along, his walk turning to a trot. At the door to the seventh semi, he put down the toolbox and opened it, pulling out some jumper cables and a rubber mallet.

Quickly, quietly and carefully, he gripped the handle to the door and yanked it, the squeaking sound of a truck with well over 500,000 miles pierced his ears. He pulled himself up to the cabin and closed the door behind him gently. The door didn’t close completely, but it was closed enough so that a good gust of wind wouldn’t move it and cause noise, and so that no cool air would disturb the task at hand.

The cabin was dirty, but neat. The faux-leather seat was worn and rubbing off at many places. A stereotypical hula girl bobblehead wiggled slightly on the dashboard with the movement that he was causing. The odometer was at 673,993 miles and a minifridge, surely full of lunch meats, soda and beer (as so many of the independent truckers drove with,) was whirring its engine inside to keep everything cool. The microwave on top of it was black with wooden accents, and the smell of splattered foods flooded Jonas’ nose, making him crave the scent of the sweet coffee waiting for him.

There were two beds, organized one over the other towards the back of the cabin. The top one was used as storage for memento’s, such as a birthday card signed by the trucker’s daughter, a brownish orange stuffed fox and a collection of family photos. Jonas was surprised by the overwhelming beauty of the trucker’s wife, as most of the wives are sexy enough to be bridge trolls and only marry truckers because no one else will take them. He picked up a framed picture from the top bunk and pulled it close to his eyes to see better in the moonlight. Rubbing his thumb against the woman, imagining that he pushed her hair back, he fantasized about having a family with her and if he was the one with a young daughter at home, but then he shook the thoughts away, afraid to get caught up in the make-believe like he so often does when he’s doing his job.

He set the framed picture back down and his attention came to the bottom bed, which was inhabited by a snoring 40-something year-old man who was sleeping in Star Wars pajamas and a white blanket. The man snored, held it for eight seconds, then let it out, this time waiting only four seconds before he repeated the imperfect cycle. Jonas stared at the man’s balding head and kneeled down in front of him. The back of his hand rubbed his smooth head, and he savored every instance of touch that was gifted to him by himself. He ran his hands down the man’s face, pausing slightly when he stopped snoring, but continued when the snoring started again.

His skin was soft, and it reminded him of his childhood, when his parents were around to give him the cozy life that he wanted, but then those thoughts were replaced by what he had come here to do. He took the jumper cables and wrapped them around his hands as tightly as he could and held them above the man’s throat. He waited for the man to let out his last snore, and then forced the cables into his Adam’s apple. The man’s eyes shot open with bloodshot tiredness and fear in them, and he gripped for the cords, desperately pulling them back from his throat but to no avail, leaving deep cuts from his fingernails where he tried to rip them away.

The man reached for Jonas, but he was carefully positioned right outside of his reach, watching as his bloodshot eyes widened with the knowledge that tunnel vision was taking hold. Trying to lash out as hard as he could, the man reached for Jonas’s neck, almost getting hold, but Jonas was able to react fast enough and force him back into his small bed.

Defeatedly and weakly, the man reached his hands up and searched the upper bed for the picture of his family. He grabbed it with wobbly and unsteady fingers, and held it close to his face, moving it back and forth, obviously trying to focus in on the image of his beautiful family. Jonas knew the deed was done when the man dropped the picture onto his chest and it slid to the floor, breaking the glass covering his family.

He waited another thirty seconds, but then pulled back form the man whose eyes looked like they were about to pop from his head. Jonas reached down and got the picture from the frame and slid it into his chest pocket. He opened the door that he had come through and took a step out, taking one look back to see his handywork, and then, picking up his toolbox, walked back into the bitter cold, thinking only of the coffee that was waiting for him inside. He walked by the other six semis’, smiling at the thought of how productive this stop had been. He dropped the toolbox back off at his truck, happy that he didn’t need to use the mallet here and walked back inside to the uncomfortable green loveseat that he had been in before.

Jonas lifted the coffee cup to his upper lip and smelled the serum, then dipped his pinkie in to test the temperature. When he decided that it was cool enough, he took a sip and felt the burning inch down his throat, vanish behind the picture of the recently deceased trucker and his family, and drop into his stomach.

The American Dream

A steady job, kids and happiness, that’s what everyone wants when the become an adult. As a kid, they watch their parents struggle through the daily grind, unaware of the difficulties that they faced, knowing that when they got older, they’d have the privilege of facing the same struggles on their own terms. Eventually everyone will come out on top and life will work out for them, as long as they’re happy with a steady job, kids and happiness.

Day in and day out, people do the same work that some no name did before them, they’re paid in nickels and dimes, and then they go home to a family that, just like them, spends more time at work than with the one’s they love. From 8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening, the days pass by and time seems to move faster as everyone waits for that next impactful moment in their life when everything changes.

When life grows stale, kids arrive. They throw their parents out of their comfort zones and create a new list of demands and dreams. The goals that the parents had set for themselves are passed to the young, and the parents wither away as the children grow into another group of unachieved ambitions.

Once complacency sits in, happiness is inevitable. There’s nothing to worry about anymore as the kids become adults and are self-sufficient and you’ve gotten enough job security to become less expendable. Fears and insecurities shrink and leave the parents to the same lives that they had before kids but with more certainty with a comfortable death. Cyclic lives, like their parents before them and their children after, create the unending rotation of new spirit to crush on this godforsaken planet, with no sign of it ending.

Rats on a Plane

I genuinely don’t know what I would do if I was ever forced into the middle of the ocean and that’s what spawned this piece. Winston Smith of 1984 seems weak until you can compare rats to your own fears.

Scott McSamuelLJackson

calm water with sun and orange sky
Photo by Abdullah Ghatasheh on Pexels.com

“I don’t want to hear it anymore,” Dick Yung said. “We need to send someone to Japan or else it’s not gonna get done and you’re the only one here that I trust to do it. If you honestly believe that Nick can do this, then I’ll send him, but you and I both know that he’s borderline retarded.”

“No…” I said. “I’ll go. But you owe me.”

“I don’t owe you shit. You’re doing the job that I’m already paying you to do. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. You should just do something when I tell you to do it. This isn’t a democracy, and if it was, the company would go under in a week.” I flipped him the bird and left his office. “That’s real nice, asshole. You’re lucky everyone else here is an incompetent fucking moron or else I’d fire you right now.”

