Bazooka 10

I wandered endlessly. I had thought I’d seen the city in the distance but now realized it was wishful thinking. The sun rose and set with the slightest breeze. I had no sense of direction, no food, water, or compass. Bound and all but gagged I tripped and fell far too many times to count.

“Is that where all these cuts and scrapes are from?” Officer Buck asked, smiling and pointing at the various shallow wounds covering my face and arms.

“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “Do you know how long ago this all happened?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

Anyways, I continued. In my poor, dehydrated, starved state I, by the grace of all that is good, stumbled upon a small caravan of nomads who were all too happy to help me in exchange for my clothes. See, they wanted to sell them. I was given some old hammy-downs made up of stitches more than anything. After the trade they gave me a ride back into town on their horse and buggy. We drew attention as I bid them farewell. From there I wanted to pay my apartment a visit, it seemed far too long since I’d been home, to change out of the smelly bit of cloth.

I walked through my door into a stranger’s home. Or maybe so much had happened I felt like a different person. I walked to where I knew the closet was and picked out some clothes that suited me. I thought while I changed. Back to Santa and Bonnie’s house. Back to her off-the-cuff solution to my problem. Back to who I was and what I was capable of. I looked around my home one last time and quickly left, hoping in the back of my heart to return with a lighter set of burdens next time.

I headed back to where it all started: the bar. The only place I could think of to pick up where I’d left off, to find some sense. In through the swinging doors I did a quick sweep of the room. Nope, no sign of anyone suspiciously large, tan, or cloaked in a oversized coat. Walking up to the bar I laid my hand on the counter and beckoned to the man behind it. I recognized him straight away as the man who had fallen victim to Shorty’s fist in the fight to uphold age-restriction laws. He did not recognize me until we stood face to face. He blinked, widened his eyes, and began slowly backing away. “Hey,” he said, holding up his hands. “I don’t want trouble.”

“Come off it, you see me in here all the time.”

“Then who was that girl, huh?” He bound back, leaning on the counter, closing the distance between us. “I’m told you were seen with her again the other day, eating ice-cream no less. I should throw you out right now.”

“Let me explain.” There must have been something in my eyes, my expression, for he relaxed his shoulders and pulled up a chair. As best I could I explained to him all I had learned and experienced. His sat expressionless, quiet like a good bartender should be, until the end. “So you, who gets his ass kicked by a girl and runs away, are going to go after the Big Daddy? The Grand Poobah? The One?”

“The one who stole my identity.” I scowled.

“Or the other way around. Depends on who’s older.” Smiling, the bartender turned away to pull a bottle of whisky from the top shelf. “I admire your guts, but you’ll forgive me if I say you won’t succeed.”

Fawn pt. 2

Molly and the faun walked several miles before coming to a forest she never knew existed. “How long has this been here?” She asked the faun, staring in awe at the great trees standing higher than any giant.

“As long as I’ve been alive; which has been a long time.” He said pointedly, stepping beyond the stark tree-line stretching for miles. If the outside of the forest seemed intimidating and cold the inside proved warm, spacious and bright. Molly deemed it a entirely new world, new even from her many dreams of fantasy. Colorful birds sang symphonies and flapped to-and-frow while flowers uprooted themselves and followed the pair as they walked along a neglected trail, waving their petals in dance as their tiny voices greeted and beckoned. Molly felt overjoyed at the sight and would have abandoned the pursuit of treasure all together in favor of staying in the forest a bit longer, but the faun scolded and pushed her on. Through to the other side they left the flowers at the forest’s edge, waving goodbye before coming to a great mountain a stone’s throw later, as tall and wide as a proud mountain should be.

But the grandness of the sight was distracted from by gnarly stems and thorns, blanketing the mountain in a dark, unfriendly coat. Only a small glimmer of red caught Molly’s eye, though she knew not how her eyesight carried so far up. At the very top of the mountain, amidst thorns mind you not forget so easily, gleamed a single rose, seemingly made of crystal.

