30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: Oscar

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A week ago, the gray cat showed up on my porch again. It’s Jerry’s from next door. I hate this cat. He claws at my fertilizer bags by my garden and occasionally tries to sneak into my house. The jingling of his collar always gives him away. I’ve talked with Jerry about this, he said he would keep an eye on him. Jerry lied. Before my early run, I chased it’s sassy ass back into his yard. Jerry must have been up, a light was shining through one of his blinds. Once I got back, the gray bundle of joy wasn’t anywhere near my blue lilacs, or even Jerry’s overgrown bushes. Mission accomplished.

A few days later, the same gray cat darted from underneath my Yukon.  I hit the panic button by mistake and he barreled into my legs. Coffee flew all over my red shirt and I had to change. On my way back, I found the gray cat rolling in the yard and grabbed the back of his neck. I carried him past my fresh cut grass to Jerry’s dandelion field. He hissed as I dropped him by the oak tree. I walked past the growing oil blob underneath the Dodge Neon to my yard. Jerry had really been letting this place go. I considered knocking on the door but I had to hurry if I was going to make it to work.

Saturday night was game night. I was playing Yahtzee with my nine year old. I slammed the dice down on the wooden table and began adding. She yelled “Kitty!” and pointed by the window. The gray cat meowed and ripped the wire mesh with his claws. I slipped out and blocked the entrance into my house with my foot. The gray cat peered at me and let out sassy taunt.

I marched past my yard and into Jerry’s property. His tall grass made my shins itch. I could see the same light shining through his blinds. I stomped up the small stairs to his faded white door and pounded my fist at the wood. I waited for a moment… No response. This time, I screamed out “Jerry!” and tried to put a hole in the door with my foot. Seconds passed… Still no response. I jiggled the bronze door knob and found it was left unlocked.

Slowly, I cracked the door open and yelled, “I’m letting your cat in Jerry!” The cat crept in the open crevice and a rank smell punched me in my nostrils. The odor was like a mixture of rotten egg and burnt hair. I coughed out and stuck my red elastic collar over my noise. The door creaked fully open and I found Jerry hunched over his kitchen table. An orchestra of flies played around him. A sliver gun lied on the floor below him and I made out a blackish-red stain all over the front of his Hanes crew neck. To his right, the alphabetic magnets on the fridge spelled out “I’m Sorry, God Forgive Me”.

Without thinking, I grasped the phone from my pocket and dialed the police. As I waited for the operator, I felt something push against my leg. The gray cat stared up at me. I reached down and started petting his head. He meowed with delight. My fingers made their way down the back of his head to his collar. I grabbed the jingling chain and looked at the oval shaped tag. It had Jerry’s address on the top line and below it read Oscar.

30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: Nouns & Verbs

 

The last non-broken kitchen light flickered overhead as the fan circled around. The other two bulbs were taken out by a thrown coffee cup. Mark sat at the table below, sipping his Budweiser. He hadn’t moved much during the whole fight, only to cover his head. The once clean checkered tile was covered with broken dishes, beer bottles, and plastic bags from Target. B.B. King played over the stereo in the other room. He was surprised the record didn’t skip as she stormed off to her sister’s house.

Mark put the bottle to his lips. “Was it affect or effect?” He thought. I’m pretty sure it was affect. Affect is a noun, that’s how I remember. Effect would be more like how she effectively left that damn door open again– the thing that started the whole fight. He looked over by the edge of counter and saw it still open. The wind forced the blinds into the air. He let out a half smile as he set the beer down. They’d been together for 10 years and she still had a way of getting under his skin.

Mark adjusted his posture. The worn leather chair made a popping noise. Carrie hated that, but she hated that they still had this old kitchen furniture more. It was Mark’s job to find a new set and she liked to remind him more frequently now that the rest of the kitchen was fixed up.

“Effect is normally used as a verb. I know it. I watched a Schoolhouse rock on it back in grade school.” He thought. See, I don’t have to teach 3rd grade like you Carrie to know my nouns and verbs. He crossed his boots under the table and kicked a Campbell’s Chunky Soup can. It rolled on the floor until it got stopped by a box of spilled elbow macaroni.

A meow came from the open door behind him and a black cat slithered its way to the table. It stopped at Mark’s chair.

“What?”

The cat meowed again.

“Not you too.”

He reached down to pet his head. The cat ran towards the fridge.

“Oh great, just like Carrie. Figures. You are her cat after all.”

He grabbed the bottle and pointed the end at him.

“You know I didn’t want to start arguing. I had a long day at the factory. Michael was on my ass from the moment I punched in. I wasn’t the one who came in here yelling about some ass hole at Target and how it effected, or affected, or whatever the hell.

Who gives a shit!

She did that. She’s the one who left the damn door open. If she would’ve closed it, I wouldn’t have made the joke about how letting in the cold was effecting the heating bill. How was I to know that it would lead to a blow up about money and how I haven’t been pulling in my fair share.”

He was about to say more but B.B’s guitar made him stop. He took a giant swig of his beer. Foam poured on his stained white t-shirt but he continued on.

“B. B. gets it. You know, she always acts like this is all my fault. She didn’t seem to give a fuck when I was gone working all that overtime. We had all types of money for the kitchen then. But now? Ha, the broken dishes affected that!”

He picked up a piece of a bowl from the table and hurled it towards the wall. The black cat darted into the other room. The record skipped, interrupting “The Thrill is Gone”.

“Damn cat!”

Mark stared down at the bottle and flipped the label towards him. It said, “Mass conception of Alcohol can lead to impaired judgement and other hazardous effects.”

“Shit.”

He tipped the brown bottle back and felt the last of the warm suds hit his throat. He placed the empty bottle on the table and a half smile came over him. “ Well fuck me, effect is the stupid noun. She’s right,” he thought as he stood up. The chair kicked a piece of a plate. He stepped over fallen Fruit Loop’s boxes and walked to the closet. Mark grabbed the broom and started sweeping up the broken porcelain.