Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Not Just Cold & Flu Season...

**Editor's Note** It's time for another Flash Fiction Friday entry, and I promise to keep it short.

"Come with me if you want to give these test results a gander Mr. Ford. Let's just step into my office," said Dr. Dunbar to Cletus, "I think you will be surprised!"

The nurse called to the Doctor, "Hey Doc, do you mind if I cut out early? I've got to-uh," she looked worried and thought for a second, "I've got to go visit my sick grandma!"

"Sure," Doc said with a knowing smile, "You go on and I'll lock up." Cletus noticed that she had her red coat and purse in her hands in a hurry, and hustled for the door like someone who really needed to go to the bathroom or cash a check. "Sit down Mr. Ford," said Doc as he waived him to a stool.

"Mr. Ford was my papa's name Doctor Dunbar. You can jus' call me Cletus," he said as he took off his hat.

"Well Cletus, I've got your blood test back from the lab and I've figured out what's wrong with you, but I still need to ask you a few questions first."


"What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a logger. Got my own company and we are really startin' to take off."

"Have you been around a feral dog recently?"

"My old lady has a poodle. Is that what this is about? I got allergies?"

"No Cletus. A wild dog, or a wolf perhaps?" Doc pressed.

Cletus scratched his chin and thought for several minutes. "Other than Mitzy, I can't think of... Hey! Wait! Last fall, I was out at the Tucker place cuttin' up a big ol' walnut tree on their back lot when this huge hound jumped out and bit my hand! I chased him off with the chainsaw! He took a good chunk out of me, but nuthin' like the chunk I took outta him!" Cletus thought for a second longer, "Are you tellin' me I got rabies Doc?"

"No, no," Doc chuckled, "nothing of the sort." He looked at the file as he lit his Lucky Strike, took a puff and then continued, "No, what you have is called lycanthropy. It is an uncommon, but treatable disease."

"Lycanthropy? Whut's that?" Cletus said with lowered eyebrows.

"Ever hear of a werewolf?"

"Well sure, but you mean tuh tell me I'm gonna start to howl at the moon like thet dude in thet 'An American Werewolf In Dublin' flick? I thought that this was jus' some weird skin disease I had, what with the hair and the night sweats and the sleep walkin' an' all. Are your sure you're readin' that paper right Doc?"

Doc rested his elbows on his knees and looked Cletus in the eye, "Mr. Ford...Cletus. I know that this is a little much to hear from your small town family doctor, but unless you start treatment soon, you're are going to become a full-blown werewolf. If you ignore the condition long enough, you will develop what's called a blood lust and you will be driven to kill. Sure, it starts out with stray cats, but you eventually kill those closest to you shortly after that. It is a proven fact that 78% of those who go without treatment start slaying in the second year." Doc flicked the long ash from his cigarette. "So tell me Cletus, do you want treatment or do you want to be a statistic?"

Cletus looked at his feet and twirled his hat in his hands for a moment. He lifted his head and gazed hard at Doc. "What do I gotta do?"

"Take these four times a day and don't miss one," Doc recommended as he handed him a couple of blister packs of LYCANEX pills. "You will have this condition for the rest of your life, but with the proper care and treatment, you should be able to keep it in check."

"I uh, I don't have a lot of money for this sort of thing..." Cletus began.

"Don't worry," Doc reassured him, "I've got enough free samples from the pharmaceutical companies to last you for years, but you will still need regular check ups, just so we can monitor your condition. Call my nurse on Monday and schedule an appointment for next week. Now don't feel like you are in this alone. We have our support group in the basement of the Methodist church on Tuesdays and the first Thursday of every month we have our mixer at the VFW hall. Free beer, potluck, and lots of pretty girls, and your friends Mr. & Mrs. Tucker will be there."

"Mr. Tucker's got it too?"

"Yes, and you did cut him pretty badly with your chainsaw. Have you noticed that in the last year he has developed a bad limp?"

