Friday, October 30, 2009

Fashion advice from the great beyond -- flash fiction

When I was five I met my grandfather for the first time. Since he'd been dead for seventeen years meeting him came as kind of a shock to say the least.

I was in Grandma's front yard rocking on and pretending to fly the giant pink flamingo that had pride of place in the flower border. Technically the bird was just for decoration, but it was big enough for me to ride and Grandma encouraged me to play on it. I think she may have been hoping that I'd break it since she wasn't a fan of kitsch and Uncle Bill seemed hell bent on regularly sending her tacky gifts instead of calling or visiting. I think he secretly knew that she secretly hated the things that he sent. But he kept sending them and she kept displaying them and sending him photos. They had been going on like this for years and at this point it was pretty much a stand off. To say that their relationship was complicated would be an understatement of gigantic proportions.

So there I was, happily soaring and swooping the flaming pink flamingo through the brilliant cerulean sky when out of nowhere a small pebble bounced off of my knee. I looked around for one of my cousins but didn't see anyone. I shrugged and went back to rocking and pretending to fly through the clouds hot on the trail of evil doers, only me and my bird up to the task of saving the planet from complete and utter annihilation when another pebble took me out of my imagination by grazing my shoulder. I brought the bird in for a landing and got off to go investigate.

The stones seemed to be coming up from the cellar stairs.

Grandma's cellar was built in two parts. Half of it was enclosed under the house and half of it was open to the air under the porch. I had been playing in a trunk that I'd found in the enclosed part of the cellar earlier in the day and Grandma had given me permission to wear a really cool hat that I'd found.

Curious about who was in the cellar pitching pebbles at me, I pushed the hat rakishly to one side like Bogart in a movie, cocked my finger gun and wandered over to the top of the cellar stairs to smoke them out. A stone flew up from the cellar and knocked the really cool hat right off of my head. I ducked around the corner and tried to see who was down there in the gloom throwing rocks at me.

It was a bright sunny day but the cellar looked murky. I could make out the shape of a person, but no details. The shape was too big to be any of my cousins. And no uncles were visiting. I knew it wasn't Grandma because I could hear her singing off key over the hum of her sewing machine going full bore in the sun room at the front of the house.

And besides, Grandma would never throw a rock.

Puzzled, I stood there and called out "I've got a gun, come out with your hands up or I'll shoot" just like I'd seen the cops do in all the gangster movies that Grandma and I watched when we snuggled together on her couch in the evenings.

There was no response.

I waited a bit and then cautiously retrieved the hat and stuck my handsomely haberdashed head back around the edge of the stairwell. No further rocks sailed up so I crept closer. When I got to the top of the stairs I saw a glowing form at the bottom of the stairs raise its right arm. I was yanked off my feet into the air of the stairwell and without touching a single stair somersaulted to a flat on my back bone jarring landing on the concrete at the bottom of the steps.

My right arm took the brunt of the fall and I heard it snap as I hit the floor. When I rolled my throbbing head to the side to look at it I could see the white bone sticking out at a funny angle.

I smelled pipe tobacco and cologne as a shadow leaned over me and plucked the hat off my head.

"Sorry about the arm kid, you need to learn to take a hint. You really don't look good in a hat."




This week's list of 57 stories at Mad Utopia

27 comments:

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

haha - even with the title, I was struggling to think what on earth this was leading to!

I love the way the narrator treats the imaginary as if it's real: "brought the bird in for a landing", etc. Well I suppose for the narrator, it is very real!

Marisa Birns said...

Well Grandpa needs to aim better!

Laughed at the pink flamingo. From what I've gathered from neighbors who own them, they NEVER break, hahaha.

Very good piece!

estrella05azul said...

You've truly captured the little kid's reality.
Loved it!
(and it's kinda in the spirit of Halloween too) :)

janecandid said...

Karen, I LOVE this one! (And am so excited to see you are going NaNo...)

Karen from Mentor said...

Going NANO, going Nutso...it may be the same thing Jane...I got my first email pep talk from Chris Baty today and I think I'm in lust. LOVE a funny man....

