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Starflyer 59: Short Story

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SF59: Short Story by J. Edward Keyes

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 Listen, I’m going to tell you what happened.  Are you paying attention? Because you don’t look like you’re paying attention.  And if you’re not paying attention, we might as well just stop this thing right now.  Because I’m not going to get into this with someone whose head is somewhere else.  No, I’m not getting carried away, alright?  This is like a big serious deal to me, and you’re, like, scoping that girl halfway across the room wondering whether or not she’s looking at you. This is serious and you’re just, like-

OK, fine, look. Here’s how it goes.

There were two guys in the room with me, OK, and I think they might have been brothers.  The one guy was wearing a monocle and a top hat, and the other guy had on like this kind of maroon workout jumpsuit.  But not, like, the cool kind that they’re selling now in frigging shopping malls or on South Street or whatever, this was like some old kind of ratty-

Is she hot?  I mean, I’m just asking because you haven’t been able to take your frigging eyes off of her from the second I started talking, and this is starting to make me totally frigging irate here.

So, look, they force me to sit down at this table.  And it’s got to be about twelve degrees in that room, and I can tell because all the rats are just kind of huddling in the corner.  They’re not even really moving, you know, they’re just kind of cramped up into the corner on top of one another wrapping those long tails around their long bodies and trying to burrow down deep to stay warm.  Even now and then one of them will bite another one’s feet and there will be this long sick squeak and I can feel my whole stomach just go inside out.

Did you hear me?  OK, so I’m sitting down at this rickety old card table staring at these rats when the guy in the top hat slams a box down on the table.  The rats start freaking out when he does this, they start squeaking and squealing like mad and the bottom of the box has got this dark red stain all over it, like something seeped out from the inside. 

God, will you just try to pay attention?  Oh, you are?  OK, what did I just say?  No, seriously, what did I just say?  You don’t know, do you?  You don’t know because you’re too busy dreaming up the perfect pickup line for a girl who’s probably going to think you’re ugly and repulsive and hideous the second you got within thirty-five feet of her.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to tell you something really huge here, some really huge frigging thing here. 

So the rats are going crazy now, and the guy in the jumpsuit just starts licking his chops.  And the guy in the top hat leans forward, right into my face, so that his nose is about two inches away.  And the rats are going nuts now, and the guy in the jumpsuit is clapping and jumping up and down.  And the guy in the top hat points at the box and starts yelling: “HOW’S YOUR SISTER DOING, CARL?  HOW’S YOUR SISTER?”

So I’m starting to panic now, and the guy in the jumpsuit has started laughing, laughing like he’s losing his frigging mind, and the guy in the top hat steps back and rips the tops off the box, and he reaches in, and I start screaming, and theses hot tears are, like, pouring down my cheek, and the guy reaches down into the box and-

God, are you even a human being?  What’s the matter with you?  She’s not even paying attention to you, you frigging clod. OK, fine, you know what?  I’m leaving. Forget it.  No, you be quiet.  I’ve had it. Screw you.  I’m outta here. 

 

-J. Edward Keyes

This short story appeared on Starflyer 59's "Portuguese Blues" 12 inch vinyl.

Courtesy of Blue Collar Productions