This is my first attempt at the “Flash Fiction Challenge” from terribleminds. In 1000 words or less I am to write a story about a bad father. Frankly I don’t even like this story much, it makes my stomach hurt. I didn’t even do much editing. This thing came out like a beer and pizza belch, it stinks and has little chunks in it but I’m glad I wrote it anyway. I’m also trying to learn to write in first person again, for some reason I can’t seem to do it. It seems disjointed to me, somehow. Anyway, please comment, I need all the help I can get.
Learning to Drive
The damned dogs are barking again. It’s always about those damned dogs. They scare me to death, that whole god-damned kennel full. I keep telling myself that I’m going to put my foot down, I’m going to make him get rid of them. But then Billy will come home and tell me about the ones he sold. Or the money he made at the fights. He’ll take me out on a date like old times, before we got pregnant. Sometimes we even get to leave town. We don’t have the money to go on a real vacation, but we can take the money from the dogs and get away for a night or two every year. Pretend we’re somebody else. Lately, he’s making good money out of them. So I keep letting it go, and feeling guilty and mad about it while in my own little way I’m as responsible as he is.
I asked him not to build the kennel so close to the trailer. I didn’t want to hear all the barking, but he had to do things his own way. Said he didn’t want to walk so far to feed and water them. So now, I have to smell their shit and hear them bark. He’s never here to deal with it anyway, but I suppose that’s not his fault. He’s working two jobs to try to pay for everything, and Jamie’s medical bills are really adding up. Billy keeps a good attitude about it, but I wonder if he’ll regret not being around so much when Jamie gets older. I guess I should say IF he gets older.
It’s hard taking care of a sick kid, and to be honest it’s smothering me. I love little Jamie so much, but spending all day every day with a three year old is making me stir-crazy. It doesn’t help that I can’t drive, either. After the wreck that hurt me so badly and killed my father, I never learned how.
What the hell are they barking at? God, they bark a lot. This isn’t the regular bark though, there’s something more urgent about this. I just got Jamie down for his nap. I’m going to have to shut them up or they’ll wake him. I usually hit the chain link fence on their cages with a bat to shut them up.
On the way out I see the back door isn’t latched. Billy keeps saying he’s going to fix that. Yet here it is, still broken. I don’t know how many times we’ve closed that door, and locked it, only to find it standing open later. It scares me. I can’t lock the door when I go to bed. When Billy’s working night shifts, every little creak and pop wakes me up. Were those footsteps? Is somebody coming in?
As I cross the driveway, Billy pulls in and pops out of his car. “Hey, Babe! Like your outfit!” I look down and realize I’m in my panties and a t-shirt.
“God damnit, I wouldn’t be out here at all if it wasn’t for the damned dogs! Shut ‘em up or get ‘em out of here! Look, you left the outside gate open, I bet a cat or something got in there! CARELESS SONOFABITCH!”
“They ain’t botherin’ me,” he smirks as he walks by. He rubs his hand on my ass and jogs up the steps to the back door, slaming it as he goes in. It’s already creeping back open again, on its own, as I grab the bat and sling the outside gate to the kennel open.
“Yea, slam the fucking door, asshole, it’s not like Jamie’s asleep or anything.”
There’s another sound in here, not the dogs. Oh shit, is that a cat? What the hell is it? I round the corner and see Jamie standing in the isle between the cages, screaming. His eyes are squeezed shut and he doesn’t even know I’m there. His penguin pajamas are stark white even in the shadows of the kennel.
“Sweety, what’s wrong? “ I’m yelling to be heard over the dogs, but how did he get out here? I put him down for his nap not fifteen minutes ago-
He hears my voice and raises his hands for Mommy to pick him up. Hand. Hands. WHERE’S HIS OTHER FUCKING HAND?
The screams are in my ear now, I’m smothering him in my hug and WHERE IS HIS HAND? There’s blood on the chain link fence and…
Your fucking dogs are eating my son’s hand. He stuck his hand through the fence and they ate it. I scoop my screaming baby up and sprint inside, Oh God he’s bleeding so much!
Billy’s in the kitchen eating Doritos over the sink. “YOUR GODDAMNED DOGS ARE OUT THERE EATING HIS HAND AND I’M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU FOR THIS!” I grab a kitchen towel and throw it over the end of Jamie’s arm. He’s still got his thumb. Billy is just standing there, color draining as the sudden and overwhelming reality of all that blood sinks in. “GET HIS HAND ASSHOLE!”
“I’ve got to get his hand from the dogs…” His eyes aren’t even focused on anything. He doesn’t run, he just kind of wanders out the door. Yea, asshole, it took me a moment to get it together, too. I’m putting pants on when I hear the gunshots from the kennel. Jamie’s screams are weaker now. Ten minutes ago I had a normal life.
I’m carrying Jamie to the car as another gunshot comes from the kennel. “Yea, kill them all, Motherfucker! Now that it’s too late! We have to get him to the hospital, get out here!”
Silence. Not a dog left to bark.
“Billy, c’mon, we gotta go!” I push the kennel gate open just enough to see Billy on the ground, blood flowing out of his head and snaking to the drain. The gun’s off to his side. There’s a tiny little finger beside it. Billy must’ve been carrying it when he…
How the fuck do I get to the hospital now?