Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Disconnected: A Flash Fiction Eulogy



"You DON"T have to call me very day!" Walter slammed down the receiver. Holly was out of hand with her calls. He'd told her again and again that once a week was more than enough. Why was his eldest daughter so persistent?

All three of his kids hammered him about taking care of himself since Myrna had passed. What did they think he was trying to do, damn it?

He'd loved Myrna. Although he'd always been what she called "too gruff" for her, he knew she was just getting hung up on style. The substance of their marriage was what mattered, right? And he'd given her everything she'd wanted.

Now it was his time. Now he didn't have to deal with the rebuffs and the control, anymore. As much as he missed her, he enjoyed the freedom of not having to answer to his wife for everything he did. She had never gotten it through her head that being a stay-at-home, non-professional sort of woman, it was much more her job to defer to the needs of her very busy and accomplished husband. He hadn't become CEO of a nationwide chain like
Manley Hardware, by accident
!

Now, with his shares and discount still in place, he could buy anything he wanted, go where he wanted, bring anything into the house that he wanted. He'd finally bought himself some new tools, a set of pipes for his favorite tobacco, and a set of CDs with his favorite Swing music from the 40s. He'd hung a new cabinet in his downstairs shop and stocked it with new nails, screws, and bolts.

Why did his kids have to hound him and half ruin his nearly perfect, new life?

*****

Ah, two o'clock and time to head out. Some new steins for the fireplace mantle were next on his list of the things he'd been wanting for a long time.

"Son of a bistro-chef!" Walter hissed. "Where's my damned wallet?" Myrna would have found it for him, but then he would have had to be beholden to her for the rest of the day. That's how she was. She always wanted acknowledgement. He wouldn't have minded giving it to her if the things she had done had actually been in some way, important!

He opened the kitchen drawer, the one where he threw his wallet and keys those days he didn't bother walking as far as his desk in the den. Not there. Shoes on but not yet tied, he hobbled to his desk, opening one drawer after the other. Not there.

"Where the hell did I put my freaking wallet?" he boomed, so that his old male border collie, Shelton, slithered under the desk.

Walter was getting agitated. To make matters worse, the phone rang. "Again!!" he yelled.

He turned toward the living room and lunged for the receiver with a leap worthy an outfielder honing in on a high-fly ball. As he grabbed it off the shelf and hurled it to the floor, he tripped on Myrna's 4 x 5 foot oriental carpet, the burgundy and blue one with the coffee stain from his mother-in-law on the left-hand corner, and fell. He felt his thigh hit the floor and his knee bend--if knees could do that--within it's socket. In a moment he was writhing in pain. He lay there, stunned. The pain was in his right arm, too. Could it radiate all the way from his kneecap?

He reached for the receiver dangling a foot from his arm, but couldn't grab it. The darn thing hung there like a mad miniature bungee-jumper vibrating between the cliff and a hard landing. Grabbing for the phone again and again, proved futile. He tried to raise himself on his left arm, but that hurt too. "Ow!" he yelled. Was his dammed arm broken, too? He became exhausted and h
is movements gave way to a steady moaning.

Hours must have passed. Walter still lay on the floor. He was shivering now, probably from the sensation of icy cold that crept out from his knee and thigh and up to his spine, radiating out into his body.

"Holly!" he called out, full knowing she was neither present nor waiting on the other end of the phone line. Damn. Where were his kids when he really needed them? And that good-for-nothing dog Shelton was snoring under the coffee table, not the slightest bit concerned about Walter's plight.

Night fell. Walter was shivering uncontrollably, in spite of summer temperatures without the AC turned on. With his last ounce of strength, he summoned all his anger to push himself towards that phone. The wrinkled cord still dangled in front of him like unattainable treasure. This time he managed to raise himself just a bit on his right side and move maybe an inch closer to the boomeranging receiver. "Wanda!" he called again. "Dennis!" No one answered. No one was there.

Hours passed. Maybe a day or two. He didn't know. All he knew was that sometimes when he opened his eyes, the glare of daylight bored through his eyes and deep into his skull. Other times and more often, he felt he was in a kind of twilight when he managed to open his heavy lids. He wanted a hot dog and a cold beer, but that was out of the question. How could he make himself a meal if he couldn't get off the floor?

Lying in the dark in pain, his eyes filled with sudden tears as it dawned on him that he might die right there, alone, in a crippled heap of agony. Would any of the three of them call again? Not likely, as he'd told them all off in no uncertain terms, just the other day at Dennis' house when his wife Lori served up one of her over-spiced pasta dishes. No, they wouldn't call again for at least a few days....

Walter squinted in the dark, trying to get his bearings for a last look. He comforted himself by the thought that at least he would die surrounded by his favorite collectibles. Too bad he hadn't had time to purchase those new steins before his number was up.

Note to my readers: This is my first attempt at flash fiction. I wanted to write a short, short story that would convey some sense of character and some meaning, as well. I hope it kept your interest! I appreciate your taking the time to read it.


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