Fiction Friday: short story edition

Guess who’s back?

I came to a realisation a few weeks ago that my stress levels skyrocketed when Camp NaNo (sort of a NaNoWriMo Lite™, where you set your own word count goal) finished. Apparently, I can cope with the batshit insanity that is my life as long as I am writing. Aside from finally making me feel like a ‘real’ writer, figuring this out was important because, hey, I’ve got an antidote to stress right here in my brain. I can tap into it at any time, right?

Except that I asked my brain to give me a short story, or a scene prompt, or something, and my brain responded like this:

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Before doing this:

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But, with a contest deadline looming, my brain finally gave me not one, but two short story ideas. They will both eventually be featured here. In the meantime, here is a teaser for a story featuring my new favourite character, Clark Darcy, a chatty Vietnam veteran whose styling *cough* was in no way inspired by an infamous Athens coffee shop regular *coughing intensifies*.

Enjoy!

***

Clark Darcy sat outside a cafe on the corner of First Street and Main, a toothpick dangling between his teeth, bouncing on the vibrations that came as he spoke. Clark had developed the habit of speaking through teeth that were permanently clenched around a toothpick, a straw, a pen, the edge of a fingernail: whatever he could put between them. He had also adopted a New York drawl, although it had been twenty years since he’d briefly lived in the state. The weather today being above sixty degrees, he was dressed in his usual attire of sleeveless white undershirt and cargo shorts; his white hair was slicked back with pomade; and he wore his trademark aviator eyeglasses, which he’d had since he was a kid with a gun in ‘nam in ‘73. The bullet he wore on a chain around his neck came from the same era.
“Anyways,” he said to the pretty young blonde who had stopped to pet his dog, “that’s hows I got run out of Milwaukee.”
The girl nodded slowly, wide-eyed. Almost thirty minutes had ticked by and the dog – an enormous pit bull known affectionately throughout the town as “that big lump” – had long since drifted off to sleep under her hand, while she waited to politely exit during a lull in conversation that Clark was not going to provide.
“You, err… You lost me at the one-armed foreman of the tire factory,” she said, truthfully. “Um. I should go, I have to get to class.”
“Well whaddya doing hanging around here for, then? Go.” Clark’s smile revealed several gold teeth. As the girl walked away, he sipped his Americano and gave the dog a light thump with his foot. “Look at you; useless. Can’t even keep your eyes open long enough to greet your adoring fans.”
The dog groaned, rolled over onto his side, and exhaled deeply.
“Oh my god,” came a shrill voice, and looking up Clark saw a brunette in an oversized tee and running shorts. “Can I pet your dog?”
Clark sat back in his chair, lacing his hands behind his head. “Please.”
Before he was Clark Darcy, he had been Eugene McCloy, but he changed his name before he enlisted. A new name to take into battle. Clark for Clark Kent, quintessential American (he would not be convinced otherwise) hero; Darcy because he fancied himself an old romantic, and because it went well with the ranks he tested beside it. Private Darcy. Sergeant Darcy. Sergeant Major Darcy. He never made it so far as Sergeant Major, however: not because he lacked skill with a rifle – if anything, it was unnerving how confident he was with a firearm in his hand – but because of an unfortunate incident with a group of local girls. A well-timed shrapnel wound sent him home for medical reasons and spared him a dishonorable discharge.
“What’s his name?” the young girl was scratching behind the dog’s ears.
“Custer, after General Custer. They teach you about Custer at that school of yours?”
She shook her head. “I’m a psych major.”
“Figures. You’re all psych majors these days. You ever learn about that time Freud visited Area 51?”
The girl shook her head again, now looking confused, and a little apprehensive.
Clark clapped his hands together with glee. “Oh, do I have a story for you…:”

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