Tag: fiction

Shifting Gears

She had turned the keys without noticing. He shifted into gear and pulled up next to her.

“Come on, baby,” he said. “My motor’s running.”

“Not tonight, I’m out of gas,” she said.

She rolled up the window, he reached up under the hood. She put the wipers on, his hand was swatted away. He put his other hand on her hip, then felt around for the engine.

“Sorry, I have a drip pan under there.”

“Well, how about we pop the trunk?”

“There’s a reason your transmission is called ‘manual,’” she said. She put it in park and shut off the light on the nightstand.

Karen and the Baby

Karen guided a creaking stroller down the middle of the mall’s longest corridor. Hoary February sunlight pixelated through the windows above. A whine emanated from the carriage. Shoppers passed by, smiling. Flocks of elderly mall walkers parted for the two. Karen turned a corner, tripped, and collided with a texting toddler. A wheel snapped off the stroller, heaving its contents into the air. The bundle crashed to the ground and slid across the boot-stained linoleum. Karen scrambled to gather the pile, cradling a plastic doll wrapped in blankets. A shopper handed Karen one of the scattered items. It was a voice recorder. Inside was a worn-out cassette tape.

 

Eternity of Hours

It’s six thirty, and everyone with something to live for has left for the weekend. Here I am with the ascetic holiness of over-achievement. But it’s fine. There won’t be any kisses or how-was-your-day stories waiting in the apartment. And the sweet hum of idle computer monitors beats the clamor of a crowded bar.

Then I see her, and it’s like the first time I ever saw a woman.

I stand up and shut the door to the office. How hadn’t I noticed her standing there? She’s erect and motionless, her long neck a conduit from the fusty earth to the fragrant heavens. I slide up next to her without resistance and feel the softness. She’s turned on—all wire, hoses, and electricity. All mouth. I guide her nearer and inch inside.

It’s over in a flash of heaviness and importance.

The elevator sings. A custodian steps out to fetch some forgotten equipment. He sees me through the glass door, then gets back in the elevator. He mashes at the buttons and I avert my eyes.

I’m in a vacuum. It’s just me and her.

The Meat

One thing I need to do: get rid of the meat in the freezer.

Christ, who would buy so much meat? I could grill for three summers and still have half my freezer full.

I guess it’s not my fault. They listed the fully-stocked freezer as a perk when they sold me this place. But how could I know how much meat could fit in a standing unit? I don’t want to throw it away. My friends and family don’t want to take any. I wonder why? I mean, the stuff doesn’t taste terrible, a little sinewy, but it’s edible.

Could it be the mysterious labels on the packages? Kevin. Jeannine. Mr. Foster. Who names the animals they have butchered?

Could it be the shady circumstances under which the previous owner left? If only I didn’t work from home, I could load this stuff off on my coworkers. Let me tell you, buying a house after two years abroad was hard work, and I thought I’d found a real deal! These vaulted ceilings are great-the last owner even had noise reducing panels installed. And the realtor paid for what they called the most thorough cleaning they’d ever seen.

Oh well, that’s the price you pay for luxury away from the daily grind of the city. Yeah, I step out onto the veranda and can actually breathe the air outside. You can’t get that in the city. I can be free here, and if that means having to eat frozen rump roasts and bits of Chuck, then I’ll gladly make that trade.

 

Chop Shop

The man strolled down the aisles of the lab. He stopped occasionally to look into one of the many man-size tubes lining the walls.

“I like his arms,” said the man, motioning toward one of the tubes.

“Good choice, sir,” said the guide accompanying the man.  “He was an athlete before.” The man and his guide moved on their way, and then the man stopped at another tube.

“And him, I want his hairline,” said the man.

“As you wish, sir,” said the guide.

“This next one… well, I think it’s obvious what I would like of his.” They continued to browse for an hour or so more, until the man felt his upgrades were completed. “I think I’m all set,” said the man.

“Fine selections, sir. I’ll alert the harvesting team at once,” said the guide. He pressed an intercom button and called for the surgical team.

“How long before I’ve recovered this time around?” asked the man.

“I’d say you’ll be up and enjoying your new setup in a month,” replied the guide.

“Excellent. After my recuperation I will return to assemble a wife,” said the man.

“Top notch idea, sir. We have quite a few excellent specimens arriving next month. The only issue is lips- we’ve had a shortage of natural-born lips lately. But don’t fret, the crop of lab-grown lips has been stellar this year,” said the guide.

“I’m sure that will do,” said the man. “One question: what kind of athlete was the man whose arms I am taking before he came into debt?”

“He was a runner, sir,” replied the guide.

“Well,” said the man. “Then he didn’t need them anyway, did he?”

The man laughed as the surgical team arrived to lead him to his room.