Friday, December 18, 2009

Catsup soup -- flash fiction


David stood in front of the open refrigerator looking at its meager contents. Nothing. Nothing appealed to him at all. And no wonder….. the sticky shelves held few options. He took in the entire contents of the fridge in one mournful glance, his eyes telling his stomach it could choose between some really old takeout, a few slices of questionable cheese and various jars of condiments. That was it. Not even a jar of pickles. He looked over at Jessup who was also hoping for something marvelous from the refrigerator and said "I could kill right now for a pickle, Jessup."
It had been a lot better when Molly was around. Molly could whip up something delicious out of nothing. Even in the middle of the night. He'd open the refrigerator and stand there looking but not seeing anything worth the trouble of eating and Molly would wander in, nudge him gently out of the way with her hip, take out a few leftovers and voila they'd have a seafood burrito or western omelets or some potatoes and ham fried up to crispy perfection. Molly was a leftover genius. She could make nothing into something in under ten minutes.
That was back when David thought that he knew what nothing was. Back before the incident. Back when he could still look at himself in the mirror and recognize the self that stared back. Back before the constant noise in his head. Back before the cracks appeared.
After that day things had spiraled. In a matter of months he had lost his job, his car, his house, his health insurance, his self esteem, his friends and finally his wife. But that wasn't Molly's fault. He'd driven her away. When Jessup needed a place to stay and he'd brought him home Molly had looked at him and said that having another mouth to feed just wasn't possible. But David had insisted that he needed Jessup to talk to since Jessup understood him. Three weeks later Molly had left. She had kissed him on the lips and said "David, I love you but I can't live like this any longer. Please get some help. You're spinning into the abyss."
Now most days David walked in the park. He knew a lot of the other regulars by sight and would nod at them but never made an attempt at connecting further. He would do his chin ups and walk his three miles and then trudge back home to sit on the floor in the empty living room and talk to Jessup until they both fell into fitful sleep.
The only variation to the routine had been one day last week when he'd found the gun. It was lying on the ground under some leaves and he had just happened to see the sun glinting off the short blue black barrel. It was a small hand gun, maybe a .38 caliber, maybe a .32, David wasn't sure. It had one bullet left in the cylinder.
"Jessup I don't want you to think that I'm crazy. But I keep thinking about why the universe would supply me with a gun with one bullet. You know I don't believe in passing up opportunities given by the powers that be. We discussed that at length the night we met."
David closed the refrigerator and crossed the room to open a window a couple of inches so Jessup could squeeze out afterwards.
Then he put some water on to boil, opened the refrigerator again, pulled a couple of things out and put them on the counter.
"It's all settled then, Jessup. It looks like a piece of cheese for you and catsup soup for me."

49 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

I looked in my fridge and, yep, there's a jar of pickles, among other things :)

Ah, madness. And little ratty Jessup? Gave me the shivers. But at least he understood David.

Amy J Taylor said...

I'd say misery loves company, but I think Jessup's probably happy! Crazy stuff...this character left me feeling very creepy!

Karen from Mentor said...

Creepy is good as long as you don't immediately have to take a shower Amy....I try not to cross THAT particular line...

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

LOL Marisa, look there in the back...you see that one container moving around with the brown stuff oozing out? Toss that one will ya?

Not sure if Jessup is a mouse or a rat....my daughter had both as pets growing up...and neither ate cheese....

:0)

estrella05azul said...

Okay, that was a bit creepy :) but I liked it (maybe I'm more twisted than I thought :P)
Loved your characters build up!

Karen from Mentor said...

You twisted? I don't think so Estrella....although you did make a jack-o-lantern out of a human head.

David is one messed up dude. I only wish I knew what happened to him.....



A very big "Thank You" to you and Sam for the retweets!

Karen :0)

estrella05azul said...

Who, me? Carving a jack-o-lantern out of a human head? Neah...
Ssshhh, that was supposed to be our secret...

(but yes, I was thinking of my jack-o-lantern flash fiction while reading this and commenting :P)

estrella05azul said...

Oh, and you're very welcome for the RTs :)

Chadwick said...

Ah jeez, I've been there. Except it was with a sack of potatoes and nothing to cook them with. Raw potatoes with eyes. Ugh.

lindacassidylewis said...

Good one! But, what do you mean:"I only wish I knew what happened to him ...?" He opened the window for "after."

I wasn't sure WHAT Jessup was ... or even IF Jessup was ... and that made it all the more creepier.

shannon esposito said...

Ah, the spiraling down into madness, acquiring pet rat story. Christmas wouldn't be complete without it. he he. I love your writing! Ummm...ketchup is a euphemism for brains isn't it??? lol

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Linda.. Oh sorry luv, I wasn't clear...I meant I only wish that I knew what "the incident" was that started David's spiral into madness.

I've been tiss tossing between an encounter with either aliens or bigfoot....

Karen from Mentor said...

Oh man Chad I'd laugh but that sounds awful...

Did you at least have salt?

Karen from Mentor said...

Re: the ketchup...Ewwwwww Shannon...and lol....

I think I'll retitle the story "... the spiraling down into madness, acquiring pet rat story." That read just like the next line would be "I know it well"...I giggled and giggled

Thank you for your kind words.
Karen :0)

PJ said...

Well done, as always, Karen. I wouldn't want to meet this guy or his rat in a dark alley ...

David Masters said...

Another lonely character called David this week (see also Laura Eno's story). At least I've got some food in my fridge. And I've yet to make any friends called Jessup.

Jessup is a spooky name.

Laura Eno said...

David Masters is feeling spooked at this point. Memo - no MC named David next week. :)
Jessup was creepy, I went between imaginary, to cat until you cracked the window only inches. Good clue to the rat...

Deanna Schrayer said...

You paint such vivid characters Karen, and David, (nor Jessup), is no exception. The story is a bit creepy, but in a good kind of way. :)

Al Bruno III said...

Like all good stories this one leaves you longing to know what happened before and what happens next.

Great work.

Linda said...

So many unanswered questions... I read through twice because your story drew me in. Peace, Linda

Jim_Wisneski said...

Great story! The hanging thing works in this and makes the story.

Jim

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Linda and Al and Jim, thanks for stopping in guys, glad you liked having to fill in some of the blanks for yourselves.

And Al thanks for pulling Catsup Soup into your recommended reads for the week.
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ David and Laura, I actually changed the MC's name just before I posted it... I've made a note.... no more sad David's. "Jessup is a spooky name" made me laugh.

And a little bird told me something SHOCKING about your story this week Laura....I'm going to go over now and see if it's true.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thank you Deanna for the "vivid characters"....
David is based on someone I've seen in the park. [but I've never seen Jessup]

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks PJ,
Do you wander into a dark alleys a lot? If so arm yourself with a pickle against David.... Jessup actually likes tacos.

:0)

Chris Chartrand said...

Great story. I like Molly's reaction to Jessup, saying they can't afford another mouth to feed. What twisted fun.

Craig Daniels said...

"Not even a jar of pickles" I often mutter that to myself even when the fridge is full.. a wonderful story with flowing pace and vivid details.... Thanks for sharing

Weezel said...

Great Story, I loved that Molly could whip up good eats out of nothing . . . I think that skill is under rated!
Loved Jessup -- that name is really creepy.
Well written story with all of the right components. Bravo

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story. At least he won't have to worry about what's in the fridge any longer.

Karen from Mentor said...

Very true Eric. And thank you. :0)


Thanks very much Weezel and welcome to my minions!Pleased to have you.

I'd never even seen the name Jessup before, but there I was typing along and it typed itself into the story....[insert woo woo music of your choice here]

Thanks for stopping in guys!

Karen from Mentor said...

Craig I'm like that about Olives. Sometimes a girl just HAS to have an olive. Thank you for the "wonderful" and "vivid" stop back often.
[I validate parking]

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Chris, sometimes the budget is so tight that you can't even afford to feed a sympathetic rodent....

:0)

jdanetyler said...

This stings on a lot of levels I can't even identify. It's a nicely written piece, and a good bit of flash.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent! :)

Draco Torre said...

I don't know about creepy, a bit edgy maybe? "Stings" might be better. I like the how smooth the character rolls over the gun as fate, giving that sting.

I imagined Jessup as a pet mouse, a cute one. The critter doesn't need much describing, nice to leave for the reader to fill in details.

Michelle said...

LOL I too have read this twice... I thought jessup was imaginary... pretty cool story. well written. :)

poeticgrin said...

I have a burgeoning friendship with flash fiction, and this piece makes me want to cultivate that friendship.

It also, weirdly, makes me crave ketchup.

I'm intrigued by the idea of creating an entire world in so few words. Yeah, you could argue I do that with poetry, but I think poetry uses a different part of my brain.

I'll be a frequent visitor. I *really enjoyed* this.

Karen from Mentor said...

I love that it made you crave ketchup Bryan. You'll fit right in with my bloodthirsty crowd.

Come see us on fridays and think about joining #fridayflash ....we have a GREAT time.

Thanks for stopping in.
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Dane and Draco I like your use of the word "sting" I think that sums it up nicely. This was a guy who was out of options as far as he could tell....

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Michelle, thank you, I'm glad you liked it. I just came up for air after visiting your place.

LOVED "Dive" everybody should go read it.
http://tiny.cc/D5Pln
:0)

Anne Tyler Lord said...

"You're spinning into the abyss"

Says it all, very tweeky!

I liked this tale of mystery, sadness, and twistedness!

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Anne. It was interesting to write someone standing on the edge with the abyss sucking at his feet.

Maybe interesting isn't the right word...but it was certainly different for me.

Glad you liked it.

:0)

Chance said...

a catapult into the realms of madness, good stuff!

Mark Kerstetter said...

Poor guy, letting a good woman go in favor of a mouse. I like the musicality of the sentence "I could kill right now for a pickle, Jessup." - the importance of a good name - and the repetition of the word "nothing" in paragraphs two and three.

Dana said...

Wow, creepy and well-written.

I'm a bit miffed that his wife didn't stick around or send help to fellow who seems rather off his rocker.

Dana said...

Although I suppose she may have and he completely ignored it. That's the trouble with stories from the perspective of a crazy person :P

Karen from Mentor said...

They can make you crazy to try to think about them....

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Mark I know...makes no sense at all to me when someone chooses to throw away love.

@ Chance, thanks! I really got a kick out of "The queen of Sheba" this week.

Thanks for stopping in guys.
:0)

elizabethditty said...

I have to say, I think David's fridge is looking better than mine... Interesting story, and sort of darkly humorous, too! Well done! :-)

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Elizabeth. Geez if your fridge is empty and your dogs ate all your candy...you'll REALLY need to go to the store in the morning.
Thanks for stopping in.
:0)