DEATH at a Preschool Christmas Party

DEATH

In the mirror, I attach the fake ears and tug the hat onto my head.

“It’s the wealthiest Preschool in St. Peter,” K had said, “they’ll pay you a boatload to just stand around as an elf for their Christmas party.”

I sigh now, as I did then, resigned.

I wash my hands and step out into the hall. The Babushka rolls up to me. Her rock-face is polished. Her eyes are onyx.

She points. I nod. I follow her directions to a door inundated with Christmas joy. I go through.

The room is vast, a gymnasium almost. It is crowded with all manner of Christmas. Bells float through the air, jingling. Ropes of ornament-covered pine snake along the walls. A fat tree absorbs the center of it all.

Children wander about the place. None are more than five or six years old. They are dressed almost exclusively in argyle. A snowman in the corner is telling a story as a small blonde girl discreetly stuffs bits of his backside into her mouth. On the other side of the room, Santa Claus is red-faced as he picks up a small boy. A red-nosed reindeer stands calmly next to him, chewing on the inside of its own mouth.

Santa places the boy on the red-nosed reindeer. The boy begins to wail. A woman in a black sweater runs over and pulls the child down. The boy runs off across the room. I see him slide on his belly down a thin layer of ice. A young woman in a blue dress stands beside it. She claps.

A fair-haired little girl walks up to me. Not dressed like the rest. A simple black dress.

“You got a cigarette?” she asks.

“Huh?”

She sighs, “you got a cigarette?”

“Uh…”

“I’m not a child.”

“Oh…are you a midg—uh I mean– a dwarf?”

She giggles.

“I’m DEATH. And, I want a cigarette.”

I’m not sure whether or not to laugh.

“What do you mean you’re DEATH?”

“I’m not sure what else I could mean. That polished rock turd out there hired me to be here so…”

DEATH shrugged, “I’m often in Russia this time of year anyway.”

I continue to stare at the frail-looking girl. She winks. “Just between you and me,” she lowers her voice, “I never go anywhere I’m not needed. Even for the kind of scratch, this place shells out.”

“Right,” I manage.

“So, you got a cigarette or not?”

I nod.

“Let’s go have one then. Take my hand, everyone thinks I’m a child anyways. Pretend you’re taking me to the bathroom.”

She holds out her hand. I take it hesitantly. Suddenly she grabs it tight, very tight.

“Your time has come!” DEATH says, her eyes go black. I panic and jerk my hand away. My heart stops.

She bursts out laughing. She holds her stomach and bends over, a joyful tear falling from her eye. “You should see your face,” she gasps.

I feel like vomiting.

“Oh, that never gets old,” she says, catching her breath, “but, seriously, let’s go.” She holds out her hand again, her eyes back to blue. I don’t take it. She steps forward and grabs my hand anyway.

“Don’t be a pansy,” she says. She leads me out the door.

The fear in my legs has subsided by the time we get to our destination, a closet. Inside I light up two cigarettes. She takes one. She smokes through her nose. I can’t wipe the frown off my face. It’s beginning to hurt.

“So, what are you doing here?” DEATH says through the cloud that’s sprouted up between us.

“Uh, I am an actor.”

She snorts. “Bummer.”

“Mm.”

We finish our cigarettes in silence.

“We better go back,” DEATH says, holding out her hand again.

I take it this time, apprehensively. Before we leave, I can’t help asking,

“What did you mean that you never go anywhere you’re not needed?”

DEATH smiles up at me and shrugs, innocently.

Continue the story at https://deathatapreschool.com/

A Brief History of IKEA

Hi Guys,

The Drabble, a magazine that publishes stories that are less than 100 words, just published a very short story I wrote a while back titled “A Brief History of IKEA” about the truth behind the founder of IKEA. No, not that he was a Nazi. It is so much worse.

Check out the story by clicking HERE

like and leave a comment if you enjoy it.

Thanks,

Flash-365

The Center of the Universe

centrical

Dave called me in a panic.

“Hey Dave, what–”

“Hey man, so, you’re pretty religious right?”

“Uh,” I frowned at my open refrigerator, I closed it. “Yeah, Dave, I guess. I mean–I go to Church like everyone else.”

There was a pause at the other end, one of those tense serious ones.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, yeah. So, you know, do you think Earth is the center of the universe?”

I decided to take a seat. “What?”

“The center of the universe. So,” he took a breath, “if–hypothetically, earth were the center of the universe and we could prove it, would that mean something to you?”

I tried to imagine the universe, Earth at the center. For some reason it just made me think of my uncle’s swimming pool I used to play in as a kid. Dave interrupted the thought.

“Would that be important, yes or no?” he pressed, he sounded scared, rushed.

I shrugged, “well, yeah I suppose if earth were at the center of the universe, I mean, that’d have to mean something, right?”

Dave sighed through the phone. “Okay, but, what if it meant nothing, it just happened to be the center of the universe because somewhere had to be and that’s just the fact of it, would that be okay with you?”

“Well, it would make sense, God created everything, I suppose he’d want us at the center of it all,” I tried. I knew how smart Dave was, far smarter than me, I wanted to give him the right answer. But, on the other end, he swore.

