Funny Bones

     "I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap."-Bob Hope

 

Howdy Neighbors 

by

Keith Merrill

 

He loved his neighbourhood. It had character as well as some characters.

Directly across the street lives the Addams Family. He had no idea what their
true names were. Bob just call them that because they live in a world of
shadows and darkness. Heavy woven wool curtains allow an occasional crack in
its defenses. It's then that he could see a lone light bulb sometimes
flickering into life. Maybe they're behind on their power bill. Who knows? 
It's been three weeks since Bob moved in and he has yet to see them in the
light of day. Bob wondered if they were vampires, vacationing from
Transylvania, could be.

Looking to the left, Bob sees  the drug lord's house, with its front yard in
disarray and pile of stolen bicycles in the back. Loud music pours out from
behind the furling flags used as curtains twenty-four hours a day. The heavy
bass from the Rap tunes flutters them madly, as if blown about by a strong
wind. Bob feels like he's living next to the United Nations. That house
never sleeps. They mostly go through life like a man with a bad case of
diarrhea.

On the right are the Flintstones, again a fictitious name Bob had given
them. Daily he sees the dad pushing his car up and down the road in hopes to
jump starting some life back into it. Mostly he fails and ends up collapsing
from exhaustion against the truck of his car. Bob could go help him he
supposed, but instead he cheers for the car; it has given him hours of
entertainment. They have an eighteen-year-old daughter. Bob calls her
Pebbles but he thinks her real name is Kim. She likes to dance wearing only
her bra and a thong in front of her bedroom window late at night. Bob only
watches for a little while, unless his wife is gone. Call it a weakness, he
doesn't care. Her next show starts at eleven sharp, he bought himself a
brand new pair of binoculars, too.

The Jetsons live beside them; they share the same duplex he owns; Bob thinks
that the Jetsons consider him to be their charity project, but that's okay
with him. They have every modern convenience a person could wish for, from a
dishwasher to a Jacuzzi. They have an indoor heated pool, but Bob hasn't
been in it yet. They'll be gone for the weekend. Maybe he'll take a dip.  He
sort of hates them, with their perfect teeth, to go with their perfect
smile, while living in their perfect little world. When they aren't home Bob
lets his dog piss on their flower beds. Bob often wonders if their dining
room has a trace of urine when they set the fresh cut roses on the table. At
their next dinner party he'll have to give  them  a smell.

On the edge of Bob's property teenagers sit on his concrete wall, just
within earshot of his bedroom. They stay there every night until about three
a.m., playing their crap music. They have found it convenient to park their
lazy asses and seem to refuse to move on. Next week he is going to buy a
few bags of cement. Bob thought if he mixed a bit of broken glass in with it,it
might deter them on their next visit. In truth, Bob was hoping a few are slow
at learning. He'll be checking for blood and tissue samples when no one's
watching. Until then he's been throwing Ralph's dog shit against it. They
said it was going to be another hot summer. Probably will be a lot of flies,
too.

It is a nice neighbourhood , though. You can walk the streets  late at night
with no fear. Well at least the prostitutes can; the one working under their
streetlight hasn't been bothered by the cops since Bob's moved in. He often
wondered how much she charges. His wife's going to bingo tonight, probably
be there until midnight. Bob eyed his son's piggy bank resting on the
dresser next to him. Johnny would be at his friend's house for a sleepover
tonight. Bob figured that he could pay him back next week, when his check
comes in. Smiling, Bob gives her a wave and then looks at his watch. It's six
o'clock and bingo starts at seven. Whistling, Bob goes to the fridge and grabs
another beer. Yup, he's going to like this place.


Bio: Keith Merrill has been writing for a number of years now, continuing from his life in  the military. He is married with three children, currently living in Ontario,
Canada. Retired now, he  balances his  activities with camping, fishing and
part-time work on computers. After twenty years working as a meteorologist
technican, he says  it's nice to look up at the sky once more and just see clouds.

_________________________________________________________________

 

Keepsake

by

Jenny Palmer

 

"Ouch, that hurts!" proclaimed Maria, as the pain started shooting up inside her gums. She was having a crown fitted and doing it without an injection.

"It will save us hours," her dentist had said, "if we skip the injection".

But Maria hadn’t thought of the consequences. The dentist hadn’t mentioned anything about pain. She might have known,  though. There was always pain. It had been wishful thinking to think there wouldn't be any. Still it was too late now. No use wishing she’d had the injection. There she was and the pain was shooting up inside her mouth and there was nothing she could do about it. At least she could let her dentist know what she was going through.

