The Words: Pieces by D.V. Klenak

A Gala Affair at Medulla O's
Round 2 - NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2010: Comedy / Art Gallery / Banana


The A-list event for a world renowned artist proves disastrous and traumatizing for all in attendance.

Ling jumped up like a two-legged poodle when Sandra entered the room.  She would choose today of all days to rubber band her hair into something resembling a tie-dye project, thought Sandra.  Tonight was the first A-list gala Medulla Oblan, or Medulla O, had entrusted to Sandra.  And, it was already a disaster. 
“Ling, go check on Abuswami.  He’s in the women’s bathroom.”
Ling scampered away, dodging Medulla’s French-manicured nails sweeping down the steps.  Medulla gave Sandra a breezy kiss-kiss, slapping her in the face with her dress, made from twenty feet of red sari and silver bells, as she whipped around pointing at Ling.  “I thought you got rid of that.”
“Yes,” Sandra blurted, “I mean, I did but she keeps coming back.”
Medulla shook her head.  “Where’s my artist?”
“He’s, uh, just getting ready.  I’ll go get him.”
“Here,” Medulla placed a brown vial in Sandra’s hands, “Cologne,” she said, fanning her away as Madonna entered.
In the bathroom, Ling stood at the handicap stall.  A voice wailed from within, “I’m no better than mold scrapings!”
Ling nodded joyously, “Mmmmmm dat nice.”  More wailing.
“Ling,” Sandra whispered, “Guests are arriving.  Go mark their names off.  Make sure they have an invite.”  Ling nodded and trotted out.
“Abuswami?”  Sandra spoke to the door.
“Please,” came the wail, “Just call me Dung Heap!”
Sandra exhaled, “Guests are arriving.”
“Just send them home.”
“I’ll come back and check on you.”
“Don’t bother,” he sobbed, “I’m about to flush myself down this toilet.”
“Your art is truly amazing,” she said.  The sniffling began to subside.  “A work of genius.  I can’t wait for tonight.”
The door unlocked.  A very squat Indian man with a ponchy stomach, wild hair in an Armani suit uncurled from an upright fetal position atop the toilet and placed his feet on the floor.  “Is that for me?” he nodded to the vial.
“Thank goodness,” he cried, twisting off the cap and slugging the contents.  He slammed the door, sobbing hysterically, feet disappearing again.  “Come get me when it’s time.  If I’m still here!”
Sandra turned on her heel, jetting back to the gallery now full of people clustered like mushrooms around Abuswami’s latest installation, a pile of logs titled, “The Memory of the Memory Before the World Was Born.”
Ling manned the door behind two gorilla-like bouncers.  Two old ladies, one wearing cream tweed with a walker, the other fuchsia tweed passed Sandra.  “Who are these people?”  Sandra seethed.  Ling jumped.  Sandra motioned to the next person in line, a woman in elasticized faux-denim capris, a floral shirt and straw hat to match.
“You say make sure everyone know,” Ling said.
Sandra closed her eyes, “I meant reporters, photographers, PR!”
The woman with the straw hat waved an E-vite printout, “Yoohoo!”
Sandra clasped her hands together, “I’m sorry.  This event is closed.”  The woman snorted indignantly as the bouncers shuffled, blocking everyone but the celebrity pipeline.  Paris Hilton dropped her invite at Ling’s feet and hung her jacket on Ling’s shoulders.
Medulla, circling the room, mouth dropping at the sight of the tweed ladies, was at Sandra’s side.  “Did Betty White bring her friends again?”
Sandra was overpowered however by the chant, “We have an in-vite, We wanna come in!”
“What is that pedestrian noise?  Is that a protest?  In front of MY gallery?  And, they’re blocking John and Kelly!” Medulla shouted.
John Travolta and his wife pushed through the crowd of protestors, marched up the steps and handed Medulla the printout, “Surely you’re not turning these people away?”
“Of course not, John.  Sandra!” she scolded, “I’m shocked!”
The bouncer stepped aside and the cheering protestors flooded the gallery like locusts, emptying trays of wine and snapping photos of Abuswami’s pile of twigs.
“Ling, get more servers!” Sandra shouted as there was a SMACK!  The bathroom door kicked open.  “Enough!” Abuswami shouted, arms flailing as if a bee hive was on his head.  “Abuswami’s had enough!”  His ankles crossed back and forth as he teetered toward his pile of sticks.  “You want a show?”
The crowd nodded unanimously.
“YOU WANT SHOW!!!” he wailed monstrously, eyes bugging out.  The crowd fell silent.  “I give you show,” he said mischievously, then rushed Medulla, planting a slobbery kiss on her.  “I shall light the flame!” he announced, “Of passion!”  He flicked his lighter and dove for the bottom of his twig pile, setting it alight.  The crowd clapped uncertainly as the twigs blazed.  He then unzipped his pants.  The crowd gasped as Abuswami exposed himself and began pissing on the fire.  It was the only sound in the gallery until the thunder of a Mexican man in dirty overalls burst through the crowd, dousing the twigs with water.
Everyone cheered at the performance.  Everyone, except Abuswami.   “YOU IDIOT!”  He charged the man, the crowd scattering, bewildered, as if a bear had escaped at the zoo.  The Mexican zig-zagged, using Tom Hanks as his shield.  Abuswami locked arms with him but the Mexican put him in a headlock choking Abuswami into a deep purple.
“Let go of my artist!” Medulla cried, Abuswami’s arms flailing.  The bouncers rushed inside as the fire alarm sounded and the sprinklers, which Ling was to have disabled, rained down on all the rented designer dresses.  Abuswami still refused to surrender though the Mexican now had ahold of his feet, dragging him to the kitchen.
Outside, guests were already giving their brush-with-death tales to reporters as the fire department trudged inside.  The police arrested a very drugged-up and incoherent Abuswami who shouted from the top of the gallery steps, “I have the biggest banana!”
Medulla was recovering in the back of her limo while RuPaul rubbed her toes. refusing to speak to Sandra.  Ling sat on the sidewalk, shoes wet in the gutter.  “Ling, why don’t you go home?”
Ling nodded, handing Sandra the jacket covering her shoulders with PH embroidered on the front.  “And Ling, you’re fired.”
Ling nodded.  “Okay.  See you tomorrow.”

