Friday, May 14, 2010

Broom closet blues…….--- flash fiction

I got The Abridged Manual of Evil as a prize in my first exorcism kit.

I pored over it night and day, highlighting all the passages that dealt with demons and monsters. What ten year old boy doesn't lie in his bed at night and dream of the day when he can master the things in the closet and make them do his bidding? The things that lived in my closet were the ordinary run of the mill, big, leggy, hairy, toothy things until the day Reginald showed up. Reginald was different. Reginald had an attitude. And a fake British accent. He thought it made him sound posh. I thought it made him sound like a twit. A big glowing, oozing, purple tentacled twit.

Reginald was a problem from day one. He made the closet SMELL, and by extension, my clothes and my room and eventually, well, me. My mother made me take three showers a day and I was really cheesed that she kept coming in and opening the window and spraying Lysol everywhere. She'd look at me and shake her head. There were a lot of muffled conversations with my father where the phrase "early puberty" drifted down the hallway to my stinky room.

When I went to college I left the childhood monsters behind with my toys, my yearbooks and my fascination with the occult. But Reginald didn't stay behind. Oh no, he came with me, ruining my chances with girls and roommates, living in and stinking up the bathroom of my first dorm, the oven of my first apartment, and the broom closet of my current open-floor-plan loft. From which I am just about to be evicted.

I have no choice. Tonight is the night I kill Reginald.

It's not a decision I came to lightly. I've pleaded with Reginald for months to leave, patiently explained that he's ruined the last eighteen years of my life, taken him to abandoned buildings, mostly crack houses, and introduced him to other glowy, throbby, twittish, tentacled creatures, but he refuses to go.

He says his place is with me and I just have to live with it. Well I can't and I won't. Not anymore. Now I just need to hatch a plan that works. In the last three hours I've tried glue traps, which he ate, poisoned bait, which he ate and asked for seconds, stabbing him, which he said tickled, shooting him, which made him belch, slicing him in two with a samurai sword, which actually made him quite peeved for an hour or so, but then he pulled himself together. I'm at my wits end. And frankly I think I may have been just half a wit to begin with. I realize now that I have been thinking about this situation all wrong. Reginald isn't human, so why am I trying to kill him like I would something made of flesh and blood instead of like something made of ooze and spongy tentacles?

Frustrated that I just couldn't seem to commit monstercide, I left the apartment and walked in the rain for a time to clear my head.

After a while walking the wet streets lifted my mood a bit. I decided that I'd even like a bite to eat. Eggrolls sounded good. I went that direction and right next to the Chinese take away I noticed a tiny bookstore wedged in at an odd angle. I don't remember ever seeing it before.

I thought aha! Just like in the movies. An occult shop shows up just when the hero needs it and inside there's a wizened old man who will have all the answers.

I opened the door.

"Ewwww, you have a Reginald." She said as she advanced on me carrying a spray bottle and some chimes. She soaked me with the spray bottle, and chimed the chimes around me in a circle chanting something that sounded like "smelly smelly jelly belly." Mercifully, for the first time in eighteen years the smell of Reginald was gone.

I could smell the Chinese take away next door, the rain, the lovely smell of old books, the wet wool smell of my coat, the rather manky cat sitting in the corner and the entrancing young woman standing in front of me with her head tipped to the side waiting for me to say something.


"Yes, it takes people that way. Sit down and breathe into this paper bag for a minute. When you're done, if you don't have to throw up, you can answer a few questions and we'll get started."

Well, I did throw up, but after that I felt quite myself again and gave Jelia –that's her name – Jelia my full attention.

"Born in 1982? 1983? Got a copy of The Manual of Evil long about the time you were ten? Yeah, thought so. That's how the Reginalds breached this dimension. I just need to know a few more things and then we can figure out what to do. Can anyone else see or hear him?"

