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Mini Sledgehammer February 2012: Blackbird Wine & Atomic Cheese

Some people theorized that a Valentine’s Day Mini Sledgehammer would result in a serious lack of contestants, but lo, the crowd came out! Thanks to everyone who spent their V-Day with us.

Congratulations to Jarrod Schuster, whose disturbingly delicious story claimed first place.

***

Prompts:
Character: A twenty-something dog walker
Action:
Setting: An abandoned hotel on Valentine’s Day
Prop: Wrinkle cream

***

Untitled

by Jarrod Schuster

The Long Goodbye had seen better days. Once the pride of honeymooning couples and Valentine’s sweethearts, today it was a derelict monument to art-deco excess, and decay.

Chas had been trying to get Henri’s dog to commit suicide there for two whole weeks.

Henri, at home grading papers for her “day job” (as she so often felt the need to remind Chas of) had long relegated to him the task of taking Grief for her nightly constitutional. A more aptly named creature Chas could not imagine. Henri  claimed she was named for how she acquired her – an impulse purchase after the ‘tragic’ death of her sister. Chas explained to anyone out of Henri’s earshot how she had been named for the misery her presence inflicted.

Grief was some kind of purebred freak of genetic casualty; an inbred, wheezing, bow-legged, smoosh-sinused terror of patchy fur and wrinkled flesh, whose appearance was long announced by nasal snufflings and whine riddled hacking coughs. Every morning, Grief was subjected to a series of vitamins, pills, drops and inspections that would make the most cancer ridden of geriatrics feel relieved at their own plight. And yet, in spite of the genetic minefield the dog straddled, every day Chas awoke to it’s wheezing hiccoughing need for ablutions.

The Long Goodbye had seemed like the perfect place to finally rid himself of the dog. A warren of exposed, still sparking wires, tetanus laced bed springs, disease breeding leaky pipes and a pool long reclaimed by the wet wild. Henri would never forgive him for outright “losing” the dog, but as Grief was born of accident, her demise by such would seem poetic to Henri’s literary attuned mind. “God bless English majors,” Chas had initially thought. Now his musings revolved around the capricious cruelty of heavenly beings who plagued him with the thrice-damned burden of ‘designer’ dogs.

Chas stumbled over the half-sealed front doors, hopelessly released Grief as he had a hundred times before, and prayed to half-believed in deities that tonight the damned dog would finally meet its end. Grief took off, as she always did, investigating the depths of the darkened lobby with a nose that Chas absolutely knew, could-not-possibly, smell any more than he could.

“I can help your dog, mister.”

Chas fell on his own ass in shock, trying to turn the panicked yip he had made in fear into a rough cough. A man in the shabbily mismatched layers of professional street people stepped into the partial light of distant street lamps, the miraculous buzz and stutter of the still functional ‘Hotel’ sign above the door lintel.

“Yore dog. I can help ‘er.” he said again, with the earnest sincerity of the evangelical. Or the insane.

“Ex-hrmm-excuse me?” managed Chas, back-peddaling on his bottom away from the ancient stranger.

“I can help yer dog,” stated the derelict, “With this!” He flourished a half-used, generic white tube. In black marker, long faded, someone had scribbled ‘Wrinkel Creem’.

Chas just stared at the man.

Taking the silence as assent, the stranger confidently strode over to Grief, scooped her up in one begloved hand. He unscrewed the cap of the ‘Wrinkel Creem’ with his stained teeth, liberally squirted out a line of dirty yellow gelatin onto the dog’s back. Pocketing the still uncapped tube, the vagrant began to vigorously scrub the cream into the dog.

Like a child scrubbing at an unworthy drawing with a fat pink eraser – the dog began to vanish. Tufts of fur, curls of flesh pattered to the floor as the dog, with only a slight snuffle, disappeared.

“T’ain’t right to do that to no beast,” said the derelict, “What you need is a proper mutt.”

As the man shuffled into the empty hotel’s depths, Chas realized his dream had come true.

He was so screwed.

© 2012 Jarrod Schuster

***

The author of this work, like any good author, is entirely implied. Feel free to grace him, her or it with whatever characteristics, attributes, or opinions you may wish. Just do not be boring with your details. Everyone abhors a bore.

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