Featured Review on this writing by Oleg Roschin

The Tiger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 01, 2018

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Submitted: January 01, 2018

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Flecks of frozen water, intricately patterned like no other, continued to fall and blanket the oil stained ground of the inner-city walkways. Austin remained motionless, silent, on a bench in the middle of a small North Michigan town on a night much like any other.

“Hey, mind if I sit here a bit?”

A gorgeous angel of a woman, wrapped in a purple parka shimmied in place. Hair the color of sunbeams flowed out from the bottom of her cap, shimmering in the pale light of a nearby street lamp.

Words, like mountain climbers reaching for the summit, eventually made their way across his crusty lips.

“Um, yeah. Sure. Have a seat.”

“Thanks! It’s absolutely freezing out here!” Her voice was silk draped over honey. “It’s pretty late, are you waiting for someone?”

“No, just sitting.”

It was her smile that ushered the sudden warmth within his chest. A mouth full of pearls wrapped in little pink pillows. Pretty enough for a magazine, a Christmas card, or displayed in a bottle on his nightstand.

“Do you sit out here a lot?”

“Only on days that end in ‘Y’.”

She chuckled. The bubbling laughter tickled the inner drums of his ears, where the good things turn to nails and shards and blisters and poison foam. He shook the gunk away and returned a forced smile to the woman.

“I’m Gracie by the way.” Her gloved hand loomed out to his side.

“Austin,” he returned the gesture. “Nice to meet you.”

“Austin, huh. I have a brother who lives in Austin.”

“Austin is a shit stain.”

“Excuse me?” The pearls disappeared behind widened eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,” he chuckled. “I used to live there and I hated it. But that was a long time ago. I’m sure it’s nice now.” The vat of bile behind the drums of his ears began to simmer.

“Well, I’ve never been. I’ve heard it’s nice though. At least that’s what my brother says.”

“So, are you new in town? Just visiting?” he asked. “It’s a small town, and you get to know people pretty quick.”

“I just moved here, today in fact.” She let a laugh escape as she covered her mouth with her gloved hands, as if to disguise the desperate chortle as a reaction rather than a reflex. “I don’t know what I was thinking moving here though. This weather is almost unbearable!”

“It’s not that bad once you get used to it.”

“People get used to this?”  

“Where did you move from?”

“California, where currently I’m sure it’s sixty-five degrees and there’s no snow on the ground. This is absolutely insane! You sure you’re alright? How can you just sit out here? I mean—I can’t even feel my fingers or toes!”

The drum of bile, still simmering, threatened to morph into a boil.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he replied, exhaling as if he had been holding his breath. “I like the cold.” He turned and looked up at the moon. “I get the cold.”

“You get the cold?”

“Look around. Everyone is inside their nice warm houses, completely unaware. Out here the cold is alone. No one wants to be out in it. They just, deal with it.”

“Well, of course, right?”

“I do like it though; what the cold nights have to offer.”

“And what might that be?”

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“I think you’ve lost it,” Gracie muffled, shaking her head and laughing. “You’re brain’s been frozen over.”

Only it hadn’t. Every time he looked at her the cauldron between his ears risked spilling over. The heat was unbearable, searing the back of his neck, down his spine and out through the tips of his fingers.

“I’m serious,” said Austin, forcing a half-smile. “Just look around. I can sit here in my own thoughts and just, I don’t know. Just, not be bothered by the world.”

“Oh please! That’s some real Hallmark bullshit if you ask me.”

“You don’t believe me?” Boil warning.

“No, tell me why you’re really out here,” she prodded.

Boil warning. “Well.” Boil warning. “Um.” Boil warning. “What about you? Why are you out here in the cold and not at home?”

Boil…subsided. Simmer…reinitiated.

“I see what you did there. Fine, I’ll play along. I had to get out of the house. I’ve been unboxing and painting and I couldn’t take it any longer. I was going to go to the store, but apparently it’s closed.”

“Grady’s, yup. They’re not open this late.”

“Anyway, after walking around town I decided to head back home. Only, I saw you and thought I’d come over and take a quick breather, say hi and all. Truth is, you’re the first person I’ve seen out here all night.”

“I’m telling you, no one cares about the cold.”

Gracie rubbed her gloved hands together like sticks before the birth of a fire. The grating of the polyester weaved through the frozen air and into the hotness between Austin’s ears, like a large wooden spoon stirring a pot.

