Thursday, January 28, 2010

#Friday Flash

A Tale of Love, Misfortune and Nasty Wee Dogs

Christopher Devlin and his wife inched their shopping cart through the express check out of the popular department store. Valentine’s Day was Angela’s favourite ‘holiday’ of the year and she had dragged him along to help gather the necessary supplies for a suitable celebration. Their cart was laden with heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in foil, tubs of red and white jelly beans and candy hearts adorned with sweet sentiments. They paid for their haul and, rather than push the cart through the slushy parking lot, Christopher hoisted a large shopping bag in each mitten-clad fist.

“Shoot! I forgot to buy marshmallows,” Angela said.
“What for?”
“The book club’s bake sale.”
“Right, that’s on the 13th, isn’t it?”
“Yes. And you’re going to work the sales counter?”
“Wild horsed couldn’t drag me away…”
“Excellent! Then I’ll make us some Nanaimo bars too. A little warm-up to the big day,” she said, throwing back her curly hair and winking slyly.
“I’ll haul this stuff to the car and warm it up for you.”
“In that case, can you pick me up at the front door?”
“Anything for you sweetness,” he said.

Angela zipped up his heavy coat and fastened the snap at the neck. She stood on her tip-toes and planted a kiss on his stubbled cheek. Christopher watched her lumber through the masses, on a mission for marshmallows, and whispered a short prayer for anyone impeding her progress. As the sliding doors opened, a freezing wind gust slapped his face and blew back his hood. Christopher’s eyes watered and his ears turned red as he proceeded behind a row of parked cars; ice pellets peppered his long, blond hair and narrowed his vision.

His motivation to endure the yearly shopping expedition was the exquisite pay-off on the 14th. That night he would share the plastic-sheeted bed with the voluminous Angela and two dozen melted chocolate bars. A honking car horn returned him to the harsh reality of the cold, January evening—and the fact he had wandered into the middle of the lane.

Christopher combined the large, grey bags into the same hand and threw them over his shoulder. He chuckled at the thought of the image he must project: a tall, thin man in a black coat. An Anti-Claus. He noticed he was in the wrong row and squeezed between two cars parked close together. He held the bags high, mindful not to brush his new winter coat against the dirty vehicles.

A small terrier in the back seat of the car facing him leapt at the window and barked with ferocity disproportionate to its stature. Christopher was frozen in his tracks. As a boy he was terrorized by his grandmother’s fox terriers: Hades and Herriot. He was often left alone to play with the little wretches that inevitably chased him about the garden, nipping at his bum.

As Christopher passed the two cars in the next row a Chihuahua, sporting a green Argyle sweater, sprang into the back window of one. In two seconds it had yapped nearly a dozen times. The beast mashed its tiny nose against the glass, leaving streaks of dog snot and saliva. Christopher’s heart raced as he quickly backed away from the car. He stumbled on a hardened ridge of ice and was propelled backwards by the weight of Angela’s goodies.

As he fell, a Hummer parked directly across from him had begun backing out from its space. It swung towards the dazed man. The rear window of the vehicle was plastered with mud and road salt, obscuring the driver’s vision.

Christopher rolled into a sitting position and cursed the state of his wet coat and pants. The behemoth rolled toward him and its heavy trailer hitch thumped the back of his head as the vehicle came to rest. When it rolled forward, the hitch hooked onto his hood and dragged him across the slushy surface of the parking lot. Christopher hung tightly onto the bags, knowing how important the contents were to Angela.

A family of shoppers had emerged from their van to see the unfortunate man being dragged away by the Hummer and waved frantically at the driver, attempting to catch his attention. The man, a local television celebrity, noticed his fans and smiled and waved in response. It always brightened his day to be recognized by the public.

The driver thought his vehicle was a bit sluggish as he turned from the slushy parking lot onto the clear pavement of the main road. He pressed the gas pedal harder and made a mental note to have his mechanic look into the problem.

The forward momentum of the vehicle caused Christopher to be throttled by the collar of his coat. He finally released his grip on the bags and tugged at the neck of his coat as the backside of his pants shredded, leaving blood and skin on the asphalt. Glancing into his rear-view mirror the driver saw more waving fans and a couple of large plastic bags, their contents scattered across the wet road.

30 comments:

Danielle Ferries said...

Very unsettling. Well done.

Courtney Reese said...

Well written, very interesting story. Loved the detail you put into it--creepy good.
I gave you an award over at my blog. Swing by to pick it up.

Michelle said...

I'm adding to it... 'and the driver thought, man, some of my fans a just crazy, dropping their bags to wave at me!'
Enjoyable read. :)

Natalie L. Sin said...

Now, if he had just stopped to admire the dog's new sweater...

Pablo Gully said...

I thought that was hilarious in a dark kind of way. Super visual.

Anton would have liked that.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Danielle-Thanks. I wasn't sure if it should be listed as humour or horror.

Courtney-I'm glad that you like it (in a creepy sort of way)...and thanks for the award!

Michelle-Thanks...we should all have crazy fans.

Nat-That was really profound. We hardly ever get to see you philosophical side.