“Dave?” I tried, “Man, I really don’t understand what you want.”

I could hear Dave break something, he came back to the phone a bit calmer. “It’s nothing, just–I learned something today, I’m not sure if I should tell anyone, the consequences–”

“Dave, I’m not you, but I’m not an idiot. Did you find out that Earth was the center of the universe?” I cut in, unable to contain the excitement in my tone.

He waited, breathing.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, maybe–but, just, can you understand that Earth can be the center of the Universe while at the same time that can mean absolutely nothing at all?”

We are the center of the universe, I thought.

“I knew it!” I cried. Unable to contain myself. “I have to tell Barbara, Oh–and that hippie neighbor kid who’s always blabbering on about energy and karma and crap. Man, thank you! I’m glad you chose to tell me first! I needed this man, I really did.”

I drummed the table, even stood up and jigged; every doubt I ever had, falling away. I don’t remember when I picked the phone back up, but Dave wasn’t there when I did.

How I learned to Use Chopsticks

chopsticks

Sometimes I’ll look out of the window of a house in a movie and feel homesick. It will bring back memories that have nothing to do with the window. It brings back smells and muffled voices that become sharp and whole, and suddenly, I’m there, again.

Eric is over. He knows how to use chopsticks.

My father gives up first, forking chow-mein passed an outflow of grumbles and groans. I don’t give up; I like Eric. He has big hands and a lot of hair. He is fond of saying “whatever keeps them out of church,” and I don’t like church very much. He says it all the time, like later in the night when my mother talks about me getting detention he says “whatever keeps him out of church.”

My mother laughs every time, even though she’s the reason we go to church.

I don’t get it but I eventually get the hang of the chopsticks as Eric is telling a story about his time in Namibia where he was in a bus accident.

I ask my father, quietly, where Namibia is. He shrugs.

“Africa,” Eric tells me. He must have big ears under all that hair. He smiles, “I was in the Peace Corps,”

“What’s the Peace Corps?” My sister asks.

My mother smiles, “they go to other countries and help people.”

“Like Dad,” my sister says.

At this, Eric laughs, “not exactly,” he says.

“What does that mean?” My father frowns across at him, fork down.

Eric chop-sticks a piece of broccoli with an adroit flick of the wrist. “Nothing–no, it’s just, does the military really help people?”

My father takes a breath the way he does when he is about to yell. Instead, he looks to my mother. He looks back to Eric.

“Hm,” is all he says. He picks his fork back up and continues eating. I realize my mother and sister aren’t eating, neither am I. A moment later, we’re all fumbling with our chopsticks again. I manage to get some pork. Chewing, I look up, out the window. I can hear Eric telling another story. I hear him say something about being trapped at some airport. I hear my mother say that I want to be a pilot. I look back to the table and smile. I open my mouth to tell her that I’ve changed my mind but Eric is already chuckling as he says, “whatever keeps him out of church.”

My mother laughs.

My father clears his throat as he pushes away from the table. Then, without a word he walks off.

I can hear a door, somewhere, slam. I look at my sister, she shrugs. My mother pats one of Eric’s large hands and says, “oh, it’s alright.”

She pats his hand again, softly.

“It’s just fine,” she says.

But, I’m watching his other hand as it uses the chopsticks to create a graspable pile of noodles. It really is quite impressive.

 

I Hit a Baby in the Face with a Bottle of Gin

bottle

I didn’t mean to, really. It wouldn’t have been so bad had I gotten beer–I meant to get beer. That woman, the shopkeeper, “the gin is on sale,” she said. So, I’ve now hit a baby in the face with a bottle of gin.

It made a dink sound.

“Shit!” I cried, as the baby hit the sidewalk. It could have only been in its first hundred, or perhaps two-hundred steps, ever. I dropped the bag on the ground. It clinked. I bent to help the baby.

“Shit, I’m so sorry.”

The baby’s mother pushed me away. She picked up her baby and looked at me, horrified. The baby wailed against her neck. It was a little chilly outside.

“What is wrong with you!” The mother yelled at me.

“Shit I’m–”

“Stop saying shit!” she cried, holding her baby’s ears.

I stepped back, “sh–I mean, I am sorry, it just stumbled at the last second.”

“It’s not an it!”

I nodded, dropping my cigarette behind my back. I nodded again, for good measure. “I’m sorry.”

The mother eyed my bag of groceries, suspicious. I tried to hide it behind my leg, stepping away slowly. Boy, did that baby wail. The mother checked over its head, then kissed it, seeming a bit calmer.

“Is it okay?” I asked, not thinking. Slowly, she turned. She looked at me with all the fury a mother can muster, and trust me–it’d send God running.

And I’m not God, but still–I ran.

Missing the Hogwarts Express

young_macho

We were having some sushi near the Cardinals Stadium in St. Louis. It was too early to have a whiskey, so I ordered a beer.

The waitress nodded politely.

“Don’t you want to see his ID?” my brother asked the waitress. She looked at him, then looked at me, an eyebrow raised.

“You don’t have to,” I grumbled, hand in my pocket. She walked off.

