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Imiani
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An Archive of Collected Words

Like a lot of folks who play RPG's I dabble in writing a little bit. I'm not consistently prolific, so I usually strike while the creative iron is hot. This is probably why the stories I write tend to be so short.


To start, a drabble (story that's exactly 100 words long).

"To Hang the Stars"

All alone, at the top of the world, you’ll find a bright eyed young man with skin whiter than the arctic snow and hair blacker than space.

Each day, at the setting of the sun, he begins his nightly task. Up a rickety ladder he climbs, to hang the stars and light the darkening sky. Upward, past where birds dare to fly and past the clouds; until sky and space are one.

Taking stars by the handful, he scatters them about, whistling and laughing, delighting in the beauty of his work; delighting in filling the sky for all to see.

(written for my soon to be born son)




Posted on 2010-10-02 at 15:23:07.

Imiani
Occasional Visitor
Karma: 7/1
30 Posts


Death Rides a Horse

Funny runnin inta you out here by yourself. Was a time, not too long ago, bein out on the plains without an army was suicide. Time's a bit different now. Out here, ya can see'em comin. Got plenty a room to get away so long as ya got a good horse. Still, wouldn't mind havin an army, but then beggars can't be choosers. Heaven help me the day the bullets run out.



I remember ridin inta Harlan the day things went ta Hell. Me an Gus had recently come inta a bit a money an we figured we'd treat ourselves to some a the ladies in Harlan. Best women in the state. You could always count on Harlan girls ta have all their teeth and ta smell real sweet. It's damn shame the brothel was the first place ta close. A damn, cryin shame.

Anyways, we ride inta town, dust covered an tired and sore from the saddle an all we want is a drink. So we ride ta the saloon only ta find the doors nailed shut. Was a sign on the door but neither me or Gus could read so it didn't much matter. Still, we didn't need no fancy words to know the place was closed. Was about then that Gus noticed that the whole town was pretty quiet. No one out an about, no dogs or kids runnin around, no shops open, or nothin. As we sat there for a few minutes wonderin what had happened it started rainin like pourin piss out'v a boot.

None too happy about our current situation, we headed ta the church. Figured it was the best place ta go since churches don't never close and it'd be mighty un-Christian like for them ta turn us out, even lookin like we did. All we wanted was ta escape the storm when it turned out we'd a been better off stayin out in the wet. We go inside an there's folks layin all over the place, moanin an coughin an such. Them that was tendin'em looked up at me an Gus like we was Devil come ta get'em. One'v 'em, had ta been the preacher cause he carried a small wooden cross in one hand and a Bible in the other, comes up ta us and says, "I'm sorry, but if you value your health and your lives you really should leave. There's an awful affliction that has struck this town and you're certain to catch it if you remain here." He was a small fella and he looked so worn down like he might collapse any second. Still, I didn't much want ta go back out there and I wasn't about ta ride back to where I came from an I told him so. Before he could answer, a man lyin near by started screamin and coughin and carryin on an the preacher left us ta tend ta him. In hind sight, Gus was right and we shoulda left right then. At the time I just called him yella.

Once the man calmed down the preacher comes back over ta us and says, "Those that didn't fall ill and had the chance fled, hoping to escape the sickness. The town is all but empty now. Stay anywhere you like but in here, but promise you'll leave first thing in the morning for your own sakes." Gus promised we would and the preacher God blessed us as we hurried outside.

As we was walkin back inta town, Gus says, "Don't ya think it was funny that the preacher had pistol tucked inta his belt?" I shook my head an told him I hadn't noticed, cause I hadn't, but then Gus always did have a keen eye for detail. Again he said we should just leave and took off my hat and smacked him with it. All things considered, I was in a bad mood an I was at least gonna sleep in a bed before we rode out. An since we had free run a the place, I picked us a nice little house with a couple a high dollar goose down mattresses. Second place ta the company'v a fine woman, a course, but a close second.

