Pratt in 3E
It would be ever so foolish of you to be enamored by Pratt’s boyish good looks, the great hair, the fuzz-free wool suits and the meticulously shined shoes.
You shouldn't be drawn into that sweet, even-keeled voice, flat without inflection or regional accent. Don’t trust the dry handshake that is not too soft, not too hard. Or the smile that seems warm, but is practiced and composed, nightly.
Because playing in Pratt’s mind are grainy-color 16mm home movies of the most violent sort. Bloody decapitations, chemical-burned flesh. Screams of mercy bluntly cut off. Torture of an underground sort that a majority of the population can’t even begin to fathom. This is where Pratt excels; he relishes his time alone with guests, entertaining in his very own way.
Pratt keeps it together only outside the expensive loft; a dwelling devoid of most home furnishings – and one that does not contain his real name on the lease.
But once inside, expertly installed refrigeration and extensive sound-dampening allows Pratt to create, in real time, the visions in his head.
ThomG / Thursday, April 28, 2011 / 14
The cigarette smoke came out of her lips like car exhaust, floated around her streaked-blonde hair and dissipated into the warm summer night.
He’d promised her a life of luxury, if only she’d keep her mouth shut – and her legs open. She’d fought him every step of the way, and when she turned up preggers, that’s when he bolted, took his interests and money elsewhere, up and fucking disappeared on her.
The money she saved helped her to buy this trailer, a single-wide, but in decent shape.
The seed he’d given her, well, Daria, she’d be here any day now.
ThomG / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / 3
The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cleanse, knead and melt.
She’s Working the Express Lane
He grips the black plastic basket, even though it’s already on the rubber conveyor belt in the 15 Items Or Less lane complete with a couple of those gray rubber bars to mark where your purchases begin and end; the stranglehold he keeps on the folding plastic handles is a defense in case someone behind him in line counts up his items and tattles. In that case, he can just bolt, make a small apology and queue up in a regular line with some light damage control.
He’s way over the 15 Items Or Less suggestion. There’s a gallon of 2 percent milk, a loaf of artisan bread, the bacon-flavored dog treats, six apples (he’s never sure where produce fits, is a bag one item, or is each apple an item?), grape tomatoes (two packages for $3.99), butter lettuce, bananas, olive oil, a half-pound of the honey-glazed deli ham (on sale for $4.99 a pound), a box of maple-flavored granola and the energy bars.
He’s totally sweating the energy bars; three for $1.98, there were four flavors to choose from. He picked up 12.
That takes him way over 15 Items Or Less quota and he shifts his gaze, tries not to look suspicious.
She’s got her bowtie cocked suggestively, like she always does, and a lock of golden-brown hair hangs over her right eye, which she is forever trying to tuck behind her ear. Her white shirt is crisp as always, and he blushes as he traces the delicate lacy bra underneath. The heavy brush of eyeliner, he thinks, makes her blue eyes even more brilliant.
She meets his gaze and smiles. He melts, a little.
She greets him by name, although he wishes she’s drop the Mr. Debow and just call him Mike, as he calls her Lana, which is what the red plastic nametag says on her black apron.
She’s good at small talk, asks if he’s tried the energy bars he’s loaded up on; he fumbles and says something stupid about being on sale and something about being a good thing he can keep in his desk drawer at work.
Money exchanged, she informs him that he’s saved $4.67 on this trip and did he need help out?
“I’ve got it, Lana, thanks just the same” and kneads the white plastic handles of the grocery sacks for a better grip and moves toward the exit.
“Well, you have a great day, you hear,” she says, already beginning to ring up the next customer.
And he’s buoyed by this and remembers that he’s totally forgotten the powdered cleanser, the one item the wife reminded him to pick up – by text and voicemail – on his way home.
And he’s already practicing the conversation he'd like to have with her, in the 15 Items Or Less line, in just a few minutes.
ThomG / Thursday, April 21, 2011 / 11
Mother’s convinced he’s some sort of mad scientist, mad being the evident word she’s concerned about, but so far he’s been pretty harmless. Sure, there’s been a few spot electrical fires and some odd smells now and again.
The stuff he invents? Processes and applications mostly, a few upgrades to small appliances. Nothing I would consider really all that useful to increasing our material wealth. I mean, we’re still living in the three-bedroom ranch house he and my mother built in 1963, hello.
His workshop takes up a 10-foot by 12-foot room he partitioned off in the basement near the washing machine. For some reason when he’s working and my mother needs to run a load of laundry, we tend to trip a lot of breakers and go black for a few minutes. I don’t get to see the electric bill, but I’m sure it’s pretty outrageous.
