As promised, today’s final number is NOT poetry. Instead, I present an untitled short story about a man not much different from many who might be reading this very blog post.
Just like you wouldn’t want to start the Star Wars saga with Return of the Jedi, so too you’re probably going to want to read the first five entries in this series if you haven’t already done so (do you see which cultural phenomenon I compared myself with there): I, II, III, IV, V. This might also be a good time to remember that these writs are all being published 100% faithfully to their original submission copy — no changes, just what I actually wrote in high school.
Stuart was lonely. Like any typical 20-something male, he desired company. Lacking the capacity to get intimate with women at his accounting firm, he decided to take a chance on a girl he’d never met. He sat one morning over this steaming cup of coffee, unrolling the paper. “All right. December 2nd, my lucky day.” He opened to the classified, searching for a special type of ad. Finally he found what he was looking for. He read the ad aloud: “Single woman seeking attractive male.”
“Score! First try!” said Stuart, pumping his fist. “I fit that bill, I guess..” He jotted down the phone number listed in the ad, noting the name of the advertised woman. “Sheila,” he said. “It sounds pretty attractive.” He decided he would call her at work.
Later at work, it was all Stuart could do to remain semi-focused on his bookkeeping. He had drunk at least a half-dozen cups of coffee and now he was paying for it by losing productivity. His eyes slid out of focus as he thought of what Sheila might look like.
“Blonde. No, brunette. Definitely brunette. Probably a little taller than me.” Stuart was dreaming of how he’d call Sheila later on. “Oh, it’ll be so suave,” he mused. “I’ll be all ‘Hi, Sheila?’ and she’ll be all ‘Yes?’ and I’ll be all…” When the time to call finally came around, he dialed and Sheila immediately picked up.
“Um…hi. Oh, this is Stuart. Oh! Crap, I mean you don’t know me, I was calling-”
“You saw the ad in the paper?”
“Yeah, okay, great! Um.. I suppose this is really sudden, but how’s tonight?”
“Wow, uh, tonight’s .. tonight’s great. What time?”
“How ‘bout you show up here around seven-ish?” Sheila proceeded to give her address and directions on how to get there.
“Sounds great, see ya then,” said Stuart and hung up the receiver. “Oh man, that was so terrible…”
Before he knew it, it was five o’clock, and time to go. He had gotten no work done, and had probably cost the company hundreds of dollars. He haphazardly shut off his computer and hastily organized his cubicle. He hustled down the hall, leapt into the elevator and slapped the lobby button. When the car hit the ground, he sprinted to his car and peeled onto the highway, where he commenced to have second thoughts.
“What if Sheila decides not to let me in when she sees me?” He imagined seeing her through her house window, and watching her turn the light off in an attempt to defer him. Suddenly he snapped out of it. “Stop that!” he told himself. “She’ll let you in. she’ll be civil, at the least.”
After getting home and freshening up, he picked up some flowers from the corner store and drove to where Sheila had said she lived. Pulling up, he noticed that the indoor lights were off. “That’s odd,” he thought, as he trundled up the walk and rang the doorbell. To his surprise, the lights came on immediately and he heard the sound of someone hurrying to the door. The door opened.
“Hi, stuart!” Sheila stood before him, dazzling. Stuart couldn’t help but gape.
“Uh.. hello.. Sheila..” She’s beautiful! His thoughts slowly caught up to him and he closed his mouth.
“Come on in, I made crab legs for dinner. My mom’s recipe. It’s to die for.”
“Oh wow! I love crab!”
“Well, you can help me set up dinner and then we’ll eat,” said Sheila. “Follow me.”
She led him into the kitchen. “You can put the plates and cups on the table,” Sheila directed.
“Okay…” Stuart was a little off-balance. He noticed that Sheila seemed perfectly calm with a strange man in her house, handling her dishware.
“So, tell me about yourself,” Sheila said offhandedly. “Something interesting.”
