This short story is in response to
Click on the above link to join in or read other entries.
How it works: Raven supplies two sets of words (or phrases) to use in a piece of writing. One can choose the ten- or five-word challenge ---or combine both into a fifteen word mega-challenge.
dangerous, engine, sullenly, bespoke, evergreen, bauble, medicine, freight, destined, tinsel, carbon, feelers, outright, ballet, fizzing
(Words from the challenge are in bold face in the story.)
* * * * *
You’ve met Matty and her new neighbor Clem in a previous post, “Foiling Her Adversaries.” The following continues their story.
With his three-day growth of beard, her new neighbor Clem was a little scruffy looking. Matty knew if he were famous and on TV it would be called ‘designer stubble.’ On Clem, it just looked like he didn’t take care of himself.
But Matty could excuse his looks, because Clem understood her so well. He knew the FBI and CIA were trying to steal her thoughts ---and his, too. He told her he had been prescribed medicine to keep his so-called delusions at bay, but he knew the pills would just make him let his guard down, so he didn’t take them.
Clem was convinced that he was destined to invent in impenitrable brain-wave blocker. He stole engine pieces and other auto parts from the garage where he worked, hoping they might be useful.
Matty and Clem had spent their evenings, for over a week, applying aluminum foil to Clem’s apartment walls and windows. While he was on a ladder, Matty danced around him cutting the foil and handing him duct tape. They worked in perfect sync, almost like a choreographed ballet.
They discoveredd they were much alike. They were both afraid of the freight elevators in the building and had refused to use them when moving their furniture into their apartments. They loved the smell of evergreen and cleaned everything with Pinesol™. Neither of them could stand carbonated beverages, because the fizzing reminded them of radio static, which they knew was really the government listening in on them.
They knew Clem’s apartment would be dangerous until the aluminum was up, so they wore construction helmets lined with foil. Clem devised long antennae from coat hangers which he had covered in tinsel. He said they would work like feelers on a bug. Wearing them, he and Matty would be able to sense when someone was trying to steal their thoughts.
Clem was outright the best cook Matty had ever met. She only ate frozen dinners, canned spaghetti, and bags of munchies in her own apartment, but Clem cooked Cajun, Italian, and Chinese food each evening while she sat on the floor covering the lowest parts of the walls and the baseboards. Once he had everything cooking on the stove, they would work together until dinner was ready.
Clem liked to cook, but eating put him in a bad temper. Around nine o’clock, after they had worked for several hours, he sullenly ate what he had cooked while Matty delighted in every bite. Her plus-sized jeans were already feeling tight.
Clem’s indifferent eating habits bespoke the depression that would fall over him after dinner. Unable to talk him out of his gloom, Matty would leave for her own apartment. She worried about his lack of appetite. He was already extremely thin.
But the following evening, Clem would show up at Matty’s door bearing some bauble or other for her in apology for his sulky behavior the night before. Matty collected them in a shoe box she had covered with duct tape.
Clem had looped silver washers on a chain to make a necklace. He had twisted colorful plastic-coated wires together for a bracelet. He created two little metal helmets from welded scraps of aluminum for her cat, so that she didn’t always have to make foil ones that the cat could tear off with his claws.
But her very favorite gift from Clem was special. He had cut a slice of pipe, drilled holes on one side of the cylinder, filed off the rough edges, and polished the metal with emory cloth and steel wool. Then he superglued pebbles from a broken windshield’s safety glass into the holes. One fell out, but he had a tin can full of them, so he had more to glue into the ring if she needed them. It was better than a diamond ring, because diamonds would have attracted the government monitors. Glass didn’t block them, but it didn’t attract them either.
If Clem could make all of those beautiful things, Matty was convinced his brain-wave blocker would be a technological and financial success. And just having Clem in the apartment across the hall made her feel less vulnerable to the radio signals which had been scrambling her thoughts. And, besides, her cat looked so cute in his new helmets.
(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)