My spirits was pickin up once I got a fire goin an my clothes started ta dry. The rain had stopped an Gus took the better weather as a chance ta run ta the outhouse. He'd been gone about fifteen minutes or so an I hadn't really paid it any mind until somethin the side a the house and rattled the walls. Startled a bit, I grabbed my pistol an ran outside. Next ta the house, there was Gus an some fella with he arms around Gus's neck like he was tryin ta strangle'im. I raised my pistol ta shoot the bastard, but then I saw the sheriff's badge. Now, I ain't no saint, but I wasn't about ta shoot a lawman. They'll hang ya for that. Gus seen me an he managed ta call out for me ta shoot, but I told him no. Instead, I ran over and walloped the sheriff on the head with my pistol. He staggered but didn't fall. He let go a Gus, though. Free from the choke, Gus spun and caught'im under the chin with his fist. I heard the man's jaw crunch an I knew it was broken. Still, he showed no sign of pain an he didn't reach for his gun neither. Instead, he lumbered towards me. That's when I noticed how pale he was and his eyes. They were that milky white color, like when somethins been dead for a while. Well, I was spooked now, cause here's this sheriff with dead eyes an a broken jaw an he's swipin at me like some kinda crazed cat. I guess I lost my nerve a bit, cause without thinkin I shot'im. Hit him square in the heart, I did. Sum'bitch dropped like a stone from the sky and got right back up. I'll admit that I screamed a bit at that. Screamed and fired my remainin five bullets. Last one hit him in the head an he stayed down for good after that. I was shakin as I reloaded my pistol.

"What the Hell kinda man takes six shots ta kill!?" Shouted Gus. I told him no man that I know of. "I knew we shoulda left. I knew it an I told ya so!" He continued. I told him ta shut up.

Bout that time the preacher came runnin around the side a the house, cross tucked inta his belt an a double barrel in his hands. He looked at us an then the body. "Well, now you know," he says before he turned around an left. I called ta him as he walked away but he wouldn't answer. Just trudged off like a whipped dog. Gus pointed out that the sun was goin down an that we should get back inside. I didn't have ta be told twice. We went in an baricaded the windows and doors with anythin and everythin we could. Just ta be extra safe, we decided only one a us should sleep at a time. So much for enjoyin them fine down mattresses.

Round two in the mornin it started. A commotion came from the church that sent shivers up an down my spine. There were screams an shrieks like I never heard before an gun shots. I didn't need to wake up Gus it was so bad. I said we should get the horses and was startin ta clear the door when somethin started knockin an cryin on the other side. I finished movin the stuff and noded at Gus. He stood opposite the door, ready ta shoot as soon as it opened. No sooner had I finished before the door burst open an a woman tumbled in. She was wearin a plain blue dress an was carryin the preacher's double barrel. Despite the look a terror on her face, an the blood spatters, she was quite a fetchin gal. Got a soft spot for red heads, I do an her hair was some a the reddest I ever seen.

Me an Gus couldn't help but stare an it was only with her promtin that I closed the door an locked it up again. We sat in total silence for several minutes. Outta nowhere, she says "My name is Rose." Me an Gus introduced ourselves and she told us what had happened at the church. Said several a the sick all rose up at the same time an attacked the preacher. He only managed ta get off two shots with his pistol before they got'im. Tore his throat out she said. Rose managed ta grab the preacher's shotgun and get them off the poor preacher, but it didn't make much difference. Bout then, more started gettin up and she ran for it an found us. She told us how people had started gettin sick weeks before a how it always ended up with them becoming crazed cannibals. Those that could, left. Those that couldn't stayed an succumbed. The preacher insisted on stayin an tendin to those that were sufferin. He'd ease their pain durin their remainin time an then when the sickness finally won, he'd put a bullet tween their eyes with a prayer. She talked about how she an her sister stayed behind too ta help the preacher do God's work an help the sick. How her sister finally fell ill an killed herself in the night rather than linger until the sickness took her. I don't mind sayin that it broke my heart ta hear Rose tell her story and I swore then an there were gettin outta there. A thump at the door an a loud moan reminded me it was probably gonna be easier said than done.

Rose moved ta Gus' side an again I opened the door. Soon as it was open, Rose's shotgun thunderedan there was an explosion of blood an bones an brains. What had been the preacher fell ta the floor. Before I could even begin ta clean the mess off a me, Rose was leadin the way out the door. "Come on. To the general store for bullets and then we get out of town."