“This is your treasure and your test.” The faun said quietly. “Climb the mountain to reach the rose and all your wishes come true.”

“But the thorns…” Molly started before an idea struck her. “Have you tried to climb this hill? This is where you got the thorn in your foot, is it not?”

“Certainly,” the faun answered plainly. “I have a great many wishes and would love to see them all fulfilled. But alas, I could not reach the top. Quite simply I am too big. But you are small enough to crawl through the stems and roots. But be warned do mind your footing. To fall off the mountain is to fall on a casket of thorns.”

Molly wished she could return to the forest to the singing birds and colorful flowers who moved when a breeze rolled by. In comparison, a lifeless piece of glass wasn’t much of a prize. But Molly knew better than to think she could turn back now. Walking to the foot of the mountain the faun brightly encouraged her onwards and upwards. Sighing, she grabbed a grey stem and hoisted herself up.

Slowly and carefully she wove herself over and between the great thicket. What felt like hours the faun assured were only minutes, occasionally sending her words of encouragement. “Surely he only wants this rose for himself,” Molly thought. “What if he’s only using me? When I have the rose he’ll steal it and leave me here alone.”

“Quickly,” the faun yelled, seeing her pause. “I won’t be able to reach you if you hurt yourself. Your bones will be toothpicks for vultures.”

The thought of being anything to a vulture was quite scary. Forcing her way up the mountain faster Molly neared the top and the rose was finally within grasp. Reaching out she brushed the nearest leaf with her fingers and she felt the ground shift beneath her. The thorns and stems came alive and rolled and bucked all over the mountain, seemingly fighting off the detected thief.

Desperately Molly grasped for the rose, but the stems gave a great heavy and she flew through the air. Head over feet she caught sight of one particularly nasty looking thorn heading her way and thought of her poor grandmother having to go without eggs because her granddaughter was scraps for vultures.

Molly opened her eyes. She found herself back by the dirt road with a half eaten plum in her hands. Realizing what happened she jumped to her feet and grabbed her basket of eggs. Running off down the road she scolded herself for wasting a perfectly good egg for such a dream. Fauns weren’t even real.

Fawn pt. 1

“Molly,” her mother called from their small cottage at the end of a road at the end of a town. “I gathered a dozen eggs for your grandmother. Take them to her will you?”

It is a universal fact that Grandmothers’ houses hold a sort of enchantment for children, so without further delay Molly threw on her shoes and pranced out the door with a basket of eggs tucked under her arm.

She made good time and before long was halfway. Her grandmother lived in the next town over, connected by a single dirt road everyone who wanted to go to-and-frow had to use. In the distance she saw a figure seemingly grow from the ground, but really only appeared over a hill. As he neared she could see it was a severely old man with a great white beard slung over his shoulder, even going so far as to trail on the ground even then. He held a knobby cane in one hand and a leather bag in the other. As they neared each other Molly smiled politely and nodded. “Good day to you.”

“Good day to you as well,” the man spoke in a voice made of wood ─ sturdy but creaky. “Would you happen to have a smidgen to eat? I haven’t eaten anything all day and fear I’ll soon perish.”

“All I have are raw eggs for my grandmother.” Molly said.

“That is fine,” he said. “I’ll take one.”

A bit baffled Molly took from her basket an egg and handed it to the elder, who swallowed it whole right then and there. “For your kindness I’ll repay tenfold. I am a seller of dreams you see.”

“What sort of dreams?” Molly asked.

“All sorts. Long ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones. Dreams which will make you laugh, dreams which will make you cry, and even nightmares, which really are a misunderstood breed. I’ll give you a dream for your egg.”

Molly saw no harm, so accepted the offer. The man pulled from his leather bag a plum, plump and full of juice. “Eat this and then take a nap. Your dream will come to you then.”

“What sort of dream will it be?” Molly asked in wonderment.

