An Unacceptable Fairytale

**Disclaimer: This is not an acceptable story.

A Phyllis Fairytale
By: Your Mom

Once upon a time, there lived a dunce of a girl named Phyllis. She was sweet in her way, but she certainly wasn’t the brightest blueberry in the patch. She struggled with common household utensils and was frequently discovered using forks, knives and bumbleberry jam to smear, daub and splatter portraits of god knows what instead of using the paint set that she’d received for her ninth birthday. In a similarly unfortunate and misguided manner, she commonly washed her hair with either toothpaste or her mother’s bikini hair removal kit, which, in Phyllis’s defense, did sport the illustration of a bountiful tuft of dark hair writhing on its cover. As an unfortunate consequence, young Phyllis’s head was a patchy abomination, smelling of peppermint and shame.

Phyllis never intended to lead such a mockery of an existence, just as she never intended to upset her mother by setting fire to the lampshades with a lighter in an attempt to make the bulbs “turn on.” The fine distinction between electricity and flame power was lost upon Phyllis for many years, and, as a result, all lampshades were yanked from their bulb poles and tossed with bitter love and regret into the dumpster. Fires and accidental arson were not tolerated in Phyllis’s household, and, since Phyllis couldn’t be tossed into a dumpster, the lampshades were subjected to the dark, rancid fate.

Alas, Phyllis was a dim bulb in a house blazing with exposed, unrestrained voltaic brilliance. She was, however, in possession of one saving grace. She got a donk.

LA FIN


cropped-img_1360.jpg

Chalk Drawing

Image

**This is a story that is 75% memoir and 25% fiction about a typical afternoon of life a few years back**

This car swerves in front me, some prissy old lady sitting stiff like a plank in the driver’s seat, and we all are pretty pissed.  It’s not like we’re genuinely upset but we’re pissed for the principle of the matter: it’s summer, in fact, it is our last summer before we have to start learning how to be grownups, go to college and leave the world as we know it behind.  The fact that this old lady is turned all the way around showing us the insides of her nostrils with her pointy old lady nose held high in the air does nothing to help calm our jittery, momentarily enraged nerves.  We can’t afford to tolerate stuck up old ladies with their stuck up noses slowing us down.

I slam my foot on the gas, switch lanes and pass her from the right.  She scowls as the beating rhythm of the bass blares from my open windows, so loud that the glass in her rear view window rattles a bit.  She shakes her puffy white head bitterly as John, sitting beside me, flicks her off.  As soon as I’ve passed, I cut sharply in front of her and speed away, leaving her and her cotton ball head drooping in the dust.  Patrick whoops and does a sloppy victory dance in the back seat.  He is a little bit drunk and his high fashion white sunglasses are crooked in a way that, I think, really completes the casually beer-stained look.

In celebration of our grand victory, John turns up the music so loud that I can hardly hear Patrick yelling at me to open the back seat sun roof.

“I don’t have a back seat sun roof!” I shout back.

“How do you open this thing??” Patrick is struggling in the backseat, searching for the nonexistent button that will slide an un-slidable segment of my car’s roof open.

Laughing, I shout even louder, “DUDE!  That isn’t a sun roof! Only the front one slides open!”

It is not clear whether he doesn’t hear me or is simply choosing not to believe me, but Patrick continues his search for several minutes, mumbling with frustration, his sunglasses becoming more and more lopsided.  John and I snicker in the front seat as we move to the beat of a raunchy Britney Spears song that’s just begun.

Suddenly, Patrick’s arms shoot out from either side of my head rest, one hand flailing out the window beside me and one waving straight up through the sun roof above my head.  He’s got a big, goofy grin on his face and is flopping around with an apparently violent passion for Britney Spears’ music.  Patrick, a typically soft spoken boy of a particularly worrisome nature, has obviously flipped his shit, and John and I can hardly stand it, we’re laughing so hard. I can barely breathe, choking on my giggles—the hysteria of the passengers mounting along with the speed of the car.

We, as a trio, sing in discordant harmony along with Britney and suddenly it’s raining.  Shrieking, I attempt to close the sun roof but the sliding glass panel seems to be feeling pretty leisurely today and crawls shut at the steady pace of a drowsy sloth.  Consequently, John and I are drenched, and Patrick, sitting dry but for the damp patches of beer on his t-shirt, is snorting with laughter and continues to dance, now to a cool, vaguely metrosexual techno beat.