I go to get a clean shirt from the dryer and he slides open the big metal pocket door and motions to me with two excited fingers into his “laboratory.”
“I think you’ll find this quite interesting,” he says.
There’s this metal halo sitting on the particleboard workbench, like one of those things you see on guys who broke their necks in motorcycle wrecks, or jumping drunk into the shallow end of a pool. You know, the thing that gets screwed onto the guy’s skull with medical screws.
“It’s a time machine.”
“No, I mean it. It works and everything.”
“Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? You can go back in time, but not forward. And for all of 22 minutes, exactly.
“Just for fun, I went back to last Tuesday.”
“For 22 minutes? Wow. (I stifle a yawn.) What did you do?”
“Well, you know how all you read about time travel is ‘Don’t mess up the time/space continuum crap?’ Don’t change things, don’t leave things, don’t step on anything - and Hell’s Bells don’t meet yourself?”
“It’s all bullshit, an illusion. I changed everything. It was breakfast – you weren’t up yet – and I had Grape Nuts instead of oatmeal, tea instead of coffee, even told your mother I liked that hideous chicken dish we had on Monday, asked if she would make it again.”
“Wild,” I say while pulling on my eyebrow hairs with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
“Wanna try it?”
Now I’m stuck. Tragically stuck, 'cause he's sitting there, smiling and all, with his glasses pushed on top of his forehead.
“Can I take a shower first? I mean, I wouldn’t want to show up anywhere in the past with this serious case of bed-head.”
“Well, hurry up, I was planning to go back and watch the end of last Sunday’s ‘Cold Case’ you forgot to TiVo for me. Before I mow the lawn.”
Normally, I steer well clear of the things in my father’s lab, but there is something I’d like to correct.
And just so you know, just in case he sends me to the late Cretaceous Period or something and forgets how to reel me back, it’s about our last conversation:
ThomG / Thursday, April 14, 2011 / 11
The words over at Three Word Wednesday are adamant, fabricate and peculiar. This is a re-working of an older piece.
She puts up a hurried, manicured hand up on the corner of Fifth and 55th, near the St. Regis.
I edge my Yellow Cab over. It’s 10 past midnight.
“Pier 84,” she says. “Near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum?”
“Little late for a museum tour.”
She looks out the window and waves a her hands, adamant that we leave.
I start the meter and give an eye to the fare.
She’s model beautiful, tall, willowy. Dark, wavy hair, skin like heavy-bond paper, bone. Simple black dress, something off-shoulder. I adjust the mirror and I can see skin, the elastic top of her thigh-high black hose. Blood-red nails match her lipstick. A simple diamond pendant rests in the little hollow of her neck. The diamond (a karat at least) is in a silver setting – platinum probably – and it matches her diamond stud earrings perfectly.
“Pretty rough place, at this hour.”
“Your tip depends on your speed in getting there,” she says, as she taps out a Morse-code text on her mobile, without looking up.
The pier is submerged in a greasy darkness. I through the cab into park with a lurch.
“Wait here, and for God’s sake, turn off your headlights,” she says as she exits in the harsh light of the dome light.
She doesn’t venture very far.
And hikes up her dress, squats and releases a stream of piss a drunken sailor would have been proud of.
Thing is, it’s the color of Mountain Dew. How do I know? It fucking glows. The entire, spreading puddle between her expensive heels.
There’s a goddamn sound, too, fucking peculiar. Then I get it – it’s like the Snap! Crackle! Pop! of a giant bowl of Rice fucking Krispies.
She stands and whistles in relief as she shimmies the dress over her hips, clicks back to the cab in heels on concrete and settles herself back into my cab.
I open my mouth and she puts a finger to her lips.
“Let’s just say it puts the other girls off,” she says. “It’s so much easier to fabricate a story, take a little ride with a lovely cabbie such as yourself. Take me back to the King Cole Lounge, if you please.”
And brings her angelic face to the partition.
“And, Jimmie, is it? Might you have a card? I suspect I’ll need one more break before dawn.”
ThomG / Wednesday, April 06, 2011 / 11
Thom Gabrukiewicz is both a communicator and a writer of flash fiction. Most of what he writes is kind of dark, with occasional forays into the light.
He’s a winner of some awards and has covered two Winter Olympics. He’s also written a guidebook about hiking with dogs.
He’s fiercely loyal and has a malevolent side that seems to visit less and less. He’s both a hopeless romantic and a realist.
He's currently working on community wellness issues in Wyoming.