Friday, July 09, 2010

Gratuitously

Martha Frick sat on the edge of the yellow and orange flower-patterned chair Billy bought for five dollars at a yard sale and waited to accept condolences from the handful of mourners. The very chair where Billy was sitting when the stuffed and mounted moose head broke away from the wall and struck and killed him.

She closed her eyes. “Look,” Billy had said one evening not long ago after he called her in and pointed up at his newest acquisition.

“It looks great, doesn't it? And the guy at the flea market didn't charge for it. Just gave it to me on account of my being a good customer.”

He took her hand. “The chair will look real good under it. Help me push it.”

Martha frowned and pushed him away.

“I'm tired of all the junk you bring home!”

Her husband just smiled.

“Junk? You may think so, but remember that one man's junk is - ”

“Another man's treasure. I know, Billy,” she said, and went to find the pillow and blanket for him to use for when he slept on the sofa.

Until they moved from the city to the rural fishing town of his birth, Billy held a mid-level job in a government agency. Retirement brought them permanently to his childhood home. Martha volunteered at the nursery school; Billy spent his days treasure hunting.

Now, sitting and waiting for this day to end, she shook her head no when her daughter asked if she wanted something to drink. Martha looked around the room, at every available surface crowded with other people's unwanted detritus. She nodded when her son asked if she was ready and prepared herself as each mourner, in turn, approached, took her hand, and murmured words they thought would comfort.

“He will be missed, you can be sure of that.”

“Billy Frick was a good man.”

“Let me know if you need me to do anything for you.”

Reverend Hopwood was the last to lean over her. “We must remember that God works in mysterious ways,” he said as he squeezed her shoulder, but flushed in embarrassment when Martha laughed.

She did not expect to see any of them again. In several days the moving company would bring her things back to the city. The truck from the thrift shop would take the rest, including the screwdriver she last used to loosen the screws holding the bracket of the mount.

64 comments:

  1. you are invited to follow my blog

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  2. Holy cow, you always surprise me woman! lol I think the truck with her stuff will have plenty of space in its trip to the city, heh.

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  3. Absolutely perfect last line! I don't blame her one bit. ;)

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  4. Uh-oh. Guess he really could bring home too much trash...er...treasure. After reading the last line, it made her laugh at the reverend's comment that much funnier. Good story!

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  5. I made my daughter jump when I laughed out loud at the last line. Awesome! :)

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  6. Clever twist and I liked the image of her laughing at the wake.

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  7. Oh! Death by moose head! I suppose there is only so much junk one person can stand...

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  8. Aww, poor Billy, but what a way to go! I have a passing fondness for "junk" too, I'd better go and hide all the screwdrivers before Mrs. Future; Nostalgic gets home...

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  9. OK, the absolute very second I saw the moose head I had to get over here. Loves me them moose heads. Since Mrs. Frick isn't using it anymore, could I have it? It would look great in our cabin - and I'll be sure not to hang it over furniture.
    Martha & Billy Frick - LOVE the names. Love outrageous names. They're just automatically funny. And the screwdriver at the end made me snort coffee.
    Thanks for my morning snort, Marisa! Always a pleasure here!

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  10. Bad Marisa! Evil streak indeed.

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  11. The bargain hunter becomes the hunted. Revenge of the mounted head. Great stuff

    marc nash

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  12. Well then Marisa... you go and paint this kind of sad picture and then BAM! - I actually felt bad when I snickered because of how the man died... but it's a murder?

    Nicely played.

    Jim
    http://tinyurl.com/2eefdw2 <--- My #ff if you care to read

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  13. Damn, and here I thought the moose head was cursed and had claimed another victim.

    Great twist!

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  14. Ha. Where your treasure is, your heart lies also...

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  15. hahaha, the perfect crime!
    Brilliant last line.

    Hmmm, my husband's a bit of a hoarder....

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  16. Woah! I better not let my wife read this one. She might get ideas. Although all I hoard is books...

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  17. Lawd! *laughing* -- :-D love it.

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  18. Moose head death! The perfect crime. Well written and made me laugh.

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  19. One man's treasure is one womans murder weapon. Sneaky. I enjoyed this!

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  20. This is a winner. You're such a magician; everyone is looking at one hand, to be surprised by the twist at the end.
    Adam B

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  21. Ahh, she decided to get rid of all the junk, starting with the most annoying.

    Straight From Hel

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  22. That's one way to get rid of the clutter. Death by moosehead completely surprised me. Great story. I'm gonna share this with my hubbers, who is definitely a yard sale junkie. Peace...

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  23. I'm with Sam - I'd better go hide all the screwdrivers too because I'm a BIG junker.

    The names are perfect, the story absolutely hilarious, especially that twist. Love it Marisa!

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  24. He works in mysterious ways, but you work in amusing ones, Marisa.

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  25. Holy cow! ... I mean, holy MOOSE! That's ... that's BRILLIANT. Wow. What a fantastic twist, waiting until the last possible moment for the reveal, dragging the story to it's last sentence. Beautiful! Amazing job!

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  26. i enjoyed the slow tone throughout the story. also, loved the surprise at the end. as always. :) but the laugh made it so realistic.

    great utilization of some stylistic options.

