Denizens Of Hell


CHARLIE’S HEAD LOLLS in the chair, supported by wing-like pads covered in faux sheepskin. The sheepskin was Zack’s idea, made the chair classier, like the interior of a nice car. Her view is of the wall where it marries the ceiling. This is her world. There are cobwebs up there because her sister-in-law, Beth, is not a tidy housekeeper.

Closing her eyes, Charlie is somewhere in the past with a hot, dazzling sun overhead.

“I need to know,” the nervous young man says, kissing her hand. “Are you applying for this internship?”

Charlie looks at him. “Maybe, why?”

Rodney squints at the traffic through his wrap-around Oakley shades and guns the Jeep, changing lanes in the beige heat. “Because if I apply for it, I’ll get it. I’m a better journalist than you.”

This is a roundhouse punch to her soul but Charlie says nothing.

“You’re not going to wear that tonight, are you?”

She looks down at her dusty tank top, cargo shorts and sunburned thighs. “No, why?”

“There’s going to be people there from the newspapers, the editors, a few publishers. I’m going to dig out my ROTC tie.” He wiggles his eyebrows at her. “You like me in a tie, remember?”

She tugs the hand he was kissing free and ruffles the dark curls at the back of his head. Rodney’s hair is all curls, like a Greek statue's.

“You’re playing with my hair again,” he smiles in mock annoyance and tries to shoo her away from those curls with his right hand. “I got to get it cut next week for Reserves.”

The hot memory fades and she refocuses on the wall as Charlie’s nephew, Zack, enters the living room. His book bag, flung at the sofa, arrives a few seconds before he does. His headphones are on, hesher noise bleeds from them. The chorus sounds like ‘DEATH, SATAN, FUCK YOU’. Her hearing is supernatural since the accident.

Zack stands at the fridge and empties a carton of orange juice, belches, crushes the carton and guns it into the over-flowing trash. He wipes his mouth on his black t-shirt. Zack wears a wool cap tugged down to his blonde eyebrows. A chain that runs from his jeans to his wallet jingles as he moves in the kitchen.

He walks into the living room and notices her for the first time.

“Did you shit?” He sniffs the air.

Charlie tries for ‘no’ but it sounds like ‘awg’. This causes her to cough a bit on the saliva that is forever accumulating at the back of her mouth. Please don’t change me, she thinks, not you. It’s not that he’s too rough; it’s the way he stares. She is a gutted trout, her wilted vulva, the trout’s entrails. She has become a biology class demo to be studied so a dark future might be divined by this bombastic acolyte.

Charlie’s gaze darts to one of the house cats twining his ankles. Zack looks down.

“Did you do that?”

The cat meows.

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About M. Keeney


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Just another valley girl with a computer, a word processor and big hopes. I've been published in several anthologies, had one treatment optioned and am currently working on a second novel (first was never published).
1 comments
Discussion
   18 months ago
This was a really interesting story. Sort of all over the place but in a good way. Really drew me in with its realism and when it started to get unreal it worked, kept me moving to the bitter end. Nice job!

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