‘"Ouch," she said again. It was difficult getting the noise out with all those contraptions in her mouth. Why on earth had she decided to have it done at all? It had seemed like a good opportunity. She could get it on the National Health. Soon there wouldn't be any more National Health treatments. It was all going private, like everything else. She might as well take advantage of it.   She had been lucky to get it done in time. Otherwise it would have cost her hundreds. This really was a bargain. She’d never had a gold crown. Nor any other kind of crown, for that matter. She hoped it would stay on. The temporary crown had dropped off. She hoped it wouldn’t be the same with the permanent one. She would hate to have to go through it all again.

Just at the point where she thought she could stand the pain no more, the dentist, Mrs. Kronstadt, took out the cast she had made of her teeth, and held it in front of her face.

"Look", she said, "These are your teeth."

It was quite a shock to see the inside of your mouth in plaster of Paris held up in front of your face like that.  Maria started to laugh.

"My goodness," she thought. "Is that what the inside of my mouth looks like?"

"I’ll give them to you as a keepsake," said Mrs Kronstadt. "You can put them on your mantelpiece and keep them as a party piece".

The thought took her mind completely off the pain. Maria could already imagine the sight of someone’s face as she produced the teeth. Mrs. Kronstadt might not be able to stop the pain but she had certainly diverted her attention from it.

"Come again in a few day’s time, if you want me to file them down a bit," she said. "I mean the crown, " she added, in case there was any misunderstanding.

Maria put the keepsake in her bag and walked out. When she got home she took out the cast and religiously put it on the mantelpiece just as Mrs. Kronstadt had said she should.

There, she thought. Just what the dentist ordered. The teeth glowered at her from their spot on the mantelpiece. Maria tried to go about her chores. She got out her ironing board and did a spot of ironing, and then she tried a bit of writing. But somehow or other, she just couldn’t settle to anything properly. She didn’t know what it was, having the teeth in the house like that, she felt as if she weren’t alone any more. They unnerved her. They were her teeth or rather an imitation of them, sure enough, and yet somehow they didn’t feel like hers. They felt more like Mrs. Kronstadt’s. After all, it hadn’t been her idea to take the cast home in the first place. It would never have occurred to her.

Somehow just having them in the house like that, it felt like having an alien body there. It was preposterous. The whole idea of it. What on earth did she want with the things? After all, when did she have parties, anyway? She had a few friends round from time to time, but even that had been cut to a minimum these days. And she wasn’t really into party tricks anyway. The cast would have to be got rid of somewhere.

But where?

She'd put them in a drawer.Out of sight, out of mind. But somehow putting them in a drawer didn’t work. The trouble was she knew they were there. Every time she had to search through for a sock or something, she’d come across them, leering up at her. Hideous. Perhaps she should find a more secret place. Under the clothes in the airing cupboard? Yes, that was it. She took them out of the drawer and hid them deliberately at the bottom of a pile of clothes.  There. That was it. Done. She’d never come across them there.

That night as she was lying in bed she had a strange dream. She could see the teeth appearing in the room. They were coming out of the airing cupboard, walking, as it were, but without legs. They walked straight through the closed bedroom door and into her room and plonked themselves down on her bedside table, where they started chattering.

Maria woke with a start, half-expecting to see the teeth there. But that  was enough. She could stand them in the house no longer. The teeth would have to go. Keepsake or no keepsake. She couldn’t bear the blessed things around her any longer. There was nothing else for it.

She took them out of the airing cupboard and wrapped them in a brown paper bag, and then went downstairs, out of the front door and deposited them in the dustbin.

There. That’s the end of it, she thought. Now she could relax. She need think about them no more, or Mrs Kronstadt . Gone. She’d hated having the damn things in the house,  anyway. She’d only really accepted them to keep Mrs. Kronstadt happy. To humour her really. They’d served their purpose by taking her mind off the pain. She didn’t need them any more. She’d never actually wanted them. Who wanted to know what the inside of your mouth looked like? It was enough to feel it. You didn’t actually have to see it as well.

With relief she walked back upstairs and brewed up a cup of tea. The job had finally been done. A decision had been taken. She felt proud of herself. How strong willed she had been. Quite out of character,  really. Yes, she could be happy with her action. Now she could get on with her life without the wretched things, leering at her from the mantelpiece, or appearing in the middle of the night to spoil her dreams. Why did she always have to listen to other people? Throwing the teeth out had been an act of self-determination. It had been her deciding her own future. She sat back in quiet contemplation. Now she could look forward to a more decisive sort of life. She felt in tune with herself. Her future suddenly opened up to her. She was going places, moving.