“Well, I don’t think I can handle this much longer. It’s too damn cold. I’m gonna head home. It was nice to meet you Austin.”

“Wait. Would you mind if I walked you home? You know, it being late and all.”

“I would be honored,” she said as they both slowly stood up and began to walk away from the bench. They walked in silence for one whole block before a word was spoken between them.

“I like talking to you.”

Austin looked at her and watched as she wiped her nose with a gloved hand.

“I like talking to you too, Gracie. You seem nice.”

“I am!” she exclaimed, the sarcasm dripping like molasses. “I’m really nice!” She chuckled. “Tell me, I don’t mean to pry, but do you have a wife you avoid every night while sitting out in the cold? Or are you just out of your mind?”

Austin pictured steam billowing from the vat between his ears. The bubbling, vile foam began to threaten a potential spill once more.

“No, I do not have a wife.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Nope.”

“Boyfriend?”

“Hell no.”

“Sheesh, I was just—”

“It—it’s not that I have a problem with that because I don’t, it’s just—I just, don’t—I like women.”

A rush of laughter billowed from the woman in the purple parka. Austin noticed a hiccup in her laugh, an unusual aspect that seemed unnatural, uncouth, foul…and yet beautiful. He wanted to hear it again and again. He wanted to catch the hiccup in his hands, squeeze it tight until it no longer made a sound and then—

“You know Austin? You’re alright.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself.”

They turned a corner and a row of rundown homes came slowly into view.

“Well, this is me,” Gracie said as she stopped in front of a small, poorly framed house.

“Ah nice, next to the funeral home. How quaint.”

“That’s a funeral home?” she exclaimed, pointing to the looming house next door.

“Yeah.”

“Great. That’s all I need. Well, thanks for the walk home, Austin. It was…nice.”

Her slippery walkway made it tough to traverse, but she made it to her doorway as Austin remained behind.

“My pleasure. Will I be seeing you around?”

“That depends.”

“Depends on what?”

Standing completely inside her doorway, she turned back with a hesitant smile, her bottom lip lost to the pearly orbs that bit down on it.

“Depends on what?!” he cried once more. Boil warning.

The door closed, and he was left answerless. His chest swelled as it billowed out breath after breath. The ashen bile that had been brewing between his ears all evening from the moment she had arrived began to boil over and spill down the inner walls of his neck. Streams of heat flowed down to his hips. Rivers and lakes and oceans of unbridled liquid-disgust pulsed through his veins.

Just before succumbing to the torrential waves in his body, the world around him began to shift and change. He watched in disbelief as the trees and houses around him melted down like candles. The stars began to fall out of the sky in streaks of white. The snow covered ground disappeared beneath his feet and was replaced by nothingness. He soon found himself standing in vast darkness, void of all light and feeling.

***

“As usual, I am recording this session, for analysis purposes, if that is alright with you?”

“Sure thing doc.”

“Alright. So, how are you feeling today Austin?”

“Austin is a dried up blister in Texas, doc. Remember? I’m Tinny.”

“Yes, well, your mother gave you the name Austin, correct?”

“Yes, yes she did.”

“I would not want to offend her in any way by not calling her son by the name she gave him. You are a grown man after all and I wish to treat you like one, so if it is okay with you I would like to call you by your name. Austin.”

“If it’s okay with you, I’d like to correct you. It’s Tinny.”

“Let us begin, Austin.”

“Tinny.”

“Have you been feeling any heightened levels of anxiousness lately?”

“No more than usual.”

“How about restlessness? Agitation? Lost sense of control?”

“Some. No. And what exactly do you mean?”

“Do you feel like you cannot control your emotions or feelings, Austin? That you are helpless to your thoughts? That you cannot focus on day to day tasks?”

“Tinny. No. I mean, sometimes. It helps when I go outside. Keeps me centered. I went outside yesterday afternoon, after lunch. I saw the trees and the birds and there was a squirrel that was chasing another squirrel. I think they were trying to have sex, or maybe just playing tag. Maybe the guy squirrel took the girl squirrel’s nuts and then—”

“Austin, focus. Try just simple, short answers, okay?”

“Tinny. Got it.”

“Okay. Are you having any trouble sleeping?”

“Only on days that end in ‘Y’.”

“Sarcasm, good.”

“Why are you writing that down?”

“I am just keeping notes Austin. You know how this goes.”

“Tinny.”

