Howdy folks. I’m still working on short stories for an upcoming collection, including the much hyped (by me) novelette, Thanksgiving for Werewolves.
Thought I’d share this one, written about 9 months ago in a coffee house in Bridgeport, cleverly titled the Bridgeport Coffee House.
That’s the name of the restaurant, not the story.
(This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the
restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s
Why Wouldn’t You Trust Kyra Cooper?
The blonde was somewhere between five and fifty years old, depending on which parts counted. She sat at the bookstore table signing copies of her book about motherhood, alternating between adjusting the angle of her superfluous spectacles and tugging at her halter top.
A man in dark suit with dark pinstripes bent over and whispered to the blonde. “Ten more minutes, Ms. Cooper.”
She replied, “You can call me Kyra in public, Tom.” In private, it was always Ms. Cooper.
Emily had waited in line for thirty five minutes. She glanced at the t-shirt of a man in front of her, reading the list of concert dates and locations that weren’t blocked by his long, curly hair. She tried to remember what she was doing on each of those days. She tried to let this distraction calm her. Unfortunately, all the dates were from ten years ago, and she couldn’t recall much of her kindergarten experience.
Emily wasn’t interested in what an ex-centerfold had to say about motherhood, especially one who employed no fewer than three nannies for her one child. She had bigger fish to fry. Emily checked her purse for a third time and her coat pocket for a fifth.
A forty year old man with a green t-shirt tucked into his jean shorts had made it to the table. “Can you make it out to Ron? I loved you in Yard Sale! It is my favorite movie of all time, next to The Ten Commandments.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet!” Cooper signed without looking up.
Two more people to go, thought Emily. Her hands were trembling. She could feel sweat slide from her armpit down to her elbow. She held her arms tightly to her sides, not sure if doing so would make things better or worse.
Toward the back of the bookstore, a cart full of books tipped over releasing a cacophony of fluttering and slapping noises. Emily was the only one to notice.
A middle-aged red head approached the table with a stack of DVDs. Her hair was silver at the roots. Her face and neck were vastly different colors.
Concert man was next. Emily tried to take deep breaths and tried to remember why she was doing this thing.
“All right, folks,” Tom announced, “Ms. Cooper has other engagements. We apologize, but this is the last autograph.”
Emily heard the words, but didn’t process them.
“Are you sure, Tom?” Kyra asked. She wasn’t a very good actress, but had a lot of practice at this scene.
“I’m sorry, M- Kyra.”
“Gotta listen to the boss, folks. Sorry.” It was the perkiest “sorry” ever witnessed in a bookstore.
Emily, with newfound courage, slid her body around the concert goer. She fumbled to reach something in her purse. “Ms. Cooper, I need you to read this.”
Emily had never been this close to a celebrity. Her brother once met a heavy metal drummer at Six Flags when she was at home sick. But now, she could see the dandruff on the halter top of the woman from Ghost Inspector. She tried not to be impressed, but still found herself starstruck.
“Sorry, honey, I don’t accept scripts. It’s a legal thing. Keep on writing though; we could always use more chick-”
Emily interrupted. “It’s not a script, ma’am.” Kyra cringed at the word she had used so much surgery to avoid. “It’s a research paper. I wrote it for school.”
“On me?” Kyra responded, faking flattery.
“Oh.” A realization.
“I think what you are doing is wrong.” Emily thought that her voice had never sounded so strange.
Further realization came to Kyra.
“It’s dangerous and uninformed and irresponsible.”
Kyra’s smile was gone now. “Listen honey, I don’t need some junior high twat telling me how to raise my kids.”
“No, but ma’am, you are telling other people how to raise their kids, and you are giving them bad information.”
“Listen, I thank God every single day that I was able to naturally and organically undo the damage done by your poison to my daughter.”
“People could die, Ms. Cooper.”
“It’s not even a problem anymore.”
“But that is because we vaccinate our kids! And it is re-surfacing where people aren’t! Why can’t you see that?”
Kyra stood tall. “Excuse me people. We have a spy in our midst. This young girl here has been brainwashed by Big Pharm into believing the lies about the Reiniger vaccination.”
The crowd booed Emily.
“No, no. We mustn’t boo her. We must pity her.”
Emily was near tears. “If you would just read my paper.”
“Sure,” Kyra said, accepting the stapled sheets. She held them above her head, and attempted to rip them in half. She, unfortunately, lacked the requisite upper body strength and handed the paper to Tom. He hesitated.
Kyra violently tilted her head in his direction. Tom made a clean rip through the center of Emily’s school report with none of Kyra’s showmanship.
The crowd still cheered.
Emily took the flash drive out of her pocket and handed it to Tom. Kyra snatched it away and pushed on it with the stiletto heel of her age-inappropriate boot. She nearly tipped over, before the heel sunk into the tiny device.
She marched out of the bookstore, the flash drive stuck to her heel clicking on the sidewalk.
Emily walked out of the store heading in the other direction. Her frustration dissipated as she walked. She had tried.
The concert goer was less pleased. He looked through a stack of martial arts books while holding a cellphone in place with his face and shoulder.
“Total jip.” He said to his shoulder. “She still fuckable though.” He walked past a section of medical books, seeing tiny pink shoes and skinny legs emerge from a pile of fallen books.
“Shit, Karl, hold on.” He removed the phone from its nest and held it by his side. “Little girl?” he said to the pile of books. “Are you all right?”
“Shit.” He started removing books from the top of the pile. The little girl sat up suddenly. Her eyes were closed, but something yellow oozed from beneath.
She lunged forward, clawing and biting, catching the concert goer off balance. She bit his wrist and did not let go until she was hit by a hard cover copy of Gray’s Anatomy.
Ron dropped the book and helped the concert goer to his feet. “You okay?”
“Shit. Yeah. Fuck. I guess. I. . . Man, I’m just glad I got my Reiniger vaccination.”
The zombie problem was surprisingly easy to solve. The human problem remained.