I didn't like the idea a stayin around longer than we had ta at this point, but more bullets sounded like they could be useful.

As we made our way, we ran inta two more former people. As soon as they saw us, they ran towards us. I say ran, but it was more like how babies are when they first learn how. They didn't get close before we popped'em.

Once in the store, I emptied some sacks of flour and loaded the bags with as much ammo as I could. While we were at it, Rose grabbed herself a pistol an Gus an me grabbed ourselves a couple a repeating rifles like they use in the army now.

Loaded up an ready, it was time ta go. I followed Rose out the door an Gus behind me. Just as I cleared the porch I heard a thud an a shout. I turned an there was Gus on the ground with one them sick people on his back. It was smashin his face inta the ground an he couldn't get it off his back. I fired two shots with my pistol, killin it. Gus groaned an picked himself up off the ground an Rose gave a holler. Three more bastards were incomin. I heard her fire an took off after, Gus joggin along behind me. She was almost ta the horses when the three had shown up. Now they blocked the way. I shot as I walked towards them. I emptied my pistol, but I got'em.

I helped Rose onta my horse while Gus got up onta his. Five more sick bastards showed up while I tried ta mount up. In tryin ta hurry, I got my foot caught in the stirrup an couldn't swing myself over the horses back. Gus an Rose started shootin, an while they got a couple, they also spooked the horses an I found myself in more trouble. Gus had emptied his pistol an was now relyin on his rifle while Rose had resorted ta her pistol. Gus shouted that more were comin an he needed ta reload an I was still stuck. I heard a sickening crunch as I somehow got myself up inta the saddle. Gus had resorted to usin his rifle as a club an had just crushed a skull. We swung the horses around an spurred'em an charged off hard.

I'd like ta say we got away without a scratch, but I'd be lyin. No, I guess after Gus started using his gun as a club, one a the things managed ta bite his leg or something. His horse too. We rode for about an hour before Gus fell out a his saddle an his horse jus laid down.

"It's happening. It always happens so fast to those that get wounded by those that are sick," Rose whispered in my ear. I dismounted an went ta him. He was breathin real heavy an his eyes were turnin that cloudy white color. I'll admit I was fightin back tears. Gus was best friend an I know he was layin there like that cause a me. He rolled his head ta face me as I knelt beside him, but I could see he didn't recognize me. Shakin an takin a deep breath, I put my gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

I have a hard time rememberin much right after that. I know I felt numb all over an I must a sat there for several minutes. Probably woulda sat there longer if it hadn't been for Gus' horse.

The beast staggered to its feet an begain neighing the most pathetic sounds I've ever heard from an animal. It was droolin and gnashin its teeth an stumblin like a newborn foal. In my state of grief, I didn't move, ready to let the animal end me right there. Rose had other plans. She rode over on my horse and blasted the beast's brains out with the double barrel. I guess she told me ta get up cause the memory that's clearest ta me after shootin Gus is of us riding across the plains, headin toward Mescatula. What we found in that town wasn't any better'n what we left. Sick folk everywhere an people fleein for their lives. We left as soon as we saw it.

We traveled for a few weeks like that. We'd make for a new town only ta get there an find it fallin apart. We only ever stayed long enough ta get supplies an then we'd get outta there. For a while the plains was safe enough, but then we started seein the sick even out there. An not just city folk neither. The indians had gotten it too. Ta be honest though, I prefer the sick ones. They can still kill ya, but at least they're a whole lot slower an they don't use weapons no more. It wasn't easy livin like that, but we did alright, me an Rose did. We got along well enough an if the world was endin, it was nice ta have some company.

After maybe a little more than a month, it started gettin clear that Rose had caught whatever ya want ta call it. She seemed ta lose all her energy an she coughed a lot. She knew she wasn't gonna last too much longer so when she asked me to do her a favor, I assumed she was gonna ask me to put her outta her misery. You can bet my surprise when she asked me ta bed her. Said it was a cruel fate that she never married or knew a man and she didn't want ta die that way. Seemed reasonable logic ta me, an who was I ta deny a dyin girl's request. Though, ta be honest, it pained me a little ta do it as I had really started ta fall for her and acknowledgin that she'd soon be got stung somethin fierce.