"No, my mom used to stand in my closet and tsk. Reginald would stick his tentacles up her nose and out her ears and she didn't even flinch. It was gruesome to watch but she never seemed to get a headache or anything from it. For a while I saw a psychiatrist because I thought Reginald was only in my mind, but he's just so real, and the stink is like a physical blow, I don't see how he could be only a figment of my imagination. "

"Well the short answer is he's not. Are you hooked up to the internet? Ok, got your IP, sending….scooping….got him!"

"But what did you do?"

"Well you know how people are always saying that twitter stinks on ice?"

Somehow it makes perfect sense. Twitter and Reginald. Sounds like a comedy duo made in hell.


Karen from Mentor said...

Tip of the hat to Suzanne Conboy-Hill and Jodi MacArthur for letting me noodle around in vastly different context with some of the words that show up here. Inspiration comes in many forms. Oh and of course to Laura Eno, for whom tentacles are always welcome.
Thanks ladies.

Laura Eno said...

"gah..." *laughing* He's so eloquent!

I love the tentacles, Karen, but not the stink of a Reginald. I'm going to have to disinfect my computer after reading this now... *sigh*

Perhaps that's Twitter's achilles heel - too many Reginalds in there.

Anonymous said...

Priveleged to have been at Reginald's inception! Also think I've been blaming the cats for aromatic intrusions that were not of their making although I suspect they have been quietly flattered. We should have a Reginald Day to celebrate and collectively disown all inconvenient whomper whiffs. Or maybe just pass them along to someone else. Cracking tale there Karen!

shannon said...

Monstercide! Bahaha! Smelly smelly jelly belly...oh, that's going straight to my 2 4yr old right now. I'm going to be their hero! Wonderfully looney as always.

Cynthia Schuerr said...

Karen, I've seen a few tweeters use the hash tag #stinkytweet. Might they be referring to Reginald? :-)
Very creative, especially the tentacles in the mother's ears and up her nose. Are you sure it wasn't Jezebel lurking in that closet?

Sulci Collective said...

Loved the fact that the teratology speaks with a fake Brit accent.

And that he works initially undercover of an adolescent boy's well known disregard for personal hygiene. This was fun and excellently written, though Im not sure about the Twitter bit at the end. I think that needs a bit of layering earlier in the story, no matter how obliquely.

marc nash

John Wiswell said...

The funniest thing about this is the procedure - how she perceives things going by and interprets them, or how the helper interprets them, like the "Yeah, yeah, got a manual at 10" part, or expecting the wizened Gremlins shopkeeper. You write such wacky humor, Karen.

Anonymous said...

This was so much fun. I loved it all, the tentacles, the smell (well, not the smell), the jaded helper who just reads his life to him, and "smelly smelly jelly belly."

Very imaginative, well written and delightful.

Still giggling.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Gracie, Yeah, the smell is pretty hard to take. I wish I could get my Reginald to leave already...*sigh* where's my Jelia to help me banish him? That's what I'd like to know.

So glad I could make you giggle.

kanishk said...

Very creative, especially the tentacles in the mother's ears and up her nose.
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Karen from Mentor said...

That part just wrote itself John. If I made YOU laugh, well, that's saying something.
*looks pleased*

Marc-thanks for the note. I thought calling him a twit early on was a bit of foreshadowing....laughing...but there's no room for more words...I JUST squeaked in under the limit.

Thanks guys for stopping in and taking the time to read and comment. It's always appreciated.

Karen from Mentor said...

@strayficshion "Whomper Whiffs" !! You can bet that's going into something. I need to get a list from you and @FutureNostalgic... you brits have the BEST words.

@Laura - "gah" made me laugh when I typed it. Thank you for picking that out. I'm sorry about your computer. Try some baking soda and half a lemon....

Karen from Mentor said...

Shannon? I'm soooooo glad to make you a hero with the twins. You sounded so gleefully delighted it just made me grin ear to ear.
Thank you for that.
*hugs Shannon*

@Cynthia-- you may be on to something there...both with twitter and Jezebel..but keep the Jezebel part under your hat ok? She comes over and eats all my caramels every time I mention her.