“I would like to take a moment and talk about something you mentioned in our last session. You said that there was something you needed to get off of your chest, something important. But, you wanted to wait to tell me. Can we talk about it now?”

“Why?”

“Well, because you brought it up earlier and I got the sense that you wanted to find some form of resolution.”

“Oh, right well my neighbor Todd said you don’t have to worry about that. He can help.”

“Yes, you have mentioned this ‘Todd’ before. He is your neighbor you say?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I still think it would be beneficial if you and I discussed this issue, if you are open to that.”

“You want me to talk about the tiger.”

“Yes, you said something about a tiger, let me check my notes here—”

“I’ll tell you anything you want to know about the tiger. The tiger is a giant feline that resides in Asia, China, Korea, Russia and American zoos. They have stripes. And orange fur. Their claws and jaws can rip through steel and ivory, and they are particularly fond of Frosted Flakes. That’s what makes them vicious hunters.”

“Austin, please. I know this is hard for you to discuss, but know that this is a safe place and I am here for you. So please, what is this tiger you speak of?”

“Tinny…Well…there is a tiger that…lives inside of me.”

“Inside of you?”

“Everyone has one, or so I’m told. Maybe not you though. You probably have like a kitten or something, since you’re a doctor and all. But this tiger, it wants out and I can’t let it.”

“Austin, you do know that there isn’t a literal tiger inside of you. You are just projecting your thoughts into this image—”

“Tinny. But it’s there.”

“Austin, what would happen…what would happen if the tiger got out?”

“Tinny. It would scratch and maul and bite a lot of people I know.”

“Maybe it won’t. Ever consider that?”

“It will.”

“Austin, I think—”

“Tinny.”

“Okay, let us put a pin in the tiger for now. I would like to switch gears here for a moment and talk about the woman in your dreams. You mentioned her in our last session as well. Do you recall?”

“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You don’t remember the woman in the snow? The woman who, you said, sat next to you on a bench?”

“Why do you want to talk about that?”

“Well, you seemed fairly distraught while recounting the dream to me. I was thinking that maybe, by talking about it in further detail, we might—together—get to the bottom of what is bothering you.”

“I—I can’t do that. I already told you that Todd could help me.”

“Austin, it is okay. We can take it slow.”

“T-Tinny. She—I—why do you care what happened to her?”

“…What do you mean? What happened to her Austin?”

“Tin-ny! Can we stop, now, please?!”

“…Sure. We can stop for now, if you really want to. But I want you to do something for me, okay? I want you to go home and write down your feelings and thoughts about what we talked about today. Write it, as if you are writing a letter to me, and then save it for when you are ready to share it, okay?”

***

Standing completely inside her doorway, she turned back with a hesitant smile, her bottom lip lost to the pearly orbs that bit down on them.

“Depends on what?!” he cried once more. Boil warning.

The door closed, and he was left answerless. His chest swelled as it billowed out breath after breath. The ashen bile that had been brewing between his ears all evening from the moment she had arrived began to boil over and spill down the sides of his neck. Streams of heat flowed down to his hips. Rivers and lakes and oceans of unbridled liquid-disgust pulsed through his veins.

The walk up to her front door was slow and meticulous. If he walked too slowly he could lose his grip, slip and fall. If he fell, he could break his tailbone, or bruise his hip, or laugh so uncontrollably that his lungs would explode like a pair of grenades, splattering matter up and down the walkway. Gracie wouldn’t like that, she was new here after all.

If he walked too fast, he could also slip. But more importantly he could reach the door without being ready. You’re supposed to knock first, that’s the polite thing to do. You knock, wait for them to open the door and then you say hi, maybe shake their hand. He wouldn’t shake her hand, they had just been talking and walking and that would just be weird. If he reached the door too quickly, he would seem desperate. Desperate people were weak, and they always seemed to smell like burnt toast and onions. He lifted his arm to take a whiff.

Nope, not desperate.

He landed on a slower-than-normal-but-not-too-slow paced approach, stepping at a reasonable speed so as to not slip and fall, and not come off as wanting. He would knock on the door, smile not hand-shake, and ask to use the restroom. Should make for a quick entry, no witnesses. She would surely let him in to do that. No need to shove her out of the way.

Instead he found himself perched under the window by the front door, waiting. The overhang had kept the long porch snow-free making it easier to sit in one place. He wanted to stand up and knock, but the boiling cauldron of poisonous foam frothing away in his brain needed to be subdued first.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

He followed his own advice for over an hour, up until the moment he was sure she had gone to bed.

