You reach into the dead horse’s mouth and remove the envelope. There is a name written on it in cursive, which you check against the piece of paper pinned to your coat. It doesn’t match. Your breath steams in the early morning air as you exhale with relief. While taking one last look into the horse’s dull black eyes, you decide to go see the Tall Bearded Man and show him your find.
No one else seems to be awake as you let yourself back into the big house through the kitchen door, locking it behind you. You shrug off your coat, still holding the envelope in one hand. The cuckoo clock above the kitchen table ticks loudly.
Everyone left their plates of barely-eaten food sitting along the length of the main table last night when they rushed out of the dining room in a panic. Someone knocked over the coffee can ashtray. Cigarette butts and ash splay out across the table. You trace an idle finger through the grey powder as you walk through the dining room and into the rest of the house.
The blender had been a Christmas gift from Pete's mother. It was July before he got around to it.
The flashy packaging presented the blender in a proud light, and advertised its superiority. Bar graphs demonstrated its power, and pictures of smiling people brooked no argument. FEED ME ANYTHING! the blender was saying, in a speech bubble.
"Okay," Pete said in answer.
He set out the mighty blender, then consulted the leftovers drawer in his refrigerator. Yams, hardened to stone. A steak with the bone in it. Peas aged into little green BB's. These filled the blender's spacious chamber.
Pete pushed the button, and the motor revved -- zeeeeYEAAAAAAH!
Maggie became a terrorist in the fifth grade. That was the year she read the Manifesto. When she was supposed to be doing her homework, when she was supposed to be drawing hearts around the name of her crush (Mr. Kool, the math teacher), she was instead reading the Manifesto.
Mrs. Winston (social studies) said, “Maggie, come to the front of the class and do something smart.”
“I’m reading the Manifesto, you fascist!”
Mrs. Winston hit Maggie with a nightstick, knocking out most of her hundreds of teeth. Maggie swallowed the teeth before anyone could claim them. She didn’t want her teeth used for science (Mr. Salem) or art (Mrs. Marlboro).
She turns down the volume on the television and sets the pint of pistachio ice cream on the table, spears the spoon into the top, and answers the phone.
“Hello? This is she. How far apart are they? Ok, head on over to the hospital. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
She slips her feet into sensible athletic shoes and pulls on her hooded sweatshirt, then exits her apartment and locks the door behind her. She lifts off into the sky, sparks raining onto the unswept sidewalk.
Squid fans, this Sunday is a choice story reading squidtivity at Austin's Salvage Vanguard Theater. We'll be reading very short stories and the Church of the Friendly Ghost folks will be showing the new documentary LINT THE MOVIE, about the life…