by Than Pence
Alex is celebrating his 18th birthday at home, almost alone, eating dinner. The End.
|18 Paragraphs / 909 Words
Alex Tean, full of pride, was finishing dinner. Crunching on something firm, he paused and pulled out a tooth. Feeling around inside his mouth, he realized it wasn’t his tooth, or even a human tooth. It was a dog tooth.
Letting himself get sidetracked, he wondered why “dog tooth” was two words and “houndstooth” was one long, obnoxious, offensive word. He’d look into it later.
In the meantime, he quickly came to a morbid conclusion: he ate Iann.
He sent a text message to the cook: DID I EAT MY DOG?? After setting his phone down, he licked his lips. The aftertaste was starting to bite him now. Alex liked it. He stared down at the bowl before him. The contents resembled chili. Steam continued to rise from the dish, making Alex think of wispy canine spirits rising from the grave.
Had he just eaten his dog? I ate Iann? He looked across the ornate dining room table to the portrait on the wall. Iann was the star of the portrait. At nine feet in length and nine in height, the portrait showed a Pomeranian-Komondor mix looking down on Alex in all his glory: running down Bathsheba Beach in Barbados, his corded fur flying like a mop being shot from a canon. Alex wept.
Scooting his chair from the table, he walked to the library to contemplate his actions. So what if he had eaten Iann? Dogs are animals. Cows are animals. People are animals. Shuddering, he allowed himself to become distracted with the many books lining his private library: Geis of the Gargoyle, Maskerade, The Talismans of Shannara, The Final Prophecy, Explosive Eighteen, Go Eat Worms. Lingering on other works like The Twisted Claw and The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion made Alex Tean think Why do so many books begin with “The?"
Ping Ping sounded from the dining room and he realized he had left his phone on the table. He darted back to the dining room and opened his phone. Feeling satisfied that everything inside the phone was in order, he closed it and unlocked the screen. There were two messages. The first read Happy Birthday WDC! Alex flagged it as important and continued to the second message:
Your dog was getting on my nerves today as I was making chili. In trying to calm him, I accidentally poisoned him and tried healing him with pencil thin. Darn autocorrect. But it didn’t work.
Alex scrolled the screen to continue reading, smudging it in the process with his chili-stained finger. He coughed, dropping the phone. Alex swore and pulled out a second iPhone 9, quickly activated it, waited for the OS to update, realized he hadn’t gotten a letter from Layne Hatcher or Austin Jones in a LONG while, and was finally ready to finish reading the text message from his cook on the other end of the house.
As the message history updated, Alex started wondering what the cook meant by pencil thin. Are there thin mints in the house? He remembered opening a box a few days ago and eating ten. Were the remainders still nearby? Or had the cook eaten them? Alex coughed again while feeling a straining sensation in his throat.
Sitting down in front of his chili, Alex resumed eating and looking at his phone. While reading the cook’s message, another one came through. He opened it. It was a text-invitation initiated by Austin Jones - What are the odds? - inviting Alex to a celebratory screening of Tomorrow Never Dies. Because a film only turns 21 once. Alex rolled his eyes and continued reading his text from the cook.
After chopping up your dog and mixing it in the chili, I decided it would be best to tell you about it after the fact. Via text. We cool?
Standing with a resolve to confront the cook directly, Alex swooned. What is happening? He remembered the time he was watching The Sword in the Stone with his buddy John McEwen and he’d eaten a tic tac that had been under the sofa.
Only his parents told him that it had been amoxicillin from the time his dad had contracted chlamydia. The reaction had been intense. He remembered John screaming and throwing up and smashing a lamp through the TV, thinking Merlin in the cartoon was causing it. It was later discovered that Alex was allergic to penicillin.
Alex Tean swore in a manner most unflattering.
He looked at the first part of the cook’s text message: Pencil thin. Darn autocorrect. He bolted to the kitchen. Alex found the cook practicing massage techniques on a rack of lamb. Sweat poured off Alex’s face and he couldn’t get a word out: his throat was closed up. The cook, looking afraid, asked what was wrong.
Alex composed a text: Call 911! He sent it to the cook. After several seconds where Alex’s breathing became more labored, the bong bing sounded on the other phone inside the cook’s pocket. The cook held his hands up, showing Alex how messy they were from touching the lamb: he didn’t want to soil his cheap phone with this gross hands.
Understanding the cook’s plight, Alex texted 911 himself. When nothing happened, he hit the call icon and had the cook tell them to send an ambulance to 1818 Grant Boulevard, Lake Providence, Louisiana. After they arrived and saved his life, he vowed to remember his solitary 18th birthday as his worst.