It began to end for her with an empty glass. Just taking it out of the dish washing machine, all warm and sparkling and clean and sleek feeling—so sleek it slipped. As though her fingers had momentarily forgotten the concept of to hold. As though the sleekness was too overwhelming. As though something she couldn’t quite put her finger, or fingers, on occurred.
The glass did not float or acrobatically tumble. It rocketed straight down and exploded on the tiles of the kitchen floor scattering glass particles every which way. Fragments shot passed her feet, rolled toward the dishwasher, under the refrigerator, bits bounced up against the nearest wall, a major glittering mess from such a insignificant mishap.
Next her bottle of pills slipped. Medicine spilled everywhere. She would find hidden oval-shaped pills for days to come in the most unexpected places, usually where dust gathered. She tried to put her arm in one sleeve of a favorite blouse but missed and let go, thinking her arm was in there, and the blouse ballooned and floated, as the glass had not, to the ground, a brief odd-shaped parachute. She leaned over with a grunt to pick up the blouse and she dropped the two earrings she had been holding in her other hand. She watched both land, each one beside her feet, one left, one right.
Recently her husband had fallen out of love with her and dropped her for someone he himself had fallen for, her daughter had dropped out of university and was dropping out generally, and by the end of the week the family cat had dropped dead. Her eye-drops had gone missing. The bottom had fallen out of the stock market. There was a drop-off in the outside temperature. Flies were dropping … like flies.
At the one local bookstore that still existed she went to pick up a book on dropping things. She had been told such books were located in the Self-Help section, which she didn’t like the sound of. Yet there she found several books addressing the subject, however the prose of the first pages of each one came off as too cheery, too supportive and encouraging and so positive sounding she resisted. The book told lots of stories from all sorts of different people who dropped things and how they cured, or coped, with this minor adversity. The book was targeted at a general readership of those people who were loosing their grip.
While reading a further five books on dropping things she dropped a scissors that pegged her thigh briefly. Her glasses broke into two pieces and she’d taped them back together, and the neighbor’s tiny dog fell from the nest of her usually secure arms and the doggie never quite trusted her again. Five ink pens at five different times of the day dropped from her fingers, the last three of which she just left lying there on the ground, and she also dropped her guard and bought something over the Internet and she dropped her latest suiter, or would have, if she had had one, but that was just part of her general feeling of ineptitude going a bit too far.
It was when her little finger on her left hand dropped off that she thought that maybe, really, there was something not right to all this. She reached down to pick up her little finger — unlike the cap to the bottle of ketchup, her knitting needles, an electricity bill, a banana peel and some objects she couldn’t quite quantify and finally had just left laying about — yet just as she gripped her fallen little finger, the two fingers gripping the fallen little finger fell, and now she was, at last, deeply alarmed. She got down on her knees to study the situation closer and her right kneecap flopped off. Using her lips, she tried to scoop up one of the three fingers laying on the floor — no longer trusting her fingers to stay put where they belonged — but just as she retrieved one finger in her mouth, her lower lip dropped off.
When her head suddenly wobbled, then went points south and just plain bounced and rolled to a spot near the bedroom door, she let it stay there. Right next to one of those pens. The way her life was going, she figured she wasn’t going to need her head.
Five weeks later lazy neighbors thought something slightly sinister might have occurred inside the eerily quiet house on the street. One called emergency services. Someone from social services dropped by on their way home and knocked on the door, rang the bell, put his face next to a front window, clapping his hands around his face to see in but couldn’t see anyone. He called a real emergency number the following day.
People who dealt with emergencies arrived and forced open the front door. Subsequent television news reports called the discovery inside “The Woman Who Fell Apart”.
“Bits and pieces of a longtime city resident, a female, were found in different areas of the house. Sources close to the investigation stated that fallen objects ranged from loose eyeballs to whole toe nails. Foul play has not been ruled out. There are currently no leads,” reported the television news reader. Within twenty-four hours, this local news event failed to pick up national coverage, so the news item on the woman who dropped things was dropped.
Posts Tagged ‘fiction’
Recently had this story, from my forthcoming short story collection, Intimate Dialogues accepted for online publication by Fiction365.
It is called “Not Mama,” and you can read it by clicking on THIS LINK HERE.
Thanks for dropping by.
FIRST OF ALL: I have a short video greetings for 2011 if you want to have a look click here.