The old man chuckled. “There is no saying. Whichever dream is yours I suppose.” With that the two parted ways. Molly continued on a bit before stopping for a rest. She pulled from her basket some bread and cheese her mother had packed for lunch. Specifically setting the plum aside she thought she would use it that night, having no time for a nap at the moment.

As she sat and ate she watched the clouds overhead pass by, slowly at first and then faster and faster. She thought it odd as she had never known clouds to move so fast, but paid little mind. Looking back to the road she found a faun to have suddenly appeared there. He was a tall, wide man covered in moss and dried mud, with great curved horns and hooves for feet. The figure moved very slowly, albeit purposefully, down the road dragging one leg lamely behind with a painful limp as he made his way. “Excuse me,” Molly called from the tree. The faun noticed her for the first time and stopped. “What seems to be the bother?”

“A thorn is stuck in my toe,” he answered in a voice like that of a forest, vast and wise.

“Oh my,” Molly said. “Would you like some help removing it?”Standing quickly she dashed to aid the stranger. Sitting by the side of the road the faun squeezed his eyes shut as Molly’s small, nimble fingers were able to find and pluck the thorn, which had made its way deeply into the faun’s sole.

“Thank you,” he bowed to Molly. “As a good gesture I would like to repay your kindness with a turn of my own.”

“Why is everyone repaying me today?” Molly asked in awe. “It’s no problem at all for me to help here and there.”

“But still, you must let me do one simple thing for you.” The faun insisted. “A few throws away from here, in the forest over the hill, lies a great treasure. It is free for the taking. But there is always a great obstacle in the way, which has prevented anyone from reaching it thus far. I will help you reach the treasure.”

“Only if it won’t take long.” Molly said, thinking on her grandma. “But what sort of obstacle will it be?”

“I don’t know.” The faun said. “I hear it is different for each person who tries. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Pharmacy Times (based on a true story)

My coworkers filled up every available seat around the break-room table, chatting about this and that concerning their lives over lunch. Tuning into each conversation at random I caught the tail-end of something promising. “What was that?”

“Destiny?” Joanie asked. “She was crazy!”

“Go on,”

“Oh, she used to work here before you,” Joanie took a bite of her sandwich. “I was just remembering how she got fired.”

“What happened?” I pressed, knowing a good story when it dangled in front of me. My insistence caught the attention of the others and soon the room fell quiet, waiting.

Joanie sighed, pretending to be reluctant; but she set aside a fork and knife in favor of voice, clearly not too reluctant to be the center of attention for a moment or two.

“Destiny was a young girl of about twenty seven. She was nice but didn’t know how to keep her mouth shut. Genuinely a nice girl, but she could run her mouth faster than a jet plane. She was dating this guy, well, more like fooling around really. He had an actual girlfriend on the side you see, but Destiny could care less. When the girlfriend found out about the cheating, as she was bound to eventually, she called Destiny during work and they proceeded to bitch each other out over the phone for a half hour. Later we found out that night Destiny snuck over to this girl’s house and poured sugar in her gas tank. The next day Destiny calls her up and tells her she was the one who did it! Oh yes, the lack of brain cells starts to really come into play here. The arguing, more like screaming really, match between the two over this boy carried on for a whole ‘nother week. Finally Destiny told this girl she would fight her anytime, anywhere. She told her where she worked and said to meet her in the parking lot the dumb ass! Our manager at the time of course knew what was going on and warned her not to bring personal issues onto work property or she would be fired. After some talking Destiny agreed to handle her business elsewhere. The next day another girl who used to work here was walking out to her car and saw Destiny getting her ass kicked in the parking lot by a girl twice her size. Running to her car past the fight she called the manager, who was still in the building. Destiny was fired the next day.”

“Wow,” I said.

“Like I said,” Joanne took another bite of her sandwich. “Nice girl, she just couldn’t watch her mouth.”

“Moral of the story?” I asked.

“If you’re going to fight over a man, which is a useless thing to fight over really, do so down a long deserted gravel road in the dead of night with no witnesses.”

“That doesn’t seem like a great alternative.”

“Least you won’t get fired.”