Seemingly unfazed by the torrential downpour that seconds ago had flooded my car, John’s eyes are all bright and inspired as he exclaims with enthusiasm, “Guys, let’s make a band!  I’ll do vocals, Patrick can play the keyboard, and Normando,” he says, looking at me with a mischievous glint in his eye, “can play the tambourine.”

“Dude, what the hell!  This better be some kind of sick joke.  I know how to play the piano, probably a frickin’ lot better than Patrick,” I protested, still grinning a little.

“I took piano lessons for ten years,” Patrick slurs, tossing an empty beer can out the window.

“Well, that settles that, then.  Bring on the tambourines, bro!” I shout, enjoying the feeling of the wind blowing my hair around all crazily and the raindrops spattering all over my face and half-blinding me.

Up ahead, I see our old elementary school and I turn with a screech into the little parking lot reserved for the teachers.  John and I hop easily out of the car but Patrick is still trapped in the back seat.  I drive a Mini Cooper, referred by many as the “clown car,” and have to push the driver’s seat up all the way so that Patrick, standing over six feet tall, can hope to escape the cramped confines of the backseat, suitable only for midgets and small children.

With some difficulty, Patrick gets out of the car and both boys decide they need to piss—not in the bushes, but on the cars parked on either side of mine.  It’s still raining, so I’m not too mad or grossed out about it.  I turn away, covering my face and laughing a little as I hear the cars become covered in something very different than rain.

All of a sudden, a voice shouts through the rain, “What do you boys think you’re doing?!”

I flip around and see Patrick and John frantically zipping their flies, trying to play it cool and, seeing this, I can’t stifle the startled laughter that I’d briefly considered suppressing.

“Katherine Normando, is that you?” demands a portly, red headed woman who I now recognize to be my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. McCulloch.  Freaking out a little bit, I feel my cheeks turn red and smile a little, trying to act like my friends hadn’t just peed on a couple of cars.

“Hi, Mrs. McCulloch!” I say, my voice cracking even though I’m a girl, which is pretty embarrassing, “Did you have a nice summer?”

“Before we get to that, may I ask these boys just what the hell they think they were doing just now?” she says coldly, little red apples sprouting on both of her cheeks.

Patrick is staring at her blankly, speechless and John is grinning sheepishly, hoping to win this ginger battle axe over with his charm.

“Give me your names,” Mrs. McCulloch demands curtly, “I’m calling the cops.  Katherine, I couldn’t be more disappointed with your choice of friends.  I expected more from you.  You were such a bright little girl.”

She turns away with apparent disgust and dials 9-1-1.  I can’t look anyone in the eye right now and just look down at the damp pavement, staring blankly at a drawing of a frog some kid made with chalk, now getting washed away by the rain.  Summer is over. I guess it’s time to grow up.

There is a Thin Line

This was just the kind of action I was looking for.  It’d been a slow night and coffee just wasn’t cutting it this time around.  I’d been on duty for 6 hours—hadn’t seen a single speeder.  I was beginning to wonder why I’d joined the highway patrol, dedicating my life to an apparent world of monotony when this godsend of a lady flew by me at 95 miles per hour.  What excited me more than her speed, though, was her swerve: an awe-inspiring fishtail that, once again, awakened me to the thrills of the highway and all of its vast mysteries and dangers…

It was nice and dark out at that point, probably around midnight, and I was really enjoying the drama of the sporadic red and blue flashes of my lights cutting through the night, reflecting off of this lady’s car and heightening the drama of the pursuit.  It took some time for her to slow her zigging zag to a halt, and I felt very smooth and professional as I pulled in effortlessly behind her, assaulting the back of her car with dust and pebbles.  She was clearly drunk; there was no way she’d notice.

I opened the door and began to step outside when I noticed that the lady seemed to have the same idea as me. She opened her car door with impressive force—so much, in fact, that it immediately bounced back and slammed shut on her outstretched ankle.

“FUCK!” she shrieked as her ankle slinked back into the confines of the rusty red Oldsmobile.

“Ma’am, you need to remain inside of your vehicle,” I warned, choking back a snort of amusement.  This was more than I ever could have hoped for.  After a full day of watching reasonable drivers pass me by at reasonable speeds, a little entertainment was well deserved.

I approached the driver’s side window, anxiously anticipating what was sure to be an inspiring encounter.  The lady still hadn’t rolled her window down so I rapped against it lightly with my knuckles.  From within, I could hear muffled cursing and watched as she struggled to stuff a fairly large bottle into her glove compartment while simultaneously wrestling with the seatbelt, obviously attempting to pull one over on me and click it before a ticket.

