“Bored in Brementown” by Vashti Anderson
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Wisconsin’s small towns are no match for Vashti Anderson.
Bored in Brementown
by Vashti Anderson
Brown and mustard. I stared at the painted mushrooms on the wall, the same way I did every day. In the eighties, Brementown was living in seventies colors. Brown and mustard.
I watched Tweeter’s bare feet make their way across the linoleum. Slap, slap. The hiccup noise of the toaster. She reached in and pulled out two halves of an English muffin. They were hotter than she expected. They flew from her hands; one landed on the counter, the other on the floor. The sweaty linoleum. Dirty feet. She picked it up, glanced at me, and put it on a plate. I cringed. I knew it would be my plate.
Young women in Brementown came in two types: pig-nosed or bulbous. Both were described as “real real cute.” I wasn’t either. I was “different.” I filled in my lips with black eye pencil.
My improvised lipstick circled my bite marks on the side of the English muffin that didn’t touch the floor. Tweeter looked over briefly, guiltlessly. Woofer and Tweeter, she and my dad called each other. Some kind of nerd kink. Wooden chair legs screeched as I got up.
Outside had a cold that made your eyelashes freeze together. It’s amazing there was any procreation at all. The laces of my boots got caked with crunchy snow as I drifted to school.
First period: science. Mrs. Berger sent me to the guidance counselor on her first day. My lab partner was a metalhead who scratched SATAN into our desk with his knife, and Mrs. Berger thought it had been me. She and all of the school officials were very concerned about my apparent satanism. Today, she began class by berating the janitor for “neglecting to remove debris.” She threatened to report him. A real whistleblower, she was. He mumbled that he didn’t care. Can’t argue with that. Next period: gym. Mrs. McDole had recently gained a few pounds and was on a baby food–only diet. She taunted her students, and her veiny eyelids fluttered heavily when she rolled her eyes at the “losers.” Brock, as usual, stared at me through the retractable wall that divided the girls’ gym class from the boys’. He was a football player and had a crush on me that he was surprisingly unashamed of. After looking at the eyelids of death for half an hour: home economics. Mrs. Keebler was a little woman with spiky hair who always wore polyester scarves. Her big thing was family values, and she worked in speeches about the evils of deviance while she taught us to sew. When she spoke, she sounded like she was underwater, eating large spoonfuls of super-wholesome pudding.
It was these three ladies every morning, then lunch. When I got back from my ritual of smoking cigarettes and bitching about whatever with Tamika in the park, I couldn’t help but notice a body being wheeled out. Everyone was sent home.
It was all Woofer and Tweeter would talk about. By the end of the term, all three of those morning ladies were gone. The police brought in an expert. He liked the word copycat, and the phrase copycat suicide even better. It was in the zeitgeist. Cases closed.
Every serial killer has a trademark. Resourcefulness was mine.
While doing some lunchtime sewing, Mrs. Keebler’s scarf got stuck in a heavy-duty stitch. In her panic, she floored the sewing machine pedal and strangled herself.
While writing a report that would surely get someone in trouble, Mrs. Berger mistook a glass of hydrochloric acid for her glass of water.
At the end of the school day, a baseball pitching machine went haywire on Mrs. McDole. She’d apparently had second thoughts, but as she struggled toward the machine to turn it off, she was finally bombarded to death.
It was pretty obvious. I left my fingerprints everywhere.
How could they not know?
Brock knew, and he’s an idiot.
My little-girl Barbie-doll faith in authority was reborn. It was part of a mythic utopia. People were, in fact, mean and ugly, motivated solely by self-interest, groping, grappling for power, cringing in cowardice and mediocrity. But they still inherently believed in the integrity of a teenage girl, no matter how “different” she was.
I mean, really, how could they not?
VASHTI ANDERSON is a Trinidadian-American filmmaker who has won grants, recognition, and awards for her writing and directing. Moko Jumbie, her narrative feature film, is currently in post-production. Her narrative short film, Jeffrey’s Calypso, has been shown in festivals around the world and curated for special screenings. She holds an MFA in film from New York University, teaches courses in film at Hunter College, and has guest lectured at the University of the West Indies. She also writes about film and multimedia for A&U Magazine.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 27, 2016
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