It began innocently enough, over a number of gin and tonics. Well, I was drinking gin and tonics. Nora, my next-door neighbor, was drinking gin martinis poured from a stainless steel shaker. As was her habit, she stopped by daily to mooch my booze and complain about her life in general. I had yet to figure out a way to turn her away. I had gone to such lengths as putting my car in the garage so she couldn’t tell if I was home. That didn’t work for long. She tricked me, called me on my cell phone and when I lied, said I was at Target looking for a waffle maker, she informed me she was standing outside my garage eyeballing my car.
“I figured out a way to pay for a gastric bypass.” Nora said.
She was splayed over my couch, wearing that stupid Christmas sweatshirt with the candy canes and gingerbread men grinning from the stretched out fabric.
“Doesn’t that thing make you itch?” I asked. I mean, cheese and mice, it was August! In Florida!
“It’s about the only thing left that fits.
“Won’t your insurance cover the surgery?”
“It’s going to be somewhere around 50K. The deductible is five grand. That’s where the Star Author comes in.”
“Yeah, Star Author. It’s like Star Search for writers. I write a book and then get lots of people to vote for me and win enough to get my stomach stapled.”
“Nora,” I said, “How can you be so sure you’ll win?”
“It’ll take a single telephone call to my sister Nadine. She’s secretary over at the church and she heads up the prayer committee. If Nadine tells all those fine church-going folks who are praying for me that they should vote for my book, then it is a sure thing.”
I didn’t know how to get around to it, but my curiosity got the best of me. “But Nora, do you know how to write a novel?”
Nora drained the last of her third martini and placed the empty glass on my verdigris marble coffee table, immediately to the left of the coaster I had provided. I winced.
“I’ve already got one nearly finished. It’s a rough draft, but I can polish it up as I go.”
“What’s it about?” I stood up, picked up her glass, looked her straight in her beady little rat-like eyes that reminded me of my grandmother; the crazy grandmother whose decomposing corpse was secreted away beneath the concrete garage floor. “Tell me about your book, Nora.”
I walked into the kitchen and deposited the glass on the countertop.
“It’s about a group of women who have way too many pheromones and hormones running around deliberately spreading sexually transmitted diseases in this wild competition to see who can get the most people sick.”
“Not exactly the great American novel, eh?”
“Does it matter? I need my belly stapled. Nadine can throw her weight - no pun intended - around the church ladies and I get what I need. End of story.”
“Quite the philistine, aren’t you Nora?”
“If I knew what a philistine was, I might agree.”
The previous bit of flash fiction was written at the prompting of a pal who suggested I write a piece using the following words. Which I did. Please note - It IS fiction. My grandmother is totally dead, and will remain so for a very long time. She is not, however, under my garage. She is planted in a cemetary.
candy cane X
© Selah 2006