Something different today. My brains have been turning into a mush from the continuous editing of Indiot, plus I’m in constant pain from something going array with my back (due to too much sitting and editing). Well, for whatever reason, I was having some kind of a crisis today, and prescribed myself a dose of “something different.” I sat back down in front of the screen with an intention to write a spanking-brilliant new promo plan for Indiot, and instead, I wrote a short story with a prompt from Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. The task was to write a story based on a title – I chose Murder, Wine, and the Oblong Door. I’ve never done flash fiction before, and I intended for it to be something completely different, but alas, it’s about Isa.
Here it is.
Murder and Wine and the Oblong Door
“I could get away with murder.”
“Right.” Harden sipped his beer as if I was just going on about school drama, like I usually do. We were in the bleachers, with a six-pack between us, and the whole Saturday night to kill.
“I mean it. If I had to, of course. Like, if a gang killed my parents when I wasn’t home, and then the popo just gave up on the case, and I had to become a vigilante.”
“What do you have against your parents, psycho?”
I punched his shoulder. “You’re not listening. I love them, so I would kill for them, get it? But I would be smart about it, like that girl from that movie, you know the one? She got raped and then she plotted revenge for years. Something like that.”
“Okay, this is enough for you,” he made a move to grab my bottle, but I snatched it away. “Two beers, and you’re wasted? You’re a cheap date, Izz.”
“I’m not wasted,” I said and demonstratively took another sip. “You’re just closed-minded. And this is not a date.”
I couldn’t see his face, but I heard him puff. We hardly ever talked about Brad, ever since Harden tried to convince me that a jock was not a good boyfriend material and we had a huge blow-out. Still, I could tell what he was thinking, even when he chose to swallow the words.
“I’d use poison,” I said.
“Jesus! On whom?”
“The gang members, silly. I’d be like Poison Ivy, seductive, but deadly. Charm them, then slip a potion into a wine glass, and boom!” I threw my arms up to show the explosive effect my weapon of choice would have on the gastro-intestinal tract of wrong-doers.
“Those are some posh thugs,” Harden said. “I’ve never heard of gangstas passing around a bottle of fine Cabernet Sauvignon.”
“Okay, whiskey glass,” I conceded. “The point is, they wouldn’t know what hit them. I’d be in and out with an alibi. Natural causes, case closed.”
He leaned in and I could see his face in the dim glow of the half-dead floodlights. I could not tell if he was mad at me or playing along. “Who are you?”
“I’m Isabella Maxwell,” I said, bulging my eyes back at him. “I may look average, but I sometimes have unaverage thoughts, so arrest me.”
“Unaverage is not a word.”
“Grammar Police.” I chugged the rest of my bottle and tossed it into the darkness of the van. “Gimme another.”
“Jesus, Isa, you know Mom will kill me.” He labored to get up and retrieve the bottle, and I took the opportunity to twist the cap off another one.
“Maybe you shouldn’t,” he said, settling back next to me.
“Maybe you should,” I said, handing him a fresh one.
We sipped in silence for a few moments.
“So you think I’m a weirdo?” I said finally.
“Yes,” he said and grabbed my sleeve, chuckling, as I pretended to flee. “I think you’re…special. In many ways. And yes, you have unaverage ideas, but that’s what I…like about you.”
“Thanks.” I punched his shoulder again, this time with more feeling.
We sipped and watched a bat glide silently overhead.
“I have them too.”
He laughed. “No. Unaverage ideas.”
He hesitated. “No – they’re silly. You’ll think I’m an idiot.”
“But now you have to tell me!” I shook his arm. “Tell me!”
He took a swig. “Okay. Have you ever thought about why doors are always rectangular?”
I thought for a moment. “No. I can honestly say it has never crossed my mind.”
“It’s probably because they’re easier to make,” he said. “Somebody once made a rectangular door, and then everybody else copied it, not once stopping to think if that was the best design. I mean, have you ever met a rectangular human?”
Brad’s broad shoulders and massive frame flashed through my mind, but I honored the unspoken agreement with Harden. “No.”
“Me neither. But here we are, round pegs, pushing through life’s square holes.”
“I think it’s the other way around,” I said, hoping it wasn’t a prelude to another discussion of Harden’s round body, and how it was in the way of his dating and DJ-ing dreams.
“It’s just a metaphor,” he said. “But I’d like to one day build a house with only round doors. Well, not round, but oblong, for sure.”
“That would be cool,” I said, trying to imagine a house without hard edges. “I’d love that. I’m always running into the door corners. Make all the tables and beds oblong, while you’re at it.”
“Done,” he said and we shook on it.
I tried another swig of my beer, but it was getting warm and more than a little gross. Harden seemed absorbed in his own thoughts, probably outside of the rectangle box. I thought of Brad, who was probably off his head just then. Maybe I was foolish to let him go on Spring Break without me, but he said it would make our relationship stronger.
“You’re on the list,” I said.
“What?” He snapped from whatever dusk-dream he was having. “What list?”
“The list of people I would avenge if they were murdered by thugs. It was only Mom, Dad, and Felicity, but now it’s you, too. You should be honored.”
I couldn’t see his face, but I heard him puff.
I hoped he couldn’t tell what I was thinking.