Category Archives: short fiction

THAT’S NOT MY CAT

I was reaching for a melon
in the produce section
of the local grocery mart
when a paw shot out
from behind it to
vigorously swat at my hand
and the black head of a
growling cat appeared
with large excited yellow eyes.

A passing lady looked at me askew.
“That’s not my cat.” I said.

She quietly turned her attention
to the cucumbers. They were
rather big this year.

“Nice Kitty, go play.” I suggested
and went for another melon but
the cat stretched its long, thin body
out across the entire bin and started
swatting at my hand again.

“Go away! I’m not your play-toy.”
‘Meow.’

When I arrived at the register
the cat was there waiting for me
right on the conveyor.

The listless teenage cashier looked like
she was trying to paint her fingernails
with her mind.

“That’s not my cat.”
“What cat?” The girl said as she absently
grabbed it and scanned the cat through
right behind the potatoes.

As I left the store and was
crossing the parking lot
a lady came running out to me.
“Sir! Sir! You forgot your cat!”
She was obese and out of breath.

Other than why would I bring a cat
to the grocery store I said,
“That’s not my cat.”

“But Sir, it says so right here on the collar.”
She turned the purring cat over and
flipped the tag on its red collar.

‘I belong to that guy.’ It read.

I took the cat and tossed it in the cart
right beside the potatoes
wheeled the cart over and unloaded
the things into my hatchback then
brought it to the cart corral
with the cat still inside.

I ran back to my car and tore
out of the parking lot like I had just
robbed the store.

On the expressway halfway home
I felt a sudden soft batting on the
side of my head and heard a
meowing in my ear.

I almost crossed the medium
head-on into a tanker truck
on purpose but instead I
stopped at the nearest gas station
and let the cat out of the car
as a family of four watched.

“That’s not my cat.” I said.
The girl giggled.
The boy gave me the finger.

Arriving home as I pulled into the
driveway the headlights shone on the
same black cat with the red collar as
it sat and waited for me to arrive.

I sighed, “Nope. Nope. Tons of nope everywhere.
No way. Not again. Not a chance.”
But I picked up the cat anyway
and brought it inside.

Flicking on the kitchen light
I dropped the cat on the linoleum floor
where ten other black cats anxiously
waited to be fed.

Hey, Daddy

Big Jim was sitting by the fire
in a friend’s yard when he heard,
“Hey, Daddy.”

A girl’s voice
coming from the shed
right across from the fire.

The door was opened just a crack.

Big Jim looked around.
Tim was still inside.
He didn’t have any kids.
‘What the flying fuck?’ Big Jim thought,
‘Neighbourhood kids maybe…but…’

“Daddy, I’m so alone.”

Big Jim arose from his chair.
The girl sounded anguished.
Something about that voice, that girl.
It felt so familiar somehow,
like someone he knew
a long time ago.
Someone he longed for.
Someone
he wanted to see very badly.

“Come to me, Daddy.”

Big Jim almost stumbled into the
fire before catching himself.
Next, he was at the shed door
opening it further.
“Hello?” He called.

Big Jim felt the humidity of the night.
The sweat on his skin.
His want.
His need.
Everything
was for her.

“Come in and close the door, Daddy,
and then we can be together again.”

The girl’s voice was pleading but yet
there was a teasing there too.
Something familiar
a long time ago
just yesterday.

Big Jim stepped inside and was
closing the door behind him,
the absence of light
-the blackness of the shed
enveloping him when,

“Jesus Christ!” Tim shouted as he
pulled the door back open,
“No no no no!”

Tim yanked on a piece of rope
hanging from the ceiling
and a light bulb came alive.

There was no girl.
Instead there was a hole
over in the corner.

“Oh, fuck!” Tim said and went
to a heavy piece of pressed wood
that looked like it once
covered the hole but
was now flipped over to the side.

Tim pulled it down and
dragged it back over the hole.
He then placed his hands to his face
and shook his head.

“A guy was supposed to come this week
and direct-fill it with cement.
I thought this would contain her.

I am so fucking sorry.
We should have bolted it down.
I was only going to be gone for a minute
I didn’t think…

You have no idea what it’s like
to live here with her,
with that fucking thing.”

The light bulb above them
began to flicker on and off.
Tim started angrily flicking the bulb
with his finger.

“Fuck. I’ll have to fix this too.”

Billy’s Laura

Raining hard at the
mouth of the trail
where Shane was
waiting for his ex-wife
umbrella in hand.

“Nice day out. Isn’t it, Laura?”

Laura smiled, “Yes it is, Hon.”