    ~a.

    *you are awesome*

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  27. What a great flash, love it! And that last line is the perfect ending line, Marisa, well done )as always)!

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  28. This made me laugh out loud. What a great story, and I don't blame her a bit.

    Really love it.

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  29. Fabulous. I love the ending. I was thinking poetic justice but that's even better.

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  30. LOL - I must admit that as I was reading it I was thinking that personally I'd be wanting to assault him with the moose head, but I hadn't bargained for his long-suffering wife doing what she did!

    Hope she's got that screwdriver well-hidden till the truck arrives...

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  31. I expected the ending but you pulled it off well regardless. What a way to go. I may sort of casually send this to my husband... not that I'm trying to SAY anything, no...

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  32. Oh I nearly missed that ending. Had to read it twice. Fabulous!

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  33. Nice, I love murderous old women. Well played!

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  34. Oooooooooooh!! What a great ending!!! I was feeling so sorry for her up until that last line. Really well done.

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  35. Oh brilliant! I know a few wives who will love this story completely. Just perfect and great laugh at the end. Justice is served!

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  36. Hi Marisa, Loved the story, it had great pace and momentum, wonderful humour, real laugh out loud moment at the end. Love the idea that she no longer has to pander to his eccentricities and can be where she wants to. Very enjoyable.

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  37. Great laugh, Marisa, really good story. Loved her snickering at the vicar.

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  38. Yikes! Moose kill a lot of people here every year as well. Except they're in their cars, on the highway...I liked the reverend, and here reaction. Well done, Marisa!

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  39. Loved the end. I was reading along...thinking oh, when everyone says "let me know what I can do" [like at EVERY wake I've ever attended]...she was going to make each of them take away a "treasure" on their way out.

    The denouement turning out to be that she had murdered him with the Moose was just SOO much better....

    You rock Marisa.
    :0)

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  40. Awesome! Perfectly wicked! Loved it!

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  41. Fiendishly delightful, Marisa... Hilarious. ;)

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  42. Loved the ending. You really had me going there. I was feeling her pain and trying not to be amused because of how the husband died. Moose heads are huge. I knew someone who was a hunter and saw one up close. Kind of intimidating really. Great read and excellent twist at the end. Bravo!

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  43. What a wonderful twist! All the best with your writing.

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  44. Death by moose -- I've heard of that. Very, very dangerous, that yard sale stuff. Excellent story! Made my day. :)

    *gigglesnort*

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  45. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/12/30/2009-12-30_duck_duck_moose_woman_sues_eatery_after_it_falls_hits_her.html

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  46. Whoa, not been got like that for a long time. I was browsing a few blogs via Valerie/candleinsunshine so, sorry to say, you didn't have my full attention. That'll teach me.

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  47. Who'd have thought dear old Martha was a criminal genius! Initially I thought this was going to be a short 'twilight of their lives' eulogy thing ... only you gave us something so much more. Very cool.

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  48. great ending. loved the trash treasure theme.

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  49. Thank you all for taking the time to read this story and comment. I appreciate it so much and am very glad you liked it!

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  50. That last line was brilliant. Even though it was a sick and twisted thing to do to her husband, I couldn't help but smile.

    Until you have seen a moose head up close, you don't realize just how big they are. Makes me wonder if it was a closed casket service.

    Well done

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  51. Nice twist. I love your stories. I hope you consider doing a book of short stories. I imagine reading them on the subway. :)

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  52. Thank you Analisa! You are so very kind. Am so happy you enjoy the stories and appreciate your reading them.

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  53. Oh. My. God.

    That was beautifully executed (oops, pardon the pun).

    I could sense Martha's irritation with her husband's new-found activity and there was a subtle hint in the mention of the return to his "childhood home".

    But your ending is just gorgeous (in a homicidal way, of course).

    Superb.

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  54. When I saw the moose head I thought of that resterant you know. MONTANAS!
    MR FRICK XD

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  55. You start with "This stuff is going to kill him" and end somewhere much more grim & clever. Oh dear. Hell hath no fury like a woman with a bunch of freaking junk in her house. (I know this to be true!)

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  56. Hahaha! I should've figured you'd kill someone off. The Moose Head is a great murder weapon. I liked how the tone went from light sorrow and gradually got more menacing as the widow's dissatisfaction came to light.

    CD

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  57. Ooooooooooh, you really had me there, you wicked woman, you! Absolutely wonderful (still smiling), now that's what I call my kinda' girl!

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  58. Why, thank you very much, Shrinky (how much do I love your name? Very!).

    Lovely to meet you and welcome :)

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  59. I know this isn't a particularly helpful or insightful comment, but that was freakin' brilliant!

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  60. Ha!That was just great!! Oh, she is a mischievous one! I LOVE your characters.

    I was laughing from the first para because of the moose head. I grew up in a large old house that had a rumpus room (yeah, really called that) - it was a large room over the double garage that still had many things from the previous family (strange, but true, even after many years) there was a pool table, ping pong table, and several taxidermy animals (really weird we kept them as long as we did - what were my parents thinking) - the one that scared me the most as a child was a huge moose head like your pic. I believe they are spooky, mysterious & evil, even without help.

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