The other day I ran across an old folder filled with random bits of writing that I have amassed over the years. Some of them were outlines for stories or one off scenes, some of them were completed short stories. Still more were merely writing exercises that I’d held onto for whatever reason.
As I read through them, I found more than a few that were worth sharing. This particular piece was the result of a writing prompt, but for the life of me I can’t remember what the challenge was or when I wrote it. Nevertheless, it made me chuckle and I thought I’d give it a moment in the spotlight.
I was on the phone to my mother when it happened. The hash browns that I had been cooking on the stove began to smoke, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. The smoke detector started its obnoxious beeping, which in turn caused my dog to howl.
With all the commotion, I could barely hear my mom’s tale of workplace drama. For this I was grateful.
“Karen, what on Earth is all that racket?” She demanded.
“Fire alarm,” I said quickly. “I’ve got to go.”
“Let me know if…”
I hung up before she could finish. I pulled the battery out of the detector and pulled the skillet off the burner. The dog fell silent.
“Much better, eh Rex?”
The canine tilted his head, giving me a curious look, then promptly exploded. Or at least, I think he did. There was a loud pop, more smoke, and then there was nothing but a black scorch mark on the floor beneath his tattered red collar.
“Oh my god! Rex?”
I looked around frantically. “Rex?” I called.
I turned my gaze to the floor once more. The scene was the same.
I meandered around my house in a daze, hoping something would pop up that explained what had just happened. Finding nothing, I went outside and circled the house. Still, I found no clues as to why my beloved pooch had gone up in smoke.
“I must be going nuts,” I muttered. “I just need to take a walk and clear my head. When I get back, he’ll surely be here and everything will be fine.”
I had made it about three blocks down the road when I spotted an elderly woman sitting on a bench alone, tears streaming down her face. Concerned, I stopped at her feet.
“What’s wrong, ma’am?” I asked, hoping it was something I could easily fix.
“I’ve lost my purse,” she explained.
I nodded. “Where’s the last place you remember seeing it?”
“At the zoo,” she recalled. “An elephant got very close and grabbed it with his trunk!”
“Surely it’s still there,” I assured her. “I’ll head on over and see if I can find it.”
“Oh! That would be wonderful, dear! Thank you!”
“No problem at all,” I replied with a smile. “I’ll be back in no time!”
With a new mission, I walked back home, got in my car, and headed to the zoo, where I was informed that they had sold the elephant to a traveling circus–along with the old woman’s purse! The zookeeper then told me that the circus was setting up in the next county.
So, off I went in my little red car.
Finding the circus was no problem at all. However, getting the purse was a different story.
“It came with the elephant,” the ring leader protested.
Annoyed, I rolled my eyes. “Listen, there seems to be a misunderstanding. That purse belongs to a very nice old lady and she is completely distraught over its disappearance.”
The small man contemplated this for a moment. “I’ll let you have it for 50 bucks.”
“50 bucks!” I exclaimed in disgust.
“It came with the elephant,” he repeated stubbornly. “I require compensation for my property.”
I sighed. “How about 20?”
“30,” he rebutted.
I sighed again. “Fine.”
I dug through my purse and found that I had no cash, only my bank card. “Sir, I’m sorry, but I have no money. If you could–”
“No money, no purse,” he interjected. The man began to walk away and I chased after him.
“Wait!” I called. “What if I work it off?”
The ringleader’s eyes lit up as he turned around to face me. “That might work!”
It took four hours of cleaning animal cages and affixing fake unicorn horns to the foreheads of horses, but eventually I returned to my car with the old lady’s purse.
I drove back to the bench, hoping she was still there. Of course, she was already gone. I decided to take my car home and search for her on foot. Along the way, I spotted a police car idling at the curb. The front seat was empty, but I could see movement in the back window. Upon closer inspection, it was a little dog scratching frantically at the window.
I ran over and talked to him, promising to get him out. I was beyond relieved to see my canine friend, but I was more confused than ever. I walked around the car, checking all the doors in case it was unlocked. That’s when the officer appeared.
“Step away from the car, ma’am,” he boomed.
I did as he’d requested, feeling my face turn crimson. “I’m sorry officer, but you have my dog in your car,” I explained.
“Of course I do,” he responded. “He was stealing sausages from a street vendor.”
“Bad Rex!” I scolded, pointing at him through the window. The dog pulled his ears back and whimpered. I turned my attention back to the cop beside me. “I’m so sorry, sir.”
He looked at me skeptically. “Holding that for a friend?”
He nodded towards the blue purse in my hand. Of course it must have looked suspicious with my own bag hanging off of my shoulder.
“Oh, no. I retrieved it for an old lady who had lost it this morning, and I’m trying to return it to her.”
His face hardened. “Mind if I take a look?”
I handed it over and looked on anxiously as he rummaged through it.
“This purse has been reported stolen,” he said, the gravity of his voice sending a shiver down my spine.
The next thing I knew, I was in the squad car with Rex and the two of us were taken to the station and thrown in a cell. Rex began to dig at the floor with amazing strength and speed. I watched in astonishment as he dug a tunnel to the outside and crawled into it.
I followed him out and snatched him up in my arms. “Thank you boy!”
He licked my face and we ran as far as we could before I had to stop for air. I quickly hailed a cab.
“To the airport,” I ordered.
Once we arrived, I apologized for not having cash and ran inside as quick as could be. Someone’s pet monkey was unattended, so I let him out and put Rex in his cage. I then rushed to an ATM, withdrew all my cash, and bought a plane ticket.
Rex and I are now on a beautiful island, soaking up the sun and enjoying a nice drink served in a coconut.
As you can see, due to extenuating circumstances, I will not be into work today, Mr. Stevens.