My wife called and told me to come home. I finished my birthday beer and drove home and the driveway and yard were filled with cars. Some surprise birthday party. I grabbed a drink from someone’s hand and walked around the gathering. I looked and these were not my closest friends, in fact, not my current friends at all but people I’d played tricks on, rolled over in business deals, and spoke against to others. They climbed the deck stairs and I was people-pushed into my living room and told to stand in a square taped onto the floor. A dozen people spoke of my less than honorable associations with them, someone blew an air horn and a trap door opened. I went down into the dark expecting to hit either the concrete basement floor or a body of water but neither happened and I continued to fall and this is day four of my birthday free fall.
My brother appears next to me, falling alongside, and makes fun of me and says that he can dream in color and I can’t. You’re right I tell him but I can dream in 3D and he tells me I’m lying and I say prove it.
A fisher cat’s been pacing back and forth across my front lawn going from one neighbor to another and I have to believe, since I have no pets, my house is of no interest to him except when my daughter drops her eight month old baby off on her way to work. The fisher cat stops and watches. He resumes his pacing but is back at five pm sharp when my daughter picks the baby up.
I’ve had enough of the way things are going so I decide to run for congress. My speeches are stirring, money is flowing in and my Republican opponent is dead in the water and thinking of dropping out. I’m star quality—a shoe-in and everything’s fine until the report comes in of me and the villagers in Iraq. I dye my hair and move to Denver.
Every night I open the door to my garage and check that the garage doors are down. Each night when I do this I expect to see a grizzly bear on his hind legs baring his teeth at me. My wife says I’m foolish. Tonight when I went to check, the garage doors were open, and I heard a god-awful screeching and it was the fisher cat ripping my scarecrow apart.
I’m back at my house and the birthday party is in full swing. I ask for a birthday beer and my wife says for me to go stand on the marked square and she’ll bring it over.
Paul Beckman’s fourth flash collection Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019 Short Story Indie Book Awards. His stories have appeared in the following publications as well as many others: Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, and The Lost Balloon. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB’s Red Room in New York’s lower east side.