Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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After Work One Night….

Dolores had fallen asleep that evening in the same way she had all week long: face down into her sofa the moment she got home from work. She had been on her feet all day at her uncle’s antique store. He was traveling again to secure more inventory and had left her to manage the store and deal with a steady stream of customers. Today none of their part-time clerks were available so Dolores was left on her own to open and close and handle everything else in between. She was completely spent.

Dolores dropped her bag on the living room floor when she walked through the door.   She immediately flopped onto the sofa “for just a couple of minutes” she told herself before she would make supper. Her little chihuahua mix, Rat-Dog, greeted her with a couple of yaps, jumped on the sofa next to her and nestled down. He seemed to sense her exhaustion and did not whine for his supper. Fortunately, her apartment had a doggie-door to  a  small patio off her bedroom so she did not have to worry about taking Rat-Dog on a potty-walk. She just wanted to get off her feet for a few minutes.

Dolores emerged from her sleep when she felt Rat-Dog jump off the sofa. “Hmmmm, I bet you’re hungry,” she mumbled as she swung her feet to the floor. “Time to get us both fed.” She glanced at the time display on her tv’s cable box. “11:30! Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. You really must be starving.” She quickly rose to her feet.

As she started towards the kitchen, she saw the tiny dog come to alert, his face trained on her apartment’s front door. His hackles were raised, and a low growl rumbled from his throat.

“What is it?” Usually when Rat-Dog heard a visitor come to the door, he would yip, yap and bark until Dolores scolded him into being quiet. This time was different.

“Is there someone there?” No one would come to visit this late, she thought. Dolores stepped to the window and tipped a slat in the blinds to peek out. She could see no one on her front porch.

“Silly dog.” She let the slat fall back into place. ” I bet you really want your supper now.” Rat-Dog did not respond. He continued to stare at the door.

“Suit yourself.”

Dolores shuffled into the kitchen, pulled a can of dog food out of a cupboard and got out a can opener. As she was scraping the can’s contents into Rat-Dog’s bowl, she heard him whimper. She walked out of the kitchen and found the dog shivering and backing away from the door. Then she heard it: a soft scraping noise on the other side of the door.

“Who’s there?” she called at the door. The noise stopped. Dolores stomped to the front window and yanked the blinds up.

No one. She strained to see the threshold, but the shadows cast by foliage prevented her from detecting any animal or object brushing against the door. She let the blinds fall down. “It’s probably a raccoon…. I just hope it’s not a skunk.” Her mind immediately went to the doggie-door leading out to her bedroom patio. That’s all she needed:  one of the wretched little beasts getting into her apartment. She rushed into her bedroom and snapped the latch on the doggie-door. She could see the quivering little lump that was Rat-Dog hiding under her bedspread.

“My hero….” Dolores shook her head. “C’mon, let’s go eat dinner. I’ll keep you safe from the big bad racc–”

A loud bang on the front door made Dolores jump back against her bedroom wall. Rat-Dog began to bark and thrash his way from under the tangle of the bedspread. Dolores pulled herself together and rushed back into the living room. Keeping her eyes on the door, she grabbed her handbag. She rummaged through it until she found her cell phone. She pressed the side button and saw a tiny sliver of red pop up on the display and the words “Battery Empty. Please recharge.”

“No, no, no….” She punched the face of the phone. The display momentarily flashed and then went black.

Another loud bang rattled the front window and shook the door on its frame. Dolores tossed away the phone and crouched on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table. Rat-Dog went berserk. Foam and saliva flew from his mouth as he barked.

There was no point in yelling for help: Dolores knew that the couple upstairs were on vacation and the old man in the adjacent unit never heard anything at night when he turned off his hearing aid.

Her eyes darted to the top of her curio cabinet in the corner of the living room. Atop it was a katana, a pre-World War II Japanese sword that she had acquired from her uncle. The cold curve of its steel blade and its elegant black-lacquered sheath glinted under the display lights above the cabinet.

Another bang startled Dolores and she glanced back to the door. Then she saw the deadbolt latch. It was vertical. She had forgotten to turn it to locked position when she came home. Dolores started towards the door to turn the latch but jumped back when the door knob jiggled.

Dolores raced to the curio cabinet and pulled the katana off the display holder. She gripped the sword and held it out in front of her.

Truth be told, the real reason she had acquired the sword was not for its aesthetic qualities or historical significance. Rather, she got it to silence her gun-toting friends who insisted that she needed protection if she chose to live alone. Dolores hated guns and would not have one in her home. Her concession, laughable as it was, was to get the sword and buy a dog.

Dolores shifted her grip on the sword. Her breathing was quick and shallow, and sweat beaded on her forehead and face. Rat-Dog had stopped barking and stood whimpering behind the coffee table.

Could she defend herself? She had been taught all her life to “turn the other cheek”, “do unto others,” and “love your enemy.”

Dolores sighed and gently laid down the weapon on the coffee table. She had envisioned in her mind when she got the sword that IF she ever found herself in this situation, she only had to wave the sword around and frighten off her intruders. Here she was now– living out her own fantasy. Or was she? She knew that if someone came through the door, no amount of blade-wielding bravado would help her. Could she actually hurt someone?  Could she draw blood to save herself?  Would she?

