Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Entry #188

The Frailty of Birds
by James R. Tomlinson


With the rising cost in prescription medication and her husband’s small veteran’s disability pay, Allison wonders how she’ll survive. She wants to help Latisha Sanchez, no doubt there, and what better way to make amends for Lloyd’s past digression: calling Hector Sanchez “an overpaid Mexican landscaper.”

Latisha spearheads the homeowner’s association. She’s collecting money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Are you sure it’s okay to come in?”

Allison glances over her shoulder; Lloyd’s preoccupied fixing the wall switch for his reading lamp. “Please,” she motions.

“You must forgive my Hector,” Latisha says, “he’s anal about those bylaws.”

“It’s Lloyd who should apologize,” Allison counters. “I warned him about pumping water from the creek. Let the grass turn brown, I said. But he wouldn’t listen.”

“Who are you talking to?”

“Mrs. Sanchez.”

“I thought I smelled cocoa butter.”

“Ignore him,” Allison suggests.

Lloyd continues, “Remember how you complained about those damn crows attacking the sparrows and chickadees?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Well get in here woman!”

“It’s okay,” Allison reassures Latisha. They step into the family room.

“Watch,” Lloyd instructs, pointing outside.

A metal pole supports a birdfeeder; beneath it: a birdbath. Two crows are splashing about.

“What are we watching?” Latisha asks Allison.

“I’m not sure.”

“You’ll see,” Lloyd promises.

Soon enough, the crows land on the support bar of the birdfeeder and start pecking and kicking seed. Lloyd flicks the wall switch and yells, “Fry you dirty bastards!”

One loosens its grip and flees; the other is shocked.


(James R. Tomlinson is still in prison, doing time in 8-hour increments. His most recent stories can be read at Staccato and Diverse Voices Quarterly.)

36 comments:

Aniket said...

The reigning champion arrives with his masterpiece. I really really enjoyed reading this piece. Sharp dialogues, that tell us so much about the characters.

Absolutely love the end! You have another winner at your hands. Should make it most people's top 5, despite the scores of swell entries.

Loved your bio. Though it might scare some, if they don't know you already. :D

Laurel said...

I love how well you work multiple characters into your flash pieces! Artful. Good, real details.

And this was "shocking!"

Nothingman said...

PETA will be contacting you soon regarding this story :|

LOLz, kidding :P

Nicely done!

N

Preeti said...

Haww!!! WICKED!!!Someone mentioned PETA????

Naughty naughty... but you know... i laughed my guts out when he yelled "fry you dirty bastards..." can almost see him standing there triumphantly and the 2 women gaping at him, aghast...

and he's such a droll-face... "i thought i smelled cocoa butter.." bad bad boy...

what a lovely character!!! i wish there was more about him... :-(

PS: i thought that you were really in prison. If it wasnt for Aniket, i would have left with that thought... :-)

Whitenoise said...

Great story. ;-)

BTW, Jim, sorry to see that you've shut down your blog. Please leave something on Michelle's to let everyone know where you'll be hanging out.

Deb Smythe said...

Does it hurt keeping your tongue in cheek like that?
Great job.

lena said...

Greatly done. What I actually like is like Laurel mentioned is the use of multiple characters in such a short piece.

Aniket said...

@Preeti: But he goes there daily, to teach. ;)

laughingwolf said...

damn jim, that's awesome!

CJT said...

Thats the funniest one I've read all day, and I've read a ton of them! This is definately in my top ten!

Craig said...

I liked how the last line can be used to describe both the women and the birds.

Kartik said...

I was "shocked" too! Trust me, I wasn't laughing!

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Cousin Jim!
Love the use of mundane detail to set the stage for your crackpot character terrifyingly plausible actions...It's all about the by-laws. Most enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouraging words everyone. We've certainly got our work cut out for us with so many entries. I'm going to read the entries in batches of ten and make some picks; not an easy task.

On a different note: Whitenoise, an email was sent during the holidays. Due to the record number of parolees in Michigan (not to mention concealed weapons permits), I've decided to make myself less known. With modern technology, GPS systems and whatnot, I certainly don't want any ex-felons at my doorstep. I'll continue writing and visiting blogs though.