It was Tuesday at 4:00 PM and the flight was leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00. I’d depart from LAX and fly nonstop for almost 12 hours to Tokyo. Unfortunately, my company forced me to get my tickets from United, so if I didn’t wimp out and quit my job altogether, I had getting my face beaten in by security to look forward to.

I grabbed my blazer and left quietly so that Dick didn’t look up from the crossword that he was doing at his desk. Smoke plumed from his ears and his face was tomato red. If he made it to retirement, I’d lose a bet with Nick. We both bet five-grand on him having a heart attack or stroke before he turned 65. If he died before, I won. If he died after, Nick won. We only had one rule, neither of us could intervene if he did have an emergency. It wouldn’t be fair if he had a heart attack and Nick saved him. To be fair, I didn’t think Dick would die beforehand, or even retire at 65 since he’s such a fucking piece of work, but it gave me some joy coming into work and seeing his lonely, divorced body coldly laying next to his desk with as much life in it as a used tissue.

Flying wasn’t the problem with this trip. It wasn’t even talking to the Asians on the other side of the 12-hour journey – it was the fact that I had to fly over the ocean. I hated the ocean and I had since I was a kid. My family and I went on vacation to Virginia Beach one year when I was like five or six, and a wave came in and swept me off my feet. It wasn’t a big deal, but I remember the salt water burning my eyes as I searched for the sunlight, trying to figure out which way was up, and which was down. Eventually I stopped getting whipped around and floated to the surface right before my lungs were going to burst. I was about twenty feet from the shore, and I couldn’t tread water. I breathed in but got a lung-full of water while I waved my hand above the calm waves. If my brother hadn’t been keeping an eye on me, I would have drowned.

Another time, when I was about the same age, I went swimming at my grandparent’s house and they had one of those big inflatable things that one person jumps on and launches someone else. Well, I was always too small and scared to get launched, so I kept my distance and swam around in the shallower parts of the pool so that I would stay out of their way. Looking back on it, using one of those in someone’s backyard pool is beyond irresponsible, but it doesn’t matter. Well, what happened was my sister jumped on the inflatable and launched my brother, but then the stupid thing drifted across the water and parked itself above me, who had just taken a shallow breath and kicked off the side of the pool. When I came to the surface, it was right above me and I wasn’t strong enough to push it up. I took another lung-full of water and since then, couldn’t get over my fear of water.

I can’t even tread water very well. My grandma tried to teach me how to float on my back, but I couldn’t calm myself down enough. The second she pulled her hands away from my adolescent back, I thrashed around and sank. I can doggie paddle, do a weak breast and back stroke, but that’s it. That’s only if I can force myself into the pool in the first place.

Before I went into sales, I thought I’d be a marine biologist. The fear that I had for water, grew to a strong curiosity in the ocean and ocean life, but the fear trumped the study and I was left short of breath any time I thought about sharks, whales or whatever else was below the hellish surface. The fear got so bad that when I was young and still took baths, I couldn’t put my head under the water because I was afraid that orca’s (or I guess I called them shamu’s back then) would get into the tub and eat me. For years, I didn’t wash my hair.

After I grew out of the fear that lay within the bathtub, it escalated to swimming pools. I couldn’t swim alone because I was afraid sharks would flood the pool and I’d be trapped, trying desperately to wade through the shallows to get away. To this day, I still struggle to swim alone. My parents have an above ground pool and taking the solar cover off or pushing it back is enough to sweat like crazy.

And that’s why I was so fucking mad that Dick wanted me to fly to Japan. I had never confided my fear in him, and I still wouldn’t because I’d be seen as this anathema in the office and I’d get forced out within a few days; weakness was a death sentence here. I didn’t have a choice but to go on to the stupid trip to explain our breakers to a bunch of foreigners who could have just gotten them from Mitsubishi.

When I got home, I packed my bags with only the essentials: clothes, my work laptop, a 2-ounce bottle of my cologne and a few Xanax to take before the bastards in the NSA rooted through my stuff. I turned on the news to see what kind of weather we’d have tomorrow and unsurprisingly, it called for sun and low winds. I threw three or four Xanax down my throat and drank bourbon out of the bottle until I felt a fuzziness tickle my brain, then I fell asleep with an alarm set for 3:00 AM.

My dreams were full of water, sharks, airline passengers, turbulence and screaming, followed by a deep black that the taste of salt and fish shit. My alarm rang at 3:00 and even though I hit snooze and tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t take my eyes from the ceiling. I dream of the ocean frequently, and it’s never the calmness and serenity that most people find in it. Pulling myself out from under the sheets that stuck to my sweat-covered body, I took a cold shower, downed three cups of coffee and a blueberry bagel covered in strawberry cream cheese before getting a LYFT to take me down the somewhat calm roads to LAX.

I hate the airport, so I took six Xanax and went straight to security, then to my gate. At 4:45, I was seated and watching others join me in the lobby and wait to board. Most were dressed in suits like me, but a few looked like they had just shopped at Goodwill for their entire wardrobe, rolled in mud and showed up. At 5:30, we boarded, and I avoided eye contact with the stewardess’s as I sat in my window seat. The sun was hidden but was starting to light the horizon in the yellow hue of smog that fucked with my asthma.

The Xanax started slowly as I sat there and waited, but I still felt anxious. I was about to fly over the ocean for hours, and then I’d have to come back in a few days. Part of my hoped the plane would crash and I’d die on impact so that I wouldn’t have to endure any more than absolutely necessary.

You know, one of my favorite books was 1984 by Orwell, and I think about the scene that he painted where Winston Smith is staring his biggest fear, rats, in the face. They force him to scream out how he’s had enough, and that he wishes that this was happening to literally anyone else, including the love of his life, Julia. Big Brother breaks him, and it took only a few hungry rats. When I first read through the book, I left thinking Winston was a coward, but now that I’m here, thinking about crashing into the ocean, I’m wondering what I would do. I like to think that I’m strong enough to take the pain myself and embrace the slow death from starvation or dehydration, or the quick death of sharks, but it’s hard to put myself in that mindset without actually being there.

Then, the full effect of the drugs hit, and I fell asleep before they told me how to inflate my lifejacket. If the plane crashed, I wouldn’t want the jacket anyway. I’d prefer to just die than risk surviving a week in my Hell.