She was already drunk
as usual.

Shane held out his umbrella
and walked holding it over her
letting himself get wet
until they reached Billy’s house.

No lights.
Billy wasn’t up yet.

“I’m sure Billy will be up soon.” He said.

Sometimes it was hours
before Billy got up
and Shane would hold his umbrella
over her as she lay her head in
his lap and slept.

“You still love me, Shane.”
She would say,
“You wouldn’t do this
if you didn’t love me.”

And when it was cold
Shane would put his warm jacket
over her
with nothing for himself
as they both waited until…

“Light’s on, Laura, Billy’s up.”

Billy would open the front door
without looking out and just
leave it open but
only when he had a fix ready for her.

Once Laura was inside
Shane would then go on
down the road to
Tim’s house to
drink himself to sleep.

Tim would see Shane
all wet and cold
and will give him shit
for the same old shit.

They used to be the
toughest around
in town back when it mattered
until there came along
fights that couldn’t be won
like plants shutting down
unpaid debts
miscarriages
divorce
and then there came the bottle
and other things that were worse.

“She’s Billy’s Laura now, Shane, Billy’s Laura!”

“You don’t understand, Tim.”

“I understand that you can’t let go.
That you’re killing yourself
just like she is and
I just can’t
watch it anymore.”

“Come on now, Tim.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Shane. It really wasn’t…”
Tim’s eyes were red, wet and he
slammed the door.

Shane grabbed his coat and
umbrella and headed back.

Maybe Tim finally had the
last of this
but for Shane it was
just another day to get through.

Just another day.

“Don’t Worry, Albert.”

Took care of my wife
for ten years
as cancer slowly
took her away
from me.

“Don’t worry, Albert.
It always rains
on a sunny day,
doesn’t it?”

She’d always say.

Two years alone
after she passed
I moved far away
to start again.

It was either that
or put a gun
to my head.

But everywhere I looked
I still saw
a reminder of her
in every woman
in every child.

I worked
then I wandered the streets.
Trying to live.
Trying to cry.
Trying to die.

And one day
I saw her
leaving a laundromat,
laughing.

It was her
but it wasn’t
because it
couldn’t be

but there she was.

I walked up to her
and stared
like an idiot.

Asked if I could
walk with her.

She looked at me
strange.
I didn’t blame her
but she acquiesced.

That was when
on a blue sky
it opened up
with rain singing across
all the streets
in the sunlight.

She laughed and she
looked at me with that
gorgeous smile
that always
broke through me
like I was air
then she took my hand.

“Don’t worry, Albert.”
she said.

“It always rains
on a sunny day
doesn’t it?”

I SAW GOD IN HER LAUGHTER ON A GODLESS NIGHT

Standing outside the warehouse
3:30 a.m.
on a Monday night
buzzed as fuck because
my life was
completely out of
control but
the world was always ending
anyway.

I was waiting for the
whatever man:
the Space man
the Big man
Blast man
–fucking Spider-man.

And I was there to pick up
whatever it was called
this time:
Blue God, Ice
Cloud Dream
Dark Light
-Elvis’s Last Shit.

We label things and
name ourselves
to make it all seem
so much more than
it really is and
have been doing this
since we swam up
on shore
and started walking.

It’s just drugs, man.
Just fucking drugs.
It makes people so crazy
but so does booze
romance
religion
children’s birthday parties
being around other people
and being alone.

A silhouette approached
almost melding with the dark
and I almost didn’t see it,

but her voice was
both exhilarating
and frightening and
alien.

“You’re here for Magic Man?”

“Either that or I’m really fucking lost,”
I said.

She laughed like
wind chimes
breaking a long silence

like glass shattering
every fragile illusion

like the rarest escape of
perfect harmony
in a world full
of mediocrity
of spiritual poverty
of holes under carpets
of monsters under beds
of floating garbage
and drowning people
of empty spaces
between empty spaces
of broken bottles in
endless alleys
of fools and ghosts
and miles of pain.

I knew that she was
beautiful
and I couldn’t even
see her face.

And just like that
I had to know
everything about her
but I just quietly followed
her
from darkness
into light
towards magic
man.

COVID-19 SOCIETY: LIFE IS A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER

As the pandemic was unfolding on social media people were scattered in the frozen produce section of Costco staring down at their smartphones as if waiting for instructions. A lady was fixated on her screen beside a batch of tomatoes when her face scrunched up and she started to turn. They all did, not into zombies or vampires or werewolves. Instead, they all turned toward the aisle containing the bathroom tissue.