Everything had gone silent except for the ticking clock on the dining room wall. Dolores counted the seconds and after a couple of minutes, she let out a huge breath of relief. She would not need to be tested after all.

Then, the door knob turned. The door swung open and hit the wall, leaving a crack in the plaster.

Dolores’ gaze returned to the sword resting on the coffee table.

The End.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2016

 

 


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In the Storm Drain

Just another short tale    …..

******
drain

Ingrid flung her suit jacket over the back of the sofa as she stomped out the front door.  She began steamrolling her way down the sidewalk.

Exene. That lying, manipulating, lazy excuse for a manager. Ingrid clenched her fists as she charged down the street on what was usually her evening stroll to relax and unwind.

Ingrid replayed in her mind the scorching exchange she had that morning with her co-worker.  They had argued over a project that Ingrid had developed and implemented and for which Exene took all the credit. This was not the first time Exene had pulled this stunt, but this time it was more than Ingrid could tolerate.  The conversation had ended on an ugly note.

Ingrid passed into a pool of yellow light. It evaporated as the streetlamp snapped off.

“Great,” Ingrid muttered as she peered at the broken concrete in front of her. “All I need to make this a perfect day is to trip and break my neck.” Ingrid sidestepped the upturned concrete slabs.  There was no moon, and Ingrid had difficulty navigating in the darkness created by the low hanging limbs of the giant magnolias that lined the street. She was relieved to finally enter another ring of light at the corner. As she rounded the sidewalk and started down Cedar Street, the light extinguished just as the other had done.

“Oh, c’mon! What is going on with these lights? Is it me?”   For some reason, Ingrid thought of Kristen, her other office mate, who was always commenting on Ingrid’s “erratic energy.”

Kristen also bore witness to Ingrid’s daily battles with Exene.  Ingrid snorted. “Kristen’s a whack-job too.” Most of the time Ingrid enjoyed Kristen’s sweet, chirpy disposition. Not today. “‘Maybe Exene doesn’t realize what she’s doing. She’s under pressure too, y’know,'” Ingrid mimicked. “Give me a freakin’ break.”   Both of them were driving her completely nuts.

Ingrid stormed down the street past her neighbors’ houses.  Up ahead she could see another large break in the sidewalk where tree roots had pushed up the concrete. As she stepped off the curb into the street to detour the obstruction, she passed by the grated cover of a storm drain. She heard a faint rustling coming from just inside the drain and slowed her stride to get a better look.  A louder scratching sound erupted from it. Ingrid gasped and jumped out of what she thought would be the range of an angry raccoon’s charge.

“I hate those things!” Ingrid picked up speed and moved on.  As she settled into her stride,  her thoughts returned to the conversation with Kristen. “Ingrid, I know Exene gives you a hard time, but being angry all the time with her doesn’t change things. It hurts you more than it hurts her. All that negativity you have towards her is going to turn inward. You need to forgive her for your sake, if not hers. If you don’t, that anger and resentment will be like a monster eating you from the inside out.”

“She has a lot of nerve telling me to forgive her,” Ingrid grumbled.  Kristen had not been at the company for that long so she certainly did not understand the history Ingrid had with Exene. “What does she know about it? I have every right to be mad!”

Ingrid had worked her pace up to a near jog. As she approached the next corner, she passed between a sprawling jade bush that partially obstructed the sidewalk. As she brushed by the plant, a rasping, coughing sound came from beneath it — something akin to a growl.

“Bloody hell!” Ingrid did not stop to look at what had made the noise. It could not be a raccoon.  She took off and rocketed down the street at a full run.

Out of the corner of her eye, black shapes seemed to pulse from between the houses, the trees and the shrubbery.  The shadows seemed to be reaching towards her. She could not find her voice to cry out, but she knew that no one would come to her aid if she did.

She heard the sound of running footsteps come up behind her.  Her breath coming hard now, she did not slow her pace to look behind. She had to get home. She had only a block and half to go.

Ingrid rounded the last corner onto her street and nearly stumbled as she came to a halt.  Standing before her was a massive, black shape — a darkness so deep that she could not see through it.   The shape stood between Ingrid and her front door.

It looked somewhat human, but she knew it was not.

She knew exactly what it was.  Trembling, Ingrid sank to her knees as the being lumbered towards her.

A single thought flew into her mind and she muttered:

“Kristen, you were right.”

ljg 2015


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In the Wee Small Hours of the Night

sleeping

A bit of super-flash fiction on the act of sleeping….

“Why is this happening?” Mavis mumbled under her breath.

2:35 a.m. Like clockwork. Every night.

She flipped on the bathroom light and winced. It never got any easier. Night after night, she roamed around, trying to figure out the reason why she could not get any rest.

After she flushed the toilet, she stood in front of the mirror and examined her bloodshot eyes. Was it hormones? Stress? Eating spicy food for dinner? What?  She leaned closer to the mirror, trying to get some idea.

Suddenly, a face loomed up behind her, white-fleshed with gaping eye holes and a crooked, fang-laden smile.

She screamed and screamed, just like she did every night, at this apparition in her bathroom.

Then she bolted straight up in bed. Once again, in the wee small hours of the night, she was shaken out of her sleep.

ljg (c) 2013

Image:  Endymion, by John William Godward, from ArtMagick.com