Three hours later, I was shaken awake and the pilot was saying something about some turbulence. The man sitting next to me was gripping his armrests tightly and whispering a prayer to himself, while I heard someone behind scream about saying goodbye to their kids and husband. I shook my head, and the Xanax evaporated from my system, sobering me up immediately.

“What’s happening?” I asked the guy next to me.

“B-bad turbulence,” he stuttered.

“Is that all?”

He simply stared out the window to my right and that’s when I saw it – a trail of black smoke going as far back as my craned neck would let me see. The woman behind me was still screaming as an announcement came over the speaker system. “Everyone, please buckle your seatbelts and make sure that your chair is upright,” he said in a voice that was as calm as death. “We will be making an emergency landing on the water below. Hold on tight and brace for impact.”

The altitude changed quickly, and I could feel it in my gut, throat and ears as they struggled to adjust. I threw up directly in front of me and it splashed my shoes and the seat in front of me. Half of the people on board were screaming while the other half stayed silent with their eyes closed. We split the clouds and then deep blue was right below us. I reached into my pocket, looking for more Xanax, but then remembered that I didn’t have any with me. I closed my eyes, held on tight and waited.

The place rumbled as it skipped off the water a few times, then it settled in and landed anti-climactically and started sinking. I looked around and the only casualty seemed to be a woman who hadn’t buckled her seatbelt in the excitement. She had been ejected from her seat and smashed into the front of the cabin, splattering it with blood. I struggled to unbuckle the seat belt and became aware of the pain that stretched across my chest, but the pain vanished when I saw water soak my shoes; I was exactly where I didn’t want to be.

I stood up as the cockpit door opened and the pilot stood in its place. “Just like we practiced before, put on your life jacket and leave through the emergency exits to your left and right.” A few rows up, people started flooding out of the door, all wearing their bright orange lifejackets. I looked around as the guy next to me stood up and ran to the door.

“Hey, where’d you get the jacket?” I asked him.

“What?”

“Lifejacket! Where’s the lifejacket!”

“Under your seat!” He waded through the ankle-deep water and left through the door as it flooded in. I reached below and grabbed the lifejacket and then pulled the cord; instinct totally took over and before I knew it, I was floating outside the plane, watching it fall beneath the surface.

Then I was suddenly aware of the studying I had done about sharks when I was younger. “They are attracted to wounded animals, so they seek out blood and loud noises, such as thrashing.” We were the thrashing wounded animal. We were shark food, and we were all wearing stupid bright lifejackets that would lead them straight to us.

We were alone… in the ocean. I don’t know how long it would take for help to find us, but I didn’t want to find out. I couldn’t. The water wasn’t too cold, and the current wasn’t bad, but as everyone was cheering and happy for their lives, I was being prepared as shark food.

I started shaking and hyperventilating, looking around as if there was something to grab or hold onto, but there was nothing. I was just this guy in the ocean, and I was surrounded by people dumb enough to think God will save them or that their families matter right now. Right now, all that matters is getting out of this fucking ocean as soon as humanly fucking possible!

The pilot was trying to get everyone clumped together, saying that “staying together is our best chance at survival,” and although he was right (at least for sharks) it didn’t matter. For miles, sharks would smell the blood of the woman smashed against the front of the plane because she wasn’t smart enough to wear her fucking seatbelt! Chances are we’d be fucked because one of the women on here was on their period or someone doesn’t know how to cut a bagel without hurting themselves, but right now that retard was getting the sharks appetite ready for a feeding frenzy.

I joined the rest of the passengers as the plane completely submerged itself under the ocean, and a wave rocked all of us as we tried to keep our armed interlocked. It needed to end right now. Great Whites are probably swimming at us from underwater, about to launch into the air and eat us like seals. Fucking Christ, we’re fucking done for.

My lifejacket was the only thing keeping me from sinking. My legs flailed around, frantically trying to learn how to tread water, but all it would do is make me the first target of their feast. I’m the weakest one out here and the sharks know it.

I ripped my lifejacket off and took a deep breath. “What the fuck are you doing!” the pilot screamed. “Keep your jacket on! We need all the help we can get right now, and deadweight isn’t going to help!”

I took a deep breath and dove deep underwater. Kicking with my feet and doing my best attempt at a diving, I swam lower and lower into the water. My eyes burned as I looked around to see what was near me, but it was completely empty, which is scarier than if it was full of sharks; the only thing worse than certain death is uncertain death.

I dove farther and harder, until my arms, legs and lungs were sore. The ocean was dark, and I was about fifty or sixty feet below the other passengers. They were all looking down at me like I had lost my mind, but I was the sanest person out of all of them.

I coughed and breathed in water, gasping like I had when I was a boy at Virginia Beach. It feels like breathing, but you keep inhaling to get air, but water floods your lungs leaving you breathless, but with a feeling like you should have air.

My vision started to blur as I knew my time was coming to an end. I was either going to float to the surface as an overinflated corpse, sink to the depths, or be torn to shreds by sharks before I could go anywhere. The pain of drowning is worse than I had imagined, but the swiftness was therapeutic. My sight turned to tunnel-vision, then black as I saw a large shape speed toward me.

Winston Smith and the rats were the last things to enter my thoughts as my brain lost function. If Big Brother got hold of me and put me in the ocean, I’d do exactly what I’m doing now. If they wouldn’t let me, I’d wish this fear and pain on anyone and everyone just to end it faster.

Ingrown Toenail

I’m either a closet sociopath or the stuff I write is stuff that everyone thinks about but doesn’t say aloud. No matter which is true, I’m not worried about it.

Scott McPodiatrist

blue bmw sedan near green lawn grass
Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

The parking lot was unpaved and bumpy, shaking the car like it was like a pirate ship sailing over the seven seas. Only two handicapped parking spots were in decent condition. “I’d lose a limb to get one of those spots. Then at least my car won’t scream for help anytime there’s a level change,” Kyle thought to himself.

His wife Debra was sitting next to him, holding onto the door handle so as to not bounce around too much. “Can you drive a little more carefully?” she asked with a voice as smooth as chocolate. “My foot already hurts enough, and this isn’t making it any better.”

“Then you’re going to hate walking over it. This lot’s a fucking mess.”

“I can tell.”

“You’d think they’d make the parking lot in front of a podiatrists office walkable.”

“You’d think.”

“I mean honestly, this would be like forcing a diabetic to walk through a candy shop just to get their insulin. It’s ridiculous.”

