Tag Archives: short story

Probably the Most Contrived Story You’ll Ever Read

A rose and an open book

On my last post I provided a list of 21 really bad analogies (or mostly similes, but whatever). A few commenters suggested I should write a story incorporating all 21 of them. At first I scoffed at the idea, but then I pondered on it and decided to take up the challenge! I’ve made the font green for all 21 so that you can easily see how I’ve included them. I give you…

The Case of the Unsolved Mystery, Like a Mystery that Remains Unsolved

Some say it was fate that they ended up seated together that night in London. You wouldn’t believe it if you’d seen them but John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. They were strangers before that night and yet there they were together, laughing and chatting like old friends. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. I sat two rows behind them. I was drawn to them, compelled to listen in a way that unnerved me. When the curtain went up, they became silent and I turned my attention to the stage. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant. It was breathtaking, and for forty-five minutes I was focused on the stage alone.

The applause signalled the end of the first half. John stood. He was tall. My guess is that he was as tall as a 6’3″ tree. But as soon as he moved I could see that he was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

“Gee, you’re like really sort of like tall ain’t ya!” she said. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. Yet as I listened to her talking about the first half of the ballet, I could tell that her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It was an interesting juxtaposition. I moved with them as they walked to the end of the row.

“I should probably look for my wife,” he said. There was a sense of reluctance to his words. I studied her face as she turned away from him towards the back of the theatre. I could see that her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center, and they glistened with moisture that spoke of intense disappointment.

“Yeah,” she said. “S’pose you should.” I could tell that it hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

“We said we’d meet in the attic bar during the interval,” he said pointing at the staircase that led up to the attic bar. The staircase was set in a wall at the side of the auditorium. The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. “Perhaps you could join us if you…” he trailed off, uncertain of his own suggestion.

“Don’t fink that’s a good idea, she might like, you know, get the wrong idea or someink,” she said.

“Perhaps you’re right,” said John. “Actually no. Do come. I’m grateful for the mix-up with the seating this evening because I got to meet you. I’ve actually had the loveliest time I can remember for years. To tell you the truth Mary, my wife has been cheating on me and so I don’t care what she thinks! Can you believe it? 30 years of marriage and it might all be over!” Seeing the surprise on Mary’s face I could tell the revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM. She wasn’t sure how to respond.

“How’s did yous twos, like, you know, meet and stuff?”

“I was a boxing promoter back then. One day she walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs. She had her brother with her, a young man with great promise. She’d heard I was good and wanted me to help his career. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. I took him on, and-” John was in the middle of his story when from the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

“What was that?” Mary instinctively reached for John’s arm. I couldn’t help but notice that John didn’t look surprised by the noise. And maybe I even saw a slight smile. Maybe.

They ran up the stairs to the bar and I followed. A small crowd had gathered around the body of a woman. I heard the words, “She’s dead.”

I pushed my way through. “Let me through!” I said, “I’m a lawyer.” Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master. Blood pooled around her head, and next to her was a broken lamp. The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object. Somehow I knew right away that the woman was John’s wife.

A voiced pierced through, “It was him!” The barmaid pointed at John. “It was him! He hit her over the head with the lamp, and then ran off, I saw him, he killed her!” As if to punctuate her words, a clap of thunder rumbled outside. The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play. Others nodded and pointed, “Yes, it was him! It was him!” The voices were unified in their accusation.

Mary shook her head. “No, no! He’s been wiv me all night, it can’t be him, he’s been wiv me I tell ya!”

I gave John my card, “You’re going to need a defence lawyer,” I said. “Call me.” He took my card and nodded. Some say he must have had a twin, but they never found one, nor did they ever find any other evidence to support the witnesses and so John walked free. He and I kept in touch. John and Mary had become close after that fateful night. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef, and before long they were lovers. And yet their love was doomed. Not six months after their relationship began to blossom, Mary’s mother, who lived in New York, died, and Mary was forced to move there to take care of her younger sister.

That could have been the end of John and Mary except for one thing. Black Friday. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools. John had heard of Black Friday, and as an avid shopper, told me he had decided to make the trip from London to New York to scoop up some bargains. He had not long arrived when he chose to take a stroll through Central Park. In the distance, across the grass, he saw her. She saw him. They were motionless for a while, each unsure of what to do, and then they ran. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They spent a joyous afternoon together in Central Park, running and laughing. They bought food and sat at the edge of the Turtle Pond to eat. John made a boat out of his sub wrapper. “This is our love,” he said, “drifting and free, where will it go?” He set the boat on the water and gave it a push. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

Some say John confessed to the killing of his wife that afternoon. Some say that’s why Mary walked away and told him she never wanted to see him again. Some say that. But he couldn’t have done it…could he?

THE END.

Paper boat

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photo credits:
Atilla1000 via photopin cc
John-Morgan via photopin cc

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