Saturday, May 26, 2012

Test For Freshness

There had never been so many cops in Sam's Thrifty Saver before,
And certainly not all clustered in the produce section.

Everyone had always found Norma to be pleasant enough,
If a little stiff.
She had a great respect for men in uniform,
Presidents,
Priests,
Policemen,
And the members of our armed forces.

All her energies went into her family,
Though there was just one left at home these days.

Her Ed had moved out after twenty five years together,
Heading for sunny Cali-for-nigh-yay
And the blonde former classmate who had looked him up
After he'd appeared on a game show
As a lark.

Norma's two sons were out on their own,
And doing relentlessly well;
Both of them married,
One to a good Christian angel
And the other to a little hussy that Norma didn't approve of.

So how did she end up splay-legged and dead as a Thursday afternoon
on the checkered linoleum beside the bananas
@ 79 cents a pound?

All Norma had ever done
Was to love her family
Within an inch of their lives,
Because there are neighbors, you know,
And standards to be kept,
And everything
Everything
Reflects back on her in the end.

"Who are these bunch you've been running around with?
Who are their parents?"
She'd inquired of Asha--
Asha The Quiet, Our Lady Of The Easy Startle.
"They're my friends," she'd said to her mother,
But she may as well have said "They're orangutans"
Because Norma would have snorted just the same.

"I should teach you how to cook,"
Norma had offered, off on a new tack.
"Lord knows you're not pretty enough to get by on your looks."
Asha had pointed out that Norma always kicked her out of the kitchen
As if she were carrying The Scourge.
"Well honey, you always seem to make mistakes
And I haven't got time to do everything twice.
Do you see?"

One of the cops picks up an orange
And even begins peeling it,
Before the sergeant barks at him and he jumps.

"Have you applied for any more summer jobs?"
Norma was not about to have Asha knocking around the house all summer.
"And have you gotten that dog of yours his shots yet?
He could get rabies and bite someone and what could I say then,
If that happened?"

Indian had been a stray,
And he curled his life around Asha's
Like two castaways in a boat.
Each of them brought a gift of joy to the other,
And they would have cheerfully died for each other,
Had it ever come to that.

As they passed the lettuce heads, 
Asha whispered, for the kajillionth time,
That she couldn't afford the vet.

Outside, glinting in the sun, was Norma's brand new full size sedan,
For which she had paid cash.
Now,
Who would attend to the scheduled maintenance?

"Well, if you can't afford that dog of yours,
Then maybe you shouldn't have him!"
Power feels good.
Mrs. McKendall, who'd been choosing tomatoes nearby,
Told the officers that that was the moment
When Asha the Quiet had picked up a pineapple by the leaves,
And swung it hell for Sunday smack into Norma's skull.

The business end had whipped around hard,
And whatever loving advice Norma may have been formulating next,
Never got from her brain to her lips.

There had never been so many cops in Sam's Thrifty Saver before,
And Mrs. McKendall fluttered her hands and told them
How awful it was,
What a sad and shocking world it had become,
When a girl can murder her own mother like that,
And with such an expensive piece of fruit.
______

for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads
 
 
 

20 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

Bludgeoned by pineapple! Yeesh, Shay. It's not altogether surprising that most murders occur within the family unit, and then society wonders why we can't love our neighbours, or the nation living on the next continent.

Hannah said...

Wow, rugged, Shay!!! I love it. You have an incredible story-telling quality to your work. I was drawn right into your story. I really love the loving description in this and the prophecy of the ending in it, too.

"Indian had been a stray,
And he curled his life around Asha's
Like two castaways in a boat.
Each of them brought a gift of joy to the other,
And they would have cheerfully died for each other,
Had it ever come to that."

Do you write short stories also? You should!! :)

hedgewitch said...

This is one of yours with the thin almost invisible sideways knife, just slicing away under a sinisterly jolly exterior, like a heart surgeon in a clown uniform. A brilliant portrait of someone who should have had a pineapple applied not just to the head, but forcefully, where the sun doesn't shine. Really hits home in a nice prickly way.

Fireblossom said...

Hannah, I do write stories, though not frequently. They can be found here:

http://night-blooms.blogspot.com/

Laurie Kolp said...

Intriguing and engaging piece... I'll never look at pineapples the same way again. = )

TexWisGirl said...

greatness. i think we all possess the ability to snap if pushed hard enough.

the pineapple was a nice weapon!

Susan said...

Your opening about the cops being in the produce section caught me! The story is a flash fiction narrative poem--horrible.lovely.true. Thank you!

De said...

Oh, man! This is GREAT. This is a fantastic line:
"So how did she end up splay-legged and dead as a Thursday afternoon
on the checkered linoleum beside the bananas
@ 79 cents a pound?"

And that ending! :)

de jackson
www.whimsygizmo.wordpress.com

De said...

Hey, you should come write for us, here:
http://flashyfiction.blogspot.com/

(A new prompt just about daily.)

You've got Flashy down pat! :)

de

Susie Clevenger said...

Oh my now pineapples will give me a fright..lol Great story!

Scarlet said...

Beware of the pineapple and daughters who've had enough of their mothers. Beautifully done, as usual, Shay.

Mystic_Mom said...

Ah...I can relate to the daughter...although I've never actually considered a pineapple a deadly weapon before. Very good Shay...I can picture this as a Cohen film!

Shawna said...

"And the blonde former classmate who had looked him up
After he'd appeared on a game show
As a lark" ... Ha! Yay for Facebook.

"splay-legged and dead as a Thursday afternoon" ... Love this.

"All Norma had ever done
Was to love her family
Within an inch of their lives,
Because there are neighbors, you know,
And standards to be kept,
And everything
Everything
Reflects back on her in the end" ... Great to know how this story ends. Ugh.

"Asha The Quiet, Our Lady Of The Easy Startle" ... What a great line.

"Indian had been a stray,
And he curled his life around Asha's" ... Love the sound of the words "Indian," "curled," and "Asha" in the same sentence. This pleases my ears.

"When Asha the Quiet had picked up a pineapple by the leaves,
And swung it hell for Sunday smack into Norma's skull." ... I have had this fantasy.

"And with such an expensive piece of fruit" ... Excellent closing line!

rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Shawna said...

P.S. Your title is hilarious.

rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Heaven said...

What a story ~ Love it ~

Daryl Edelstein said...

was it a pineapple from Hawaii?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love Hedgewitch's idea for the application of the pineapple. Hee hee. You ALWAYS write something that is so entirely unexpected and original, I just marvel : how do you DO it? But dont tell, it is cool to keep that a mystery:)

Lolamouse said...

I always wondered what happened to your mother, Shay. I promise I won't tell! I don't want to be looking over my shoulder for deadly tropical fruits!

Mama Zen said...

Pineapple has never been so satisfying!

haikulovesongs said...

hee-hee