For those paying attention, all five of you, after serializing Brussegem, a snug hell during the last limping weeks of 2010, I’m looking at this as my publishing schedule for 2011:
THE BOY IN THE SANDWICH (children’s fiction)
HOW TO FIND YOURSELF (illustrated version)
Stories on Stuff (Dot Hippo – kid’s textiles)
THE NICE GUY (first novel)
SLICES (novel on business)
INTIMATE DIALOGUES (short stories)
Stories on Stuff (Polite babies)
THE NEXT GENIUS (Novel on artist)
THE BLUE SPOT IN MY HEAD (Part One in fictionalized trilogy)
Stories on Stuff (3 & 4 – kid’s for Christmas)
“The Boy in the Sandwich” will be presented for the world to lick and look at very shortly. Will be putting some free chapters online on a weekly basis, along with audio clips from the novel.
The comes the new, illustrated version of “How to Find Yourself (or a reasonable facsimile)”.
Maybe a couple of chapters of that, too (again), and me reading some chapters. Also free and weekly.
These two books were supposed to see the light of day toward the end of last year, but things got reshuffled and re-organized. The first “How to” book had to be fully reformatted and laid-out due to errors I wrote about somewhere in this blog during the last year. We can’t have that again, so took time to reorganize the publishing work flow. I thought each book would take three months from finished manuscript to launch, but there’s far too much to do properly; properly takes time. So now I’m aiming at a four month launch of each book, from final period to book available.
And adjust accordingly if that still doesn’t supply enough space & time. See whether I actually keep to the publishing schedule this year….
As I have had occasion to mention: I have well over a decade of experience in international publishing in one of the top three media companies. But it is one thing being part of a system, and being the whole system oneself. So refinement in my hidden people venture was called for. To Get It Right. And no doubt this, like life, will be an on-going process.
Beyond books, next up is a final setting up with audio book distributors as I have three audio books just about done and wanting life. Same with my Stories on Stuff T-shirts and textiles and whatnot spin-offs (with “Boy in the Sandwich” and “How to” coming fully born with illustrations…).
Meanwhile, I’m thinking up stories on t-shirts and for kid’s nightwear. Then I want to make a video, or write a play, or write a 300 word story. So that’s what I do: Whatever Comes Up Next.
Thanks for dropping by and reading. –Vincent
This is the official beginning of launching my short novel “Brussegem, a snug hell”.
I’ll have more info, background, wowie-zowie stuff come Wednesday, but for now, here’s the beginning of my audio book on this novel–soon to be on sale!–if you care yo have a listen. I’ll be posting audio from the first chapters over the next few months.
Brussegem, a snug hell, audio book, Part One, Chapter One
Thanks for listening, reading, being. -Vincent
My short-short fiction piece, “Interview with a cat: Don’t call me Fluffy” has proven to be popular story.
So after the story appeared (above), I made it into a Podcast/Audio clip.
Yet, maybe some out there would like to watch the cat face and listen, so now I have made it as a one shot video story.
Yep, stories come in all sorts of packaging around here.
Enjoy, and endure. Thanks for reading, seeing, listening. And leave a comment!
Just a little while ago I wrote and posted a short-short story (read HERE) about a cat complaining about human behavour towards his person.
It has been one of the more popular stories that I’ve posted. So I thought I’d start recording and posting some of my favorites and reader favorites from the “Noses in the House” stories.
And we’re starting with pissed-off Fluffy: Listen (and/or download) here: Don’t Call Me Fluffy!
It’s less than four minutes.
Enjoy and thanks for dropping by. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!
Continuing from last week, here’s the second part of a long chapter — the present excerpt lasts 16 minutes or so. The first part of this chapter appeared last Monday on this blog. Thanks for your interest, and hope you enjoy. Click below to listen or download this extract:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD AUDIO CLIP Self-Portrait of Someone Else – PART THREE – 2.2
Spring is in the air because my neck muscles are coming back.
Their return is due to a repetitive exercise that occurs around this time of year, primarily performed while driving in my car in the city or simply walking down the street.
This happens every year since I have lived in Belgium.
Suddenly, where once there were bulky overcoats, lumpy sweaters, long warming skirts, there are now t-shirts, there are short skirts, there are hugging jeans, there are less-is-more everywhere the eye can leer, and voilà, the female form, in all its flagrant permutations, left, right, coming at me, going by me, as my big eyes try to take in all this captivating new information, remembering, getting giddy. Yes, women do have actual bodies with actual shapes.