***

Dear Doc,

I want to tell you. I want to tell you everything. Trust me when I say that keeping this in, keeping this from you is like holding in a tiger, foaming at the mouth. He wants out. It wants to rip through my stomach, climb up my throat, and through the blood that his claws free, he wants to jump out of my mouth and tackle you to the floor. The tiger is always hungry. But I can’t let him out. The cage must stay closed. You understand right?

I want to tell you about my brain. It hurts from time to time, mainly because I think too much. Sometimes, when I look outside I see the leaves falling to the ground. They’re just leaves, but sometimes I see little men on them. Short men, with muskets and swords. Men who have left their little homes where their little wives care for their little children in little houses. They wonder if they will see them again, if they will kiss and hold and sing with them again. They ride the leaves to the ground like Washington in boats across the Delaware. They ride to fight the little ones living on the ground, the ones that crawl up your legs, latch on to the hairs of your arms and burrow into your ears, just to say mean things to you. They’ve told me before that I could fly. Like bald eagles. I believed them once. The leaf men are the only ones that can stop the burrowers. Watch out for them. Please don’t step on them.

I want to tell you about my neighbor. He keeps to himself most days, but sometimes he comes out to visit me. He has blonde hair and a thin mustache, like if someone drew it on. When I was younger I tried drawing a mustache on my face one time with a marker. It wouldn’t come off when I tried to shave it. I did everything I was supposed to do. I used the cream from the fridge and a butter knife, since I couldn’t find a razor. It didn’t work. I scraped and I scraped and the mustache turned red and started to bleed a lot. I tried to use little pieces of toilet paper like they do on TV to stop the bleeding, but it was too much.

My neighbor’s name is Todd. He keeps to himself most days unless he wants to talk. You said I should make friends right? Well, Todd is my friend and he said that if I’m good, if I can help him patch the hole in his wall then his special friends will come to help me. He said they look just like me and that they can help me keep the tiger inside me quiet. If it gets out it will slash my stomach and throat and break my teeth and then it will come for you and then you will be sad. I don’t want you to be sad, you’re only trying to help, so I’m going to help Todd patch the hole in his wall so his friends can help me with the tiger.

I want to talk about the woman, but she’s gone so why bother.

Okay, bye.

Tinny

***

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

He followed his own advice for over an hour, up until the moment he was sure she had gone to bed. The lights were turned off. The patter of her feet against the hardwood floor had disappeared. He wanted to go home, but he knew that was just a lie his brain was cooking.

Her front door was unlocked. An invitation? Maybe an hour or so ago, sure, but not now. Or, was it? Austin thought he would try his luck anyway and walked in. The snow on his boots left large watery footprints as the dark of the house enveloped him. They were the first to come off. He thought about turning on the lights, then paused.

“That might wake her up.”

***

“Austin, I want to thank you for coming in again so soon.”

“It’s Tinny, doc. How many times do I have to tell you?”

“Yes, well…I do not mean to upset you. I wanted you to come in today because I received your letter, which was odd because it has only been a couple of days since our last meeting. Why send it now?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, I appreciate you taking the time to write down your feelings. That shows great strength and desire on your part to get better. I have to commend you for that.”

“Sure thing.”

“I do have some questions though, if you would indulge me.”

“Sure.”

“Of course, this is being recorded, per usual.”

“Right.”

“I have been pondering a great deal about our discussion of the tiger. You mention it again here in your letter—”

“I already told you about that.”

“Yes, you told me what would happen if it would get out. My question to you Austin, is: has the tiger ever escaped before?”

“…Tinny…”

***

Gracie’s bedroom was warm; uncomfortably warm. Austin noticed as he meandered through the house that Gracie had closed all of the vents save for the one in her bedroom, apparently to maximize the flow of heat while she slept. Smart. This was fine if you were only wearing a bra and panties—but the snow pants, the wool socks, the three shirts and the head cap covering Austin’s frame made for a sweat-trapping death suit. He decided to make himself a bit more comfortable.

The boots he had already taken off, leaving them by the couch. Puddles of water continued to form around their rubber base. As he stood there in her bedroom, he slipped off his socks, first the left, then the right. He tossed them out the bedroom door—which looked out to the living room—towards where he had left his boots. The cap was next. After dropping it to the floor he shook his head like a golden retriever after a bath, his disheveled auburn hair flinging beads of sweat across the semi-vacant bedroom. He started to unbuckle his belt, but decided to remove a shirt layer first. Then another. Finally, he removed the thick snow pants and tossed every item of clothing down at the foot of the bed.

