The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Itchin’ For Some Fiction pt. 6- Pressure

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Readers: Hey… I’m finally getting this blog to look the way I want, all courtesy of WordPress For Dummies (which does not have my picture on the front!). I hope you dig the new look.

Also, here’s the debut of fiction on The Seeker. It’s the piece of flash fiction I was talking about in Itchin For Some Fiction pt. 5. I hope you enjoy it– I had a lot of fun writing it. Don’t worry… it’s short!

Pressure

By Jeff Burd

It smelled like lemons in Will’s car. He had bought a lemon cream pie at a bakery, and it was sitting on the passenger seat of his Buick as it rattled down the street. Will loved the thick sweet smell of the pie and pulled it in with deep breaths. He wanted to dig his finger into the succulent dessert and scoop out a bit of the gooey yellow filling. Instead, he took a long drink from a quart of beer he picked up at a package store next to the bakery. He had never grown used to the taste of beer, as so many of his friends had within a few years out of high school or during college for those who had gone. But this afternoon, the carbonated bite and taste of barley were welcome sensations.

Sitting at a stoplight, he watched water crash down the gutter at the curb across the street. A guttural gurgling sound echoed from a grate where the run-off disappeared, dragging shreds of paper and plastic bottles and cigarette butts with it. A broken tree branch was stuck awkwardly in the crossbars of the grate. Its leaves wavered helplessly under currents of water that washed over them.

Will had passed several sanitation crews since the bakery, each clearing a mess from the storm that had pounded the town overnight. There were power lines and trees down in a dozen places, but the sun had been out for hours, a breeze was blowing, and the crews were intent on their tasks. Before long, the only memory of the storm would be in newspaper headlines.

Will turned left at the light, and then left again on the street where his house stood four blocks down. The pie was there next to him, smelling heavenly, the same way Lenora had when he was still courting her, as Will’s grandfather liked to say. Funny word, courting. It’s old fashioned. It was funnier still that court was exactly where their relationship was heading. Will pulled to the curb behind a dozen cars that branched out from his driveway. The garden club had arrived, each woman parking in a polite line down the street. Will took another long swig of beer, grabbed the pie, and stepped out of the Buick.

He was halfway to his house when he saw Dennis’ car parked on the left side of his driveway. He returned to the Buick and rumbled in cockeyed next to the maroon Sebring convertible. He put the pie on the hood of the car, chugged the rest of the beer, and tossed the bottle into the back seat. He could feel his bladder pulsing against the wide belt at his waist. It felt for a minute like he would lose control of it. Grabbing the pie again, Will walked down the sidewalk that led to his back yard.

He was one step inside the gate when Dennis saw him. “Will. What are you doing here?” He sounded like the lord of the manor and Will had no business on the grounds. It was the same tone he used last night when Will tried to talk to Lenora on the phone: “Will? What does he want?”

He wanted to talk to Lenora about their marriage. To apologize for his shortcomings. To tell her he wanted to help her with the garden. To hear the voice that used to make him smile.

Instead, he got Dennis’ voice in the background, animating Lenora like a puppet master. “Tell him you’re busy,” he called out. “Tell him you’ve got to get the roses ready for the garden party.”

Then, Lenora’s voice: “I can’t talk. The roses have to be ready for tomorrow. Me and Dennis, we…”

We. It had been “we” in the six months since she went to Dennis’ roses lecture at the library. He called the next week, and that’s when it began. Lenora and Dennis. Dennis and Lenora. The garden club. Home and Garden shows. Greenhouse tours. You wouldn’t be interested, Will… it’s not your thing… it’s just me and Dennis and some of the garden club ladies… Then it was Longaberger baskets. Tastefully Simple. Trade in the Saturn for a VW. There was talk. Dennis and Lenora straying behind the others on a garden walk, whispering and giggling. Lenora and Dennis sipping Margaritas at the flower shop boutique. An old man at the hardware story scratched his head and supposed that maybe they were wrong about Dennis’ preferences.

“We have to talk, hon,” Will said.

“I don–.” Lightning flashed outside. The line went dead. The storm had finally begun. The clouds had clustered and collided for hours, pressing the air down on the houses and trees and people who fitfully eyed the roiling mass looming over them.

“Well?” Dennis demanded. A handful of garden club ladies turned and looked at Will from beneath the floppy brims of their hats. “What do you want?”

Will’s heart thumped. His bladder pulsed. He used the most timid and innocent voice he could. “I bought this pie for you.”

“That’s for me?” Dennis’ brow furrowed. He extended his hands and stepped to Will.

“Yes.” When Dennis was point-blank in front of him, Will twisted his wrist in one quick tic so that he wasn’t carrying the pie in his palm but pushing it with the force of his arm. He smashed it into Dennis’ face. Whipped cream smothered the mug that Will despised. Thick yellow filling splattered against Dennis’ white shirt and tie and seersucker blazer.

A garden club lady gasped and fanned herself furiously with her gloved hand. Another stammered, “How rude!”

Lenora was across the yard but had seen what happened and rushed to Dennis with a paper towel. “Will! You didn’t need to do that!”

“You’re one to talk.” Will pushed past Lenora to the platform that had been set up using his tools. Dennis had neatly placed a dozen different rose arrangements around the little raised stage. Other garden club ladies had been cooing over them, but turned to see the commotion and were now watching Lenora as she wiped lemon cream from Dennis.

“Call the police!” Dennis shrieked between wipes. “He’s an animal!”

Will looked back at him over his shoulder as he loosened his belt and took down his zipper. A minute later, he had sprayed most of the rose arrangements and the platform.

By the time he had adjusted his pants, Lenora was at his back. She clutched his arm and spun him around to face her. Her eyes blazed. “What are you doing?”

“The same thing you did.”

Their eyes locked. Color engulfed her face. She stuttered to say something, but couldn’t get it out. Will smiled, and then strutted to the gate. On the way back to his Buick, he heard a chorus of protests from the garden club. One indignant voice sounded above the crowd, and it replayed in his head as he drove back to his parent’s house: I knew those two couldn’t be trusted with this. Will agreed.

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Written by seeker70

April 26, 2010 at 12:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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