Monday, November 22, 2010

Three-Minute Fiction

 The assignment? From NPR's "Three-Minute Fiction": write a short piece beginning with the sentence "Some people swore that the house was haunted" and ending with "Nothing was ever the same again after that." Here's what popped out of my monkey-mind.


Some people swore that the house was haunted.  That tearing it down would’ve been the right thing to do. Ladies gossiped about it at the corner hair salon on Sundays: “I hear she’s putting it on the market. Can you believe that? After what happened in there? Good luck selling that house, is what I say.”  Scissors snipped and locks of various colors, none of them natural, fell to the floor. Heads shook disapprovingly and tisk sounds were clicked from heavily made-up lips.

“Do you even think they were able to clean up all of the…you know. How does one go about getting all of that…you know…out of the carpet and such?”

Arched brows furrowed as the ladies combed their mental files straight from the pages of the “Hints from Heloise” column in the paper.

“Vinegar? Does vinegar take that out?”

“No, no, no. That’s for ink. What you want is hydrogen peroxide.”

“Yes, that’s right. Hydrogen peroxide.”

A row of coiffed heads nodded in agreement as a blow dryer whirred into action.

“Well. That would be a lot of hydrogen peroxide to clean up the mess she found in that house. Can you imagine?”

This was shouted over the sound of three screaming blow dryers. No one heard. It didn’t matter much. Each woman was busy picturing donning yellow rubber gloves and vigorously scrubbing the remnants of their own husband’s brains out of their own plush beige carpeting. 

Suddenly, the salon door opened; the holiday bells attached to the handle ringing in mock joy.  In walked the subject of the ladies’ gossip; her arm linked with that of the local pizza delivery boy, 22 years her junior. “Can you fit me in for a quick cut?” she asked. “The house just sold and Peter, here, and I are going out to celebrate.” She smiled, winked, and gave the young man a swift tap on the rear as the dryers were silenced, the scissors paused, and one by one red mouths fell open.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.

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