Well, that night, we determined ta fulfill her request. We snagged some fancy French wine from the last town we had visited an decided this was the right time ta open it. She really was somethin. Her breasts weren't terribly large, but they were firm and her thighs had some meat to'em. When she saw me admirin her she became kinda shy an tried to cover herself. I whispered gently to her an we wrapped around each other an kissed. I took things slow so as ta make her as comfortable as possible, especially with her coughin so hard every few minutes. In all honesty, it was better than any whore I ever with. As I entered her, I knew I was in love and I began ta cry as I thrust. She moaned quietly and reached for my face to wipe the tears from my eyes. Through blurred vision, I saw her hand stop and I felt her body convulse. The sound of her moan had changed an it was no longer of quiet enjoyment. In the firelight, I could see her face an I knew. In a panic, I flew off of her and she snarled an scrambled after me. Without thinkin I reached for my pistol, but a course it wasn't there, bein nekkid an all. I could see my clothes, an gun, by the fire, but I'd have ta get around her first an she was on me before I had a chance to try. I caught he hands as she clawed at me face an kept her pushed back while she tried ta bite me. Lookin around as best I could from the ground, I saw a rock nearby an I knew what I had ta do. Bein bigger than her, I didn't have much trouble holdin both a her hands in one a mine, though she was stronger than I expected. With my free hand, I grabbed the rock and swung it around as hard as I could. The sound an the feeling of the rock crashing inta her skull woulda made me sick had I not been fightin for my life. She fell off the side a me and moved no more. I lay there, sweatin an cryin an shakin. I don't think I slept that night, but I don't remember much. I know I buried her the next mornin.

Well, since then I been on my own out here. It's been maybe two months. Figure its for the best. Can't get attached ta anyone. In fact, you're the first healthy folks I seen since Rose. Not that it should matter too much longer, I reckon. I've been feelin awfully tired and I can't seem ta shake this cough. In fact, stranger, if you could do me one last favor, I'd be much obliged.


Posted on 2010-10-03 at 10:42:51.

Imiani
Occasional Visitor
Karma: 7/1
30 Posts


Gluttony

It’s a well known fact to those that know it well, that Gluttony throws the best parties. Even Lust and her wild orgies can’t match the decadence and debauchery that take place during a Gluttony party. Even now, the other sins are still talking about one that took places thousands of years ago.



Long ago, during an age nearly forgotten, while the tribes of Israel still wandered the desert, the city of Lycene neared it’s end. As is so often the case, the summer months had brought plenty of sun and heat, but little rain. As the time of the harvest approached, it was clear that there would be little to take from the parched soil. The animals fared no better and many a lamb and chicken simply dehydrated and withered away, diminishing the supply of precious meat. Those that could, fled the city in hopes of starting a new life elsewhere rather than face the famine that would surely come with winter.

It was an inauspicious blazing day, like so many before, that a stranger came to the city. He was a slovenly looking fellow, round and lumpy, with an oily, pimpled face. He rolled into town upon a rickety cart, overloaded with something hidden under a large tarp. The single horse pulling this enormous burden looked as if it might turn to dust at any moment, it was so emaciated. People averted their eyes and dogs growled as the strangers approach, yet found themselves drawn to him the exotic smells that caused their empty bellies rumble once he had passed.

Word of the stranger spread through the town faster than flames of the hottest wild fire. The whispers and the rumors, as they so easily do, soon made their way to the ears of someone of importance. In this particular instance, the someone was Cyric, the city governor. Like any man who believes a little too firmly in his own self importance, he summoned his guards and prepared to see this stranger for himself. An imposing man in his own right, Cyric’s best days were behind him. His once muscular frame had softened with age and his once firm stomach was paunch from years enjoying the fruits of aristocratic life. His thick, curly, black mane now grey and thinning. Still, it was with all the confidence of a man still in his prime that he flung open the gates to his estate to find the portly stranger sitting on his cart before him. Cyric recoiled at the sight.

“Greetings, sir. I was only about to knock. Tell me, sir, are you a witch? Do you see the future?” Asked the man on the cart. His voice was forced out between labored breaths and he spoke with a slight lisp. If he noticed Cyric’s reaction, he gave no indication.

