3/15/2006

I Dare You To Read This!

(a limited offer: comment on this grotesque story and you may get a 1000 word short-story written just for you. leave your literary criticism and your story request below)


*ahem*

Beavers in my Kitchen

A crash in the garage alerted me to the invasion. The toppled recycled pop cans meant a beaver army would soon be at the inner citadel that was the kitchen. I sounded the alarm. “Alert! Alert!" it sounded, "we are all about to be hurt!” I clutched some fabric near a window; it was the curtain, I ripped it to pieces and chewed on the ragged morsels. It was December and I needed more fibre in my diet. The curtainy bits were delicious and I belched Fur Elise. But the chewing beavers would be equally ravenous.

For 15 years I had been attacked in my home by beavers. The loathsome critters had chewed the outer walls to the foundations, despite my resolve not to suffer such repeated humiliation. To that effect I had instituted a tyrannical regime in my kitchen. All shipments of wood or wood-based products such as napkins, papertowels and even inky dinky juice cups had to pass approval by my purchasing department, of which I was sole chair and acting supervisor. This would quell the invasive disaster to a certain degree, but no bureaucratic measures could guarantee 100% security, especially after the harrowing events of March 4.

* * * * * * *

On March 4 1990 the security of my life, my homeland had turned all topsy-turvy. I was out walking my pet coelacanth Znoosle; he was rolling along the walk in his porto-seaquarium and sucking at his oxygenated bubbles like a happy pig of a fish. When suddenly he spoke! Znoosle spoke out loud and in English. He spoke despite being a fish, and I nearly dropped his thermo-rheostat into the tank. Znoosle was a curmudgeonly coelacanth, and his verbalizations were grouchy. “Carson,” he cried at me; that was me, Carson McCullers – “you have never given me enough oxygen! Why this isn’t a seaquarium fit for a goldfish!”

I was dumbfounded. “I must scold you,” railed Znoosle, “so be shamed at my grievance!” In this way he chided, and in truth I felt a sting. I saw my digital watch’s electro-calendar: the date was March the 4th - my first encounter with an anthropomorphized fish.

Not much later I would be dealing with beavers who also spoke, were grouchy and made grievances like so many plaintive elderly voters. Beavers would plague my house, and not even my precautionary ‘Beavers Beware’ signs could sway them from such noxious sorties into my sacred innerspace. Instead they razed my home and left me exposed to winter cruelty.

Many hours I sat on the toilet, tracing in vain the connection between my crank of a talking fish, and the talking beavers who robbed my house of all load-bearing supports; beavers who chewed things apart for their atavistic lustplay, damming up the arteries of nearby creeks with beams of my hallowed house - my house, the physical representation of my hopes and dreams. I lived in Canada, truly a land of tolerance, but this national symbol was out to get me.

Flash-forward 15 years and four World Cups of Soccer later – Italy still in a drought after Roberto Baggio’s missed penalty kick, and me still attacked relentlessly in my kitchen. I was banging nails in the door to create a barricade. My alert sounded shrilly as ever: “Alert! Alert! We are all about to be hurt!” But my friends were all out playing golf; I cursed their putters and irons. The beaver were lustily chewing at my defences, and my phone calls to the fire department and Humane Society went unanswered.

Then, an inspiration: I had a blowtorch in my kitchen, a device I used to glaze over my delicious crème brulés. I lit the torch and poked it through a hole the lead beaver had by now chewed into the kitchen. Zzzzp! Flooom! Fffft! A miracle: the lead beaver burst into flames! He rolled around, aglow with flame and light and shrieking in his halting rodent’s dialect: “My folly was my eagerness; my own teeth turned against me!” And he flamed until he was a black mass of ashes. The beavers had oiled themselves with lubricant to squeeze into my kitchen more easily. But this beaver paid the price: the lubricant was a most flammable one, and my blowtorch meant his fiery combustion and agonizing death.

I cried in a voice hot with vengeance – “I singed your lead critter, you eager beavers, and I can torch the rest of you too!” The words quelled the assault for the moment. I yelled a few more incoherent syllables, hoping to scare the piss out of them. Then, a voice from the beaver troop; it was their second-in-command. “Halt your remonstrances, oh human we like to chew on,” and I bent forward to hear more – “we have long chewed at your walls, yes. But your latest show of force leads us to compromise.” By golly - I was dumbfounded at their crumbling resolve. The beaver lieutenant continued, “May I enter your home and can we have some tea, Mr McCullers?”