His last shirt and his white tiger boxers where the only things covering his birthday suit. The heat of the room now seemed to normalize. He drummed his toes across the wood floor like fingertips on a desk. Without the layers he was free to move about more comfortable, more quietly.

In the corner of the room was an arm chair, old and tattered. He wondered if it was a family heirloom or a thrift store pick up. He slid over to it and gently sat down, caressing the torn fabric like an old house cat.

“This is nice.”

***

“I understand completely how difficult this may be Austin. The healing process is a tricky thing. It requires patience, determination, and the will to change. I believe you have all of those things. In our time together I have seen you make some great strides in your social life. Making friends with your neighbor is a huge deal, and I am proud of you for opening yourself up like that. From what you tell me he seems like a great guy. What was his name again?”

“Tinny, and his name is Todd.”

“Todd, yes. Well, I would like to meet this Todd someday.”

“I doubt that will happen.”

“But, despite what growth you have experienced, there is more to be achieved. This…this tiger you speak of, I believe, is the key. So, I will ask again. Has the tiger ever gotten out? Has it escaped before?”

“…”

“Take your time Austin.”

“…Tinny…”

***

The bedroom was bare, save for the bed, a small dresser and the armchair. Gracie was clearly still adjusting to her new home, per the lack of décor and boxes strewn throughout every hallway. She didn’t have any posters of cute kittens on the walls or pictures of trips to expensive places housed in frames. What a waste.

Austin peered over at the lump under the comforter, his mind wandering from moment to moment of their earlier encounter. He remembered her beautiful hair shimmering in the evening light. He remembered her beautiful smile, those pearly whites that were so shiny, so new-looking, and so desirable. He remembered the hiccup laugh and how badly he wanted to hear it again, to feel it again, and how badly he wanted to fix it.

The simmering vat of venomous foam that plagued the in-betweens of his ears began to bubble once more.

***

“You’re not gonna let up doc, are you.”

“They day I let up is the day I fail you, and I refuse to fail you. How about we circle around a bit. When was the first time you came into knowledge of said tiger?”

“I don’t remember. It was winter I believe.”

“Okay, good. Was it a recent winter? Were you a child?”

“No. Recent.”

“Good, good. And when was the first time that the tiger escaped?”

“Win—ah…slick doc.”

“Austin, you are so close! Do not give in to fear, allow me to be your emotional soundboard. I can take it.”

“You really want to know?!”

“I think it would do you so much good if you share it.”

“If you really want to know…”

“Austin? Austin!”

***

Gracie’s queen size bed was a giant boat compared to Austin’s twin back at his rundown apartment. The warm silk sheets kissed his damp, sweaty skin as he slipped under the covers. Gracie hadn’t moved an inch the entire time he was there. Austin would have thought she was dead had she not been snoring.

Once under the covers, he positioned himself on his back, peering up at the cracked and peeling ceiling. He clenched his eyes shut, fearing that the sour, fizzing soup in his noggin—the unforgiving foam that pushed its way through his body—might actually seep out of his tear ducts. That would be bad.

Gracie, a hardened stomach sleeper, began to squirm and shift in her spot. Austin froze, thinking that if he didn’t move she might not notice he was there. After rotating on to her back—her jaw drooped and her right arm now flung across her face—Gracie stopped stirring and settled. Austin smiled knowing he remained undetected.

He turned to his side, his head perched on his hand as he laid his eyes upon the sleeping beauty he had spent the better part of an hour with earlier that night. Now that her mouth was open he could see her glorious teeth once more, standing there in their rows. He watched as her chest moved up and down, up and down, up and down; a teeter-totter with no riders. His gaze moved up over the nape of her collar, stopping to watch as the large vein in the side of her neck danced to the same steady tempo. Thump. Thump. Thump. Up. Thump. Down. Thump. So rhythmic, so constant.

He remembered the hiccup laugh once more. What a horribly unfortunate way to laugh. That couldn’t be good for the dancing vein and her perfect teeth to deal with.

“I can fix that.”

She didn’t move at first. He went in slow, both hands slithering slowly around her smooth skin that wrapped around her throat. The dancing vein tangoed against his palm and he wanted desperately to join in the dance. He began to tighten his grip, constricting like a python holding an antelope, which caused the snoring to stop and the eyes to open.

