Tag Archives: Small fiction

Postcard Fiction: Meyer Got the Fuzzies

Meyer reached over to the night table beside him. With his head on the pillow and one eye shut he struggled to find his half empty bottle. With that keen sense of awareness that always warned him when something would go terribly wrong, he knew the bottle would spill over before it did. And it did. Meyer groaned. Fuck. HIs head was pounding and the stench of stale cigarettes, booze and old furniture filled his nostrils. He thought he was going to be sick.

He lay back in bed fighting back the waves of nausea that overcame him. His shaking hands reached for the overturned bottle.  He sat up, tipped the bottle back and drank what was left. Ahh. He could feel the warm liquid travel down inside. Already he felt that small feeling of recovery. If he could have another drink he could make it , he thought. He wondered what day it was and reached back in his mind for anything that might anchor him somewhere in time.

It was just like Sharon said. “The booze is going to eat your mind.” she said. “It’ll kill you Meyer.” Christ.. The truth is he was too much of a coward to take his own life. Too squeamish. PiIlls. He had a hard time taking even baby aspirin. A gun. Too messy. Hanging. What if he miscalculated. The brain damage would be horrible for Sharon and Trish, never mind his mother. She’d never forgive him. Drinking himself to death seemed like the path of least resistance and somehow it seemed cleaner. At least that’s what he thought until he sat up and looked around his apartment. Fuck. What a stye. That’s what Sharon said last time she visited.

“You’re a pig Meyer. What the hell happened to you. Brilliant career. Great kid. Me. Now look at you. A dog wouldn’t even eat off this floor. And you stink like hell. When’s the last time you changed?”

He sat up. His single sorry bed reminded him of himself. A sorry mess, single and alone. His sister always told him he had no stamina. She was right.  No stamina for life much less anything else.

Suddenly he remembered out of nowhere what day it was. Saturday. Fucking christ in hell. It was Trish’s birthday party. He was supposed to pick up the cake and the balloons and come to the party by 4:00. What the hell time is it? There was one person in the world he was more afraid of then his wife Sharon and that was his 7 year old daughter Trish. She would look at him with those steely blue eyes and see right through him. He was sure she never blinked. Sometimes he wasn’t even sure if she was human. She had this ‘other’ kind of quality he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Then other times he would never feel so loved. She’d wrap her arms around his neck and he could feel the warmth of her little stringy body. He could feel tears welling in his eyes. He reached for his cigarette, lit it  and checked the time. 2:15. He hadn’t missed it but he couldn’t waste any time and wasting time was something Meyer knew how to do better than anybody else.

He ran is hand through his wavy black hair. What  the hell. His hand hit a bump. Warm, fuzzy, pulsing. Meyer wasn’t given to fights but occasionally he came home with bruises, broken glasses, war wounds. He had grown accustomed to them.It was the price of giving up.

He slowly sat up and wandered over to the mirror. Jesus Christ. He looked at himself in the dim light. He looked for his broken glasses. I’m getting’ old he thought to himself. Can’t see a fucking thing. He peered harder in the mirror and saw two distinct bumps on the top of his head. What the fuck?  If Meyer didn’t know better he’d say they were horns. As one of the former leading criminal defence lawyers in the country he’d been called many things including the devil and those times when he allowed himself to feel anything he sometimes felt like the devil but he didn’t actually think he was the devil. Sharon, who’s acute sense of social justice weighed like a dead cement block on his mind, was right. He had finally been won over completely by the dark forces.

He reached up and touched his right horn. Small, furry glowing, it felt warm to his touch. As he stroked his horn it rotated on his head while the left one bent over double like a limp weed. He reached up and stroked his left horn and it stood up straight like a soldier on duty. They stood about two inches on the top of his head. He pulled at them thinking it was some kind of bad joke. They didn’t budge. Every time he touched them he felt this warm glow inside. Like a fire. He wondered if it was Satan’t torch. It almost felt like the warm glow of scotch after his first sip.

Fuck. I gotta get to the birthday party or my kid will sue me. Like father like daughter ,he thought. He was panicked by the new additions to his head but he was more panicked at the emotional exile he would feel if he fucked this up. And oddly, the warm glow emanating from his horns soothed him in a way he hadn’t been soothed in a long time.He didn’t know what they meant but he knew he had to get his sorry ass over to his ex-wife’s or he’d be dead meat. Deader than he already was.

