By Robert Scotellaro


The blasts weren’t loud, Emmy thought, but she could see they were getting on Frank’s nerves.  Every time one of her son’s toy soldiers flew up in dismemberment, Frank cast a disapproving glance his way, then turned back to the game he was watching—raised the volume up a notch.

Frank had moved in a little over a month ago—the latest of several men she’d gone with in the years following her husband’s death, and Emmy was beginning to think that things weren’t going to work out any better this time either.  Could feel, coupled with his intolerance, the boy’s mutual resentment.

Frank rose up from the couch.  “Hell,” he hollered at the TV!  “Go for the Ball!  Whatdaya need, a personal invitation?”

A toy commando crept across the rug and the boy waited.  When the soldier was in position he flicked a detonation lever and BOOM!—it flew up in an accompanying blast, landed groaning, his left leg bloodied on the other side of the room.

Each time Frank looked over at the boy, another limb would fly.  “Can’t they ever invent something quiet for boys?”

Emmy clicked on the vacuum cleaner with a shrill whir and Frank reached for the volume control again.

When she began cleaning by the couch, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him.

“Hey,” she cautioned coyly, nodding toward the boy.

“Ah-h…” he said, letting go.  He went to the fridge, got a beer, sat back down.

The boy, watching, turned a knob gingerly and a team of commandos spun around and began advancing toward the couch, several of them low-crawling with long knives.  He fired a missile at a plane circling overhead.  It exploded into flames and a small figure parachuted down, landing by a potted plant.

Emmy let loose an exasperated sigh—pushed the pilot toward the boy with the side of her foot—a small writhing heap.

Emmy could hear a little helmet and bloody femur bang up quickly against the inside of the cleaner hose as they whooshed into the machine.  Where were the trees, she thought.  The trees and the hills and the lake?  The pleasant drive to the country Frank had promised?  No, first he had to watch the game.  And when that was finished, he had to watch another.  What did he expect, the kid to sit around all day quietly with his hands in his lap?

The boy bit his lip as he manipulated the remote control dials devilishly, and a platoon of commandos waiting at the base behind the couch, tossed up their grappling hooks, began to ascend.

“Hey, butterfingers!” Frank jeered at the wall-sized TV.  “I swear,” he said to Emmy and world in general, “this goof ball must have holes in the middle of his hands.  The ball went right through ’em.”

The small band of warriors shimmied up the taught ropes along the sheer wall of the couch. The boy turned another knob and several other soldiers hurried to the rear of the sofa, setting artillery launchers, soundlessly estimating coordinates.

Up they climbed, while Frank stared at the set and Emmy cleaned around the curtains.  He was oblivious as the first commando crested and began to crawl between the cushions—sunlight glinted off its long knife.

The boy waited till they were all in position, statue-like above the controls.

But as Frank turned to grab his beer from the coffee table, he caught the first movement out of the corner of his eye.  The boy detonated the exposed commando and it disseminated into a hundred parts.  Emmy looked over, saw Frank staring down at the little pulpy heart pulsing on his shirt sleeve and flicked it off.  He bolted from the couch.  “Jesus, Emmy!  Can’t you do something with that brat?”

“He’s not a brat,” she protested, clicking off the vacuum cleaner and pushing it toward him.  “He’s a normal kid is all.”

“Hell,” he fumed.  “When a man can’t watch a simple game of…”

But before he could finish, Emmy reached over and lifted Frank’s shirt, flipped down the lever in his chest and Frank froze, suddenly suspended in a last demonstrative gesture.

Emmy coiled the vacuum cleaner cord and looped it over his outstretched hand.  “Come on,” she said to her son, bending down to pick up a small kidney from the rug, already thinking of the next model she would try: a “sensitive, indulgent type” perhaps.  She recalled seeing something just like that in their latest catalog.




Robert Scotellaro’s flash fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in: Clockwise Cat, Drabblecast, Fastforward (A Collection of Flash Fiction), Dogzplot, Willows Wept Review, mud luscious, Ghoti, Verbsap, 971 Menu, The Laurel Review, Storyscape, Battered Suitcase, Red Rock ReviewBoston Literary Magazine, Macmillan collections and others.  He is the author of several literary chapbooks, two books of poetry, and the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry.  Born and raised in Manhattan, he currently lives in California with his wife and daughter.

Published on June 27, 2009 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

%d bloggers like this: