Discover more from Backroads Driving/Windows Down
And so you're off, onto a state route that weaves through miles of countryside...
An unpublished short story
Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a grand opening of BACKROADS DRIVING/WINDOWS DOWN. It was all online and nothing too fancy. We’re never Away From Keyboard anymore (lol) but maybe I’ll have a little cake or something…
The most pleasant surprise was that two of you awesome people evolved into paid subscribers. Contributions like this feel like a treasure dug up in the sand. I seriously cannot thank you all enough for hopping into this party bus with me.
So, I had a poll on Instagram depicting what I should post for this week. Out of 4 options, 50% of the vote went to an unpublished story. I am abiding by the results.
Below is a flash fiction piece. A personal favorite in my unpublished queue…right here, right now. The main event begins in a few seconds.
And believe me, this is quite an event. You may not be able to take your eyes off it…
BIRTHDAY KILLING ROOM
He was only a year old when he made his first confirmed kill. I made it my prime directive to make a space of one’s own for his second birthday. For him, I built a killing room. The multiple trips to Lowe’s with the saggy-vested cashiers. Bundles of 2x’s, drywall sheets, and tile purchased. I am a vassal, tasked by my king. To be under the radar, I paid in cash. A few hours ago, I visited the pet shop for one unfortunate victim. Wow, how excited he was. The leaping, the gnashing, the sound of murder in his trill. Something visceral, something special.
He bounds toward the king’s private entrance. A small door which I let him in and swiftly lock the gate. The victim is already inside with nowhere to go. I watch nature and instinct unleash through the portal. The whole process takes three minutes. But to the kind and his wild hunt, time is not a thing. A tiny whimper turns to a shriek, and then nothing more. Only one animal remains.
He soon returns to the door. Matted paws a saturated maroon. A lick of it off his chin and it's gone. The killing feast awaits his highness. His eyes are smokey marbles behind the flap. With the flip of the latch, he bounds through the plane. From his augmented reality to the one he calls his own. He sits on the rug of champions. It’s a towel of WWE wrestling legends. I wipe him down. He bumps my arm with his head. The first of many victories, I imagine. I am his knight. I earn his title.
But what of the killing room? It is but a reimagined mudroom. A backdoor bolted shut, and plywood chunks over a small windowpane, there was no audience. Slick, subway tile lines the floor, grouted white. They cascade up the walls to knee height. Drywall to finish. A single LED bulb of the purest white is mounted to the ceiling. It is as much a room as it must be. Yet, it shall only be a space for storage for 364 more days. One thing I like about the killing room is that it forces you to peer where the action happens.
The fallen participant remains inside a Kubrickian cell. Blood spatter distracts my eyes from the smells of fresh death. The contrast of brown fur is eerie, too. The limp tail and a twist of the spine. The abdomen of beige torn asunder. Oozing the viscera that organizes life in everything. I wonder if it called for its mate or family. Or if it had neither, a god, whatever a mouse believes in. The living body is celebrated until the rot sets in, the jester would say right now. I lift the dangling corpse. Buttery innards snap from gravity and plummet to the tile. It will soon become entombed in something soon.
One thing I like about the killing room is that it forces you to peer where the action happens.
The festivities do not falter. This whole time, a salmon fillet was cooking. The stove timer rings. A garnish with gravy and a dash of salt. No rubber dish today. This celebration calls for the finest porcelain plate. Hand-crafted and gilded by my grandmom many decades ago. It glistens under the glazed range hood. If I look hard enough, my reflection appears. I like to think she was happy. I like to think she would approve of this feast.
Boomba stands on sturdy hindquarters. Reveals his royal crest: an abstract owl upon his stomach. His front legs extend with claws protruding. He splintered a nail in the melee. A birthday trim and bath are tomorrow. For now, the king must recharge. He is famished from the hunt. I resist a tease. To hover a sample like an alien spacecraft hover. Wafting fish tantalizes his primal nostrils. I shove two unlit candles into the bubbling fish. I light them with a nearby lighter, then pocket it for later. Surely will need a smoke soon.
I sing a bastardized Happy Birthday as he continues to meow between beats. I cut the song short, blow the candles out, and stoop down. His head is a missile seeking nourishment. His mighty teeth perform loud, mucky chomps. Mews of carnal pleasure ensue. I watch a shred of pink meat fly off the plate. His paw pulls it back. Not a single shred is wasted. My back returns to stasis and I crave a cigarette. Hunger besieges me as well. Something to reward myself.
I creep outside and latch the door quietly. A thief in the halls is better left undetected. I fumble through my cigarette pack to find only two remaining. I light one and walk to the Royal Farms. I grab a chicken meal, a soda, and a pack of Newport’s. My card declines, so I reluctantly take the cigs off. The royal coffers are empty now. I tell the listless cashier it’s my cat’s birthday and they say nothing in return. If I alert the king, he will surely condemn this punk to death.
Mews of carnal pleasure ensue. I watch a shred of pink meat fly off the plate. His paw pulls it back. Not a single shred is wasted.
I return home and Boomba paces around my legs. Two bodies create friction, fusing life, and love, as static. I remove the cleared plate and put it into the sink. Only the skin remains. 364 more to go until the next. A spring chicken will suffice. But for me, I go to town on my own greasy, fried chicken. I shovel food down my gullet like a filthy peasant. I belch and discard some of the fries. I eye the grease-stained box. It is a perfect coffin.
Boomba wipes his jowls and jumps onto the couch. I pet the stripes along his back, and he arches. I apologize to him for not having the money for a spa day. The king then curls into a semi-circle and drifts to sleep. His hand does the dirty work behind the curtain. I pry the mouse off of the killing room floor and plop it into the cardboard. The blood has dried, and the organs are shriveled some. I eye the shovel that was initially inside the killing room. My hand instinctively pulls out the last cigarette. One last task, milord, I say to no one and nothing at all.