“You’re right, but what can you do?” she asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Nothing. You can never do fucking anything.”

Kyle backed into a spot between two gray sedans. The only other open spot in the lot had a pile of rocks that was taller than the gray sedan that they were driving in, and there’d be just enough room to open the car door and scream obscenities because no one could get in or out. “Can you hold this for a second?” Debra asked Kyle, handing him her purse.

Without a word, they walked through the minefield of a parking lot and onto an equally bumpy sidewalk that led to the door; fingerprints covered the glass entrance from top to bottom on both inside and outside, and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the Dust Bowl. “Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked as they walked in.

“Yeah,” Debra said. “It should be under Talbot.”

“Debra?”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“What’s your birth date?”

“Seven eight, eighty-seven.”

“Perfect. You can sit down, and we’ll call you in when Dr. Bell is ready.”

“Thank you.” Debra sat down at in the narrow waiting room and Kyle sat next to her. Two rows of chairs sat parallel to each other and a TV had the Home & Garden network blaring the newest trends in interior decorating. Kyle opened the book in his hand and turned to the popsicle stick bookmark that stuck out of the top. The bottom third of the stick was a light brown, but the top was tinted red and had a small stench of cherry. A joke shined through the coloring; “Where do spaghetti and sauce go to dance?” the stick read. “The Meat Ball.” Kyle never thought it was that funny of a joke, but Debra cried of laughter for about ten minutes after the punchline was revealed two years ago. Even now, she would still chuckle when she saw the punchline.

Sitting across from them was a mother, her teenaged daughter and teenaged son. They weren’t talking until we sat down, and then they began talking about the books that they’ve been reading recently. “I won’t read anything unless it’s non-fiction,” the mother said in a pretentious tone to her kids. “What’s the point of reading if you’re not going to learn something from it? I’d rather read something where I can better myself than some silly fiction book.”

Slaughterhouse-Five was sitting in Kyle’s lap, opened to the most recent page that he had been reading, but he couldn’t focus. “I just don’t get the point,” she continued. “Most women my age read books with Fabio on the cover, and it’s just immature.”

“Who’s Fabio?” her son asked.

“Yeah,” her daughter echoed. “who is that?”

“You don’t know who Fabio is? Then I’m really showing my age,” the mom said. “He’s the guy on the cover of almost every romance novel in existence. Here,” she took out her phone, “let me show you a picture.”

Kyle exhaled, trying not to show his anger. “This woman is openly judging my choice of book, but this bitch doesn’t know anything,” he thought to himself. “She says that she’ll only read to better herself, but I bet she’s as retarded as they come; probably just another basic bitch of a housewife.”

“That’s him?” the daughter laughed as she looked at her mom’s phone. “He looks terrible.”

“Like, look at his hair!” the son laughed.

“That’s what most women my age like. You’re lucky you have a cool mom like me.”

Kyle zoned out. He couldn’t listen to this prick anymore. “She sounds like she had the most horrific god-complex in existence, and what’s worse is she thinks people respect it,” he thought to himself again.

“Debra?” the doctor opened a door in the lobby and held it there. “Come on back. Let’s get that toe looked at.”

“I’ll be back out soon,” Debra told Kyle, “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

She disappeared behind the door, and Kyle was left trying to focus on either the book or TV, but neither could completely tune out the pompous assholes across the room. A car roared up the gravel parking lot and spun into the handicapped spots, launching rocks at the grimy door. Seconds later, another older woman walked through, and she gave the off the aroma of arrogance in the way that she walked.

The woman signed in and then sat next to Kyle, even though there were enough chairs in the waiting room for her to put space between them. She craned her neck to look at the TV, and her eyes glowed for a second, but Kyle couldn’t tell if it was excitement for the most mundane programming in the world, or if it was literally just the glow of the TV, then she opened her mouth.

No words crossed her overly decorated lips, instead, it was the arrhythmic sound of her teeth slapping a piece of gum with her mouth hanging open, like a cow chewing cud. The chewing took Kyle to a different plane of existence where he could hear nothing but her inconsiderate mouth. “It was worse than nails on a chalkboard, because at least with nails on a chalkboard the person doing it knows they’re an asshole. This woman has no fucking clue that she’s driving me insane.”

Her neck arched back to look forward as she looked around the waiting room, but then her phone rang with that generic chiming ringtone that everyone hated. She dug through her bag for upwards of fifteen seconds before she found her phone and then answered the call. “Hello?” she said, still chewing gum loudly. She popped a bubble with the sound strong enough to blow Kyle’s brain out and sucked it back in through her mouth. “No, I’m not busy. What’s up?”

The woman picked up a magazine and flipped through the plastic pages absent-mindedly while pretending to listen to whomever was on the other side of the phone. “Oh my god, are you serious?” she said in a tone that proved her lack of interest and commitment to the conversation. “That’s crazy,” said the inconsiderate bitch. Another page flipped by and another bubble blasted through the waiting room.

“Are you serious?” she said again. “I don’t believe you.”

Kyle thought about how he would feel to be on the other side of the phone talking to this cunt. He’d be irate to the nth degree. “How could anyone be okay with talking to this idiot?”

She had a wedding ring on her finger and the same demeanor as the mom sitting across from her, thinking that she was better than everyone. “I bet this cunt’s a soccer mom. And her kids probably hate her. ‘Eat your oranges’ she’d say, so that they can be big and strong, and ultimately bully the other kids that they go to school with to get rid of the frustration that they have bottled up for her and don’t understand yet.”

The gum popped again, ricocheting through the room, almost hitting and killing the woman’s son as he scrolled through something on his phone. Kyle got up. He had to. This room was quickly killing him.

He stepped outside to get some fresh air. The sun was beaming down, but it was frigid, and Kyle’s coat wasn’t doing enough to protect him from the cold. Right in front of him was the gum-chewing bitch’s car. It was an SUV. “I’m sure she brags about this to all of her other mom friends while her husband’s at work,” he laughed to himself. “I’m positive that her husband is cheating on her with his secretary. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what’s happening.”

Kyle took a few steps around the automobile and stopped. He realized how easy it would be to cut her brake line. “Surely it would make her husband and kids happier, plus she’d stop chewing gum like the grossest of abominations.” In his head, the scene played out over and over: he’d cut the brake line, she’d drive home and crash into someone bumper while she was on the phone with someone listening to her chew her gum. He hoped that she wouldn’t wear her seat belt, so that she’d get launched through the windshield, then even if she didn’t die, she’d be disfigured enough to hate her own superficial face.

