“I’m here to remind you of the cross eye bear that you gave to me,” sang Alanis Morisette in the song You Ought to Know. But while listening to it during a car trip today, my parents heard something else. Inspired by this, I hereby introduce this week’s Flash Fiction piece, The Cross-eyed Bear That You Gave To me:
She picked up her phone and dialed Keith for the fourth time that day, and for the fourth time that day she didn’t get an answer. It just rang on and on and on until she gave up. They may have gotten cell service back, at least in some areas, but voicemail was still a thing of the past. She supposed whatever warehouse housed the servers where all those recorded messages were stored had burnt down or been repurposed.
“At least phone bills aren’t a thing anymore,” she mumbled and dialed a fifth time. Sure, she had to pay taxes to the crew that maintained the cell towers, but they didn’t care how many calls she made or for how long. She put it on speaker, setting the phone down on the counter and just let it ring. Maybe if she let it go for long enough he’d get sick of the sound and pick up.
Beep – beep – beep – beep, went the phone as she set about tidying up the counter. The place was starting to look a right mess and she couldn’t have that. It scared the customers away. She ran a general trade hub, not a store for general trash, even if some of her inventory did come from junkyards. And if she wanted people to trust her, to bargain fairly and to come to her first when they had something they had no need for, then her place needed to look respectable and organized. No-one wanted to wait around while she rummaged through piles of crap to see if she really did have a first aid kit to trade them.
Then again, currently it wasn’t just the mess scaring people off. She looked up at the lump of fur sitting off in the corner, idly sucking on one of its paws. “Stupid bear,” she grumbled. It looked up at her, slowly, or at least she thought it did. It was sort of hard to say with how its right eye veered left and its left eye veered right. It might’ve been looking at its nose, but thought that looked more accurate it seemed less likely.
Finally the phone clicked and Keith’s voice made a vague grunting sound.
“It’s me,” she said.
“Oh, hey, Jeanie,” he replied and she could hear him grin on the phone. “What can I do for you today?”
“I need you to take it away.”
“Take what away?”
“Don’t pla- The bear, the goddamned bear. I didn’t ask for it and it’s scaring the customers.”
“Aw, come on, it’s a great bear.”
“I’m sure it is but I can’t keep it in the store.”
“Look, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a zookeeper these days? I had to put it somewhere!”
“Zookeepers being hard to find doesn’t make me a zookeeper, Keith. I need the bear gone. It’s already eaten a full day’s profit in near-expired energy bars.”
“Oh, come on, I’m sure someone will make you a great deal for a bear.”
She took a long, slow breath. “Keith… I’m not sure if someone willing to buy a cross-eyed bear in this economy is the sort of person I want to sell a bear to. Will you come fucking get it?”
“Well, the thing is that oh hey, I gotta run, got a client outside, whoops, bye!”
He hung up and she swore loudly. Dialing him back was a wasted effort, and after tree tries she chucked her phone into a drawer and closed it.
“Mruwh,” said the bear, slowly getting up and shuffling over towards her.
“Let me guess,” she said, reaching into another drawer for a small object in a green wrapper. “You want a fucking energy bar?”
And with that, I wish you a Happy Easter weekend. May you have many eggs, if eggs are something you enjoy!