Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Short Story that You Can Pretend to Derive Meaning from If You Feel Like It

A man was found dead on the front stoop of his house. His body was sprawled across the steps, an empty bag clutched to his chest as though it had some special significance to him. The contents of it (groceries) were vomited out across the landing. It rather looked as though the guy had simply tripped on his way up the stairs and then never gotten up. He had lived next door to me.

"God wanted that man dead," my mother proclaimed from the recesses of her couch.

"Are we playing the part of God today then, mother?" I asked, turning from the window to face her. She was not, of course, facing me back.

"A man up n' dies like that 'e likely deserves it," she said, her eyes affixed to the television screen.

"Like what? He died of natural causes." I had put my hand out in an effort to demonstrate my incredulity at her previous statement, realizing at the same time that any sort of emoting was wasted on the back of a head.

"Natural causes! Pthahnk!" This sound was the combination of some kind of snort coupled with a half-assed attempt at a rasberry. A piece of a cheese curl went flying out of her mouth along with this exclamation. "Couldn't 've been more th'n fifty." She raised her hand up to her mouth to shovel in another batch of junk food.

"All right, it wasn't old age. All the same, it was a heart attack or something. There wasn't any lightning involved or anything." I turned back to the window, thinking I should probably be reading a book.

"Well, what caused the heart attack then?" I turned back to her.

"I dunno, mom. Maybe he sat around all day eating Cheetos." This elicited a slight rocking motion from her Liberty Bell-like figure. This gave me the slightest hint of a shock. The times at which she made any sort of movement whatsoever were so few and far between, I was recently under the impression that she had officially merged with the furniture. I would call it a symbiotic relationship but I don't think couch actually needed her.

"Heard 'e beat 'is wife," she said.

"Who'd you hear that from, mom?"

"Frannie."

"Uh-huh."

"Down the street."

"Yeah, Frannie from down the street. I know her. Just finished a lesson on her in history."

"All I'm sayin' is," she expelled a significant amount of air as though what was coming next was going to be horrendously profound, "He din't wanna know nobody 'round here. My neighbors know me. He din't even care nobody knew him. We here on this earth ta in-ter-act with people."

"Frannie seems to think he interacted with his wife pretty good."

"God wanted that man dead," she said, nodding her head up and down as though her argument had been concluded concretely, "'n I can't says that I blame 'im."

I blinked twice. Suddenly, there was a crash of thunder, drawing my head back around to the window. Without hesitation, it began to pour heavily.

"Aw, hell, ma," I said, "God's up and started a gang war."

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