He seriously contemplated it for a minute or two when he was overcome with this drive that he’d never felt before. Running to the gray sedan that he and Debra pulled up in, he opened the trunk to grab his compound snips, which was in his roadside tool set. The orange and gray box closed as the knife slid into his pocket.

Calmly and as inconspicuously as he could, he walked through the bumpy parking lot and crouched next to the SUV. He pulled himself underneath and looked at all of the different tubing when he found the brake line. The tool seemed to float up, ready to cut without any external intervention.

“Kyle?” a voice, which he recognized as Debra’s called out. “Are you out here?”

“Yeah,” he said, slipping the tool into his pocket before he cut the line.

“What are you doing under there?”

He thought for a second as he pulled himself out and got to his feet. “The woman in there said she heard a rattling in her car, and I said I’d take a look.” He lifted his thumb to the glass door, seeing his lying reflection look back at him, pretending to give the woman confirmation that everything was fine.

“That’s sweet,” Debra said, throwing her arms over Kyle’s shoulders and wrapping around his neck. She kissed him on the cheek. “You’re covered in dust. You should shower when we get home.”

“I know. I will. How’s your toe?”

“He said to come back in a few days and he’ll surgically remove it. He said that a toenail that gives this many problems in six months needs to go.”

“At least it’ll be taken care of.”

They got in the car and drove home. When Kyle pulled into the garage, he set the snips on his workbench and went inside to shower. Debra had gone straight inside and grabbed a bag of chips, which she was chewing to the beat of a machine gun.

Free Firewood

This is something that I think is pretty comedic. I used journal entries as the way to tell the story since I recently finished Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I wanted to experiment. Personally, I thought the piece was interesting and spawned simply by me driving passed a pile of free firewood and letting my fucked up mind do the rest.

Scott McInfusedDart

photo of woodpile
Photo by João Vítor Heinrichs on Pexels.com

Friday, October 4th, 2019

Work was shit as usual. I came in today and my boss had left my paycheck on my desk. I work 40 hours a week, and the most I can get is still like $13.50 an hour? I feel this way every week, but it’s been getting worse recently. To think that I went to college and I’m making less than if I became a plumber or roofer or something. Everyone who told me that I needed college when I was growing up is a fucking moron and I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies. What’s gonna happen if I need a new car or something? Then I’ll need to get a second job just to make enough money to go to the first job that I already hate. I constantly feel exhausted and nothing seems to make it any better. I thought I’d try journaling, but I know no one’s going to read this, and I don’t feel any better about anything. I’ll try again tomorrow and see if it’s any different.

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Today wasn’t as bad since I didn’t have to work, but I still didn’t do anything that mattered. I sat on my ass all day and watched episodes of shows that I’ve already seen and don’t care about at all. The characters are the same and the shenanigans are the same too. For dinner, I had a frozen pizza that wasn’t so bad, but I know I should have eaten more. I skipped breakfast and lunch for no reason other than that I was feeling lazy and didn’t wanna get up. I should drink more water. Maybe that’ll give me more energy. I should eat some vegetables too.

Monday, October 6th, 2019

I forgot to do the journal yesterday, but I promise you (as if anyone’s going to read this) that nothing noteworthy happened. I just did the same thing as Saturday; I sat down and watched shitty TV shows and felt bad for myself.

Today at work was no different. My boss, Madeline, called me out for not hitting my quota again. I’m so sick of that cunt breathing down my neck. I’d hate to be her husband or kids, because I’m sure none of them have experienced fun in a long time. Sometimes I think about what it would feel like to get promoted to her position. Being a manager wouldn’t be fun, but at least my pay wouldn’t rely totally on commission. I’d get a dog or something and then I’d enjoy being in my apartment a little bit more. I’d rather have a dog that pisses all over the furniture than spend another minute alone at home. I think it’d be fun to drive home and have a dog waiting at the door for me, excited to have me back. I’d train it to not pee on the carpet, but I wouldn’t get mad if it did. It would give me some responsibility that isn’t totally reliant upon sales or my stupid job.

Tuesday, October 7th, 2019

I hate my job. One of my coworkers made a $60,000 sale while I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with the terrible leads they gave me. Madeline has to understand what kind of pressure she’s putting on me. I was fucked the second I started working at the Gazette. Who the fuck buys newspapers anymore anyway? Not only that, why would a small business want to advertise in the paper? The only ones that do are the ones that will be replaced by another business in a few years or the ones that have so much extra capital that they throw money away like trash. I can’t even touch those clients because other people already have them. When I started the territory that I was assigned had been picked over since the last guy left, that meant I had a shitty hand already and there’s only so much that I can do about it. My coworkers annoy me to no end also. One of my female coworkers called a client, and then, after they picked up, they started eating an apple straight into the headset. That’s one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever seen. Granted, this is the same woman who said that my other coworker was a scumbag because he helps his daughters sell Girl Scout cookies, furthering the obesity epidemic in America. She’s such a stupid fucking bitch.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2019

When I left work today, I noticed a pile of wood outside of some business that said “free firewood” on a sign next to it. I think it’d be nice to have a fire at my apartment. Maybe it would help me get out of my head a little bit and relax with the sweet sounds of crackling wood. Tomorrow I’ll stop by and see if it’s still there.

I’ve been thinking about getting a dog a lot more than usual. Maybe I’ll get one of those soon too. I’ve always loved dachshunds, so maybe I’ll get a girl and call her Tabbie; I’ve always loved that name for a dog. I know the name will probably change after I meet it, but it’s still a cute name.

The journal isn’t helping very much, but it’s something that keeps my mind away from work for a little bit, so it’s not all bad, even though it’s time-consuming.

Thursday, October 9th, 2019

None of the firewood had been taken when I stopped there after work. No one was around when I picked it up. I just showed up, grabbed the wood and left. There weren’t even any camera’s around, even though it was right in front of some store. That’s the kind of place that’ll end up getting robbed at some point.

I stopped at the humane society today and looked at dogs. They didn’t have any dogs that seemed friendly enough so instead I played with one of their cats for an hour or so. He was cute and I might get him. I was hoping for a dog because I wanted it to care for me and make me feel wanted, but maybe letting a little cat curl up on my lap would be good enough.