“Oh no, she has it!” A man said to his daughter.
“What, Dad? The virus?”
“No, Stacey, the hearing about the virus, virus.”

In one single motion typically reserved for geese taking flight, the people began to rush alongside and at times over each other in a desperate bid, not to grab the last remaining rations of ass-fleece, but to get it all, grossly more bog roll than they would ever use in their entire lifetimes. Fuck everybody else.

As can be seen on any given Black Friday: wrangling, scuffling and outright brawling overtook the immediate area in an implosion of bodies interacting in the most primordially deprived fashion possible. Yes, it was social-distancing at it’s best in aisle seven where humanity had rapidly devolved into a raging pile of limbs, gnashing teeth, pulling hair -and in the midst of the chaos freshly-ejected spittle freely soared, danced and coalesced to form a fine blanket of mist that soon settled upon everything (sleep well).

“See Honey,” Father said as her brought his daughter close to witness the spectacle, “this is why we aren’t going to make it as a race –because when under duress we lack the ability to think about the common good and instead become dominated by our own self-interests in immediate and irrational ways. What you see here? This is a true reflection of our society. What you have to understand is that everybody’s nice until you start messing with their livelihood and after that…there’s this.”

The final bulk pack of toilet roll was won over by a lady the size of a Whirlpool fridge who manhandled a millennial.

“Dad, I’m scared!”

The father smiled warmly, “You should be, especially when you consider how quickly we all can be reduced to little more than contagious self-serving vermin controlled by an increasingly authoritarian government.”

“I don’t understand!”

“Well, after a lifetime of being sold your own self-image while following the trivial pursuit of achieving Instagram-worthy selfies it must be very difficult -if not downright impossible- to suddenly wake up one day and realize that it’s not all about you.” He gave her shoulder a light squeeze. “I get it. Your whole generation’s going to be living in a dumpster-fire cause of climate change anyway.”

As callous hordes of people ran by waving around over-sized loads of scrumptious, fluffy toilet rolls with blank stares in their eyes he said: “Don’t worry, we can always wipe our ass with Scruffles.”

“Not my cat!”

“Oh yes, and that’s just for starters.” Father gave her a look that made Stacey worried about what would happen after that resource was exhausted.

As another horde charged through with what looked to be the last remaining stock of rice, pasta, eggs and flour (because everyone was going to suddenly take up baking) Father said, “Who knows? We might have to eat her too.”

Stacey began to cry as her dad nodded to an old lady and gave her a tender look that would make anybody feel at home right before clothes-lining her as she was walking by for the six-pack of hand sanitizer held against her chest that he was going to dilute and sell online at an absurdly marked-up price.

”Welcome to the new world!”

THE MARVEL SUPERHERO ON PARK STREET

I was walking by a large Victorian house on Park Street when from up on the top floor balcony I heard someone calling out. I turned to see a girl –maybe ten years old– leaning over the railing so that her long hair hung straight down.

“Hey Mister, do you want to see a trick?”
I shrugged. “Sure, why not?”

“Okay!” She shouted and clapped her hands excitedly. Smiling, she turned and went back into the house only to appear at the front door three floors down not even a second later. She opened it, came out onto the porch, spun around with her arms held out and went back in. Next thing I know there is a knock on the top floor window where she waves and turns away. Again, before I could formulate a thought she reappears out the front door and this time she walks down to where I stood on the sidewalk.

“What do you think?” She asked and folded her arms across her chest. I didn’t even have the do the math; there was just no way was she faster than my eyes could travel from the ground floor to three stories up and back down.

“You have a twin. Throw the same clothes on and have fun with unsuspecting strangers.”

“Nuh-uh! NUH-UH!” She whipped her head back and forth viciously enough that the ends of her hair threatened to blind me and then shot me a glare like I was the biggest dipshit ever.

“Okay, then you’re a Marvel superhero.” I returned.

Behind her, a lady opened the door. “Who are you talking to, Cadence?”

“Absolutely nobody, Mother.” The girl stuck her tongue out at me and crossed her eyes before running back inside. “Noooboooodddyyyyy!!!”

“Hey!” I called to the mother as she was closing the door. “She has a sister, right?” I asked, curious.

“What sister?” The lady looked at me like I was a meth-fueled derelict and when the door was half closed she held it there and scowled at me as though I were the world’s most active pedophile.

“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have asked that.” I said to myself as I continued on down the sidewalk. “This is why I try not to go outside anymore.”

