Category: Episode 33


Episode 33

Hello flash fiction lovers!  It is time to explore the latest topic of interest at In Between Altered States.  We are looking at revenge.  Who hasn’t felt the burn of it at one time or another?  Each writer is allowed to interpret this topic how they see fit and then I put them together in a way that I hope makes sense.

If this is your first time here, I recommend that you read all 8 stories in order.  They are only 300 words each….you can do it!  Then if you have a particular one you love or hate then leave a comment for the writer.  We only get better as writers if we know where we fail.

I would like to welcome two new comers to the IBAS family:  Leah Angstman and Peter Cunis.  Returning criminals include: Timothy Gager, Tyler Gates, Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, Eric Suhem and Aleathia Drehmer.

Enjoy!  Submit some work if you have it.  All the topics for the year are in the submissions section.

Aleathia Drehmer

Editor

Raps at the door rivaled the wind’s burden against bound shutters.

“Pinkerton, Mr. Westgate. Open up.” The Pinkerton detective scanned the dying ranch. Nothing stirred; he realized he held his breath, galvanizing himself for what would come. Westgate—eh, the man could rot. The woman, however, was innocent; but she’d be standing by the man she’d married.

The cranky drawl of rusted hinges split the heat, and the detective wiped his brow, his gaze sweeping the lanky cowpoke glowering through the cracked door. Homemade door, the Pinkerton corrected, lopsided, sagging with foundation shifts, scraping resistance into the floor at the rancher’s spurs. Westgate wore his spurs indoors: showed what kind of woman he’d married, eased the Pinkerton’s guilt—but not the finger that itched on the Union-issued Colt Navy.

Westgate cocked a brow. Years hadn’t changed him. He was still an arrogant sonuvabitch and held his set jaw like a murderer. A particularly cool snarl spoke: “Hell, Carson, been a while. Guess they don’t pay you to leave jobs unfinished.”

Detective Carson heard the click behind the door and could picture that LeMat, how it glinted in the sun when aimed at a pretty girl’s throat. Carson’s wife had never let him wear his spurs indoors. “Hang ’em up at the door,” she’d said, so sultry, so huskily. He’d always hung them up, but no one asked him to, anymore.

Westgate moved to slam the door, lodging it upon Carson’s swifter boot. A string of oaths left both men, but Carson wedged himself inside, Navy drawn, facing Westgate’s LeMat. A woman shrieked, frozen in the corner, and the two men circled each other like feral cats.

“Your move, Detective,” Westgate hissed. “You’ve waited a long time for this.”

“Yes, I have,” Carson whispered. “My God, yes, I have.” Faster than a blink, Carson drew his bead from Westgate and pulled the trigger, the detective’s bullet shattering the air with a deafening pop and an accompanying whir. A heartbeat later, the woman slumped to the floor, a circle of red on the wall behind her, a hole clear through her throat.

“Is that your twin brother?” the police officer asked Mark as Gregg was being strapped into a gurney, broken pencil sticking out of his left eyeball. Mark couldn’t hear the question because his girlfriend was screaming.

“Never heard even a siren that loud before,” Mark said to the cop who twisted his head firmly and shoved him into the cruiser. Mark wanted to laugh but he was congested and coughed instead. He thought about how bad and phlegm-like the custard tasted in jail, when it slid down the back of his throat.

Growing up, his Dad made him sit there until he finished. He forced the tapioca down, swallow by swallow, eyes closed and nose pinched, until the very last spoonful was gone. Then there was the time Gregg quickly switched bowls while his eyes were closed, his full for Mark’s empty. Dad’s belt raised quarter inch welts on his ass that time.

Mark couldn’t possibly remember all the incidents but there were many similar to this–Gregg did things and Mark took the hit.

He never considered Gregg hitting on his girlfriend until he stopped by today and overheard the grunts and squeaks. “She said she loved him,” he told the cop.

“Love is fucking blind,” the cop sneered.

The neighborhood bully buried another stray cat alive. You watched him do it under the giant oak tree at a nearby park. You hid behind a shed and watched as he ripped the skinny cat from inside an old tan book bag. He’s bigger and meaner than you’ll ever be. There was nothing you could except wipe the salty tears from your eyes and stare as the cat squirmed as he held it down. The grin on his face ate away at your tiny soul and it wasn’t long until you became completely overtaken by the thought of revenge.

You’d seen enough TV to know what to do. Later that night you donned all black, crawled out your basement window and pedaled your bike over to his house. In one arm you carried a small pair of your dad’s wire cutters. Once there you carefully cut the brake lines to the bike he regularly left outside.

It’s not until days later that you overheard yours parents gossiping about how the Anderson boy was hit head on going through an intersection. “It’s just so sad.” Your mom says as you stay silent while staring at the lines in the linoleum floor. “I heard the doctors think he may never walk again.” She adds. The knot in your stomach loosens and you suddenly feel the most comfortable cold overtake your body. “Hey mom can I go to the video store and rent a game?” You ask with your hand out. She hands you a five dollar bill and you go about your day.

Gauze

When they converted the basement into his room, Billy was too young to know any differently. He just wanted his own space, didn’t want to share it with his five older siblings anymore. Then when he was around ten, he stopped eating dinner with the rest of the family. His mother placed his dinner plate on the top stair every night. In exchange he only communicated by notes he’d send or receive by pulley-pails through the laundry drop.

A Medical Dressing

One time when Ethyl, the family dachshund, accidentally ventured downstairs, she was never seen again. Same for one sister, Darla, who thought she’d left a sweater atop the laundry machine. Disappeared. Eventually Billy was indistinguishable from any basement dweller, resembling the spider realm. Webs. Gossamer silver. Detecting vibrations, lurking toward eventual prey. The family nearly forgot he existed.

