Archive for September, 2013

Some People Don’t Understand Common Fucking Decency

Posted in Crime fiction with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

Short Story

“Can you sit somewhere else, please?” asked the man.

His arms were folded and he sat bunched up uncomfortably against the wall of the train.

“Why?” said the woman, who didn’t realize she had cream-cheese dangling from her mouth. “I…I don’t understand.”

“You see,” he said, tight-faced, looking straight ahead instead of at the woman, “You’re simply too fat. The sight of you is unsettling.”

She gasped in shock.

“Oh it’s not only that,” he said. He turned his head to face her and continued. “Your thighs, they are touching mine and I really don’t care for that. I don’t care for that at all.” He pursed his lips. “I need you to get up and find another seat.”

“The train’s crowded,” she said, as if this was a man who would listen to reason. “There are no other seats.”

“Stand then. It will do your fat ass some good, but listen, I don’t care if you lay down in the aisle, you’re going to get the fuck away from me right now.”

She turned red. “No, you don’t own this train. You don’t own this train.”

The sound of the train’s brakes screeching could be heard overhead.

“I don’t know why you think you can speak to another person like that,” she said. She started to wag her finger in the man’s face. “But you can’t. I’m staying right..”

Crack.

That was the sound of her nose breaking when the man hammer fisted her face.

Thud.

That was the sound of her falling to the floor when he pushed her off of the seat and into the aisle.

He stood over her and yelled to the other passengers on the train. “Some people don’t understand common fucking decency.”

He stepped over her bloody face and walked to the train’s opening doors and got out.

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Don’t Trust Words of Encouragement from a Giant Squid

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

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When Bobby told his Mom there was a voice coming from under his bed, she interpreted it as a normal childhood fear; certainly there wasn’t really something under his bed. She never even checked. When Bobby told his Mom the voice was encouraging, nice even, she interpreted it as a sign of a healthy, normal imagination; nothing to be concerned about.

When Bobby insisted on wearing a towel draped around his neck to school, like a super-hero’s cape, his Mom was a little embarrassed, but she let it slide; let him be himself, she thought. When the school principal saw Bobby in his towel-cape, he smiled; another kid being creative, nothing to be concerned about.

In art class, when Bobby drew a picture of a giant squid under his bed, talking to him, its sharp beak bleeding, his art teacher was disturbed. She talked to Bobby about it. Sensing her concern, Bobby lied. No, he didn’t think it was real. Yes, it was just make believe. The kid was weird, beyond a doubt, thought the art teacher, but ultimately he was harmless; nothing to be concerned about.

When the school janitor saw Bobby go up the stairs, towards the roof, he was tired and angry. He’d spent his whole life putting saw dust on vomit and cleaning snot off of desks. He didn’t give a shit what the kid was doing on the roof. He soon regretted feeling that way, especially when he had to scrape Bobby’s dead body off the sidewalk.

When the media caught wind of the story, they condemned the school and his mother. How could they have missed the signs? Clearly they should have been concerned.

When the giant squid learned of Bobby’s death, it laughed. It never thought the kid would actually believe he could fly.

(c) Stanton McCaffery, September, 2013

My Captain Ahab Halloween

Posted in Essays and non-fiction with tags on September 9, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

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(Non-fiction)

It’s one of the earliest Halloweens I can remember. About a month or so prior, I was with my mom at our local public library. It was back in the days when you’d rent VHS’s from libraries.

They had a binder that showed images from the movies they had available. I was flipping through it while my Mom was talking to a librarian. I found a picture of some old angry dude on a ship with a fake leg holding a harpoon. I was enthralled immediately.

When I told my Mom that that’s what I wanted to rent, she said, “honey, that’s Moby Dick. Are you sure you want to watch that?”

I nodded an enthusiastic yes. The librarian looked at me – a seven year -old  –  like I had three heads.

I watched the entire movie and loved every bit of it. For weeks afterwards I walked around the house chanting, “death to Moby Dick.” I can tell you why I like that movie now, and I can tell you why I love the book it was based on, but I can’t explain why I liked it so much then. I was just drawn to it

When Halloween rolled around, I knew exactly who I wanted to be: that crazy dude with the leg made of bone; Captain Ahab.  My parents – both of whom were pretty nerdy compared to the other parents in our mostly blue-collar neighborhood – thought it was great. My Dad made me a fake whale-bone leg with cardboard and white spray-paint and a fake harpoon out of God-only-knows-what, and my Mom said on Halloween she’d dress as Ishmael – the narrator and only survivor of the story.  They bought me a top hat and a fake beard.

When Halloween finally arrived I wore my costume to school. I remember walking to school, and leaving my protective bubble, happy, but I started to feel a tinge of awkwardness when I noticed most of the other kids were wearing store bought costumes of pop culture icons such as the Ninja Turtles or Batman. I think that’s when I realized how itchy the fake beard was.

The real sweat inducing awkwardness –  the kind that makes a kid want to bust through the school doors and run home in tears – came when my first grade teacher walked from desk to desk asking each kid who they were supposed to be.

“Who are you?” she said when she got to my desk.

“Captain Ahab,” I said.

“I don’t know who that is,” she said.

“He’s from Moby Dick,” I answered, in a bit of a whisper, wishing she’d leave and talk to the girl next to me about her Care Bear costume.

“I’m sorry,” she said, sympathetically. “I’m not familiar with that show.” 

Now I’m sure many people have far more dramatic stories about their loss of innocence and when they first learned of the world’s true harshness, but this is mine. I was relieved, my interrogation was over, but I was a bit mystified. How had she not heard of Moby Dick? How does a teacher not know about Moby Dick? Did she really think I was a character from a TV show?  I swear to you this is not hindsight. I vividly remember these thoughts (even at age seven I was a bit of an asshole).

I felt out of place, misunderstood, and different from everyone else. I tried logic. She’s only one person, I thought. Surely, others would know who I was. I was wrong.

That night, my Mom and I went to a Boy Scouts’ Halloween parade and costume contest. She wore a wool hat and combat boots and kept repeatedly saying, “call me Ishmael.” I wore my costume – which was pretty drenched due to my nervous sweatiness. We walked around the inside of the old elks lodge together and then stood still for judging.

 I think I just wanted to go home and play Super Mario Brothers, so I wasn’t paying attention when my name was announced. I had won something. I smiled, which I hadn’t done all day, not since the early morning grilling from my teacher anyway. When I went forward to claim my prize – a king-sized Kit-Kat bar – I learned the category I’d won: most creative. The Boy Scouts pack leader had a microphone in his hand and when he handed me the candy bar he spoke into it and said, “the award for most creative goes to … (inaudible mutter)… for his Abraham Lincoln costume.”

The smile quickly left my face.