Friday, September 9, 2011


Two days ago, I came up with the following prompt for Icy Sedgwick: "Your cat has just been stolen by a race of clown-people and you need to win the ultimate whac-a-mole game to get him back." I figured that might make an interesting comedy or horror for those of us afraid of clowns...but I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could somehow take that idea and make it 'literary.' This is what I came up with. Let me know if you think I succeeded.

Aaron swept his hand across the grimy, faux granite counter and rested his fingers on the tattered paper. At the top, an image of pale clown with a red ruffle circling his neck served as the header with an address from a blighted part of town printed below it. Scrawled across the paper in a thick red crayon were four words, “We have your cat.”

He crumpled the paper, keeping it in the palm of his hand and stood at the broken window, facing his front yard. He called out, “Jake, come on Jake, where are you?” He turned around and got onto his knees, looking behind the couch and under the desk. “Fucking assholes.” he muttered while he un-balled the paper and memorized the address. “You’re all dead you mother fuckers.”

From his closet, he grabbed an old aluminum baseball bat and squeezed the handle; the cool coarseness of the old, ratty tape still clinging on from his days in college filled him with a sense of power. He took his keys, got into his car, and drove.

He arrived at an abandoned strip mall and parked his car in front of a store front featuring the clown from the paper above its doors; there were no other cars or people anywhere to be seen. Across the front window in painted lettering was the name of an old pizza place. Aaron took his bat and walked through the unlocked door.

Inside, herds of little people with blisteringly pale skin ran about, all dress in clown outfits. Some of them sat at tables eating and drinking sodas while others played some of the games left by the previous owners. At the back, behind a ticket prize counter, stood the only other person of normal height; he too was dressed the same.

Aaron hoisted the bat above his head and brought it down on one of the tables a couple of the little people were eating at, shattering a plate and a couple glasses. The whole restaurant fell silent. “One of your little fuckers has my cat, and if I don’t get him back right this instant, I’m gonna put you all in the hospital.”

One of the little men raised his hand and pointed at the small animal carrier next to him. Aaron marched over, but the man took the carrier and ran towards the back near the ticket counter; under his arm was a roll of tickets. “Don’t you run from me little bitch.” Aaron shouted, but the man finally turned around once he reached the counter.

Cornered, the little man pointed into the display case where a runt of a cat, if that’s what it really was, sat, chained to the case. It was an ugly creature, hairless and scrawny, but Aaron caught the little man’s eyes wandering away from the bat and towards the pathetic animal.

“Is that yours?” Aaron said? The man nodded and pointed at the case. Aaron took a closer look and saw a tag with “10,000 tickets” stapled onto the animal’s back. It had been there a while since the blood from the staple was dried and flaking away.

He looked back towards the little man and at the roll of tickets. “How many do you have?” He shook his head. “Well how much more do you need.” He held up three fingers.

Aaron raised his attention to the man behind the counter. Up close, he was at least a head taller than Aaron. “Just give the dude his fucking...whatever that thing is.”

“He does not have enough tickets. I need the tickets.” the man said in a monotone voice.

“It’s three fucking tickets. Just give it to him.”

“He does not have--”

“Here.” Aaron reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar. “That’s got to be worth 3 tickets.”

“He does not have enough tickets. I need--”

“Then how do I get three fucking tickets?” The man remained silent and Aaron raised his bat. “Alright, I guess it’s going down like this.”

Before he swung at the man, the little guy pulled on Aaron’s pant leg and pointed towards a bank of machines. They were old Whac-a-Mole games with two of the little people trying furiously to play one, but they were too small to use the mallet. Aaron leaned his bat on one of the tables and walked up to a vacant one. The little man with his cat put in a quarter and Aaron played.

When the game ended, the machine spat out five tickets. The little man ripped them from the machine and took his roll plus the extra five to the man at the counter while Aaron watched from the game. The tall guy reached into the display case and handed the little man both his animal and two left over tickets.

Aaron walked over to the case and snatched the two extra tickets from the little man’s hands. He leaned over and looked into the display case. “What can I get with two tickets?” The man at the counter pointed towards the far end of his case where some pieces of hard candy were set in a glass bowl.

Aaron nodded and reached behind him for his bat. Swinging it into the case, the bat shattered the glass and the man jumped back, startled by the noise. “Don’t you ever screw with my little friend here.” Aaron crouched down and poked his finger into the carrier where his cat licked his fingers. “That’s right Jake, daddy hates it when the little guy gets fucked.”


FARfetched September 9, 2011 at 10:23 AM  

The little guy just wanted his own cat. I see how Aaron could see his way to help him out there.

You weren't listening to Insane Clown Posse while writing that, were you? ;-)

John Wiswell September 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM  

This Mel Gibson-level severity to rescue and secure the cat was really amusing.

Icy Sedgwick September 9, 2011 at 11:09 AM  

You did that far better than I would have done. I disagree with Wiswell though, I see Aaron more as Liam Neeson.

Sonia Lal September 9, 2011 at 1:55 PM  

You did a great job with that prompt. I would have thought it would be impossible.

Michael A Tate September 9, 2011 at 5:19 PM  

FAR: No, I haven't listened to anything by them in probably 10 years.

John: I'm picturing that scene in Ransom where he shouts into the phone, but this time it's "GIVE ME BACK MY CAT!"

Icy: Ok, now I'm picturing the movie Taken...I don't know who Aaron would be played by Mel or Liam...well ok Liam because I like him better.

Sonia: I probably put more thought into this one before I had anything down in ink than any other flash I've done. I was just about ready to concede when I finally found a nook of inspiration.

Helen September 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM  

I think you did wonderfully with that prompt. I'm glad Aaron helped out that little guy, I felt so sorry for his cat chained up and tickets stapled to him.

Did writing this help you get over your fear of sock puppets - they're just like clowns you know ^__^

Stephen September 10, 2011 at 9:13 AM  

A funny story, Michael. There for a moment, I thought the guy was going to have play to redeem his cat. I liked your ending far better, though. Why play when you own the bigger stick, right?

A Kwee Life September 11, 2011 at 1:43 AM  

I love it when the good guy wins! Especially if he has a cat :-) I enjoyed the uniqueness of your story. The setting was great and your narrative fun.

Chuck Allen September 11, 2011 at 11:01 PM  

Clowns stealing cats? Send them our way! :)

Great job with the prompt. A very funny story.

Adam B September 17, 2011 at 4:53 PM  

That's a great twisty tale. Awesome prompt and very well executed. Love the darkness of it all.
Adam B @revhappiness

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