Bully

Although he was proud of his son for discovering his identity so early in life, Sutherland had worries. While he was fine with whatever a seven-year-old thought gay was, probably not much different than what other nine-year-olds thought of close friends, he didn’t have much faith in the youth of Polk County Public Schools. They would be ruthless, if not yet, then soon.

“Son, you have to watch your lisping. I’m your dad and I love you no matter what, but other people don’t know you yet, and they’ll see any sign of weakness as a chance to attack.”

Allen nodded seriously at this advice. He was a good kid, sensitive and socially focused. When Sutherland corrected him on his walk, “You’re swinging your hips too much. You’ve got to make your motions deliberate,” the boy followed his advice exactly, and asked clarifying questions.

“What should I be doing with my arms?”

The boy would be great at choreography someday, Sutherland thought.

He remembered how unhelpful his own father had been, about everything. Interests in painting and guitar had been personality flaws. With a little encouragement, he might have gone to art school, but the way his father sneered at him about impracticality turned him into the vague professional he was today. He was not his father. He would do all he could to help his son be the best person he could be.

“You cannot wear that shirt. They’ll kill you. You go upstairs and you change it right now. And stop that mincing!”

The boy complied as best he could, without complaint or will of his own.

#abuse, #good-intentions, #identity, #parents, #self-fulfilling-prophecy, #society

Mr. Nice Guy

On his way into the grocery store, Kirk noticed a frail and elderly woman pushing her cart, and with a bow, he paused a moment to activate the automatic door for her. The poor woman had gone a bit senile, and eyes forward, face locked in permanent scowl, she rolled right past him. No thanks, no nod, but Kirk didn’t mind much.

He had company coming for dinner. A date, he supposed one might call it, their third, though they hadn’t yet used the vocabulary. Their first outing had been in the company of friends, their second in a museum. Tonight was the first time they would have real privacy, and he wanted the evening to be special.

  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Lamb Shank
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine
  • Scented Candles (Cinnamon? Guarana?)
  • Condoms
  • Vasaline
  • Playing Cards
  • Cucumber

He was about to check out when the old woman queued behind him. Though she hadn’t been appreciative before, he thought she might as well have another chance, and he waved her to the front of the line. As though he wasn’t even there, she shuffled forward and lifted her apples onto the conveyor one at a time. Kirk waited for any acknowledgment as she slowly filled out her check and made a note in the ledger. As she stomped away, he shook his head.

“Some people are just ungrateful,” the cashier said.

“Let’s just hope my date tonight is better.” The cashier did not laugh, though this was clearly a joke. He felt a little slighted.

#commerce, #entitlement, #idiot, #lonely, #microfiction, #misogyny, #resentment, #white-people

Robustness (part 11)

The echoes of their footsteps built up a rhythm that colored the moment. The techno soundtrack implied a chase scene, police officers behind them, pistols drawn. Neither he nor Leslie was athletic enough to vault over obstacles or slide under railings, and in fact their running would have more realistically been called jogging if not power walking. If power. Nonetheless, they made the sounds of running. If he remembered the moment later, it would be dynamically framed, with wipes and swipes and filters.

Once they hit the pavement, their movements lost resonance, and they shuffled forward with characteristic asthma. She stayed a few steps ahead, which was fine, given that she knew where she was going. The way she walked was lopsided, but had a grace of its own, as if compensating.

He caught up to her for the sake of conversation. “Thanks for letting me stay with you.”

When she didn’t reply, he continued talking, like he was supposed to. “It’s good to be back. You have no idea what I’ve been through in the past few years. Don’t you miss when things were simple?”

Before he was socialized, Leslie had tried to instruct him in the art of conversation. “It’s rude not to answer when someone speaks to you,” she had said. He couldn’t remember the exact context, only the maternal tone of her scolding. She’d always seen him as a child, and somehow that had seemed flirtatious to him at the time. Before he was socialized.

“Did I tell you you could stay with me?” she asked, but Ezekiel wasn’t entirely sure the question was directed at him. The artificial lighting of the streets at night had taken his attention. Shadows cascaded in all directions from almost everything.

#awkward, #city, #fiction-in-parts, #idiot, #memory, #oblivious, #reunions, #unreality

Drifter

He would always be an outsider in this sleepy mountain town, but he’d stay a while. The innkeeper and his daughter were keen to take his money, no matter whence it came, and no one gave him any trouble. His reputation proceeded him.

Annette, who spoke a little English when she had the nerve, brought him biscuits every morning, saying she’d put them on his bill. In six months he’d never seen any kind of a tally, but she wouldn’t let him refuse. “You have to eat, or you will die. I will bill you. Do not worry.”

She owned him by this point, most likely. Someday she’d cash in, though what she planned on doing with a wreck like himself, he couldn’t rightly figure. “Thank you much, Miss Annette. I do so like your biscuits.”

At the edge of the bar, he savored a single bottle of whisky for the rest of the day.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve, showing your face in public.”

He shrugged at the man, an either short or hunched-over sort he didn’t recognize. As he lifted his bottle to his lips, he tried to think of who it might be. Some banker he’d ripped off? Some rancher onto whom he’d pawned a dead horse? Could even be an ex-lover, or an ex-lover’s lover. He squinted, trying to recognize any familiar feature in the man.