Friday, October 10, 2019

I got the cat. He’s really fuzzy and his fur is a mix of black, white and gray. I named him Harker, since Dracula is one of my favorite books of all time. The name seems to fit him well and I think he likes it. I got him a few cans of soft food and a bag of hard food to see what he likes more. He’s a little older (the humane society guessed about four-years-old) and it’s fun to walk around my apartment and introduce him to everything. I tried to call him onto my lap while I was eating and watching TV, but he wouldn’t come. He just laid in front of the fireplace which I had thrown the logs into so that I didn’t have to turn my heaters on yet.

Work sucked as usual. Madeline is still trying to get me to use the old methods of selling by basically harassing a customer, but that’s not my style. I like to see if I can actually help them instead of just stealing their money and giving them a shitty product that doesn’t work.

Saturday, October 11, 2019

My alarm woke me up right at 7:00 AM and I drove straight to the pet store down the street. I wanted to let Harker feel a little more comfortable at home, so I got a cat tower. It wasn’t super tall, but it was a start. It’s the first decoration that I’ve put up since I moved here in March and it lit the place up a bit.

He still seems to love the fireplace, even when there isn’t a fire roaring, so on Monday I’ll grab some more wood. Sometimes Harker let’s me rub his belly which happened way earlier than I expected it too. He doesn’t even do what my parents’ old cat, Ruby, would do, which was claw you after a few seconds of petting.

Sunday, October 12th, 2019

I don’t have much to write today. Harker seems to like the wet food that I got him more than the dry, but all he really does is lick off the broth and walk away. He’s started to claw the carpet, but I don’t mind as much as I thought I would. I already love him. I’m nervous to leave him alone to go to work though. I don’t want him to get lonely.

Monday, October 13th, 2019

Going to work this morning was hard since I didn’t wanna leave Harker, but I did it anyway. Madeline was waiting at my desk when I walked in and she called me into her office to ream me for my performance again. I wonder if she gets as tired from saying it as I do hearing it. I doubt it though. She’s a bitch and probably flicks her bean to the thought of ruining someone’s day. Part of me hopes that I get fired so that I can spend more time with Harker, but I need the money.

I stopped to grab more firewood before going home. When I lit the fire, Harker rolled over and let me pet his belly. We sat together and watched TV. He’s such a nice cat. I can’t believe it took me so long to get one.

Wednesday, October 15th, 2019

I forgot to do the journal again yesterday. All that happened was Madeline riding my ass again. Sometimes I wish I could just hit her in the face with a brick and walk out, but I suppose I shouldn’t burn the one bridge that I have. Then again, with how she treats me, I’m sure any recommendation that she’d give me wouldn’t be worth it anyway.

Harker was happy when I brought him more firewood today. There isn’t a lot left in front of the shop. It’s mostly some pallets that I’ve been avoiding because I don’t want to break them down. I might just buy some logs from the store or something. As for Harker though, he was spending time at the top of the cat tower (which I built yesterday) and looking over his land like Simba. I played that one song from Lion King and watched as he scanned his domain. It was like he was the king of my apartment, and at this point he kind of is.

Thursday, October 16th, 2019

Something weird happened today when I was driving home from work. Maybe it was because Madeline used her day to belittle me again, or maybe it was something else, but regardless, it was a bit weird. As I drove passed the pallets, I had the idea to lay a trap inside of it, so that whomever is unlucky enough to lift a specific pallet, a poison dart would shoot out at them and they’d die. It scared me to think that way, but at the same time, it was soothing to think about such a quick, unattached way for someone to die. It didn’t matter if they had a family or anything, it wouldn’t be targeted, it would just happen. If I got lucky, Madeline could be the one that lifts the pallet. But if I really wanted to wish harm on her, I wouldn’t take any chances. I’d be sure to do it right the first time.

On a different, more positive note, Harker laid on my lap today instead of in front of the fireplace. I think he’s starting to warm up to me (I didn’t mean to write the pun, but I’m glad it happened) and maybe soon he’ll sleep with me. As long as he doesn’t try to lay on my chest, I’d be fine. I just think I’d struggle to breathe if he laid there. Damn asthma and allergies.

Friday, October 17th, 2019

I got another paycheck today and it was a piddly as the rest. It’s criminal that I get paid that little for the amount of work I do for the Gazette. It’s like they don’t care about me, or any of their employees, at all. Madeline called me into her office and said again that I needed to up my numbers. I nodded my head understandably, but I didn’t listen to a damn word she said. I’d love to see her try to sell this shit. I’d rather work for an MLM selling my friends shitty hair products that will probably make them go blind, bald and deaf.

Harker is my only real ray of sunshine anymore. Now that we’re getting further into October, the days are shorter, and the sun seems to set at around 2:00 PM. When I drive home, I have a queer smile on my face, just thinking about rubbing Harker’s belly.

When I passed the pallets, I saw that none of them had moved and the same unpleasant thought that entered my head before came back. It would be easy to rig a pressure sensor to a dart gun that shoots a poison-tipped dart fast enough to pierce someone’s skin if they lift the top pallet. There aren’t camera’s there so as long as I did it when it was dark out, I’d be fine. Harker’s rubbing against my leg so I’m going to stop writing this for the night. We’re gonna watch Lion King together.

Saturday, October 18th, 2019

Harker seemed a little bored today, so I went to the store to grab a few things. I bought toys, treats and a little mouse thing that can hold treats inside. If he hits it in the right way, he’ll be rewarded by one of the treats inside. He played with all of them and after I was done harassing him with the catnip, we watched another movie, this time Madagascar. I like showing him big cats even though I know they’re just kid’s movies.

While I was at the store, I grabbed the tools to make the contraption that I was writing about yesterday. It shouldn’t take me too long to put it together. Google is one hell of a resource. All I had to do was look up how to make a pressure sensor and then it was basically done. As for the dart gun, I bought one dart, a tube and a tiny air cannon. The idea is that when the pressure is lifted from the pressure pad, the dart will fire into who lifted it. Instead of poison (since I didn’t know how to get it) I barbed the tip of the dart with a knife and dipped it into stuff that people are allergic to, such as peanut butter, cats and some other stuff that I had lying around the house.