Cyric, thinking of his status, quickly forced himself to regain his composure.

“Nay, I am not a witch. I have only received word of your approach. You’ve created quite the stir amongst the townsfolk. Tell me, what is your name? What brings you to Lycene?” Said Cyric. A crowd was beginning to gather round, drawn in by the scents of the cart being carried on the warm breeze.

“I have no use for names and you may call me what you like. As for why I have come, I have an offer to make. It is no secret that dire times have fallen on your city. I can end them.” The surrounding air was all but completely sucked up by the gasp of the crowd. Even Cyric found himself slightly hopeful, slightly stunned by the stranger’s claim.

“That is a bold promise. Why would you do this? What is it you want?”

“Nothing. All that I ask is that some of my closest friends be allowed to partake of the festivities.” Cyric thought about this for a moment, not sure why this would be an exception, before nodding his head in agreement.

“And just how do you expect to accomplish this miracle?”

“Ah-ah! I can not give away all of my secrets. Just know that after tomorrow night, you and your people shall not go hungry again.”

“You’re mad.”

“I can assure you that I most certainly am not. Now, before you order your guards to haul me away for wasting your time, answer me this: if I can not do what I say I can, what have you lost?”

Again, Cyric hesitated, caught completely off guard by the stranger anticipating his next actions.

“Nothing,” Cyric replied.

“Precisely. Now, if you’ll excuse me, good sir, I have much to prepare and so very little time to do it in,” said the stranger as he set the horse and cart into motion.

And so, in far shorter time than it should have taken, a massive tent was erected on the outskirts of the city and wonderful aromas began to fill the air. Throughout the remainder of the day and into the night the stranger worked, only stopping to shoo away the occasional nosey townsperson who’s hunger had gotten the best of them. By the following morning, the symphony of smells was so strong that the famished people Lycene could hardly move from the hunger pangs. Cinnamon and cardamom, garlic and ginger, curry and chocolate, and other scents delicious and unidentifiable swirled about air in a never ending onslaught.

So distracted by the smells and their hunger were the townspeople, almost no one noticed as six more strangers arrived around midday. Four men, two women. All but one on horseback. The tallest man, dressed in red, wore a permanent scowl on his bearded face. Next to him sat a beautiful woman with auburn hair and deep red lips. Two of the men seemed to be brothers. Both had blonde hair and wore especially fine clothes. One however, wore a gem encrusted ring on each finger while the other seemed more concerned that no dirt marred his appearance. The other woman, though striking, didn’t match the beauty of the other. She wore a green dress and frequently shot the other woman angry glances. The last man, the one without a horse, was fast asleep on a cot being drug by the woman in green’s horse. An odd collection of people in even a bustling city. In Lycene, in the heat and the aromas, they wandered the streets without a second glance from anyone.

By evening, the appetites of the people began to get the better of them and a crowd began to form outside the stranger’s tent. At last, when Cyric, the last of the townspeople to arrive, joined the crowd, the tent flaps whipped open and the stranger appeared.

“My dear people, suffered you have through this drought and famine! I promised you that I would put an end to your suffering and so I shall! Behold!” The stranger threw his fat arms wide and as he did, the tent collapsed away, revealing table after table of food. The smells that haunted them all day grew almost overwhelming with the removal of the tent. Meats heaped in piles, vegetables spread out on countless platters, barrels and barrels of beers and wines and meads, pipes filled and smoking with herbs no one had ever seen. Some nearly fainted. The crowd, so worked up and so, so hungry, nearly stampeded. Like a dog told to stay for a treat, the people tensely waited for the stranger’s permission.

“My dear people! Enjoy!”

With abandon the people attacked the mountains of food before them. They filled mugs with the fine alcohols and smoked the pipes with the dizzying herbs. The laughed and feasted, filling their bellies and livening their spirits. They ate and drank and smoked to their fill, till they got sick, but still they kept at it. But no matter how much they consumed, nothing seemed to run out. Whether anyone noticed this or whether no one cared, it can’t be said.

“My dear people!,” boomed the stranger around midnight, “I hope you have been enjoying yourselves! However, I have one last treat for you all. A morsel like nothing you’ve ever had before!”

