Static 1.4

(previously)

Week 3

“Hey, Mercer,” Sandy greeted when he came down for breakfast the next day.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Mercer grumbled and poured himself a coffee.

“Did Davey tell you that he’s gone for the week?” she asked.

Mercer took a seat at the table and let the caffeine bring him to life.

“No. What’s up?”

“It’s some work thing,” she said and waved it away. “He’ll be back on Thursday.

“Cool?”

She laughed. “Yeah, I guess. I just thought you should know since I’m not going to be here tonight either.”

“Going to the spa?” Mercer fired, gesturing to her towel.

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah. We’re going to get our colons cleansed.”

Mercer shook his head at the invading imagery.

She laughed.

“I have a date, dummy,” she said. “You’re getting the whole place to yourself for the very first time!” She sniffled. “Our old man is growing up.”

“Lord,” Mercer said to the ceiling, “grant me strength.”

“Whatever,” Sandy called over her shoulder on her way back to her room.

First time alone, Mercer thought. I should invite some friends over.

Then he remembered that he didn’t really have any.

“Meow,” Kevin said, and Mercer rolled his eyes.

*

SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK

Mercer stopped and looked around his store. He’d been pacing for a couple of hours, racking up steps on his fitness tracker and listening to standup comedy radio. The station timed out, and in the silence, he heard it.

It was gone now, and he wasn’t sure that he hadn’t hallucinated the sound. He pulled his phone from his pocket and continued his walk. Just before he could tap play, he heard

SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK!

It seemed more persistent this time. He crouched on the floor and peeked under the beds. He stepped to the nearest wall, and got the faintest

SQUEAK

He whipped his head up and around, attempting to catch the mysterious prankster. He pictured a clown hiding between the rows opposite his, white gloved hands covering his sniggering painted face. He stepped

SQUEAK

toward the

SQUEAK

direction he thought

SQUEAK

it was coming from.

SQUEAK

He stopped again and spun in a circle.

“What the hell?” he asked the mattresses.

He took a step.

SQUEAK

And another.

SQUEAK

He looked down at himself. He patted his shirt pocket and his pants front and back. He continued to look down as he took another step.

SQUEAK

He looked up to where he imagined the clown was hiding. It was standing now, laughing at Mercer’s stupidity. Mercer grabbed his belt buckle and jiggled it.

SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK

The clown’s head exploded in a rainbow of confetti.

*

“You should try Tinder, man, I’m telling you. Three dates is all it takes to get laid. That’s, like, the unwritten rule.”

Barry was trying to get Mercer to start looking for romance. It’d been almost a year since his last break up, and Mercer hadn’t really looked at another woman since.

“You still talk to her?” Barry asked him.

“Gretchen’s in Florida blowing an RV salesman,” Mercer replied.

“Dude.”

“Yeah.”

They were silent for a moment.

“Did you see,” Mercer began, turning the conversation away from himself, “that article a while ago about the racism tracking what they’re doing with Tinder?”

“What do you mean?”

“I saw it the other day. Apparently, if you’re an Asian dude or a black woman, you’re not gonna get laid using dating apps. They compiled all this data that proves it.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Yeah, but, I mean, it’s just a matter of preference, right?”

“Yeah, but as a brown man, I’m allowed to –”

“You’re whiter than I am,” Mercer cut in.

“I’ll have you know, sir, that my father –”

“Yeah, what’s up with that?” Mercer interrupted again. “He just decided to move to America, marry a white lady, and never speak his native tongue to his children?”

“Yeah,” Barry agreed. “I asked him about it once, but he made me mow the lawn instead of answering me, so… I never asked again.”

*

“Meow,” Kevin greeted Mercer that evening. The house was empty, and the animal was sitting in the middle of the foyer facing the door.

“Hey, bud,” Mercer said absently. He dropped his shoulder bag by the stairs and made a bee line for the fridge.

“Meow,” Kevin said.

Mercer pulled out chicken.

“Meow,” Kevin said.

Mercer blackened the bird to perfection – small delicious strips of spicy, juicy flesh.

“Meow,” Kevin said.

Mercer made himself a glass of water.

“Meow.”

He carried his bowl of tasty treats to the living room.

“Meow.”

“Alright!” Mercer snapped. “Give it a rest, cat.”

“Meow,” Kevin replied before running off into Sandy’s bedroom.

Mercer took a seat on the couch. It was a little too close to David’s seventy inch flatscreen, but he suffered through it while he ate.

“Meow,” Kevin called from the other room.

“Jesus,” Mercer muttered. He scarfed a couple more bites.

“Meow.”

He stood and stomped his way back to the kitchen.

“Meow?”

He dropped his bowl into the sink and grabbed another glass of water.

“Meow…”

Mercer laughed and walked toward the stairs.

“Me-ow.”

He cringed, grabbed his bag, and stormed down the stairs, slamming the door for effect, although he didn’t know for whom. The cat maybe? Would loud noises make it shut the hell up?

Mercer found himself on his couch, sitting a little too far away from his forty-something inch flatscreen.

“Meow?”

“What the fuck,” Mercer asked the universe. He couldn’t believe the sound traveled so well.

“Me-ow?”

“Meow…”

“Meow…”

*

The comic was taking a dark turn. Captain Meowsington had driven Pecking Order insane. He who was once a diabolical genius was now a simpering, squawking mess. The Cat was busy meowing and looking up recipes for roasted fowl; the rest of his captives – Negative Initial Reaction Man, The Gesticulator and Lady Godiva – were all wrapped up tight in that bright orange yarn. They were strewn about the room like toys abandoned mid play.

“Please, no!” Lady Godiva cried. “I can’t take anymore!”

The Gesticulator couldn’t say anything because he couldn’t move his hands.

“I told you this wouldn’t work!” Negative Initial Reaction Man yelled.

(next)



Categories: Fiction, Static

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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