Tag: short story

Perfection

Arthur Winsome appreciated precision. He got up at 6:30 and 54 seconds, as he did each morning. He’d woken up at 6:30 and 30 seconds in the past, but he found the extra time asleep gave him more energy. He made this discovery drenched in guilt, after sleeping in one Saturday. His days were planned immaculately, accounting for traffic, unexpected interactions, and potential burned-out light bulbs. He was accustomed to three squares a day, that is, he used three squares of toilet paper daily.

Arthur pulled into his workplace’s parking lot and hit stop on his timer. 15.32 minutes, 6 ¼ miles. It was his third trip from home to work that morning. On his first trip, he had to brake for a squirrel crossing the street, easily adding 45 seconds onto his total time. The he hit five red lights on his second trip, surpassing the 3.2 to which he was accustomed. On Arthur’s third trip, he made it through conditions statistically insignificant enough to consider the time worthy of his data log.

Arthur stepped out of the car and reached for his coffee mug, which was conspicuously absent from the cup holder. Panicking, Arthur did some quick math in his head. The weight of the Thermos probably wouldn’t have affected his travel time. But what if it had spilled? What if the sun had caught the metal in such a way that Arthur couldn’t see, and had to slow down? This had to be accounted for.

Arthur got back in the car and headed home to retry for a fourth time. He was still 40 minutes early for work.

In and Out

“You gotta’ have a quarter back there somewhere.” I’m sure you find money every time you need a bag of pot.

“I’m sorry, sir, I really don’t.” And if I did, I wouldn’t give it to you, asshole.

“This is insane!” You little bitch. “I’m in here all the time, just ring me up and I’ll bring the difference next time I’m here.”

“I really can’t. If my till is off more than five cents I have to count it twice, and I don’t have time to do that.” Especially not for you.

“Aw, Jesus, really?” I’m surprised you can even count.

“I can bump you back down to a regular size order of fries.” Trust me, you don’t need the large.

Fuck that, this is America! “I’m a paying customer, a loyal one! I deserve better than this!” Why is it so expensive, anyway?

“Sorry, sir. I just take the orders.” Well, sometimes I run the fryer, too.

“What, is this your first job?” And they want to raise the minimum wage? “Bring me your manager!”

“Right away, sir.” I’ll go get the only person who cares less about this than I do.

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.

Housewarming

Tom and Josie gazed around the room. The Kinseys called the style “Nouveau Minimalist.” There were bleached-white cabinets and sickly bits of photo collage on the walls. “How can this much stuff be considered minimalist?” said Josie. The Kinseys entered the room.

“Isn’t this parlor lovely?” said Rose Kinsey.

“Just lovely,” said Mr. Kinsey. They led Tom and Josie on a tour of the rest of the house, and ended up in the kitchen.

“Jim and I are kinda on this liquid juice thing. We wanted to avoid all that gluten in smoothies,” said Rose.

“What’s this?” said Josie, pointing to a six-foot kitty condo adorned with Christmas lights and tinsel. “I didn’t know you had a cat.”

“Oh, haha, no,” said Rose. “I wouldn’t expect you to know. It’s a piece of French modernist sculpture. The dealer said it’s a genuine Monsieur Chat.”

Ed Escher

Ed embraced his client, peering over the man’s shoulder at the plaintiff’s grieving family. “Drinks on me,” said Ed. He arranged the delicate balance of his thinning hair, which he thought he was pulling off. He slapped some colleagues on their backs, and snaked through the emptying lobby. Several paces from the big oak doors, Ed noticed he didn’t have his briefcase.
 
Ed retraced his steps. He returned to where his client and colleagues had been standing minutes earlier. Ed looked in the courtroom, asked the bailiff, and went to the information desk. Ed, having never learned how to use a computer, sprouted a cold sweat at the thought of losing what gave his life meaning. His life was in that briefcase. Ed asked around, accosting those remaining in the lobby.
 
“Fuck you, prick. I bet you’d defend your own murderer, if the price was right,” a man said to Ed. The others, those who responded, weren’t so polite. Ed continued stomping around like his brother had taken his ball and wouldn’t give it back. He grabbed loose garbage from trashcans and strew it about the courthouse. He overturned chairs and cussed like a high school football coach.
 
A security guard approached, and Ed sat down, pushing on an invisible wall in front of him. The briefcase was gone, he’d have to accept that. He pulled a compact mirror from his suit jacket and checked his hair. Why couldn’t Ed Escher, Sr. have left behind better genes rather than a law firm? Ed snapped the mirror shut and stared at his shoes. He could get copies of his clients’ papers back at the office. What he’d miss the most was the first draft of his novel, the last thing left in the world that could make Ed Escher, Jr. happy.