“My good man, you’ve given us everything you promised and more. If this is an indication of what you’re capable of, please spare us the suspense so we may truly appreciate that which you speak of so highly,” shouted Cyric from the crowd.

“As you wish,” replied the stranger with a smile. He clapped his hands and a new, long table appeared. Something was piled up on the platters but no one could tell just what. Thin, translucent, white slices that had almost no weight to them. The people pounced without another thought. Whatever it was, it was sweet and sour and bitter and spicy all at once and melted on the tongue.

“Sir, it’s like eating air and the best meals I’ve ever had at the same time! What is this spectacular dish?” Asked Cyric, who had made his way to the stranger’s side.

“Why sir, can’t you tell? It’s your souls,” said the stranger with a wink. Cyric laughed.

“Of course they are,” he winked back as he walked away.

It was around this time that the group of strangers, who had kept their distance from the bulk of the feasting, really began to mingle with the townspeople. Within the hour, the mood of the crowd began to change. Men and woman began making love to one another in the midst of the crowd. Husbands and wives forsaking each other for the flesh of someone else. Jealous lovers and aggrieved spouses viciously attacked those that had betrayed them. Fights broke out over money and debts and who’s family was better. The more the strangers milled about the crowd, the greater the chaos grew.

As the mood escalated, the strangers, including the fat man, seemed to be enjoying themselves more and more. They ate, drank, and smoked happily. They laughed and joked with each other as the people around them threatened and threw punches at one another. When fires began to break out around the city and people were killed, they too partook of the mysterious, translucent slices that the fat man had claimed were souls. They ate to their fill and watched with satisfied smiles as Lycene burned, the flames twinkling stars in their eyes.

In the heat of the early morning sun, vultures circled high above the smoking wreckage of Lycene. Swooping low, they hoped to catch sight of something dead to feast on that the smoke prevented them from smelling. But, there was nothing. No bodies, no spoiled food from the festivities the night before. Nothing but the smoldering shell of a city waiting to be reclaimed by the earth it had been built from.

It’s a well known fact to those that know it well, that Gluttony throws the best parties as long as you’re not invited.


Posted on 2010-10-04 at 10:37:35.

Imiani
Occasional Visitor
Karma: 7/1
30 Posts


TheDream Catcher

As you lay in your bed, tucked in snug and adrift in the Sea of Dreams, you do not drift alone. Riding the waves of your hopes and fears in a rickety old boat is a poor soul indeed, for he has no dreams of his own. The Fisherman, as he is called, sets out each night, with his nets and his lines, hiping to catch good dreams to take home. He's got sad beady black eyes and bushy grey eyebrows like frowns, and a scratchy bearded chin. His fingers are gnarled and callused with nails broken and chipped to the nub. He smokes a large pipe and hums to himself as he floats gently about on the waves.



And as you sleep he makes ready and waits for morning, for when you will rise and your dreams will scatter, afraid of the day and the dawning of reason. Into his nets they'll flee and into the tangling lines, to be hauled up by the sad old Fisherman in his rickety boat.

In his boat he sorts them, digging through the wriggling heap and keeping only the best. The small ones he'll put back gently and the wierd may give him a chuckle before he gives them a toss. The bad and nasty, with their bloodshot wall eyes and fanged snaggle tooth grins try to snap and bite before he throws them away as far as he can.

Finally, when only the tenderest, happiest, and most joyous remain, the Fisherman begins his voyage home, where he'll watch your dreams and pretend they're his own and for at least a bit, know what it is like to dream. And you'll go about your day, trying to remember that dream that you had last night. You'll know it was good, and you'll glimpse a piece of part of it. But that's all that is left, the rest caught up in the nets, taken back with the Fisherman at the dawn.

It is easy to hate him and call him a crook, this Fisherman that harvests our dreams. But I beg that you don't, for he means no harm. He just wants to try what he'll never know. So if you would be so kind, when you're tucked in tight and ready to sleep tonight, please dream a little dream for the Fisherman. He'll be much obliged.


Posted on 2010-10-05 at 17:01:51.