Sunday, October 19th, 2019

Sunday must be my lazy day, because I never know what to write. I played with Harker all day and that was about it. Besides that, I finished up my little contraption and tested it. The dart poked a hole in my wall, but I’m sure no one would notice when it came time for me to move out.

Monday, October 20th, 2019

The second I walked into the office Madeline was already yelling, not just at me, but at everyone. “Our numbers are down,” she’d say while pacing back and forth. “Corporate is going to be furious!” Everyone trembled at the same time, but I’d been yelled at so much more that I wasn’t fazed. I just sat at my desk and doodled. I’ll probably quit soon, so what’s the point at trying to make sales anyway? Morally, I find it strange to sell people stuff that they don’t need or want for a company that doesn’t care about its employees.

I drove home after a long day of doing nothing at work and fed Harker his wet food. He laid with me until about 11:00 PM which is when I drove out to the wooden pallets. One must have been taken over the weekend, because there seemed to be one less. I lifted the top pallet and set it on the sensor, placing the dart gun right where it needed to be so that it would fire into whoever picked up the next pallet. I went home and fell asleep calmly.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2019

No news about the pallet yet. I went to work but left early to spend time with Harker. He’s such a good cat and makes me feel better. I like when he wags his tail and I kinda push it back and forth. It’s kind of hypnotizing in a way that relaxes me. I’m already feeling tired and it’s only 7:00 PM. I’ll just go to bed now.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2019

Still no news about the pallets. Madeline was just as bitchy as usual today and I heard her arguing with someone over the phone in her office. I think she’s getting yelled at by corporate. I wouldn’t be surprised if layoffs started happening at this place soon. Everyone knows it’s coming, it’s just a matter of who and when. It’ll probably be me since I have some of the lowest sales numbers, and I welcome it. Working here is driving me insane. It seems so strange to me that it’s okay for a person to go to work and hate it for almost nine total hours and then spend five at home enjoying themselves, then sleeping for eight hours, and that’s their whole life. I’m just glad I got Harker when I did. He makes me happier every morning when I wake up next to him and every night when he crawls up next to my thigh.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2019

This morning I woke up to the news which was talking about a “local terrorist” or something like that. I sat through the segment, running a little bit late for work because of it. No one seemed to have any idea why anyone would do it and insisted that “Mr. Boyle was just in the wrong place at the wrong time”, and that “his peanut allergy was the thing that finally killed him.” Harker was rubbing against my leg the entire time, so I picked him up and I rubbed his head until his purrs made the chair vibrate.

I went into work to everyone talking about what had happened, but that conversation was ended quickly when Madeline came out of her office and started screaming again.

Translucent

Idea from Kyle Deddo. Written by –

Scott McSeerightthroughme

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth.”

“Try me. I’ve heard all sorts of stories from all sorts of people and I’m sure this one isn’t too different from the others.”

“That’s what all of the others shrinks said.”

“I know that you haven’t had much luck before but I’m really here to help you. I’m sure the others were too but I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and sometimes therapists have this weird way of trying to relate to their clients by pretending that what they have isn’t real.”

“I mean, I’ll tell you everything that I’ve told the others, but it won’t help.”

“Well Harold, at least give me the chance to prove you wrong.”

background blur clean clear
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Fine, but if you’re like the rest then I’m not coming back. I didn’t want to do this in the first place. My mom’s making me do it. Give it a few more months and I’ll be able to make the decision on my own, and I know I won’t be coming back.”

“And that’s okay, but let’s make the best of the time that we have together. Please tell me more about why you’re here.”

“Okay, well when I look at you, you’re translucent.”

“Translucent?”

“Yeah. When I look at you, I see the lab coat and I see your skin, but I can also see the orange and yellow floral pattern on the chair that you’re sitting in.”

“Do you know why you see it that way?”

“Wow, you’re the first shrink of four who didn’t try to get me to prove it. Doctor Thomas kept trying to get me to guess what he had written on a piece of paper that he held behind his back.”

“Could you do it?”

“No. That time I couldn’t see through him. I can see through some people, but not him.”

“Why’s that?”

“You wouldn’t like it if I told you.”

“You should still tell me.”

“Soon. I can’t yet.”

“We’ll come back to it then. When did this start for you?”

“Do you mean seeing through people?”

“Yes.”

“It’s happened for as long as I can remember. I think the first time that it happened was probably when I was five or six.”

“Do you remember what you saw?”

“Yeah, it was my grandpap.”

“Why was he translucent?”

“I don’t remember.”

“I think we both know that you do. Just tell me. It’ll make this whole conversation a bit easier for the both of us.”

“I don’t… remember.”

“Fine, but you’re going to have to learn to open up.”

“And you’re going to have to learn when to stop pushing.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“I know I’m right. Again, you’re the fifth shrink I’ve seen.”

“I thought you said that I’m the fourth.”

“Does that really matter right now, doctor.”

“I guess not.”

“Good. My mom’s paying for an hourly rate. Why don’t you start asking questions that really matter instead of wasting both my time and yours?”

“Okay. Who was the second person that you saw as translucent?”

“My friends’ mom.”

“How long ago was that?”

“It was probably around the same time that I saw my grandpap like that.”

“And you said that was around the age of five or six?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Who was next?”

“This one’s harder to explain. It was my mom’s stomach.”

“Why wasn’t it your mom? Why was it just her stomach?”

“I don’t remember. The next instance that I saw of it was this guy who was next to us at a stop light.”

“So, it’s not just people that you’re close to? It can be anyone?”

“Yeah.”

“What happened to the guy in the car?”

“He drove away when the light turned green. What did you expect?”

“I don’t know. I guess something else.”

“That’s very professional of you. I love hearing from an expert in their field that they ‘guess’ something.”

“I’m just trying to fill in the blanks that you clearly won’t fill in. I’m doing the best that I can with what I’m being given.”

“You’re doing better than the others. I’ll give you that.”

“Thanks, I guess. Did you tell them anymore than you’ve giving me?”

“The first two, yes but then they requested that I see someone else ‘more suited for my special circumstance.’”

“That’s peculiar. I get why you’re a bit nervous about therapists.”

“It’s because they can’t do anything to help me. They always treat me more as a case study than a patient. If I told you what it meant, then I’m sure we’d be having a different conversation. And, just to save a conversation, no… there’s nothing I can do for you.”

sea blue transparent moon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“What does that mean?”

“I’m not telling you yet.”

“But you will tell me?”