She took herself off to bed with a book and soon drifted into a quiet slumber. About four o’clock in the morning, the bedroom door opened. In came the teeth. Majestic, as if they owned the place. They seemed to have grown even larger so that they were almost a foot in size. They moved slowly over to the bedside table and took up their previous position. And then the chattering started.

Bio: Jenny Palmer has previously published fictional stories with the Women's Press,  Serpent's Tail and Current Accounts magazine and also articles on family history in the    Lancashire History Quarterly and Industrial Heritage Magazine, January 2006

 

 

In  The  Cave,  Darkly

 by

K. D. Hazelwood




“Mr. Laden!”

“Huh?... What?

He scrambled to his feet holding his constant companion, a loaded russian Kalashnikov. He was quite disoriented from slumber, so rare and beautiful.

“Mr. Laden? Are you awake?”

“Yes, what is it? Has something happened?”

“He wants to see you.”

“Who?”

“George.”

“Why?”

“Something about new hiding arrangements.”

As he watched a ray of light fill the immediate area through a crack in the cave’s ceiling, he said, “ Too many years have passed! I don’t trust him! Why should I leave my cave?”

“He wants to make a deal!”

“This is a joke!”

“No, I think he wants to trade places with you!”

The towering man laughed so loud the secret service men were alerted just outside the vicinity of the cave. The military who had been kept at bay could also hear an echoing guffaw. They searched the faces of their commanders, wondering what they would do next.


A few minutes later, George walked in like he owned the place. His standard M.O. Greeted the most wanted man on earth with a hug, a long, sincere hug.

“Nice cave! You’ve really fixed it up!”

“Cut the bull!”

George erupted with some major chuckles.

“I admire your straightforwardness!”

“I should just shoot you now!”

“Don’t get so excited.”

A secret service man peeked in; removed his glasses. "Everything, okay?”

“Yes, leave us, please.”

As the secret service man became scarce, the tall one collapsed onto his mat. After a moment, he decided to offer his former childhood playmate a cup of tea. He had a battery operated kettle.

The large, steaming cup of chai seemed to revitalize the President.

“Good news! You can come out now!”

A rather exhaustive, breathy sigh followed.

“You always were the funny one!”

“Look, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’ve got a brilliant plan for both of us!”

“Since when has brilliance visited you?”

“Now I’m going to ask you…. to cut the crap!”

“Really?...Ha!”

“Play nice or this could get ugly.”

“Okay!...What is is your proposal?” His flailing arms gestured impatience.

“I’ve arranged for a plastic surgeon to give you a new face! He’s waiting outside. We’ve also brought a fat suit along, just in case. No one will ever recognize you again, ever ! You’ll be a free man. We’ll take care of all the other identity details……so what do you think?”

Hysterical, hysterical laughter made the fugitive almost lose his balance.

George’s face screwed up, the same way it did during the debates with John Kerry.

“And why? Why?! ..should I go along with that?”

“As a favor to me.”

“Ha!”

“I’ve kept you safe, haven’t I? Kept up my part of the bargain.”

“What do you think of this idea? …Prior to the surgery, we can have a mock confrontation. Exploding bombs, the works! And the headlines will read, “ OBL bags  Bush. US army wipes out OBL !"

A long pause.

“You’re even more insane than I thought!”

“I think it’s my most brilliant plan to date.”

“I don’t understand fully. Perhaps I should call in my translator.”

“Oh, c’mon man! I’ve got to escape!.. I need to hangout here till they believe I’m dead. Then I’ll escape quietly someplace. CIA’s gonna help me.”

“Crazy talk. More jokes! You can’t be that bananas!”

“I’m serious as a heart attack at an unshaded picnic in Austin in August!”

“But-”

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to be impeached or imprisoned!!!!”

A sweaty bead formed over a bulging vein on the President’s forehead.

“They’re going to hang me out to dry!”


The tall  guy  cast a serious glance at the crumbling , little man.

“So, let me get this straight….. you just want to… disappear?”

“Yes, oh, God, yes!”

“Are things really that bad?”

George looked astonished.

“You need better imformants.”

 A heavy, heavy sigh.

“So do you, my friend, so do you.”

 

Bio:  K.D. Hazelwood, editor.