Imiani
Occasional Visitor
Karma: 7/1
30 Posts


A Smile a Day

Seth didn’t seem like the kind of person you’d expect to put a price on someone’s head. Seth didn’t even seem like the type of person who rounds twenty-five cents up to a dollar on their income taxes. Now, under normal circumstances, Seth wouldn’t have been the type of person to do either of the activities mentioned. However, jealousy is a troublesome fellow and in some cases it can drive people to do things that even they never expected themselves to do. Unfortunately for Seth, this turned out to be one of those cases.



It all started when Seth’s wife, Veronica, quit her job. Even though Seth, an accountant, made enough money to support the two of them, he wasn’t totally sure about Veronica’s decision.

“Sweetie, it’ll be fine.”

“I know, but won’t you be bored?”

“Not at all. There’s plenty I can do around here to keep myself busy. Besides, I thought you’d like the idea of coming home to a warm meal.” Seth thought about it and grinned.

“Well since you put it that way, if it’s what you really want to do it’s fine with me. You know you’re going to spoil me right?”

“I knew I could change your mind.” Veronica wrapped her arms around Seth and laughed.

It didn’t take Seth long to start enjoying Veronica’s new career as a housewife. Their home was always clean, the laundry always done, and, what Seth loved most, dinner waiting for him when he arrived home from work. Veronica seemed happier too. For a while, the two of them could have been mistaken for almost any 50’s television couple.

“How was your day sweetie?”

“Great. The boss says he’s pleased with all the work I’ve been doing and said I should expect to see a little extra on my next check.”

“That’s great dear!”

Alas, these times were not to last for long. After three months sickeningly perfect life, things began to change. Seth didn’t notice at first.

“How was work today sweetie?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve been getting slammed at work and my head feels like it’s ready to explode.”

“Don’t let it bother you too much. Dr. Alex says if you let stress get to you, you’re only going to make things worse.” Seth had never heard of Dr. Alex. Whoever he was, he’d obviously never joined the human race if he honestly believed that things were that simple.

“Who’s Dr. Alex?”

“I saw him on TV today. He’s a therapist. Really he’s quite interesting. You could learn a lot from him. He has a new show airing tomorrow. I could tape it for you if you like.”

“No thanks. I just had a bad day, nothing requiring therapy.” After taking some painkillers, Seth went to bed that night without thinking anything more of the dinner conversation.

The next day was better for Seth. He caught up on his work and came home happy as ever. As he came into the house, he could hear the TV and the scent of food that had greeted him as he came home for the past three months was absent. Seth became worried.

“Honey?”

“Yeah?” Veronica answered from the living room.

“Is everything OK?” Seth walked through the house and found Veronica lying on the couch.

“Fine. Why?” She looked up at him confused.

“Dinner wasn’t on the table. I thought maybe you weren’t feeling well or something.” Veronica gasped.

“Oh, I’m sorry I totally forgot. I was watching Dr. Alex and time just got away from me.” Seth’s shoulder’s slumped.

“It’s OK. You just had me worried, that’s all.”

“I bought some frozen pizzas the other day. I’ll go put one in the oven.” Veronica got up and left the room. Seth really wasn’t upset. People make mistakes. Really, it was OK. He told himself that again the next night when he had frozen pizza again.

“I’m sorry. The show’s just so addicting. He’s really a good man, helping people like that. I just can’t turn it off.”

“Do I need to start calling you and reminding you before I come home?”

“Well, maybe you shouldn’t just expect things. You know how to cook to. It wouldn’t kill you to do it for a change.” Seth backed off. He knew she was right and he wasn’t going to press the issue. Still, he felt something flicker to life inside him. He had only known about Dr. Alex for three days and already he hated a man he had never met.

After a month of eating frozen pizza, with the occasional Hungry Man frozen dinner thrown in for variety, Seth had reached a boiling point. Everywhere he turned, Dr. Alex was there. He was on magazine covers, on TV, on the radio, on the Internet. They even came out with Dr. Alex cereal, guaranteed to make your day brighter. No matter how hard he tried, Seth couldn’t escape the reach of Dr. Alex and his wisdom. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’d all but lost Veronica to the good doctor. Anything that came out with his name on it, she owned. She was even president of the area’s chapter of the Dr. Alex fan club. She had stopped asking about how Seth’s day at work had been or how he was feeling. Instead, Dr. Alex spoke for her. Hardly a sentence came out of her mouth that wasn’t a quote from him. She was especially fond of throwing little phrases out when Seth came home looking irritated.