I knocked once more on her window, this time a little harder.  She jumped, clicking her seatbelt into place, and looked out at me with watery blue eyes chunkily bordered with dirty black eye gunk and something gooey resembling mascara, much of which was running down the sides of her face.  Her thin lips, smeared and thickened with lipstick, were stretched into a vague smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.  There was lipstick in her teeth too.

“Ma’am, please roll down your window,” I said loudly so that she could hear me through the glass.

“Ok, ok, ok, ok, OK!” she responded, the final utterance bursting forth from the car as the window was lowered.

“Ma’am,” I started, “Have you been drinking tonight?”

“Whattaya think? You think I’m the kinda person that’d drink?  I’ve got kids, mister, four of ‘em and I raised ‘em good.  Don’t you go accusin’ me of bein’ an alcoholic—you don’t have the RIGHT.”

She ended the slurred statement impressively with a belch—an effective persuasive technique.  Honest to god, I could barely hold it in.  This lady was comedic gold.

“Ma’am, do you know how fast you were driving?” I asked.

“Wasn’t even a mile over 75!  You think I’m a monster, or what? I got a baby in the back, I’m no idiot,” she gestured with one flailing arm to the backseat where there quietly sat a child who looked to be about three or four years old.  She didn’t have a seatbelt on.  Staring at me blankly, her watery blue eyes only a little bit more focused than her mother’s, she hugged a decapitated Barbie doll and smiled at me blearily.

“Alright, ma’am, first of all, the speed limit is not 75, it’s 65.  Either way, you were speeding.  You passed me going 95 miles per hour.  Also, neither you nor your child was wearing a seatbelt, which is both unsafe and against the law.  You vehicle was swerving–”

“Whattaya think you’re talkin’ about?? I’m wearin’ a goddamn seatbelt!” she interrupted, gesturing at the recently positioned item, “Here, here, here…it’s fine.  Lemme just show you my license, insurance, whatever it is you wanna see.”

She fumbled for her wallet, removing from it her license, and then reached for the glove compartment.  As soon as it was open, the bottle she had apparently forgotten she’d hidden just a moment ago tumbled out.  It was quite visibly a half empty bottle of Kamchatka vodka.

With shockingly quick reflexes for someone so clearly inebriated, the lady snatched up the bottle and tossed it under the backseat, within her daughter’s reach.

“Was just at the grocery store, bought some cooking vinegar,” she slurred, with an uneasy little smile that exposed too many lipsticky teeth.  I couldn’t believe this lady.  To acknowledge the absurdity of this would be unprofessional, but I could only suppress the raging amusement for so long.  This woman was ridiculous to the point of being inhuman, like a cartoon character who happens to be really, really drunk.

“You are clearly intoxicated, ma’am.  I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the car.”

“Fuckin’ crazy…you have no right…” she mumbled as she tumbled out of the car.  I caught her by one arm before she could tip all the way over.

“Lemme go, lemme go. It’s just the heels…a new pair. Lemme GO,” she bellowed, and pulled away roughly.  Shockingly, she managed to remain in an upright position, though there was definitely some heavy swaying involved.

“Ok, ma’am, I need you to take 10 steps in a straight line away from the car and then 10 steps back,” I instructed, wondering how far she’d make it.  Turns out, it wasn’t very far.

She managed to totter in a forwardish direction a couple of steps and then flopped down to the ground hard.

“It’s just the new heels, you ASS HOLE!” she screeched, her voice breaking on the word “ass.”  She started to cry a bit.  Her kid must’ve heard too, because then she started crying from inside the car.  I guess my willpower’s not that strong because that’s when I started to laugh. And it was the best laugh I’d had all day.

 

 

Image

^My callous impersonation of the poor, drunk, fictional soul

My Dear Mr. Tiffin

I wrote this for a “Picture’s worth 1000 words” challenge.  The picture that inspired the  little tale is below:Image

Children don’t play here anymore.  Children don’t play nice anymore.  They grew bigger and we grew duller and they left us here, in heartache, to agonize over our peeling paint and the sad, rusty flakes that sprout up in its place.  Even the little ones won’t come and rotate with us, round-and-round-we-go, anymore.  The moms and dads and nannies call our neighborhood “unsafe,” and think poorly of the pungent, bearded men who sleep on us every now and again.

But when you lead your life in a loop, when everything you know and live for is founded upon (shackled to) a rusty, yellow, pergatorial turntable that squeak-creak-shrieks at the wind’s lightest touch–a gentle breeze is a ticklish matter for this prisonous, cast iron wheel of cheese whereas a stormy gust in the night sends the cylindrical oaf into the most jarring fits of metallurgic mania you could ever be unfortunate enough to imagine–you begin to value the little things, insignificances. Either that or you lose your mind–your very connection to humanity and human contact, to the desire to feel something more comforting than the continuous corrosion that corrupts our friendly identities and masks us with an unapproachable layer of grime.