“Well,” Stuart began, “There isn’t much that’s interesting about me, except my name, I guess.”
“What’s so unusual about Stuart? Or is ‘Stuart’ some sort of secret codename for something much more flowery?”
“Ha ha, well. It is the first part of my name that’s normal. The rest of it’s pretty unusual. My full name is Stuart Littlebird Bartholomew the Third, Junior.”
“Littlebird?” Sheila could barely contain her laughter. “The Third, JUNIOR?”
“Stuart could feel himself blushing, but he didn’t seem embarrassed. “Yeah, my family is park Cherokee, hence the Littlebird. My dad was Stuart Littlebird Bartholomew the third, and he didn’t want me to be the fourth, so he made me the third, junior.”
“That’s astounding,” said Sheila as she finished setting the table and they sat down to eat.
“I’m glad we could do this tonight,” said Sheila, placing a bottle of wine on the table and sitting down across from Stuart.
“Me too,” replied Stuart, eyeing the crab hungrily.
As they sat down, Stuart noticed that Sheila’s low-cut blouse revealed a small skull tattoo just about her brassiere. “Um…” he stammered, trying to drag his thoughts out of the gutter, “s-so, what do you do for a living?”
“Oh, I’m… I work for the government. Downtown.”
“Oh, that’s cool, I guess.” Stuart tried to focus on her eyes. Such pretty eyes, he thought. “I’m an accountant.”
“Really! That’s something.” Sheila’s eyes perked up and met Stuart’s. “I think it’s cool that you’re so smart.”
Stuart blushed. “Oh, well I hardly think I’m THAT smart…”
“Try the melted butter. I put some herbs in it.”
Stuart did a double-take. Kind of an odd non-sequiter, he thought. He dipped his crab leg into the sauce. He took a bite. “Mmm, that IS good.”
“Isn’t it though? My mom’s secret recipe.”
“Very good,” said stuart as he munched hungrily on the meat. Sheila was focused on dismantling her own crab, so Stuart commenced to do the same.
Later, after dinner, Stuart and Sheila were sitting on the couch. “So…” said Stuart, a little unsure of himself.
“Shut up,” said Sheila, shoving Stuart down onto the couch and rolling on top of him, locking her mouth to his.
“Mmf!” Stuart’s eyes were wide with surprise. He couldn’t breathe. “Mmf! Mmmmmf!” He started getting dizzy. Doesn’t she need air too? he thought. Suddenly he realized why it seemed only he was having trouble breathing. Sheila’s hands were wrapped around his throat, crushing his windpipe. “Mm!” he suddenly started flailing, trying to break away from Sheila, who was somehow simultaneously strangling him and keeping him in the liplock. She was also remarkably strong, keeping him down on the couch despite his best struggling. But his strength was failing now anyway. His vision was filling with fireworks, his brain was screaming. The world went black.
Stuart stopped struggling and Sheila got up, wiping her mouth. “The crab’s to die for, dear,” she repeated sardonically and laughed to herself. She reached into the pockets of Stuart’s lifeless body and pulled out his possessions. “This ought to last a while,” she said, fingering his credit cards. She dragged the corpse of the couch and slung it in a corner. “You’ll keep there until tomorrow, when I can get rid of you,” she said and plunked down on the couch, picking up the telephone and dialing the newspaper.
“Hello? This is Sheila ––––––– . You know that personal ad I had running? I’m gonna need it to run a little bit longer, if that’s alright. I’ve got the money to pay for it. Okay, good. Fine, thank you.” She hung up and flipped on the television.
Phil was lonely. Like any other 20-something male, he desired company. Lacking the capacity to get intimate with the women down at the nuclear plant, he decided to take a chance on a girl he’d never met before. He sat over his morning bagel, poring nervously over the classifieds for a special type of ad. “Okay, December 17th, my lucky day.” Finally he found what he was looking for. He read the ad aloud: “Single woman seeking attractive man.”