New Pets by Robert Vaughan

“You want another one?” he asked in a voice meant for church. He always sounded expectant, as if he was waiting for me to become a better person.

“I’m still eating this,” I said, sticking out my tongue to reveal the cantaloupe lifesaver. I noticed my nails, how long they’d gotten, more like claws. I noticed my shell ring. It was half missing, not a good sign.

We were in his Camaro on a sticky July night. We’d just made out, bodies gnashing. My lips still tingled, my skin burned from the entire day at Stimson Beach. “You going to invite me in?”

He shrugged. His shaggy locks fell over his forehead like a wig that was too far forward. “Sure. But I have to warn you. I have something new.”

My brain raced as we walked toward his porch- another woman, lost his job, STD? We stood in his cluttered living room, he flipped on a light. Might have been better in the dark.

“I have a new pet,” he said. “Follow me.”

Great. I hate cats, not crazy about dogs. Birds nauseate me, hampsters scare me. He was leading me toward the bathroom. “Don’t tell me it’s a freaking turtle.”

“Shhh,” he turned around, finger held to those lips. Switched on a flashlight, slowly opening the door, as if a dinosaur might eat us.

I swallowed, hard.

And there, floating in the bathtub: a yellow-striped baby alligator. Those lifeless eyes glared at us, eyes I will never forget.

.

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17 Comments

Filed under Robert Vaughan

17 responses to “New Pets by Robert Vaughan

  1. Well built-up, Robert. I love that he found something that she doesn’t hate–yet.

  2. Jules France

    Love this Robert…some wonderful lines and great dialogue. Nice touch!

  3. This was great, and the last line totally cracked me up!! Can you imagine that, oh my god, I would run so fast out of that house!
    Thanks for this, Rob, you made my evening extra cheery

  4. not really knowing if he likes it or not. love the ambiguity.

  5. Michael Parker

    I enjoyed this a lot, Robert. I love your opening paragraph, especially the line: “as if he was waiting for me to become a better person.” Love that. And the surprise at the end was shocking. Wasn’t expecting that. Nicely written.

  6. Theo

    This is fantastic! I could feel your energy building all the way up to that surprise pet awaiting her in the bathroom. Hehe!

  7. Building up to a great ending… I raced through it trying to guess the pet – well done! Thanks.

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  9. Yes, the ending is fun but my favourite line is “as if he was waiting for me to become a better person”. You know, we’ve all got a little freak show going on in or bathrooms … or bedrooms. You manage to make it seem almost normal, Robert!

  10. bodies gnashing! fantastic little bit of an echo of the surprise to come. wonderful use of people as animals (and vice versa!)

  11. Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! I love 52/250!!!

  12. Darryl P.

    Did not see that one coming..He always sounded expectant, as if he was waiting for me to become a better person..“I’m still eating this,” I said, sticking out my tongue to reveal the cantaloupe lifesaver. ..Birds nauseate me, hampsters scare me…Switched on a flashlight, slowly opening the door, as if a dinosaur might eat us…eyes I will never forget…great stuff happening here!

  13. Martin

    Nice development in the narration, and the end is surprising and fun. And slightly disturbing…
    And what about that threat fot the future?!

  14. i just returned to this story, to read it again. this starting thought is brilliant: “He always sounded expectant, as if he was waiting for me to become a better person.”

    great, unexpected turns, too. and then the alligator ending. enjoyed a lot.

  15. Thanks Darryl, Martin and Dorothee! I appreciate your read and comments so very much!

  16. Pingback: Week #45 – Broken shells | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  17. I love this, Robert. Such ease in the tumbling from one moment to the next and so very much fun, even before the alligator – and I need to say here that I grew up in an alligator junkie home.

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