On one particular morning, as we awoke to the first glints of sunlight exposing to an apathetic world our shameful, perpetual path to nowhere, we discovered the dreadful transformation of one of the members of our increasingly melancholy ranks.  His name was once Mr.Tiffin, and he had been the most magnificently resplendent creature of us all–a brilliant butterfly with colossal lime green wings that were capable of cradling a full-grown child each.  We had all admired and envied him to the utmost degree, but when the big kids forgot about us and the little ones stopped turning up altogether, Mr. Tiffin’s heart broke to pieces and a darkness darker than the fine coating of filth that was beginning to blacken our once bright faces started to fill his loving spirit with a tempestuous distress that put us all at unease.

Day by day he grew more bitter, more heartsick and more devastatingly, bitingly cruel to the rest of us.  His words were as cold and corrosive as his outer metallic shell and he began to frighten us with detailed accounts of his twisted nightmares, of perverse desires to hack off his lovely wings, to which he sneeringly began to refer to as “worthless rags,” as “hideous appendages” that meant nothing to him and nothing to anybody else.  We tried to reassure him, to make him see, how much he meant to us–both his magnificent wings and his once gentle soul–in a world that was fast losing its beauty and its warmth and its children, its children, its children…

That ill-fated morning, we all awoke to the vague tickle of cockroach legs skittering over the rough contours of our pirouetting prison’s flaying, star-spangled exterior, as the sun’s early morning glare was subdued by the roiling mass of a large dusty cloud, tarnishing an otherwise pleasantly crisp pink sky.  The change was not at first apparent.  We were lethargic, growing into lackadaisical lumps of scrap metal, and, I will admit, our observational facilities at that point were not the keenest.  But I still recall the first poignant moments of disbelief–of horror, even–when I saw the beast mounted in Mr. Tiffin’s place, absurdly posing as my dear, winged friend.

Everything about this insectile impersonator was unsettling, from his alarmingly elongated, green nose to the large, staring eyes, set hard in a squinted sneer, to the oily black top hat priggishly perched on his polished, pea-green head.  This creature would not speak to us–would not communicate with us whatsoever but for a faint snicker that set us all on edge and made us yearn for better, brighter days.

The mutation of our friend, of old Mr. Tiffin’s disconnection with life and with joy-bringing, made us all start to gravely fear what was to become of us–if one by one we would each suffer such a distressing transformation.  It was a dark time made even darker by the dust and the grime slowly congregating on our flaking surfaces and falling into our eyes.

But then she came.  She came and everything and nothing changed.

The morning was a grey and bleary one.  We were all silent but for the green thing’s sniggering, but even he had seemed more listless and unamused as of late.  The wind had been sickly and sluggish for some time, allowing a respectably girthy coat of soot to gather in our dim eyes, so that we heard her before we saw her–a somber little voice singing off-key.  Those sweet, discordant notes sent tiny thrills of joy into each of our still, rusty hearts, and we were almost overwhelmed by bliss when she pushed off the filthy ground and began to spin with us slowly, round and round, twirling and ensnaring us in that jarring, innocent melody.

She sat down right next to what was once Mr. Tiffin, leaning solemnly against his bulbous, black boot, totally unfazed by his horrible snickers or by the emptiness of his wide eyes.  There seemed to be energy, tiny tremors, coursing up and down our entire length and structure–our very foundation shaken by this small child, sitting and rotating in the dust with us.  We were embarrassed by our ugliness, but not nearly as embarrassed as happy and beaming and overjoyed that we had not been forgotten after all, that we wouldn’t be left all alone to rust forever and ever.  We still had a purpose and that purpose at the moment was this serious little girl with the serious little voice who, for whatever reason, sat with us for a time–oh, and what a time it was!–and spared us some of her precious childhood moments.  But, as all children must eventually, she had to leave. And as abruptly as she had appeared, she was gone, leaving Mr. Green Thing with a sweet, absentminded pat and disappearing with her song, which was carried on the soft breeze that continued to urge us along our creaking circular path long after she was gone.

When the melody finally died out completely, we noticed that Mr. Tiffin had grown silent.  The little girl’s hand print remained on his side, having broken through the barrier of dust to the bright green paint beneath.  In warm silence, we admired that small imprint and the brightness that it had exposed.  She had changed everything, if only for a moment.