I shot my brother a look, “thanks.”

He smiled. “You’ve been wanting someone to ID you for days, trying to help.”

“I know how you feel,” my cousin interjected from across the table. He was turning thirty soon, too. He looked younger than me though.

“A few weeks ago,” he told us, “I was at this bar and when I ordered my beer, I took out my ID automatically. The bartender just looked at it and said ‘does that make you feel young?'”

My brother whistled, “geez, that’s harsh.”

“I know!”

My mother, whose age is not allowed to be written anywhere in the known universe, looked from my cousin to me, “fuck you both,” she added.

I turned, opened my mouth–thought better of it.

“It’s just,” my cousin began, treading softly, “we’ve gone past our Hogwarts moment.

The waitress came back, setting down my beer. We ordered some sushi before asking, “Hogwarts moment?”

My cousin nodded. “Yeah, you know, when someone comes and takes you away somewhere magical or tells you about some magical adventure. The chosen one is never thirty. That guy tried to help with those books about magic college–”

“The Magicians?”

He nodded.

“But, even that was early twenties, I mean–what are thirty year olds good for in any book these days?”

We all thought for a bit.

“Falling in love?” My mother tried.

I sighed, “getting murdered.”

We brainstormed for a bit but never got much further than love and murder. By the time the waitress came back we were deep in thought. She placed the sushi down in front of us and paused. She looked down at me, my face fallen. She sighed.

“Would it help if I checked your ID?”

Not thinking, I looked up. “Could you take me on a magical adventure?”

Her face took a step back before the rest of her could react. “Uh–” she managed, before heading off to another table. I turned back to a frowning family.

“Looks like it’s murder for you then,” my brother said, before helping himself to some sushi.

 

Oranges are Better in Spain

spain_oranges

Hank and I walk down a street in Grenada with a group of twenty-somethings. “Woo-hoos” sound so much worse echoing off of two-hundred year old cobblestone, I think.

“Woo-hoos sound so much–what?”

Hank is looking at the road ahead. I follow his gaze, a man in a ski-mask is half-way out of a car window. Before anyone can react, he starts throwing. The group scatters as something orange whizzes by my face. I look up, it is raining oranges. They burst open on the ground around my feet.

The car passes, yelling something in Spanish. The crowd of twenty-somethings come out from under an over-hang. Some are crying, some are screaming after the car. Hank picks up an orange and tears it open. He starts to eat.

One of the bigger twenty-somethings punches a road sign. “I’ll fucking get you, you bastards!” he screams. Some of the girls start complaining that their night is ruined and the men of the group start offering to guard them on their trip back to the hotel in case the crazed orange bombardier strikes again.

The man who punched the sign has a bleeding hand. He takes the lead as most of the group heads back to the hotel. A few of us stay. Hank is examining the oranges, occasionally picking one up and putting it in his backpack.

“That was nuts,” a guy beside me says.

I look around us. “Nope, oranges, those were oranges, look around you.”

I smile, he doesn’t.

“Who would do something like that?” he asks me–or humanity, I’m unsure.

“Like what? Throw oranges?”

He nods, “yeah, it’s fucked up.”

“It’s oranges. It’s not like they threw rocks.”

“Oranges can still hurt.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s oranges, man, it was funny. It’s not like it was a drive by shooting, or something.”

The guy puts his hand on my shoulder. I frown down at it. “So, you’d do something like that?” he asks, annoyed.

I step away from his hand. “No. But, if you’d asked me twenty minutes ago, sure. But now I’d just be a copycat and I refuse to be a copycat, that’s messed up.”

“I don’t think that’s very funny.”

He looks like he might hit me. Hank comes between us, bends down and picks up an orange. He examines it. There is a small tear on one side. He sticks his fingers in and rips it open. He holds half out to me, half to the guy.

“Still good,” he mumbles through juicy lips.

The guy pushes Hanks hand away and storms off. I take my half. Hank takes a big bite off the remaining half.

“Oranges are better in Spain,” he says.

 

 

As Good a Time as Any

immortality

On the day immortality was invented, my grandfather threw himself off a fifteen story building. I was there, we all were there. Mom was crying.

He sat on the edge off the roof. He gave us a long speech about life that I don’t remember much of. I do remember that mom was crying and at the end of his speech, she asked only, “why?”

My Grandfather, who moved well for his age, stood up and sighed. “Honestly, I was just waiting for all the assholes to die,” his eyes lingered on my step-father for a noticeable moment. Then, he sighed again. “But,” he continued, “it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, now.”

My aunt, unmoved, grunted. “Childish,” she muttered. My Grandfather hugged her anyways. He hugged everyone. He came to me last, the youngest. He didn’t hug me, he looked down.

“Whatever comes next for you, it isn’t life,” he told me. He walked to the edge, turned and looked around at all of us.

“Oh well,” he said, and jumped–the best an old man can jump. It was enough. He fell even as my aunt cried “don’t!”

I couldn’t hear him hit the pavement.

By the time we ran and looked down, he was already there, a crowd was forming. A little girl stood over him, she looked up. She didn’t seem too bothered.

In fact, no one did.