He grabbed the cleanest pair of kakis’ he could find which were wrinkled and stained but not smelly and an old   t-shirt. He didn’t know what to do with his head. Towel wrap? No. Ridiculous. Baseball cap? He set the cap on his head. The cap rested on top of his horns. Admittedly the slightly skewed cap gave him something of a jaunty look and it brought a slight smile to his face. He looked around his ashtray strewn apartment with crap everywhere. Piles of dirty plates, empty bottles,and clothes everywhere.  What the hell. His eyes finally came to rest on the red beret. Then he remembered Eizerman had been here one night. Eizerman was an artist but these days he was mainly a junky.A big mellow sad-eyed junky who wore a red beret.He came here one night and they sat up and talked and drank till dawn. They both passed out and when Meyer finally woke up he was gone. Never saw him again but he left his beret.

Meyer grabbed the beret and put it on his head. The hat fit over the top of his horns perfectly. He looked at himself in the mirror and he recognized something about himself from when he was younger. For a brief moment he saw that hopeful optimism of his youth  but it came and went in a flash and Meyer was left with nothing but himself, his horns and this god awful beret that stunk like bad beer and made him look like a transvestite.

Alright he said to himself. I gotta get the hell out of here and to my kids party.  Just the act of saying that brought him back to that world and place he occupied just a few short years ago. Accomplished lawyer, husband, father, member of the community and empty shell of a man. He thought of Sharon. A woman as hard as nails and uncompromising in her pursuit of justice.  But she was as hard on herself as she was on him. When sex was still something he was able to think about he thought about her. Her long legs, her long black hair her unruly sense of dress – often accompanied not unllke himself by some stain. Curry, mayo, mustard. Generally a condiment but not always. It was the one way in which they were alike. He loved her. Did he just think that? Was he crazy? He never let his mind go there anymore. t was over. Enough of that he thought as he lit another cigarette. He reminded himself to splash some aftershave and bring some chewing  gum before he arrived or his kid would give him the smell test and then give him hell. What were they teaching them in school these days anyways?


He arrived at the party at 4:27 exactly, just late enough to be given a mouthful of hell. “Meyer, what the hell?” Sharon said as he stood outside the door in the pouring rain.  He looked at the Frank Lloyd Wright rip-off house that he and Sharon bought together and which he had walked away from.  He couldn’t believe he had ever lived there.  Who was that person anyways?

“Where were you? This is a kid’s birthday party not some cocktail party you show up fashionably late to? Come in here. You look like hell by the way. What’s that on your head? Jeezus Meyer what’s going on?

“I don’t know what’s going on Sharon. I feel like I’m losing my mind.” ”

“Believe me Meyer, you lost your mind long ago.”

“Sharon, I know. But look at this. I woke up this morning and look I don’t know what the hell they are or where they came from.” Meyer removed his red beret and stood before Sharon his horns straight and at full alert.

“Jesus Meyer. What the hell. You’ve grown horns. Two of them!”. Sharon stepped closer to Meyer and reached up to touch his horns.

“They’re soft. Christ they’re moving. It’s like they’re looking at me.” Her voice softened in a way he hadn’t heard in years. They hadn’t’ stood this close since their divorce when she had pushed her finger in his chest and called him an asshole for giving up. This time her voice was soft.

“I can’t let Trish see them.”

“Meyer don’t be an idiot. The most forgiving person in your life is your daughter. Until she’s an adult of course and she’s realized how much you’ve screwed her over but until then she’s the most forgiving person in your life. Go show yourself Meyer. She’s a good girl.”

Suddenly Meyer felt like he was 5 years old again. Naked, young, uncynical, reborn. Standing as tall as he could he went upstairs to look for his daughter before  her guests were to arrive.

Post script:

I wrote this as a result of a challenge from a friend over wine and drinks one night. She gave me the topic and I had to write whatever I wanted. This isn’t my usual style of writing at all but I was reading the Yiddish Policeman’s Union at the time and I was heavily influenced by the voice of that author. I did this purely for the fun of it.


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Bigger than a postcard fiction – The Single Bed

Belle lay in bed listening to the rain. It was winter and the rain had been falling for 10 straight days.  Boots, her cat was firmly ensconced between her legs and it felt comfortable in that “I don’t dare move kind of way” which seems to be part and parcel of with living with a  cat.  When she first agreed to take care of him because her elderly neighbour was in hospital she quickly determined that she would establish boundaries for how long she would care for him and where he would go in the house. Boots would sleep on the couch and she would sleep in the peace and quiet of her room as she had for the last five years since Ted moved out.