Pleased you enjoyed my ghostly story. Glad you're going to be my writing buddy.
[you're buying the cookies right? I've got milk]

Hugs!
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

No Marisa no matter how hard you try...they don't break. You pretty much have to steal them in the middle of the night and put them in the dumpster behind the convenience store......[not that I would know anything about anything like that]

Karen from Mentor said...

Hey Mazz, I just wrote it the way it happened....I mean...the way I imagined that it would have happened.

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

Ohhh Estrella, speaking of Halloween, I have a halloween POEM for tomorrow and it RYHMES...really....and ALL THE WAY THROUGH....[past history shows that maintaining a rhyming scheme all the way through is not my stong suit...laughing]

I'm also giving a shout out to a scavenger hunt AND voxpoetica is publishing my poem simultaneously......[busy day] so come for the HOOPLA...stay for the candy...costumes are optional, but tiaras are required....

:0)

Kris said...

You heart-warming and touching! LOL! I enjoyed it! Keep it up!

Karen from Mentor said...

Hey Kris, Grandpa was only looking out for the kid. Sometimes tough love doesn't stop when they put you six feet under....

:0)

Deanna Schrayer said...

Tough love I'd say. I thought the ending would be heartwarming, considering the opening, but WAM! Poor kid.
Great story Karen!

shannon esposito said...

Oh, mean mean Grandpa! Geeze. Poor kids going to need counseling!Nice one.
Happy Halloween :-)

Mark Kerstetter said...

Talk about a fashion victim. Damn, that's a nasty ghost.

~Tim said...

Well, that just seems a bit harsh.

And I have to say, "You can leave your hat on!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tunvwCvu2NY

Amy J Taylor said...

The child's imagination is beautifully written...it's impossible not to smile at a 5yr old's 'reality' of saving the planet from evil doers on the back of a pink flamingo! :)

Laura Eno said...

Poor kid - first meeting with grandpa and she breaks her arm.
I have pink flamingos pulling Santa's sleigh at Christmas, instead of reindeer...and an alligator as rudolf (yes, with a red nose)

judy said...

Seriously tough love! But I love the relationship between Grandma and Uncle Bill!

David G Shrock said...

The flamingo scene is a wonderful introduction. Could almost start there leaving out the first paragraph considering the title nearly accomplishes the same thing.

Wow, careful of Grandpa! Bone sticking out... ouch. Fun story.

J. M. Strother said...

What a mean grandpa!

That first line was a killer hook. Very nice.
~jon

Karen from Mentor said...

I like to think that he was less a mean Grandpa and it was more like he didn't know his own strength yet Jon...it probably takes a little time to get all those kinks worked out of the supernatural stuff.

I like the first line a lot too!

Thanks for stopping in and thanks as always for tweeting my link.
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

They did have a quite interesting arrangement Judy....and it went on for YEARS. In the seventies they made a lot of tacky things out of plastic. There's probably a whole land fill just full of the things Bill sent.
Or maybe someone recycled them into a big pink house...we can only hope.

@David, it's always fun and games until someone's bone starts sticking out.....

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Laura, Oh please send me a photo of your Christmas display....

@ Mark..."fashion victim" made me laugh

@ Tim....I instantly went to play you can leave your hat on. LOVE that song....[can't bear to watch Joe Cocker SING it...but LOVE the song]

Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Amy...Glad you enjoyed it. The mind of a child is such fun to play in.
I love how anything can be used for good....and a pink flamingo is as good as the lone ranger's horse any day.

Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Deanna, I'm glad that the ending snuck up on you!

And Shannon,I'm pretty sure the kid got counseling right after they set the arm....it seems like it was counseling, but it may have been ice cream...it's all kinda fuzzy so many years later....Happy Halloween back!

Karen from Mentor said...

10/31 Note: I had a technical glitch today and lost the posting that included the scavenger hunt link and my rhyming halloween poem.

But you can still find Greedy Ghouls in the poem blog at voxpoetica

Laurita said...

This was a wonderful story. Loved the little kids POV. I was really wrapped up in this one, the whole way through.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Laurita I'm glad that you enjoyed it.
Karen :0)