3rd Place
Underworld Café
Round 1 - NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2010: Ghost Story / Bakery / Jump Rope

The Underworld Café is the social mecca for all the undead. One night, a ghost stands up to the bullying of the vampires.

“It’s dead in here!” the old guy out front loves to say. He starts to cackle which inevitably makes the worms in his eyes pop out and maggots fall on the floor. The sign over the door reads, Underworld Café. Everyone knows everyone’s business here. That old guy? Botched revivification. Little too much moonshine, not enough mojo from his hillbilly cousins and he’s now a festering corpse.

Vampires walk in here as if they’re undead royalty. Just because they’ve made a name for themselves in Hollywood they think they’re bad asses, even though we ghosts had that market cornered ages ago when we were nothing but white bed sheets on a pulley system. Not to mention zombies have hit it big onscreen too. Not by any marketing skills of their own, but still! Vamps have their James Dean acts down cold while zombies… well, as I write this, one of the waitresses is trying to explain to the zombie crashing through tables and chairs that the girl jumping rope up and down the aisle is not a real girl. “She has no brains!” she keeps saying. Then she tries to bribe it with another scoop of Brainzy Ice Cream. I think she’s up to ten scoops now she’s said it so many times, but the little girl continues to jump rope and the zombie continues to lurch after her. She must be new. The newer ghosts always look more human-like.

Truth is nobody likes vampires. They’re the underworld’s equivalent of mean girls. Most nights they walk in, scan the room in a millisecond then pretend as if they didn’t because, you know, they’re too cool. Then order their Type-O Jelly donuts or Blood Red Velvet cupcakes and Sang-ria Sorbet before slinking to the back lounge where creatures automatically give up their seats. Their food disappears in one bite they’re such pigs, then they get up and leave making sure everyone can overhear what better place they have to go and we move on with our eternal lives. But, the other night I was in the back room with a ghost named, Sal. It was his Death Day. On that day, you get free dessert and access to the little movie projector in back. Our Death Days can be quite emotional. Sal had been a construction worker on the Brooklyn Bridge, but always wanted to be a screenwriter. Meanwhile Allison was particularly upset after having returned from haunting her ex-husband whose fifth date with “a snot-nosed tramp who’s too dumb to recognize she’s being haunted,” according to Allison, resulted in their engagement that evening. Several other ghosts tried to console her as a vamp, having overheard (they hear everything), walked over and said in his faux-English accent (he was originally from Detroit), “Of course he’s moved on. The human mind forgets so easily, especially if you are so easily forgettable.”

His lips curled, sucking down all the little bombs of heartbreak and melancholy exploding in the air around him. Allison bawled while the group of ghosts taunted the vamp with words as feeble and cutting as a bunch of fat kids trying to stand up to a cheerleading squad. The vamp crew had already wafted out of the room talking about some “regal soiree at the mansion,” then jumped into their super swanky licenseless, brandless Corvette-Rolls Royce hybrid of a vague and forgettable description. Ghosts may not be fast, the same way that vampires are fast, but we can move. We see someone, and we can haunt your ass until kingdom come. We just need a reason.

No one ever dares stand up to vamps. Except zombies. Even though we’re non-corporeal and they can’t hurt us, most ghosts are so damn sensitive. There’s nothing sadder than a crying ghost. It’s like a bad soap opera. No real tears to accompany the blubbering. But, I’m not as sensitive as most. I’ve been here the longest.

See, some ghosts are ghosts by choice, like Allison who’s tethered here by emotion. If she could let it go, she’d move on, but the way she’s been pounding down ectoplasm fritters and plotting her revenge with Marie Antoinette’s ghost, I’m doubtful that will ever happen. Then there are the ghosts like me who are cursed. My body was buried with the key to a treasure that no one’s been able to find. Even I’ve forgotten where. Trouble is, that piece of metal is what’s keeping me here until someone finds it.

So, when I saw poor Allison get her teeth kicked in by that vamp, I decided to go after them. They razzed me of course, up and down the halls of their overblown vacation cabin, threatening their psychic abilities knew exactly where my body was buried and they were going to huff and puff and turn me to vapor, but I knew they were bluffing. “I think I need some new friends,” I said, “I’ll tag along wherever you go, make loud noises and obnoxious farting sounds while you’re trying to channel Bowie and bite someone. In fact, I feel a fart coming on now.”

They drove me straight back to the café and apologized to Allison. They glared at me as if posing for a gothic clothing magazine and left. Allison was in the middle of her thirtieth ectoplasm fritter. Thankfully she remained in the back room that evening because a ghost fart is certainly the worst thing you’ve ever smelled. They appear out of nowhere and linger for days. They’re particularly offensive to creatures, like vamps, who lord their highly calibrated olfactories over everyone as if it’s a good thing.

Flip, one of the chefs, I’m not sure what he is but the oil secreted through his glands gives the baked goods their fluffiness, had bore witness to the entire scene. After the vamps walked out, he handed me a fritter with an extra dollop of ectoplasm. “On the house,” he twitched.