Serving the Community: short fiction

Murray says “christ” and “what the” with confused admiration as the spider shrinks into a dot and then sucks in its gut. It hugs the join of the wall and the floor and then it suddenly flexes and recovers into a spider-shape after each of Murray’s assaults with rounded-toe boots or calico lady’s chunky fireplace poker.

Suddenly, the spider reminds me of a wiry shoplifter running full-tilt out of a bodega. In that moment, the kid, and maybe even this spider, could sail past any seven-foot Kenyan to the finish line of the city marathon no sweat.

Murray flashes me an “oops” smirk and is already moving out of the room—fuck the lady and her spider—having done his usual half-assed best.

The spider, doubtless wearing one of those awful pubescent mustaches made of individual black hairs strung out like Christmas lights, totally 2-D now, has run behind a thousand pound mahogany china cabinet that runs from floor to ceiling, solid. So that’s the end of these fun and games.

Calico lady drops her glasses on a lanyard and the Betty Boop routine. “Now what?,” she demands. I can see this ending with our badge numbers. “Call an exterminator,” Murray says unhelpfully. Calico lady doesn’t want to spend the money. She’d rather keep it in some kind of wealth management set-up than blow it on a spider. Her face is ugly now, all jowls. She’s not going to let us out the door without a fight. This kind of bitch is into service and spends her life re-decorating and sending back restaurant food. Our best defense is the illusion of flat-eyed stupidity, not a trace of empathy. I make myself as smooth as a wall, no human part for her to latch onto. No apologies, no suggestions, no conversation. Just make for the door, even as she rushes after us with a string of grabby complaints and rhetorical questions.

Back in the car, Murray enjoys a full-throated laugh, glad not to be of service. The spider is pissed and on his own time-table now. This is the part of Murray I can stand for a few minutes now and then. It doesn’t matter that he is a moron. He’s my moron for now.

4 Responses to “Serving the Community: short fiction”

  1. Factman says:

    Go spider go!

  2. Muffy says:

    Superb. Develop it. you have your own voice…

  3. Trilby says:

    I really love the feel of this piece; it kinda reminds of I don’t know what like, Mordecai Richler/Hugh Garner/Roddy Doyle/Morley Callaghan maybe. You have a compelling turn of phrase; I think this could well be fleshed out into something longer, though it stands on its own as an evocative vignette as well. I think you should have it on your blog for sure; it well shows your breadth of writing skill, assuming that that’s what you want to showcase there. I would love to have a go at editing your stuff–not that you need my input to make it good; it is just easier to comment more specifically in Track Changes, which is, of course, what I know best.

  4. Tim Van Huss says:

    Tim’s treatise: Well, first of all let me say that I like it.

    First of all a trick question; are you Jane Smith and do you work for Leon Bogstein at Bard’s College? If the answer is ‘no’ I will proceed with the critical portion of what you are requesting.

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