Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part X

Business is good, so blogging time is scarce. Apologies to the wine people for neglecting you, but there will be some notes up soon, I promise! To read the first parts of Always a Bridesmaid, check out the More Fiction section at my web site. For more flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Always a Bridesmaid, Part 10: Brownies Take Him Higher

It was late afternoon when Toby pulled into Thicket, the small Georgia town where his cousin Lydia lived. The trip had taken him a couple of extra hours because he'd driven the speed limit. It wouldn't be good to get pulled over with a mouthy bottom-feeder in the passenger seat, and his out-of-state license plate made him juicy game for troopers. His cell phone had rung at one point, but he didn't answer it.

"Who's calling?" Bert asked.

"Probably my mom."

"The caller I.D. screen says Marie."

Toby turned the phone over.

"Fine, I get it that you don't want to talk! Is that why you're driving the linens and cookies across the flipping country instead of using Uncle Sam's Pony Express?"

"The Pony Express stopped running a long time ago."

"You know what I mean." The fish sloshed in his container. "And I'm hungry!"

"Fine." Stopping by a Chick-Fil-A to get chicken biscuits had managed to shut Bert up for a few hours.

"Are we there yet?" The fish swam the tight radius of his plastic to-go container when the truck slowed to town speed.

"Yes," Toby said. "This is Thicket."

"What the hell kind of name is Thicket? Why didn't they just call it Redneck?"

"You watch it," Toby said. "Or these rednecks will have you filleted, breaded, and fried before you can say fish hook."

"Go hook yourself."

"Oh, look, there's a diner! Maybe they need a special."

A heavenly chocolate-mint smell caught Toby's attention and caused him to miss the fish's response. He slowly drove around the square, trying to figure out where it was coming from. It seemed strongest on the west side, so he turned down a side street and found himself outside a two-story brick house with a row of parking spaces in front and a sign that said, "Bride's Best Friend" on the door.


"Those smell wonderful!" Amber said.

"It's the mint. I grow it myself. It attracts positive energy and people, or at least it's supposed to." Tiffany pulled the brownies out of the oven and put the pan on a wire rack to cool. "Baking helps me think."

"So, what did you do in Seattle?" Amber leaned back in the chair and crossed her ankles. "I moved from there when I was a kid."

Before Tiffany could make up something "acceptable" like accountant or tax attorney, she heard a knock at the door. "I'll be right back."

"Who could that be?" she wondered. Maybe the postman had a box for her. The little town was safe, but she had requested that all deliveries be made to her personally, especially if they were magickal supplies.

Opening the door gave her little time to think, even less to stifle her reaction, so she stood and stared, open-mouthed like the fish in the plastic takeout container he held under his arm. The "he" in question was the guy from Lydia's dream, the one who had knocked the demon down before it could kill her.

They may have stood looking at each other forever had the fish not sung, "Bow chicka bow bow!"

"Hush, Bert," the guy said.

Tiffany shook her head to clear it, not sure which was more improbable, that this particular guy was standing on her stoop, that the fish had just talked, or that he had responded to it.

"Would you like to come in?" she finally asked.

She held the door open and stood back. He entered with a little smile on his face.

"What smells so good?" he asked. "It's like chocolate mint ice cream." He walked toward the kitchen.

"Brownies, dimwit," said the fish. "You have to pardon him," it said to Tiffany, turning to face her. "He's had a really long day and not much sleep."

"That's okay," she told it. "I haven't, either." First a ghost in her kitchen, and now a talking fish?

"Is everything all right?" Amber came through the bead curtain and almost bumped into Toby. "Oh! Hi!"

"Hi," he said and turned back to Tiffany. "Right. Brownies. I can have one?"

"They're cooling in the kitchen," Tiffany said and motioned for Amber to get out of the way.

"Yeah, witch-lady, you better give him one. He's not gonna come out of the spell otherwise."

Amber's eyes widened when she realized who was speaking.

"Hey, hey, hey!" The fish swam in circles. "A blonde and a brunette! Where's the redhead, ladies? This could be a good time for all."

"Patience," Tiffany muttered. She followed the guy into the kitchen, cut a square from the pan, and put it on a small plate. "It's still hot, so be careful."

He put the fish down on the counter and took the plate as well as the fork she offered him. He shook his head after the first bite.

"A little hot, like you said, and –" He would've dropped the plate if Tiffany hadn't taken it. The fork clattered to the floor. "Where am I?"

Tiffany put the brownie on the counter and scooted to the other side of the island in case he got aggressive. The spell had never worked this well before!

"This is my place of business," she said. "The Bride's Best Friend, a bachelorette party venue."

"How did I get here?" He looked around. "The last thing I remember is driving into town and arguing with…" He glanced at the fish, who was sloshing the water in his container with his efforts to scoot it closer to the brownie.

"They're Magic Mint Brownies!" Amber said. "They attract positive energy and people." She looked the young man over. "I think they worked."

"What's your name?" asked Tiffany. He looked at her for the first time as though seeing her clearly.

"I'm Toby. Hey, I know you!"

She realized too late that this was the cousin from Seattle.

"You're Lacey Chenille, the exotic dancer! I went to a bachelor party, and you were the main attraction!"


Marisa Birns said...

Loving it all!

Great title too. :)

mazzz in Leeds said...

Oops, she's been busted!

Deanna Schrayer said...

HA! This is hilarious Cecilia! Thanks for the laughs.

~Tim said...


They may have stood looking at each other forever had the fish not sung, "Bow chicka bow bow!"

made me laugh.

Eric J. Krause said...

Good one! Nothing wrong with a sassy talking fish!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing better than a rude fish.

These characters are delightful, and I'm loving the story.

Ready for the next one. :)

Carrie said...

I think I like that fish very much. This is great stuff!

Mark Kerstetter said...

You write dialogue really well. I'm lovin' that fish.