Cletus stood up like a man who had suffered a heavy blow but was determined to carry on. "Thanks for the straight poop Doc. I'll take the pills and I'll think about the meetings. Either way, but I'll be in touch," he reached for the door handle.

"Before you go Cletus, tell me, have you or any of your family voted for Republicans in the past few generations?"

"Not that I know of. Why?"

"Just wondering, because studies have proven they have a natural weakness to the disease," Doc said as he made some notes in his file.

"Why's that?"

"Cause they start out as son's of bitches. Good night."



  1. Nice and it explains why the Bushes howl at the moon...

    ...of course, this isn't non-political though.


    I can honestly say that I don't really know what I'm doing. It seems to me that the only way I know how to tell a story is in an "around the campfire" fashion, and the ones I'm most comfortable with seem to be populated with nothing but hillbillys, rednecks, and country people.

    A wise teacher of mine suggested that the best thing for me to write was to write about what I knew. At the time I was 18 and didn't know anything, but I put this away for later use. Now I'm going on 38 and I know a little more than I did then. I know these hillbillys, rednecks, and country people. I grew up with them.

    I guess my question is: Have I found the voice that Cormac has encouraged me so hard to find, or am I just confusing it with leaning on the crutch of "what I know" e.g. country people and old dirty jokes?

    I'm looking for suggestions/criticism here and any help would be appreciated.

    Your's in ink,

  3. I liked it. The finish was excellent. Would have worked with Democrats also. Equal opportunity joke that fits for both depending on which side you sit on.

    As to feedback - Well I liked this one better than last weeks. It flowed better. You did not overdevelop the story. Just enough meat to set up the scene and then you let the dialog do the rest.

    Of course this is just an opinion from a guy who reads and writes for the pleasure he derives from it.

    You seem to want the same thing I want. Serious consideration of what you have written. I appreciate the comments you made on my own post.

  4. I was thinking of those Appalachian Emergency Room skits from Saturday Night Live as I read this.

    It doesn't matter how erudite someone is if he/she can't tell a story. You told a story here, which an identifiable theme but presented in a new way.

    You are a good storyteller, and that is that. All the "skills" of an "accomplished" writer who can do nothing but blather on in his/her pomposity are nothing in the face of a good story, which is what it should be all about.

  5. Upon reflection, it appears I may have been suggestion you are not erudite. That was NOT my intent.

  6. I think you have found your voice. Quite literally. When I read this, I can hear you telling it, in your measured tone, taking your time, not rushing the punch line. This is a good story and well told.

    Thumbs up!

  7. Doc:

    I would say you have definitely found your voice! A very strong entry to be sure. In your earlier comment, you ask basically if you are simply relying on a "crutch" in your writing (country & jokes). My suggestion is that.... NO, these items do not have to be crutches... instead they could be a part of the trademark of your writing style. In my way of thinking about writing, you would only be using them as a crutch if you ONLY wrote exclusively in that vein. From what I have been able to discern, you are using those elements as a spice, but the meat of each of your stories is as unique as can be. So, I think you are on the write (pun intended) track.

    And, I'm pretty damn mad at myself... I wrote my story but forgot to post it. If you are still interested and have time, it is located here:


  8. Cletus the Slack-Jawed Werewolf.

    I think the what-you-know trope is a bit of the bullshit. Technically, all I know is working a civil service job in a fairly large city (is Cleveland considered large these days with all the abandoned buildings), trucking back and forth from the burbs. So I should write about that, right? I think we write (or I hope we do) what entertains us. I enjoy writing what *I* enjoy reading. Others might dig it, others might not, but you have to please yourself and if this is the stuff you dig, write it and someone one, like, you know, us, will be bound to dig it, too.

    Forcing a style or a background or color into something merely for its own sake is a bad gig, IMO.

    One thing though, wouldn't wingnuts make good zombies, as well?


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