I was shocked at the beavers’ sudden cordiality. I immediately opened the door. In walked the lieutenant with a few of his peltsmen and I started to boil a pot. They had ruined my casa with their decade-and-a-half of determined chewing, but the second-in-command was a true gentleman and I was never one to hold a grudge. An air of forgiveness came over us and some of the beavers even started to weep, which set me off too and soon I was thinking of the sweet warm breezes of my childhood summers at Lake Eternity.

Lieutenant Beaver Von Beaversmith (they all took the first name ‘Beaver’ and their surname often was beaver-related too) crawled upon the chair I set for him and lapped at the bowl of tea I made for him. “Thanks,” he said, “the physiognomy of our forepaws doesn’t allow us to use proper mugs so I appreciate the lapping dish.” So he lapped and he lapped - his appetite for hot brewed tea was monumental. This Beaversmith was a mountain; had we schooled together we might have been lifelong friends, but evolution and the delicious timbers of my house had set our people at loggerheads. The rift was wide; I only hoped the healing could coalesce everything into a breezy loveliness. I also hoped the insurance company would believe my story and validate my claims about the beavers. But insurance adjusters could be feisty, and I was ready to turn my blowtorch against them too.

Lt. Beaversmith looked at the paintings hanging from the remaining walls of my kitchen citadel. “Ah, Linard - a favourite of mine...” he said; “The French had colours to shame the rainbow itself.” I wondered at his words while refilling his lapping dish, for this beaver was a gentleman and clearly a connoisseur. “You know I once dabbled in art myself, useless forepaw and all,” he added. I grinned and hummed. “You know McCullers,” he sniffed at me approvingly, “had we both grown up beavers, or both men, we might have been great allies.” The psychic coincidence was compelling – this was more than a mountain-to-man connection, this was an intimate telepathic kinship. “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” I said staring in awe. I’d be a fool not to have Lt. Beaversmith state my case to the insurance adjusters.

We drank enough tea to undo that famous Boston get-together of 1773. “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” he explained to me with a wink. The lieutenant sniffed and I giggled. And so a man befriended an angry horde of beaver.

[unfinished of course... now request your story via the comment box!]

9 comments:

ers said...

Favourite sentence: "All shipments of wood or wood-based products such as napkins, papertowels and even inky dinky juice cups had to pass approval by my purchasing department, of which I was sole chair and acting supervisor."

Reason 1: "inky dinky"

Reason 2: "sole chair and acting supervisor"

Story Request: Blame it on the Bubbles

Cupcake Man said...

blame it on the bubbles - comin' right up!

Penny said...

"The curtainy bits were delicious and I belched Fur Elise." - loved this line.

I read it. I read it all. I enjoyed it, but I feel like I'm missing the point.. just as I felt as a child when I watched Alice in Wonderland or Mary Poppins. However, bits here and there sunk in and I did have quite a good laugh in many parts.

Enjoyable!

I see that you are working on another 1000 words (above).. I'll leave a title for you, in case you feel inspired.

How about..
Virtus as a Vice.

The Mighty Kat said...

warming to dwell in this communion between beaver and man...I only wonder what sort of tea you took together. However, I must wonder at the beaver's motives, after you combusted his comrade...

eager for more, I've been hooked since I stumbled upon your bicycle eulogy, also so far my favorite of the cupcake nourishment....

Truth said...

You asked me to read this - and i did. I have too much faith in people.
I think i died reading this story.

while i sincerely appreciate the attempt - and love your work - you obviously need to try harder to construct a followable narrative, which, in this case, admittedly - was from limited subject matter - but the truth is - after reading this story i was left quite unsure as to both the point of this story - and my own sanity..

my commission for the cupcake man?
write something better. perhaps with the word "concise" in mind while writing it - and perhaps you could, in your infinite wisdom, include something about a salmon-flavoured confectionary item - as I quite enjoy such things.

Cupcake Man said...

Are you suggesting I attempth to put more than 35 minutes into a 1500 word story?

Pish tosh.

You're lucky Ms. Truth, that there are less than 35 spelling mistakes.

And if you made it all the way to the end, then yes, your sanity definitely should be questioned.

I can't write anything better, but I CAN write about salmon: 'The Salmon of Discontent!'

The Mighty Kat said...

Maybe it's a matter of having the right mind to appreciate the story. I have no qualms whatsoever with following the narrative. And it gave me the loveliest dream about a beaver who turned into a man the farther from water we got...

Cupcake Man said...

thanks kat - now you deserve a story... what's the request?

The Mighty Kat said...

Sanks for da link und da offer. Hmm....

I want a story with no people. A happy story that ignores the conflict-based story structures that schools use to ruin happy writers. A story that leaves me feeling like I did when I woke from the beaver-man dream... so I can go back to it in my mind when I feel daydream haze moving in...

is that too much?