Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chained to the heart

Jessica started this blog chain with a challenge: "I've chosen to put all of you writers to the test and am throwing down the challenge to...WRITE! I want a short story. . . . (the only stipulation) Somehow, someway, heart(s) must be involved."

Sandra posted before me.

Heart of Victory
Norman Victory swiped a hand toward his wife and grumbled when she blew him a kiss.

"Go then," he muttered as she walked out the door. "Maybe now I'll get some peace and quiet."

Dropping himself in the easy chair, Norman unfolded the evening paper and sighed. His eyes scanned the page, skipping the stories of miracles that took place down the street and dove into the tragedies a world away.

But the peal of the telephone sucked him out of nirvana. Reaching out, Norman plucked the receiver from its cradle and stuck it against his ear. "Hello." His emphasis fell upon the greeting's first syllable, as if to warn the caller that there was hell to pay for interrupting the quiet.

"Norman? Pastor Will here."

"Is someone dead?" Norman asked.

"Wha. . .well...what? No. Norman. Nothing like that."

"Is someone hurt?"

"Huh? Well, no. I'm calling to invite you to the. . ."

"Then call me back later," Norman growled. "You're interrupting my time."

Before the caller could speak again, Norman dropped the telephone. He straightened the newspaper with a shake. It's crinkle filling the silence that had rushed back into the room.

When the ringing doorbell pulled Norman from the skirmish in Azerbaijan, his jaw tightened. After crumpling the paper and dropping it on the floor, he struggled to his feet. He shuffled to the door and swung it open.

"Excuse me, Mr. Victory? My ball went into your yard. Can I go inside the fence to get it?"

Norman sneered at the cherry-nosed brat on his porch. "No. You'll trample my grass," he barked. "You'll just have to wait till I'm done."

The boy's arms went limp; the baseball glove in his hand swung listlessly. His chin dropped to his chest. "Okay." He sighed.

Norman slammed the door, shuffled back to his chair and collapsed in its comfort.

"Now, for a little peace and quiet," Norman said, and then found his place in the story again.

Through the open window next to him, the sounds of life carried in on the breeze. Boys rode by on their bikes; the baseball cards buzzed in the spokes. The neighbor's dog barked at the commotion. Down the street, a couple of teenagers revved the engine on a '69 Camaro.

Norman's chest tightened. He slapped the paper against his lap and stood to close the window. He expected silence, but from somewhere deep inside his home another sound emerged, a steady drumming and throbbed inside his ears.

Boom boom. Boom boom. Boom boom.

It's rhythm and volume intensified with Norman's irritation.

Boom boom. Boom boom. Boom boom.

Beads of sweat glistened on Norman's forehead. His muscles stiffened. Norman exploded. "Dammit! What does a man have to do to get one moment of peace?"

Then, as quickly as it appeared, the rhythmic thumping stopped.

And Norman collapsed to the floor, finally giving him what he'd waited for his entire life.

There's somewhat of a humorous epilogue to the story. As I write this, I'm surrounded by noisy eight-year-old boys playing video games in the library, and all I really want is a little peace. :-)

Now, mosey on over to Christine's blog to check out her response to the challenge.


celticqueen said...

Oooo very nice - be careful what you wish just might get it :D Excellent story!

gzusfreek said...

Oh, man, I didn't see that coming. Great post! Great story!

Sandra said...

There are only two tragedies in life: not getting what you want, and getting it.

Perhaps Norman's heart was a few sizes too small?

ElanaJ said...

Kat, this is fantastic. Isn't it so true, though, that as soon as you think you have a quiet minute to yourself the phone rings, the doorbell, something gets in the way? Or maybe that's just my curse. Anyway, nicely done, girl!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, love it. My favorite line:

"His eyes scanned the page, skipping the stories of miracles that took place down the street and dove into the tragedies a world away."

Anonymous said...

wonderful post, Kat...loved it!!! I liked the ending in particular...nothing like life's ironies to get you thinking. Definitely a "be careful what you wish for moment".

TerriRainer said...

Truly ironic and almost just rewards, great job Kat!

:) Terri

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I like the way the length of the story perfectly fits the subject.

I don't know if you've ever read Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," but I think you might be interested by it. It's one of her best stories, though the main character's worldview... well, I won't comment before you've read it. Suffice it to say that not all brilliant writing is healthy writing.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Here's the link:

Mary Lindsey said...

I can so relate to your epilogue. :) Nice story.

H. L. Dyer said...

Perfectly diabolical. =)

Annie said...

Tee hee. This was a fun story. As soon as he heard the first thud in his ears, I thought, "Ha!"

Sex Mahoney for President said...

This reads like a Twilight Zone episode treatment.

Sex Mahoney for President

Rosslyn Elliott said...


How are you doing? There's been silence from your neck of the woods for a few days...

Anonymous said...

Well, Norman should have been a little nicer, maybe then he would have attained some peace. Well done, Kat!