“Eventually.”

“I guess that’s a step in the right direction.”

“There you are, guessing again.”

“… who else do you remember seeing as translucent?”

“One time my dad drove passed a dear that was translucent.”

“Interesting, so it’s not just people?”

“Wow, great inference. You’re doing great, ya know that?”

“I’m not… thank you – I’m just trying to help.”

“I know what you’re trying to do. I’m just trying to get through another impractical crazy session.”

“Is that how you see yourself? Crazy?”

“Can you think of a better word?”

“I really don’t like for my patience to use the word crazy. It can be really bad for self-worth and self-esteem.”

“Yeah. You’re probably right, but I don’t feel like I really need a better self-esteem at this point.”

“Why’s that? Everybody deserves to feel better about themselves. You’re no different.”

“Okay Mister Doctor. I’ll work on my self-esteem. The next thing I saw as translucent was Spot.”

“What was Spot?”

“She was our family dog. She was a beagle, but she had this weird spotted pattern on her back. When we got her, the owners said she was a purebred, but no one really believed that.”

“Tell me more about Spot.”

“What more do you want to know?”

“Honestly, just anything. That was the most you’ve given me since we started.”

“Well I don’t have much more to say about her.”

“Okay… well who else have you seen?”

“Doc, the list goes on for a long time. I could go through a lot of different people, animals and whatever else you can think of, but I don’t think my mom’s that rich.”

“Do you know why you see these things as translucent?”

“I thought I made that clear at the beginning of this conversation.”

“I just wanted to be sure. Tell me more about your grandpap.”

“Is that what this conversation is going to be now; you just asking about people who I’ve seen as translucent?”

“If you’re not going to tell me what it means then I’m going to figure out what I can.”

“You don’t want me to tell you and more than that, I don’t want to tell you. It’s hard enough living with it, let alone breaking the news to other people.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing. It’s nothing.”

“Even if you won’t tell me, at least tell me how it makes you feel. If nothing else, I’d like to make you feel better about it.”

“Do you have a wife or kids?”

“Two kids and an ex-wife.”

“I’ve never understood how a therapist, or someone who helps people with their problems, can get divorced.”

“It was a complicated situation. Every relationship is different.”

“Do you love your kids?”

“Of course, I do.”

“Do you tell them that regularly?”

“What kind of question is that?”

“Well?”

“Yes. I tell them that I love them. What are you on about?”

“Calm down. You’re the first shrink who’s gotten confrontational. I just want you to feel better, too.”

“I feel fine. What are you getting at?”

“Spot disappeared later that day. My parents said that he went to a distant relatives farm, but I knew better.”

“Can you stop being so cryptic and just tell me what it means?

“When my dad and I were driving home that night, the dear was on the side of the road. It had been hit by a car. I think our neighbors hit it because their car was in the shop the next day.”

“Okay? What does that have to do with anything?”

“The guy who was next to us at the stop light, he sped ahead and no more than five miles later, we saw his crumpled car on the side of the road. My mom miscarried who was supposed to be my younger sibling. My friend’s mom died after a long struggle with breast cancer. My Grandpap had a heart attack later that day at the age of 66; I never really knew him.”

“So, wait – are you telling me that whatever you see as translucent dies?”

“Yes. In the same day.”

“Well yeah, that’s unusual, but that’s not the end of the world. I can’t believe you went through four – or was it five – different shrinks before me. This is peculiar for sure, but not too bad to help.”

“I’m sure there will be more than four shrinks.”

“What makes you say that? You don’t think I can handle you? Ha! Harold, I’m sure I’ll do just fine now that I know what the problem is.”

“I’m sure you will Doctor Vann… I’m sure you will.”

“This is a great start! Now that I know what the problem is, how about we schedule something at the same time next week and we can hash out even more details!”

“That sounds great Doctor Vann. I’ll see you then. One last thing before I go, have I told you how much I like the design on your chair?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well it looks great. I like it a lot.”

“Thanks, Harold. I’ll see you next week.”

“Good-bye, Doc.”

animal bay beach bubbles
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Boy in the Kitchen

Scott McTrespassing

I heard a loud metal clang from downstairs. It sounded like pots and pans had fallen to the kitchen floor. I crawled out of bed silently and put my slippers on.

“Hello?” I asked. “Babe, you home?”

Home invasions weren’t uncommon around here. I grabbed a baseball bat that was sitting next to my bed and went to the top of my stairs. I stopped in my tracks as I heard another loud crash.

I stepped onto the first stair; it squeaked under my weight and I flinched. I worried that whoever was downstairs heard me, but nothing changed. It sounded like someone was rummaging through my refrigerator.

The next steps didn’t make any noise as I descended to the first floor. I inched around the banister, peaking into my kitchen. A young boy, no more than six or seven, was looking in my pantries and eating everything he found.

kitchen and dining area
Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com

“Hey, buddy,” I said, lowering the bat. “Can I help you with anything? Are you lost?” The boy didn’t acknowledge me. He continued pawing through my cabinets. “Come on kid, you can’t just take all of my food. I can give you some for the road if you need it.”

He still didn’t stop. His chewing sounds echoed through the lower floor. I stepped closer to him. Without looking up from the whole tomato that he was eating, he moved away from me. I sat at the kitchen table and watched him continue to eat.

“Tell me where you’re from,” I said. I was starting to get angry. I didn’t know what to do. There was just this boy in my kitchen. “If you don’t tell me why you’re here then I’m going to kick you out.”

The boy didn’t stop. I was furious. I walked over to him and went to pick him up, but he slipped out of my grip. I grabbed his hand and dragged him to the door. I pushed him outside but before I could blink, he had entered through the back door.

“I’m not playing around anymore,” I said. “It’s time for you to go.”

I walked back over to him, wound my fist back and swung. He didn’t move away. This time he looked at me and smiled. My fist was frozen in mid-air before it could make contact.

“Not only do you do it to your wife,” the boy said in a low, menacing voice, “you would do it to a random boy? The world doesn’t need your kind.”

The boy morphed into a large beast, covered in horns and fire. He laughed in a dark, demonic tone and grabbed my wrist. A fiery hole in the floor opened up.

“What are you?” I screamed.

“That doesn’t matter where you’re going,” the monster laughed.

I was pulled down into the hole. The last thing that I saw before it closed was my wife standing above me, staring down at me with her black eye.