Header Graphic
Stories Page 2 Fall 2012




Lester's Pet

  by Gene Fehler



"All I want for my birthday is a pet," Lester said, two weeks before his tenth birthday. "Maybe a dog."


"A pet?" his father grunted.


"That's one thing you can be damn sure you ain't getting." He scooped a second helping of mashed potatoes on his plate and drowned the pile with gravy.


"My God, a dog. You don't even do your chores now without being reminded ten times a day. You couldn't handle a dog. Hell, if you had a goldfish, the miserable son of a bitch would probably drown."


He chuckled at this, but Lester turned away so his father couldn't see the tears.His father never changed his mind, and Lester's mother was no help. She did what her husband said, never questioning. Not out loud, at least.


So nothing much changed in the next fifteen years.


As his twenty-fifth birthday neared, the three of them continued to occupy the same house -- Lester in an upstairs bedroom, his mother and father downstairs. Lester had a job he went to during the day -- stocking groceries at a nearby supermarket -- and a computer and TV he spent most of his evening hours with.


But he had no pet to feed, to cuddle, to talk to in hours of long silence, to share what little he knew of love. The morning of Lester's twenty-fifth birthday, he was awakened by a scratching on his bedroom door. It was, at last, his pet! It had to be. It sounded much like the sound a dog might make trying to get someone to open a closed door.


Of course, it could be a cat -- possibly a long-haired beauty. Maybe a Siamese with slanted eyes. He smiled at the thought of a cat so skinny it might be sucked down the bathtub drain if he tried to bathe it.


He considered other possibilities -- a panda, a lizard, a hamster, a porcupine. A porcupine's needles might be a problem, but he could live with that. Any pet would do; he'd waited a lifetime.


He flung open the door. A fluttering of shadowy wings and a whirling mass of blackness paused in mid-air, then flew from him. The mass flapped into the screened window at the end of the hall. It ripped through the screen and fluttered into the pinkish dawn sky. Lester ran to the end of the hallway and looked outside, but the mass of fluttering wings was nowhere to be seen.


He wondered what the mass of black had been. It had been much too large to be a bat. And because the mass surely wasn't human, Lester wondered at the source of the word which had been whispered in the hallway the second he'd opened the door.


Lester's parents never came upstairs anymore to intrude on Lester's part of the house, so he knew the word that hung in the empty air could not have come from them. Nor could it have come from his clock-radio, which would not come on for another twenty minutes, the same time it automatically came on every morning.


Lester chilled at the thought: there was only one possible source of the word that still echoed in the early morning air.


The word spoke to him of all the love he'd missed out on, of all the love stories he'd seen on TV, the kind of stories he knew he would not ever be the romantic lead in.


He'd heard that sad, lonely word once before, in a story or poem or legend or myth or TV cartoon -- he couldn't remember which.  That haunting word – “Nevermore.”


Bio: Gene Fehler enjoys playing 80 or so baseball and softball games a year, writing, collecting and reading books, and walking his and his wife Polly’s two toy poodles in Seneca, SC. For information about Gene and his publications, see www.genefehler.com.