Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Satisfaction Guaranteed - chapter four

(go back to chapters one, two, or three)

Andy broke out in a sweat. His heart thudded painfully against his throat. He could hardly walk to the door. He had a sudden urge to pee.

"Sign here."

He signed, his fingers shaking, and slipping on the pen.

"You OK?"

He couldn't get his mouth to work, all he could do was nod. He looked around for the box, but all the UPS man had was a small brown package. That must be the control module, he thought, licking his lips. Or maybe it's for someone else. My box must be too heavy to lift. That's it! He'll need me to help him with it.

The UPS man handed him the package. It felt soft inside, like it held cloth.

Clothes! These were her clothes. Of course!

Andy followed the UPS man out to his truck, waiting for some indication of what to do. But the UPS man tipped his hat, said "So long," got into the truck and drove off leaving Andy standing there in the driveway, his mouth hanging open, holding the package.

He looked at the package. He looked at the rapidly disappearing truck. This couldn't be it. He looked at the return address. "Ace Mail Order Brides" it said. And marked on the package in bold block print, it also said, "Fragile. Handle with care."

Inflatable? he wondered. Did I spend $189.95 on an INFLATABLE BRIDE? Andy wanted to scream. He wanted to rage and kick and break things. But he didn't. He walked slowly into the little house holding the brown package. He put it down on the table and stared balefully at it.

I'll send it back, he thought. They'll return my money or I'll sue their butts off. I'll... I'll... kill those motherfucking con artists! Just as he was working himself into a frenzy of violence, the package moved.

Or something inside of it did. He looked at it, all thoughts of extreme violence forgotten. The package moved again. he heard a small scratching sound.

He reached out his hand slowly to touch the package. He poked at it with a finger - nothing. Then the seal began to separate. The package was opening itself. And there before his eyes unfolded a beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful table cloth of tawny gold. It shimmered and spread itself out, almost covering the table. Then the eyes opened. Large deep brown eyes set into the thickest part of the "table cloth."

Andy reached out to touch it to see if it was real. The edge of the cloth lifted and traveled warmly up his arm. "Draped over my arm," he thought, remembering the descriptions he'd so painstakingly written, "a vision of tawny gold."

The edge of the "tablecloth - that was all he could think of to call it - reached around his neck and fiddled with his ear. It felt delicious. He tried to ignore how nice it felt.

"Do I please you?" she purred.

Andy was speechless. She was a tablecloth for crying out loud! A talking purring tablecloth. Of course he wasn't pleased. Was he?

The "cloth" lifted off the table in a light graceful motion and settled around his shoulders. Brown eyes stared at him from his arm, and he could see that the edges of this strange creature were fingers, like fringe. And while some of those fingers were still playing gently with his ear, others had found more personal places, and soon she had wrapped herself warmly all around him.

"Do I please you?" she purred, and a thousand fingers took off his clothes.

Andy made a sound deep in his throat. One thing was sure, he probably wasn't going to send her back just yet.

* * *

Sometimes change happens slow, like moss growing on a rock -- the years go by and you don't notice until suddenly it's there, moss covered and looking like it's been there for centuries. That's how it was with the tumble down house out by the dump. No one paid much attention, and gradually the grass grew, flowers bloomed, shutters were fixed, and the paint on the trim shown like spit polished boots.

And Andrew Deacon Tritus didn't drop in at Floyd's on Saturdays anymore. He'd drive into town in the car he'd built, pick up his groceries, and smile when Leona May said that he sure did eat a lot for such a skinny young man.

Only the children had a notion of strangeness on the outskirts of town when summer afternoons would sometimes find them running home, eyes big as saucers, shouting about a golden tablecloth leading a small group of shimmering doilies on a rambling flight in and around the mounds of debris in the Willard County Landfill.

~the end~

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1 Comment:

Daniel B. said...

Well, I truely did enjoy it. It could use a little editing and in my opinion a little extending or reconfiguring on the end but overall I could see this story in the New Yorker. I really could, I think they would appreciate it also.

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