“I figure someone has to,” he said, gesturing to the empty room. The stranger or old friend or old enemy, whoever he was, made some threat and stomped away. They’d fight later, at sunset no doubt. Another man dead, another identity to take. This next time, he hoped it was someone interesting.

#boring, #genre, #identity, #lawless, #meta, #western

Homunculus

The Phoenix Lord was in the middle of some speech when Jocelyn received the order to strike. Even though she was newest member of the right arm, she was in charge of the killing blow, a complicated manual control that required finesse. The rest of the crew stood around her console, shouting encouragements. She could do it. As she began the crank, tension built, and she steadied herself. She spun the wheel faster, pulling out the pegs as necessary, in even intervals.

“You’ve got it.” Murmurs from all around her gave advice, but she maintained her concentration.

“Pull the switch!”

“You have to do it now!”

She waited. The official go-ahead hadn’t yet come through, and she couldn’t make a move without their say-so. A sudden quake knocked her from her seat.

“Are you going to finish the job, or do I have to take over?”

She looked up. The final lever was only a few feet away, and she leapt toward it. Her fingers fell into place around the shaft.

“Why isn’t she pulling the lever?” asked her head of operations. The crew around him made no suggestions, though they clearly had ideas of their own. “What’s going on in the right arm?”

“We’ve lost communications. Most likely, they’re waiting for our go-ahead.”

A hand pushed her back to the floor. Jocelyn looked up at her coworker, a stodgy fellow in a bird costume. “You had a chance to prove yourself, but that moment is over. You will have to defeat me if you want any professional glory, but as you can see, I’ve already won.”

As he yanked down on the switch, Jocelyn struck him in the eye, a perfectly tuned punch that knocked him cold. Her coworkers gasped.

“What’s gotten into you?”

#fractal, #mecha, #meta, #microfiction, #professional-rivalry, #science-fiction

New (The Fetishists – Secretary)

OBJECTIVE

Though new to the working world, Melanie Blackwell is confident she exemplifies the qualities necessary to thrive as a personal secretary. Typing and organizing come as naturally to her as eating and sleeping come to others, and she has always envisioned herself working in an office, answering phones in a courteous and efficient manner. Maintaining a pleasant and professional demeanor, she is eager to begin her career and service at your earliest convenience.

QUALIFICATIONS

Experience with Microsoft Office Suite

Unquestioning loyalty to authority

Typing speed: 120 wpm

Looks really good in heels

Desperate

EXPERIENCE

N/A, but inexperience can be its own asset. A talented beginner works harder than a veteran, and she can be trained to perform as best pleases her employer. Please accept my vocational virginity for the opportunity it is, for both of us.

The man who came into the lobby had soft, wet hands.

“I’ve really been looking forward to meeting you,” he said, shaking her hand, touching her shoulder.

She followed him into his office and sat where he invited her to sit.

“I just want to thank you again for coming. Would you like some coffee?”

Melanie shook her head. The man poured a cup for himself, and thanked her again.

“Thank you,” he said, taking a long gulp from his tropical coffee cup.

She waited for the interview questions she’d prepared to answer. What makes you a good fit for this company? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

“How long have you worn glasses?”

“They’re new.”

He nodded, as though this was interesting information, and made a note in his journal. “You’re over eighteen, right?”

Melanie nodded, and moments later had a job.

What a gentleman, she thought.

#50-shades, #creepy, #cv, #male-gaze, #microfiction, #misogyny, #naivety, #paraphilia, #resume

Robustness (part 10)

As the echo of the firearm’s explosion filled the car, Ezekiel waited for some courageous bystander to tackle him and be a hero. That would have felt right. Instead, he opened his eyes and looked around. All the strangers remained inanimate. Bits of glass on the floor left him able to pull the lever whenever he was ready, completely according to plan.

“Any objections?” he announced. Leslie rolled over in her sleep and tried to fight the fluorescent light out of her eyes. “Is anyone opposed to my pulling the emergency cord?”

He faced everyone, though they refused to reciprocate. The faux pas of orating to unknowns was meant to embarrass him, and he blushed slightly for their benefit. Knowing he was embarrassed, they might be more compelled to reassure him, or at least to acknowledge him, or at least to be alive.

Pulling the gun from his injured backpack, he waited for any kind of reaction. He shot a bullet at nothing in particular, psychopathic. Briefly, he pointed it at a man whose face annoyed him.

“I think we’re almost at our stop. Go ahead and pull it,” Leslie said.

Not the trigger. He nodded. Gripping the handle with both hands, he braced himself against the closest bar and yanked down with both hands. The lever did not move. He lifted himself into the air. Back on his feet, he wrapped the straps of his backpack around the knob, and pushed his feet against the wall. As the switch gave way, the lights went out and the train shook. Individual cutouts fell over, and the screech of steel brought Leslie to her feet.

“I was joking. Dipshit.”

They stepped out of the wreckage and onto the platform. “Sorry,” he said.

Leslie ran forward. He had to chase.

#embarrassed, #fiction-in-parts, #robustness, #society, #unreality, #unresponsive