Monday, September 15, 2014

FLASH FICTION: Come Like Shadows, So Depart!

Better late than never. Yvette at "in so many words..." issued a Flash Fiction Challenge to come up with a short short story inspired by one of three paintings she found. The stories were to have been posted yesterday, September 14. We took a sudden trip and I was away from the computer all day. Didn't have a chance to upload my story along with the painting. But enough excuses... Without further ado, here is my contribution.

Come Like Shadows

Sorcery’s a bitch. Especially when you’re an amateur like me. My mistake was being too curious, too ambitious, not patient enough. What’s that piece of advice your schoolteachers always direct at the impatient, hyperactive students in the class – take your time and you’ll make less mistakes. Haste makes waste, right? In my case haste made a monkey of my girlfriend. Literally.

She was a sucker for strange jewelry. That’s really what started all the trouble. Never satisfied with a diamond ring or stud earrings or a simple necklace. No, not Amelia. To her a tennis bracelet was literally just that – a bracelet made up of a fine gold mesh tennis net with charms shaped liked rackets and balls. I’m surprised she didn’t want the umpire sitting in his chair as well as a couple of ball boys. She was always adding to her collection and the more bizarre the better. She was attracted to Egyptians bangles with carved hieroglyphs, amulets inspired by medieval mythological creatures and brooches shaped like dragonflies. Insects were really big with her for a couple of months. Somehow they became more alluring less alien once they were bejeweled and bedazzled. But when she got hooked on endangered species inspired jewelry I really had to put an end to it.

And why sorcery? Surely there was a simpler way to get her off her eccentric jewelry addiction. Well, you see I sort of was responsible for that too. OK, I was responsible for that. Let me own up to the whole mess right now. She never paid me any attention and I made her like me. But as usual with my adventures in potion making I improvised and the whole thing backfired. What started out as an attraction potion took on a different dimension because of my ad libbing with the formula as well as Amelia’s unpredictable behavior. I was supposed to hand her the charmed object and a say a certain phrase but no -- Amelia couldn't wait. We're a lot alike that way -- impatient and demanding. She grabbed it out of my hand and well, now I not only have a devoted girlfriend I have devoted girlfriend who demands that I give her odd pieces of jewelry. And to counteract an unnatural behavior like this, one that isn’t of her choosing, I have to resort to more magic. So I started more experimenting. Before I could find the solution to that mistake another one occurred.

To be honest she brought it on herself. Yes, she did. She barged right into my alchemy lab after one of our hedonistic nights on the town. She was more than a little tipsy on those foo foo cocktails she loves more than her gaudy jewelry. You know those concoctions with flavored vodka. Geez, whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned Old Fashioneds or a plain gin and tonics? But I digress... Her eyes headed straight for a transmogrification figurine I was working on for one of my irritating neighbors. She chittered and screamed like a friggin' monkey and I was ready to turn her into one. Amelia sees that golden figurine shaped like a monkey and she had to have it. Right up her alley, right? Endangered species and "cute as a puppy" like she says all the time. Before I could knock the cursed thing out of her hand I watched as her human shadow morphed into the shape and form of a capuchin monkey. Tail growing out of her designer gown and Amelia disappearing into the fabric till she was chattering and screeching like my annoying neighbor next door. There she was wailing and clawing at her dress trying to figure out what the hell just happened to her. And me wishing I could just chain her to an organ grinder like some prop in a 1930s screwball comedy. My life had become a screwball comedy. All thanks to my inept attempts at black magic. I looked at this absurd picture of me and Amelia and saw exactly the opposite. It was Amelia who really made a monkey out of me. And not for the first time.

Yeah sorcery’s a bitch. What kills me is it took me six months to get all the proper ingredients for that charm. And now it’s going to take me another half a year to get another batch of the same stuff. You know how I had to rack my brains to come up with a clever way to record the sound of a cat’s footsteps? It involved a xylophone and a super sensitive reel-to-reel tape recorder. A reel to reel! P.S. That was harder to find than the damn xylophone. I may have to cut corners again and to hell with the consequences.

Aw, who am I kidding? I learned my lesson the hard way. Now I’m burdened with trying to gather up all the ingredients needed to turn Amelia back into a normal jewelry addicted young woman before her appetite for tropical fruits transforms my home into a subsidiary warehouse for Chiquita and Dole. Without the aid of sorcery. This time I'm following the directions to the letter. No improvising. No substitutes. No ad libbing. 100% genuine ingredients and no cheating whatsoever this time.

Which reminds me, now that you be heard this whole crazy story –

You don’t happen to know where I might find a genuine witch’s mummy, do you?


8 comments:

  1. Perfect John and I wish I could help out with the potion! Love that image too - well done chum. Had me thinking of John Collier and Will Self and Aldous Huxley!

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    1. Uncanny that you should pick up on John Collier's influence, Sergio. He's one of my favorites. Wish I could say I’ve emulated him here, but I lack his gift for poetic language. I'm too flippant. More to the point -- I'm pretty sure that the picture that Yvette found as one of our points of inspiration is from the original 1930 magazine publication of "His Monkey Wife" by Collier. I've never read it, but I'm more than certain the picture was intended for that book.

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  2. John, well done! I enjoyed reading your story. I especially liked the touch of humour throughout the narrative. The last part of the story was hilarious. I'd a feeling the story would build up to a surprise ending, something quite unexpected, and you certainly didn't disappoint except, as is most often the case with my reading, I didn't see it coming. Thanks, John.

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    1. Thanks, Prashant. I was trying to prove to myself that I could still write a funny story. I'm not sure it really succeeds as funny but I'm glad to see you found the last part hilarious. :^D Couldn't resist a few Macbeth allusions, including the title.

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  3. I made a comment but it disappeared, so I'm trying again. A delightful story, John. I was afraid you'd give vent to your gorier side, but you surprised me.Chiquita and Dole - sounds like a law firm. Ha! I'm so happy you lived up to my challenge. I'm only sorry I couldn't comment right away. But my daughter took care of my computer woes and at the moment all is well in the land of Yvette.

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    1. Blogger has been acting up for the past three days. I left a reply to this yesterday and now its gone! Anyway, glad all is OK with your computer and that you liked this little tale of whimsy I whipped up.

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    1. Even I am having problems replying on my own blog! [grumble, grumble] Thanks for reading this, Patti. Glad you liked it.

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