“Wh—what the—Aust—!”

“Shhhh, it’s okay. I’m just trying to help, hold still.”

She grasped his arms in a feverish panic; her eyes like sand dollars peered up towards the cracked ceiling she had planned to putty and paint. She writhed and wriggled, a fish on a hook desperate for the relief of fresh breath.

“It’s okay, I can fix it! Shhhh! I can fix it!”

She tried crying for help. There was no one to hear her. She tried crying his name, only she was unable to pronounce anything to the fullest capacity as she gasped for breath.

“Uh—tin! Uh–tin! –elp–ee! –tin! –ee!”

“Shhhhh, It’s okay. I can fix it.”

What were only moments passed by in a blink of an eye as the wriggling slowed. Gracie’s eyes drained like a tub full of fresh blue water. Her hands loosened their grip from his wrists and he shook them off like an unwanted article of clothing. The bubbling, smoldering cauldron of venomous bile that lived between his ears ceased their simmer, as the dancing vein danced no more.

As he slowly removed his hands from around her neck, he noticed a dark blotch he hadn’t before.

A tattoo.

A tiger tattoo.

Austin slowly slunk out of the bed and shuffled around to the foot where he had left his clothes. He stared at the lump of flesh lying motionless among the blankets, the very lump that sat down and said “hi” to him hours earlier. A sudden tingle in his feet began to crawl up his legs, which turned into a tremble at the pit of his knees. It slowly made its way up his thighs and eventually throughout the rest of his body. Was it getting cold? No, the heater was still on. But, as if he were standing naked in a freezer, his body began to vibrate as the thought of what had just transpired began to replay in his mind.

“Oh my—! Wh—what—! My g—!”

“Careful, we wouldn’t want to be too loud now, would we mate?”

Austin snapped his gaze towards the sudden voice behind him. A tall, praying mantis of a man was parked in the armchair, his legs crossed and his arms draped over the rests on either side, as his fingers curled over the edge. His blonde hair was slicked down with a part on the left. A pencil-line mustache accented his thin lips.

“Blimey, you just couldn’t help yourself could you?”

“She had a hiccup in her laugh, and nice teeth.”

“Cheeky bastard. Arse over elbow, if you ask me.”

“I was only trying to help.”

“You’re in luck chap, cuz I’m not here to throw a spanner in the works. The name’s Todd, ‘n I mean to help you, mate.”

“That’s great, but it’s already over. I fixed it. The tiger,” he turned and pointed towards the body, “the tiger is quiet now.”

“Oh, sure, git a lil fire under your arse and Bob’s your uncle, am I right? You’re not done yet chap. You can’t go off tellin’ anyone you did this. You got ta’ keep that tiger caged.”

A smile curled across Austin’s face. The trembling had subdued as he made for the pile of clothes. He started with the pants.

“I will, Todd. Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me yet, mate. You’re not quite done.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you think you can just up and shimmy outta here, you’re off your trolley mate! You gotta clean this up.”

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“Easy chap. You gotta burn this bloody place down.”

***

Like a bolt of lightning hitting the side of a barn, Austin smashes his way out of the tall lobby doors and into the crisp afternoon air. He jams his hands into his pockets as he concentrates on each and every step he takes. Left. Right. Left. Right.

The muffled cries of the doc begging him not to leave in such a heated manner mists away in the wind behind him. He’s surprised the doc chased after him at all, but by the time the doc reached the lobby doors, Austin was just out of reach. Soon the exclamations of empathy stops and the doc slumps back inside.

“Ya did it, mate.”

Austin looks to his left to see Todd suddenly beside him, keeping the rapid pace set from the moment Austin stormed out of the office.

“Barely, Todd.”

“Ah, but you did. Blimey you did! You didn’t tell that sodding kook the truth and for that, cheers mate! You did good, chap. You kept that bloody tiger caged, so keep your pecker up.”

“Thanks to you.”

“Piss off, you did all the work. I just gave you a lil nudge. Now, let’s get a drink.”

Austin continues down the street towards the local pub as he regales the blank nothingness beside him about his prowess for holding his liquor.

Bystanders stare with wide eyes and confusion as they watch the man Austin appear to answer questions that no one seems to ask him—while laughing at the little men fighting in the grass, shooting their little guns and swinging their little swords.


© Copyright 2018 BrandonEverett. All rights reserved.

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