Pablo-Thanks. Dark hilarity was what I was going for. I was going to dedicate the story to Anton, but thought it too soon since his 'accident by bovine'. Also, cute dog. Does he wear a sweater?

Rebecca Nazar said...

Melding humor with horror is a challenge or horror with humor. Nice mix.

Aaron Polson said...

D'oh! I don't know whether to laugh or cry (with laughter), but I like it. Thanks for sharing, Alan.

katey said...

Hahaha, oh wow. Sick, in the best possible way. Love the little details, and just the set up in general. Thanks for that :D

Chance said...

Cripes!

Nice use of a celebrity driving a hummer.

good stuff

Laura Eno said...

I understand the horror/humor dilemma...
Wonderfully funny in a creepy way. Loved all the details. :)

Marisa Birns said...

This did cause me to gasp and say, "Oh, no!"

Dark story. Wonderful story. Though Angela is not going to be so crazy about the ending.

An aside: I know a Christopher Devlin! He's married but not to an Angela. And so far, his skin and blood are still where they should be.

Linda said...

Creepy and funny both. But I can't seem to shake the image of Christopher licking melted chocolate off Angela's 'voluminous' body. Sequel?

And how can anyone hate fox terriers? ;^)

Peace, Linda

arlee bird said...

Quite good indeed. Previous comments have expressed whatever I could have said.

Draco Torre said...

I like the choice of flat tone for fun and scary piece. "Voluminous" is an interesting adjective for a woman, not something I'd dare say to woman, about her hair maybe, or pants if she lost weight.

Entertaining story.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Nicely done, Alan! The moral of the story? Consumerism can kill.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Becca- I'm glad you liked the mix.

Aaron- Thanks, man. I'm glad that you're leaning towards the laughter.

Katey-Thanks, I appreciate the 'thumbs up'.

Chance-Glad that you liked it!

Laura- I'll bet you do...Queen of the comedic horror...or was it horrific comedy. Thanks.

Marisa-Thanks very much. I was worried that it wasn't dark enough. Also glad to hear that 'your' Christopher Devlin is doing fine!

Debbie said...

So I read your story, then was driving to the GEO center, when a car pulled in front of me dragging a green garbage net, blissfully unaware. I laughed hysterically and my husband thought I was nuts! After all, it was only a garbage net.

Daniel Dragomirescu said...

Original and valuable blog.
I invite you to contribute to Contemporary Horizon Magazine with your writings. Thanks.
Daniel D. Peaceman, writer and editor of CHM
E-mail: drgdaniel@yahoo.com

Alan W. Davidson said...

Linda-It would be a large order to write of the adventures of Angela 'post Christopher'. We had a couple of fox terriers when I was a boy. And shelties.

Arlee-I'm glad that you liked it.

David-I assure you that I would not use that word around my wife...

Elspeth-Right on! Christopher may have survived if the guy had been driving a Smart Car.

Debbie-That's hilarious! And you know that we hardly ever see any garbage nets blowing around this place...hope that the kids are allowing you time to write.

Daniel-Thank you, sir. I am pleased that you liked the 'flash' story. I will drop in for a visit to Contemporary Horizin Magazine.

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mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Ha! I like he horror/humour fusion.
Chihuahua measurements: 6 yaps per second

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

This was especially good - for all the reasons listed above (the tone, the dark humor, etc). Wonderful flash - perfect blending :)

Cathy Olliffe said...

I must look like a trout! My mouth is just gawping! What the hell! That poor guy and his voluptuous wife .... they were such a GREAT couple! What about the plastic sheets and the chocolate? And what a horrible way to die, offed by THE most conspicious sign of ostentatious consumerism EVER in the parking lot of Wal-mart. (I guess shopping at Wally World saved him enough money to buy the Hummer). What a devoted guy, hanging onto his wife's Valentine's treats. I hope the fox terrier gets it.

Akasha Savage. said...

Where did that ending suddenly jump out from?!
Good dark humour...my kind of story! :)

K.C. Shaw said...

OMG, that was awesome! Those horrible little dogs probably engineered the whole thing.

I love the detail of the driver being a local celebrity. Very well done. :)

Alan W. Davidson said...

Mr. Shah...no comment...

Mazzz-Thanks. I love stories about small punting dogs.

CJ-I'm glad you enjoyed the 'blend', it's not something I've got much experience with.

Cathy-I'm glad you pegged that as Wal-Mart (from a real incident 2 weeks ago when small dogs in a parked car scared the sh*t out of me...

Akasha-Come on! We're not going to write something without a tiny bit of horror in it!

KC-Thanks a lot. I'm glad you liked it. Small dogs are evil (said the greyhound owner...)

G.P. Ching said...

Hilarious in a wicked sort of way! I hope he lives and his bum is healed by valentines day! Clever story, nicely done!

~Tim said...

Hah! I had a humor/horror dilemma this week too. I love dogs, but those little yip-yaps give real dogs a bad name. As do owners that dress them....

petherin said...

Brilliant black comedy, and the description of the dogs sporting Argyle sweaters and barking twelve times in two seconds were hilarious.