Back to the entries, time is running out. Peace. --JR

Jane said...

managed to track you down at least james...'fry, you bastards' love that line lol..hate crows and this should be standard garden equipment imo...he'd make a killing flogging these devices on ebay ;-)

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi JR!

Wow, nice take on the prompt. A man as unhappy as Lloyd needs to spread it around. Poor crows (even though I do dislike the oily winged creatures!)

LOLOL Love your Bio, isn't how we all serve? 8 hours at a time, the dredge of the mind numbing prison?

Dottie :)

pjd said...

Although I got confused by all the names without anchors at the beginning, it all became clear partway through. This is a great picture of a woman mortified by her bigot misogynist cranky old husband, and it just gets worse as it goes. Also a sort of picture of a changing society. Although it's a fun yet horrifying read, it's a lot deeper than it first appears. Terrific work.

JaneyV said...

JR - I love the way you are always uncompromisingly unPC. You have created another grotesque in Lloyd to loathe and laugh at in equal measure. I love that you never try to dilute his nastiness.

All hail the JR!

Aerin said...

I, too, was wondering about your strange appearances throughout the contest, but now I understand the need to stay below radar.


my caveat

Something I Would Keep

As ever, that wicked sense of humor. Wouldn't be a CoN contest without you, Sir Tomlinson!! (or is it...Officer?)

Something I Might Tweak

I'm quite sure their names are not Allison and Lloyd, but rather, Don and Viigina...my grandparents' names....

Sarah Laurenson said...

Love the "ignore him" which leads to watching him switch on the crow-zapper. A man you love to hate. And know at least one living in your own neighborhood.

Excellent.

JaneyV said...

Aerin - your grandma's name was Viigina - Seriously???

Karen said...

I can just picture this old guy! With only a little background and a bit of dialogue, you've created a memorable character.

Michael Solender said...

A juicer - electrifying!

Blodeuedd said...

What can I say other than that last line was marvelous. Great piece, and I do like writing where something stays in my head afterwards

Aimee Laine said...

That is just downright mean! And so unfortunate that someone has probably really done that! ;) Run woman, run! ;)

David Barber said...

A nice piece of writing.

Chris Eldin said...

I'm trying to read these in order, but I'm popping out once in a while for names I recognize. I remember yours from the last contest! And once again, you don't disappoint. LOL @ UnPC! A strong entry. Very nicely rendered.

Kurt Hendricks said...

Great, very funny writing. Changing the wife's name to 'Viigina' might help, though :P

Aerin said...

Okay, okay, okay, make fun of the blonde....*raspberries* at all of you!

JR said...

Once again, thank you for being polite. Like most of you, I've read every single entry. Now I'm making my picks. Let's see: I've got two historical flashes, one science fiction, three noir, a yet to be categorized story with a disco ball in it, a comedy, a religious tale, and one plain old husband and wife getting along just fine story.

I'm going to give it a rest, look over my list tomorrow, then submit.

Have a Happy MLK Day!

P.S Does it start with Vii, Vir, or Va ... ??? Nix that last one cause it ain't something you'd say in mixed company.

Rabid Fox said...

Great dialogue. And a twisted little ending. Nice work.

Tara said...

Great characters and very realistic scene.

Corra McFeydon said...

*Gentle, neighborly creatures* you say?

Ha!

Sharply written, James! I'm astounded you could create a portrait of a complex character in so few words.

The crows in the birdbath are (to me) demostrative of what Lloyd would like to do to the 'overpaid Mexicans' (that last being an interpretation of the character's opinion, not my own.)

You create action, dialogue, and a window into this man's mind in surprisingly short time. Really sharply written.

Love the title. Great contrast.

Best of luck in the contest!

~ Corra McFeydon

catvibe said...

Well, this is refreshing after reading all day. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I'm so used to seeing your entries in the first few, here you are all the way toward the 200 mark. Laughed outloud at the end. Excellent as usual JR. The others have spoken what I would have said, so no need to parrot. It was electrifying.

Antriksh Satyarthi said...

that was awesome !!! didn't see 'that' end coming

catvibe said...

Since I have no other way of getting a hold of you JR, I'm here to tell you that I miss you and your blog. Sigh...