Like flowers all at once appearing everywhere on the sidewalk, the female form once again there, really right there.
This wonderment may fade with familiarity, within a week or two or three (or four or five), and I’ll be once again used to the female form returned from hibernation everywhere I look, as my neck muscles flex left, then right, as women come at me, go past me, firming, strengthening, informing me that Spring has truly sprung.
The cat was a stranger to us; a fully-grown calico I discovered on the street in front of this house where I was living back then. Corner of a semi-busy street. I was stretching, gazing out the window to see whether there was any interesting life out there, how the traffic was doing, and noticed something twitch in the gutter.
I opened the door, went outside, stood by the curb where a cat lay. It had been run over by a car, and its spine was hopelessly twisted. It jerked spasmodically. I examined it without touching. Bent closer to see.
One of its eyes was blinking and darting in horror and panic, while the other remained open, fully dilated and blank, not responding to light, not moving, much like a doll’s eye.
It had obviously suffered severe brain damage, yet parts of it continued to function.
I stood up from the animal, watching it pant.
A six-year old child of the woman I lived with at that time became a concerned though ineffective nurse. She brought the animal in off the street, found a box for it, lay the cat in there. She proceeded to sit over it in the living room and stare, respectfully, mournfully, waiting for it to die. It didn’t. She became bored with the beast in the box and left to find something more interesting to do.
The damaged cat became active. It managed to flop about, even climb out of the box and stumble a few paces. There was no semblance of a cat’s finesse remaining. It turned tortuously, the rear of its body bending to the left. It never meowed, or shrieked, whether from pulverized vocal chords or brain damage I had no idea. It tripped and struggled in aimless determination, falling on its snout or plopping on its hind quarters, then laying inert, panting, worn-out, unable to orientate itself.
First discovered in the morning, it was still alive by mid-afternoon.
The decision, adult and reasoned, was to destroy it.
In those days, there was very little extra money to take this stranger’s cat to a vet and pay for its humane extinction.
So the few other solutions remaining were considered. None of them good. I recalled having favorite pets taken from me in childhood by reasoning parents and gassed to death somewhere where I could not see it.
I followed in these traumatic footsteps.
I took the cat by the scruff of its neck from its tortured place on the floor, carried it to the kitchen and stuffed it into the oven. I closed the oven door, switched on the gas and left the room.
Returning later, I stood in the kitchen doorway, head cocked. I heard it within the gas stove: nothing, then a thrashing about. Reluctantly opening the oven door, it immediately flopped halfway out, mouth ajar, unmoving tongue stuck out, breathing, laying there. The undead.
Discouraged, dismayed, half of me impressed, even pleased, with its determined clinging to life; the other half of me impatient at its rude desire to keep panting on in spite of my faulty expedient of gassing it out of its misery.
So the next, last, foolproof alternative was taken: drown the panting bastard.
In the patio, after filling a large, yellow bucket with water, I wrapped an old dish towel round its head. Taking a big breath myself, I stuck the beast’s body deep within, head first.
At first, there was absolutely no reaction. Thank God it was going to go peacefully, quietly, quickly.
Then the first tremor of protest, followed by a panicked jerk. The body began quivering mightily and struggling, but with a lack of coordination or strength.
Upside down in the bucket, with a single hind leg that still functioned, the leg jerked upward with its claws out, kicking the air. It sought a hold to latch onto, to hoist itself clear. It sought survival still. I observed the wet hind leg continue to jerk in the air, seeking, trying. To this day, I still see vividly that single hind-leg kicking hopelessly in the air.
I kept its head pushed down toward the bottom of the bucket.
It quivered; I quivered—in a rush I reached into the bucket and snatched the towel away from its head to insure that all the water possible filled it lungs…. My hands were still plunged into the water, holding it down. There was horror, there was desperation.
Finally, it ceased to move; no bubbles rose from its mouth to pop on the surface. Its heart continued to quake under my hand in what I took to be spasms.
I stood back, letting it lay upside down in the water, all unmoving, its one now motionless rear leg still sticking out of the water. Still no bubbles, nothing stirred.
I lifted it out by its tail, laid it down, and then, saw under its fur the movement of its heart. I yelped and backed away. “Look!” I pointed, “Spasms–” and again – “They have to be spasms…”
I wrapped it in rags, dug a hole in the backyard, tossed it in, and covered it with dirt. I never dared check again whether its unobliging heart still beat on.