And this was the second house I couldn’t walk by in this neighbourhood. The first one? Now, that’s a strange story…

THE NOISY BATHROOM FAN

At first, Randall was appalled when the noisy bathroom fan suggested that he murder his girlfriend right there and then, but then he grew intrigued. With the fan’s persuasive voice, the thought of murder solidified into an ideal. Was it possible? In fact, was it the only thing that would set things right?

He was beginning to think so.

The bathroom fan had been broken since Randall had moved into the small corner unit five months ago. So, instead of the calming thrum that accompanied most properly functioning, well-maintained exhaust fans –it instead produced a violent, garbled choking that resembled a dying animal in heat. Its multi-layered rattling occasionally peaked into a wild banshee-like scream that almost seemed deliberate and threatened to take over everything.

And one day it did just that when it simply began to speak.

…Randall…

“Yes?” Randall looked around then up at the fan. “Hello? Is somebody in there?”

…You have to take her out, Randall. Use one of your long kitchen knives…make it dirty…

“Why would anybody do that? And why would I, especially? I really, really like her.” Randall held a quizzical expression on his face. He didn’t really understand, but the noisy bathroom fan would help him with that.

…That’s why you’ve got to do it, to protect yourself from people like her…she’s going to get in and eat you all up from the inside like a cancer…

The voice that came from the fan seemed to fall directly into Randall’s ear in a soothing lull that betrayed its chaotically abrasive presence. The fan knew things. The fan was Randall’s friend and was only looking out for him. But still…

“No! No!” Randall struggled with the idea now. Amy was perfect for him, wasn’t she?

…She’s gonna mess you up, Randall, just like your ex-wife…because she doesn’t know any better…

The fan’s words swept through Randall’s mind, bringing light into where there once was only darkness and planting seeds where that light now was so that ideas could grow. Randall’s eyes widened. He was beginning to see.

“Yes, you’re right. I need to do this.”
…Gotta mess her up, Randall…
“I’m gonna mess her up!”

…Do it now…do it now…
“I’m gonna do it right now!”

Randall left the bathroom and quietly walked past the living room where Amy was sprawled on the sofa watching Netflix. Randall slowly entered into the small side kitchen where he pulled a long, stainless steel knife from a drawer. He then approached Amy slowly from behind raising the knife over his head, readying to plunge it deep into the back of her neck just like the fan wanted.

Amy sensed Randall behind her and spun her head around to see him standing right there. It looked like Randall was holding something behind his back.

“What’s up, Babe?” She asked, eyes widened.

“Nothing, Hon.” Randall swayed on his feet just enough to lean over and leave the knife on the counter. That would have to do, for now. “Hey listen, do you think you can stay over tonight? I can take you home in the morning.”

“Ok, sure. Come, sit down on your favourite recliner.” Randall looked like he thought it was a good idea. Amy tilted her head. “You alright? You look a little triggered.”

“No, everything’s fine,” Randall sighed, “I just have to fix the exhaust fan in the bathroom.”

“I noticed. It’s rather noisy.”

“Oh yeah? You were in there for quite a while earlier. Forgot about that.”

“It told me you were going to kill me.”

Randall laughed nervously as he usually did when he didn’t know what to do or say. The bathroom fan was right: he was a big pussy. Amy slowly pulled a larger kitchen knife than the one Randall had out from under the cushion she sat upon and held it in a firm grip.

“Think this is a joke?” Amy said as she got up.

THE LIFE COACH

You’re terrified of death because you don’t really know what it is, what it’s like, what comes after. You’ve spent your whole life building things up but all that will be gone in an instant and you are deeply troubled by the idea that there is nothing afterwards; that you just extinguish like a light, forever. Most people cannot bear the thought of it. That’s why we have drowned ourselves in religion for thousands of years.

“Talk dirty to me.”

The universe is apathetic to your condition. Throughout the centuries humanity is made to suffer; built to sing, to bleed, to create vast landscapes of art, music and poetry based on all that experience and in the end will receive nothing in return because even with our sentient intelligence, resilience, cultural and technological advancements –your life has no more value than that of an insects. That you thought it would be any different is nothing short of comedic.

“You’re a nasty piece of work. I like it.”

You all want to think that you’ll go to Heaven, that you’ll get some kind of reward for living or that you’ll return again somehow in someway, but you won’t and there is nothing after. You will die and your energy will return to the cosmos. It will most likely be distributed between a number of various elements such as comet dust, fungi on Mars, running water or part fucking dog fart.

“You’re gonna get it sideways.”