But nothing goes according to plan and Boot’s first night in the house was no different than any other misbegotten intention. As it turned out the second, the third and every other night after that didn’t go so well either. At first Boots would stand outside her door and meow in short crisp adorable mews as if to say, “Please just let me in there” and then quickly, very quickly his chatter turned to gutteral, primal screams that went on for hours on end. Belle thought for sure that her neighbours would hear and might  wonder why she was beating her new ward. Little did they know.

Still his nocturnal cries outside her door, indicated to Belle that Boots was traumatized. In the first few nights Belle would pick him up,  calm him down by holding him across her shoulder rocking up and down and then place him in his bed as she once had with her children. Then quickly she would run back to her room, only to find that Boots had run after her.  Once on the other side of the door she leapt into her single bed, drew the covers to her chin and waited until Boots started up again.

Which he did night after night. Boots was exhausting her and she longed for old Mr. McCullough to recover. And her not-so-secret worry which she had discussed somewhat drunkenly with her girlfriends at lunch was that old Mr. McCullough would knock off leaving her with Boots.

But over the weeks Boots began to settle in. Instead of hours of feral crying he began throwing himself against the door which he did with astounding athleticism  for a cat who was both obese and middle aged. Just when she thought she couldn’t stand it any more  Mr. McCullough died and nobody came around to claim Boots.

As she lay in bed at night considering her options, her mind drifted back to the day  the neighbour boys had come over to remove the double bed she and her husband had shared for 20 years. It’s not that she had started out with a bad marriage. In fact it was quite the opposite. When she married Ted, she was. what she thought anyways, madly in love with him. The first five years were great and then slowly somewhere a small chill, a tiny disatisfaction set in which in the past would go away as they talked through their small differences but which eventually grew to many small indifferences that became insurmountable and intractable.

The divide between them in their bed seemed so wide it felt like a continent had to be crossed just to touch each other.  Ted’s evacuation of their “boudoir” as she laughingly used to call it, happened slowly and started simply with him watching tv downstairs and falling asleep from time to time, to him spending most nights in the basement and finally a permanent move when he got a wall sized television with a satellite dish. Soon after that  he ran off with her best friend’s youngish mother and spent the last years volunteering doing god knows what in Latin America. A stunning difference from the life he shared with her in which he seemed married to his television and deadened by a job he inexplicably couldn’t leave.

She could still hear Boots against the door. “For the love of god.” she thought feeling dry mouthed and dehydrated. She had gone out with girlfriends for dinner and had drunk an injudicious fourth glass of wine which was partly the result of being with her best friend who remained her best friend but awkwardly so after the ‘incident’. And then she drove home. And now she lay in bed drunk (having had another drink when she got home) thinking about Ted and now Boots. She picked up the glass of water beside her bed and drank it in one go.

The last time, she thought to herself, anyone had been in this bed with her was over 2 years ago. Two and half years after Ted had moved out. She smiled and cringed all at the same time. The single bed was some kind of meaningless fuck you to Ted which now seemed entirely ridiculous. Especially now when she thinks back on her one and only one night stand which involved a great deal of overwrought gymnastics and climbing back up from the floor and into the arms of her lover who’s name and face she can no longer place.

As she listened to Boots throwing himself against the door, she thought of old Mr. McCullough and how he had doted on Boots whom he had inherited from his grandson. How Mr. McCullough was a gracious man who kept entirely to himself but seemed happy to chat about Boots whenever he had the chance. How Boots did this, how Boots needed that. She thought it odd how this quiet man seemed to come to life when he talked about a cat. And until just now she never quite got it because she didn’t care for animals. It’s not that she disliked them she just never really wanted the additional hassle even when her kids and Ted begged her to get a dog or a cat.

What the hell she thought as Boots persisted with his banging at the door – there could be worse things and she got up and opened the door to Boots. He climbed onto the bed and  snuggled between her legs as though it was the most natural place in the world for him to be. And then she reached into her side table and enjoyed one of the secret cigarettes she occasionally allowed herself and lay back and listened to the winter rain.


Filed under Random Musing