A Scrim

Then one day while folding laundry, his mother noticed a note and she decided to read it aloud to the rest of the children at dinner that night: Here is your stormy day, the one with pressing clouds and chilling breeze. Here is your way you fall in step, synchronize laughs and moderate beliefs, acclimatize moods and medications. Here, then your last vestige of blue sky and fortitude. A mélange of mercurial designations. Bastion of sailboats emptying out horizons.

The priest spat blood and teeth out into his beard as he crawled on all fours across his living room towards the phone. The man in the tracksuit and parrot mask followed after, tapping the cricket bat against his shoe. The priest grabbed the phone. The man smacked it out of his hand with one quick swipe. “I’m gonna give you one chance. Just one.” the man growled, as he wiped blood off his mask, “What did you do with the key?” “Go to hell,” sputtered the priest. The man raised his bat–“This is for my father, you son of a bitch”–and the hard wood shattered what remained of the padre’s skull.

Three days later…

The priest spat blood and teeth out into his beard as he crawled on all fours across his living room towards the phone. The man in the tracksuit and parrot mask followed after, tapping the cricket bat against his shoe. The priest grabbed the phone. The man smacked it out of his hand with one quick swipe. “I’m gonna give you one chance. Just one.” the man growled, as he wiped blood off his mask, “What did you do with the key?” “Go to hell,” sputtered the priest. The man raised his bat–“This is for my father, you son of a bitch”–and the hard wood shattered what remained of the padre’s skull.

Three days later…

The priest spat blood and teeth out into his beard as he crawled on all fours across the living room towards the phone. The man in the tracksuit and parrot mask followed after, tapping the cricket bat against his shoe……….

We could be coy, but instead we are caught up crosses, warding off evil.

In the corner the band plays vintage Cassidy and you say, “Do you remember when you sang to me under the street lights?”

There was a time when I would have mistaken this for an impasse, a treaty, but now I stride off to the bar and order a triple. I keep telling myself, No one’s to blame. Everything should come with an expiration date.

The blonde guy you hitch to has highlight reels in his eyes. He holds his gin like a derringer and you seem to like that. It takes less than a minute before you’re lilting, laughing. Another four and his hand has found the lower part of your back, that space where your spine lifts up into the skin like a corded straw—knotted kite tail—tug of war rope.

You make sure to touch his cheek. There’s a stray eyelash. You offer it to him on your forefinger and he grins before blowing, grins before blowing, then blows.

I inspect the ceiling where the strobe lights are hooked. The walls are papered with crimson tattoos of Warhol and Reed and Norma Jean. They would look good on fire.

Love isn’t supposed to be so wicked. The heart needn’t be tested like this. And still I throw the first punch, the second, and all those others until people pull me off of him.

He woke up under the urinal with his front tooth chipped and lips bleeding. The blood was congealing to him to the surface below. He realizes he must have been here awhile. The place where his cheek is making love to the floor smells of other men and he wishes he had the mind to get up and run from this place or at least wash the stale piss from his face.

He didn’t give a shit about anything anymore. Look what that stupid bitch had done to him….again. Why the fuck does he continue to go back to her for more? His dick knows the answer and somehow never relays this to his brain because hell if they would do this over and over again if they were on the same page. Or, maybe they would. At this point he was unsure of anything.

He looks over at his twisted fingers and bruised knuckles. In their grip is a tiny magazine he remembered picking up from the top of the urinal. It wasn’t full of Jesus like the usual ones, but little poems. He thought that was weird. What dude wants to read poems with his cock in his hand? What dude wants to read poems while he is drunk for that matter? Apparently, he thought, I’m that sort of dude, but look what it got me….busted teeth and a mouth full of urine water.

The little magazine stared at him in his dead eye from his mutilated hand. He wondered if his neck was broken and maybe he couldn’t get up or if he was just sick to death of repeating his miseries. He just lay there breathing in the disrespect of other men, men just like him and thought considering his actions in life, this was as good a penance as any other.

“What’s that filthy-looking liquid you’re pouring on the carpet?” demanded Belle during the cocktail party.

“It’s what’s left of my soul,” Ron replied, eyeing the fluid, and the watery ice cubes that fell on the avocado-colored shag carpeting.

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” said Belle, lifting her finger to signal white-suited minions, who hurried in and began an extensive scrubbing operation, using brightly-colored sponges to remove the stain.

“The pink in the liquid is residue of my brain, and the runny red is my blood, sweat, and tears you have wrung out of me in our relationship,” Ron added as Belle supervised the scrubbing operation.

“Do you ever look at this from my perspective? Do you know how much work I do to keep things on track?” she queried as one of the minions moved from the carpet, and began scrubbing the toes of her white plastic boots.

Prone on the carpet, Ron drifted into a dream, encountering his identity from a past life:

“I’m Roy, I run the neighborhood hardware store on Saturday mornings and beyond. I have sharp, penetrating eyes, but a friendly manner. I have been here forever, and will remain here throughout eternity. I chain-smoke and fantasize about committing bizarre sexual crimes. ‘Yes, a radio transistor, sir? Right away.’ I live in a faded yellow house in our respectable tree-lined neighborhood. I fix the neighborhood’s bicycles and kites, with a bright sparkle in my eye. Why are you judging me?”

In the past life, Belle’s earlier soul had been Roy’s 9th victim.

Ron licked Belle’s white boots and she kicked him in the teeth. He slathered around on the heavy fabric, looking for molar remnants, and she kicked him some more, spilling blood onto the carpet.