“Tinkerbell Forgets to Knock” by Elizabeth Roderick
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Elizabeth Roderick’s Elsie opens a door to a life-or-death situation.
Les’s twenty-foot RV was parked in the gravel drive of a little house with a sagging roof. Plastic deer nestled into the flower beds around it, among clumps of zinnias and cracked planters full of wilting petunias. Some friends of Les’s lived there with their ailing grandmother, no doubt appropriating her Social Security checks and pain meds. I’d only met them in passing, a lank-haired woman and her scraggly-mustached boyfriend.
I hated myself for being there, but I parked next to a dirty old Toyota sedan and hauled myself out of the car anyway. Fuck it, I told myself. Are you really trying to be one of those dorks with a clean life and an office job? Who are you kidding? I sank down beneath my guilt and worry, settling back into the comfortable hog wallow of my ignominy as I mounted the stairs of the RV.
The door rattled when I opened it, and I stepped in, very nearly falling back out again when I found myself at the end of a pistol.
My breath stopped, and I stared in shock at the guy holding it. He was a Hispanic kid in a wifebeater, his head closely shaved, a tattoo in looping script on his neck. His look of panic quickly melted into surprise and then a leering grin.
The gun was a solid-looking thing, gleaming wickedly in the afternoon sun. I heard Les’s high cackle coming from the little dining room to my right, but I didn’t dare look at him; I couldn’t take my eyes away from those of the man in front of me.
“Don’t worry, Luis, it’s just Elsie,” Les said. “You should knock before you come in, Elsie.”
Luis smiled lopsidedly. “Elsie, huh?” The gun dipped to rest on the skin between my breasts. I was sweating, and the metal stung where it caressed me. “You’re pretty, Elsie.”
I could feel my heart pounding against the barrel. Was it a .357 Magnum? If he pulled the trigger, my chest would split open like a firecracker. I swallowed hard, trying to breathe.
“She’s my soon-to-be-ex-wife,” Les said. “How much would you give me for her?”
I clenched my fists, still locked in Luis’s gaze. His eyes were green. “A few grams, at least.” Then he took the gun away, shoving it in his waistband. “Sorry, Elsie, you just scared the shit out of me.”
“You should knock,” Les repeated.
I took a breath as Luis sprawled out on the bench seat across the table from my ex, watching me. My knees were weak.
“C’mere, Els,” Les said. “I got a hit for you.”
I wiped my forehead on the sleeve of my work blouse, trembling. You should get the fuck out of here, a voice in my head said. But I ignored it.
I shut the door and went over to sit next to Les. Fumes rose up from the dope he was cooking, and my stomach twisted, bile rising into my throat as I simultaneously got a hot rush of anticipation. He tossed a little nugget of cotton in the spoon and drew a shot through it. I held out my arm, looking away.
Luis grinned at me impishly as Les prodded around my scar tissue, trying to find a vein. “You’re his ex, huh? You looking for something new?”
Les pressed the plunger of the syringe, and ecstasy flooded through my chest, my spine. I took a deep breath and smiled at Luis. “No way, dude, you almost just killed me,” I said, leaning back in the seat.
“I wouldn’t have killed you,” Luis said.
“What do you expect, you come busting in without knocking?” Les said, pulling the needle out and cleaning it with water, squirting it into the upholstered seat cushions. “Seriously, man, give me three grams, she’s yours.”
“Fuck you,” I said, and Les laughed.
Luis raised his eyebrows at me. “I’ll give you the three grams,” he said.
“I get half,” Les said, drawing up another shot.
“Fuck all of you,” I said.
Luis looked at me thoughtfully. “You don’t look like a junkie,” he said. “You look like a good girl. Why you do that shit?” He jerked his chin towards Les, who was flicking the air bubbles out of the syringe.
I scooted over as Les propped his foot on the seat, trying to find a vein in his ankle. My eyes fell to the pitted Formica of the tabletop. “Good question,” I muttered.
ELIZABETH RODERICK grew up in Washington State, but recently moved to California’s Central Coast. She is a musician and songwriter, and is currently finishing the seventh novel in her young adult fantasy series Tales from Purgatory. She is also working on a set of short vignettes entitled The Tinkerbell Stories. She keeps an active blog at pimentointhehole.com/blog.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and 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 submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Sep 18, 2014
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- Copycat: And a Litter of Other Cats
- What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches – STANDARD EDITION
- Go the Fuck to Sleep
- From a Basement in Seattle
- Sale Drug Chronicles (Complete Set)
- Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos
- Drawing Autism
- In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967, the Peak, Death, and Rebirth of the Hippie Idea
- Letters to Kurt
- Go Fish
- Simon’s Cat Off to the Vet . . . and Other Cat-astrophes