@kanishk isn't that a great visual? Not one I'd like to see first hand mind you, but fun to imagine.

Thanks for stopping in everybody!

mazzz in Leeds said...

haha - totally off the wall,love it!
his quiet despairing voice while describing his lack of success with girls and roommates was really funny

Johanna Harness said...

Fun! Love the monstercide. :)

Anonymous said...

That's fiction right?
Ha! Perfect.
Loved it.

Karen from Mentor said...

You're so cute Becky. Yes, this one is fiction...inspired in part by the stinky cigars the new next door neighbor is smoking, but yes, fiction...

Thanks Johanna, and thanks for retweeting the story. You're so sweet to take the time to read and comment!

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Mazz, Can you even imagine that, Maria? Poor guy. Roommates are hard enough...but a stinky guy getting a girl doesn't stand much of a chance. Which is why I don't understand those ads that show a man DRENCHING himself in cologne. They should just slap a sign on him that says...I'm a Reginald... laughing...

Alan W. Davidson said...

Ha! Had to figure your evil Reginald would have tentacles. I enjoyed your book store solution with the woman weilding the spray bottle and chimes. A nice chuckle.

Laurita said...

"which actually made him quite peeved for an hour or so, but then he pulled himself together." Heee! So clever. I enjoy stories of tentacles - this is something new. And I think there may be a Reginald in my brother's house.

Anonymous said...

You had me from the very first sentence, awesome flash honey! So much fun :)

PS: hmmm... great name, I have Reginalds as roommates :)

Valerie said...

That's one way to explain a certain boy stank, and Twitter muck. If only it were so easy to eliminate as well. Cool story.

Cathy Olliffe said...

I read somewhere that boys smelled like goats... maybe that was a song, I dunno, but they were obviously wrong.
Unless Reginald is a goat, a goat with tentacles.
I mean, anything's possible, right?
And there I was plying my sons with deodorant when what they really need is a good anti-virus program.
Funny girl, you are.

Daniel W. Powell said...

You write well, Karen. Nice work!

John McDonnell said...

This is a fun story, but what I like most about it is how well you described the smells. Most writers are oriented toward the sense of vision, not smell. You did a great job with the smells, really made them vivid.

J. M. Strother said...

Great first line, and the story did not let me down. Love your wacky sense of humor. (That's a compliment, really.)

ganymeder said...


Kris said...

He "pulled himself together"?!? I love it!

Well, time to go investigate my 11-year old's room a little better. And all these years I've been searching for dirty socks...

Jodi MacArthur said...

LOL. You've managaed a scifi/horror/occultish/humor CRAZY piece here. Love it!

I love that stinky Reginald came from an "Abridge Manual Of Evil" book, had a fake British accent, and purple tentacles. Oh, the things that not only go bump in the dark, but stink it up too! I loved that she called him a twit in the the first paragraph and got rid of him through twitter in the last. HAHA

So many great lines. Monstercide. All wrapped up. My fav part had to be this, "She soaked me with the spray bottle, and chimed the chimes around me in a circle chanting something that sounded like "smelly smelly jelly belly."


Your mind is absolute brilliance, Karen. This has a touch of everything. My personal opinion is that you lean bizarro. I'm delving more and more into the bizarro crowd and discovering there is a HUGE tap of potential there.

Love this. Love your mind.

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, I love eating Jelly Belly candy. From now on when I eat some I'll be sure to singsong, "smelly smelly jelly belly"!

As I move around in circles. Which would only be if I were dancing the hora, but better safe than sorry, as my friend's mishpocheh always tell me.

Tomara Armstrong said...

I love this so so so SOOOOO much. You had me laughing from the beginning... I do feel sorry for Reginald. I hope he finds a good home ;-)