“Don’t frown, smiles make the world go round.”

Or

“If you go to bed unhappy, you’ll only make tomorrow crappy.” There were many others, all of which contributed to Seth’s growing agitation. He was beginning to wonder how no one else had noticed that this man was crazy.

His grudge with Dr. Alex had matured enough to do something about it. So, one day, while at work, he wrote a letter to the executives at the television station.

To whom it may concern:

Hello, my name is Seth Grundwascher. I’m writing to ask that you please remove Dr. Alex and his show from your programming. The man is a hack and should not be taken seriously. Also, because of his show, I’ve been forced to eat frozen dinners for the past month. My wife refuses to cook any more because she’s too busy watching his joke of a show. I want my wife back so I can have a decent meal again. Please remove Dr. Alex from your programming so that my life can return to normal.

Sincerely,
Seth Grundwascher

Seth didn’t tell Veronica about the letter. He didn’t want her to know that he was responsible for having her favorite show taken off the air. Then she would see just how ridiculous Dr. Alex really was.

He returned home trying not to smile for fear that it might give him away. Veronica was in the living room, only instead of watching TV, she was reading. Seth needn’t ask what it was. Prominently displayed under the title, Only You Can Prevent Bad Moods, was Dr. Alex’s smug, pudgy face. Seth didn’t say anything and went into the kitchen. Opening the freezer door, he decided he’d try a change of pace and grabbed the box of fish sticks.

For a month Seth waited for Dr. Alex to be yanked. Every day he came home hoping to find Veronica in the kitchen, sad but accepting of the fact that Dr. Alex was no longer around. Seth would have continued hoping had he not received a letter back from the television station.

Dear Sir,

We regret to inform you that we cannot comply with your request to take Dr. Alex off the air. However, having read your letter, we believe that you could benefit from his services. Enclosed is copy of his latest book. Read it and take care.

Seth pulled the book out of the large envelope, fuming. One by one he began ripping the pages out and putting them through the shredder. He’d had enough. If station wouldn’t take him off the air, Seth would find another way to get rid of him. Angrily he pulled a phone book out of his desk. He flipped through but couldn’t find any listings for assassins, killers, or murderers. He tried a few exterminator numbers, but after briefly talking to a few people he came to the conclusion that people weren’t on their list.

Next he tried the Internet, though he expected it to be like the phone book, only faster. He was pleasantly surprised to find that he was wrong. He called the first number he found. The person claimed he’d do anything so long as the price was right.

“What kind of problem do you need solved?”

“Uh, hi. I’ve never really done this kind of thing before.”

“Right, that’s what they all say. Now, what do need me to do?”

“I need you to kill Dr. Alex.”

“Kill Dr. Alex? Are you crazy? The man’s a genius. I’ve been reading his book and you wouldn’t believe how much he’s helped me out.”

“But you said you’d do anything for the right price.”

“Oh, I will. Of course, that is if the price is right.”

“So how much?”

“You tell me.”

“Ten thousand?”

“Consider it done. Now, I like to collect up front. You understand, right?”

“Yeah. Where should I meet you?”

“Meet me? I don’t do that anymore. Go back to my website. You can pay me by credit card from there. As soon as your transaction goes through, I’ll get right on it.”

“Well, that’s convenient isn’t it? All right then. Thank you very much. Bye.”

“So long.” Seth hung up the phone. Happily he punched in his credit card number. As he clicked to send it, visions of a dead Dr. Alex filled his head. He could just imagine the headlines and the telecasts. He could taste his dinner already.

When he arrived home that night, he couldn’t help but laugh at his wife reading the magazine with Dr. Alex on the front cover.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. Just thinking about a joke I heard today. That’s all.”

“I’m glad you’re happy. It’s about time you got over you’re grumpiness. Sounds like you’ve finally started listening to Dr. Alex’s advice.” Seth smiled. He hadn’t really thought about it, but she was right.

“Yeah, I guess I have done something about it.”


Posted on 2010-10-10 at 13:20:32.

   
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