But I can tell you that nobody ever makes it off this planet. Not a chance. We are too greedy, selfish and weak to ever unite and conquer our own environment, never mind outer space, so all of these great inventions and discoveries are fuck all and nothing is worth a shit. We will perish with no understanding of the universe and with not having met any other intergalactic species that is how pathetic and insignificant we all are. In the end life is nothing more than senseless detritus wasting away on a floating cemetery filled with a bunch of fucking nobodies.”

“I gotta go. You’re getting it next time for sure.”

 

LATER, TALKING TO HARRY…

“Hey, how’s dating your life coach going?”

“Same. Think she knows everything. We all die. Nothing’s after. No point of anything. I’m a dog-fart.”

“Shit, doesn’t it get to you? I mean, this is all just so weird, Man. And you’re weird. I know she’s fucking weird….”

“Sure. Well, we can have these great in-depth discussions but honestly sometimes I feel like we’re just so disconnected. I mean, I keep trying to get with her but all I get back is that we’re all a bunch of losers that are going to die for nothing. It’s frustrating. Maybe it’s my approach but I don’t really get why it’s not working.”

“You gonna move on?”

“Nah. She’s still…interesting…and besides, my previous life coach makes her seem like a fucking optimist.”

“Well then, what can I say? Keep going. Sometimes you have to eat shit in order to see the sunlight.”

THE INCUBUS OF IRVING ST.

Tina was pulling grocery bags from her trunk when she spotted Bono walking across the street. That’s right, U2’s very own Bono looking like he had just stepped out of the ZooTV tour with the shiny black suit, chest-open shirt, and fly sunglasses. There was no mistaking it because nobody else looked like him. Tina immediately dropped what she was doing and began to follow the singer with complete abandon.

Ireland was a long way away; what was he doing here? Who cared? She wanted to ravage that rock god sex beast right there on the curb. Tina may have been pushing fifty, but she still hit the treadmill and had some bang to her buck –never mind the late afternoon Chianti’s.

Tina kept calling his name, but other than slightly turning her way and showcasing a broad, cocksure smile, Bono kept on walking like he owned the planet. What a tease! Tina became so distracted in watching that hot ass rattle and hum down the sidewalk that she must not have been paying very much attention to anything else as it seemed so sudden that they were all the way down Irving Street to where it met the railway beside the overpass.

Tina never ventured into this area as she had always thought it to be a haven for vicious hobos and violent meth addicts, but now there was no one in sight. At the dead end right before the sidewalk ended into a wall heavily laden with graffiti, Bono finally turned around. Tina only then noticed that there was something different about Bono’s face.

He wasn’t smiling anymore.

Beth was in the process of unlocking her niece’s front door when she heard a knocking sound on the trunk of her car. She turned to see Jim Morrison smile as he patted the taillight and wink as he walked away. There was no mistaking it. No way that wasn’t Jim Morrison. He didn’t look like anybody else.

Wait, wasn’t he supposed to be long dead? He was so hot. Who cared? Beth was freshly divorced from Asshole after twenty-seven long-suffering years of dull and dry nothing, had only a stuffed bank account to show for it, and was dying for something that didn’t sag all the way down. She dropped everything that she was doing and began to follow him.

The Lizard King strutted down the sidewalk without a care in the world. Beth could tell by the fit of his tight leather pants that it wasn’t just his face that looked like it was sculpted by Michelangelo. Where was this iconic piece of deliciousness taking her? What was he going to do to her when they got there? She shivered thinking about the possibilities. Beth must have been thinking about them so hard that they had walked all the way down to the end of Irving Street and she didn’t even notice.

As they came to the abrupt end of the walkway, Beth stopped and realized that she had never been this close to the bridge before, mostly because it was an isolated area that she didn’t consider safe, even when walking Poochie.

There, she found a huge wall covered with painted eyes of all different colours and sizes staring down at her with strange words streaked across them that looked far from English. It all seemed so…Far East, Hindu maybe.

Something shiny on the ground caught Beth’s eye. She leaned down to inspect what was the silver buckle on a black purse. She looked around and quickly discovered that there were other purses of all colours and styles – some modern, but mostly outdated– scattered haphazardly across the lot.

And shoes too, some new but others looked old, very old –as in falling apart and completely colourless, old. Noticing how strange these items were, Beth leaned in closer to examine the pebbles that crunched under her feet and to her growing horror she realized that those weren’t pebbles at all, but teeth –along with piles of jackets, fabric, clumps of hair, and other things that sprang into clarity that her mind almost would not accept, almost. The whole area was covered with this…people residue in every direction.

Beth looked up with a sinking heart, arms and legs frozen in fear, as the singer turned around.

And Jim wasn’t smiling anymore.