Medium 9781771870665

The Little Washer of Sorrows

Views: 590
Ratings: (0)
The Little Washer of Sorrows is a collection of short stories that explores what happens when the expected and usual are replaced with elements of the rare and strange. The book’s emotional impact is created with strong, richly drawn characters facing universal issues in unusual settings. The collection is both dark and comical with engaging plot twists and elements of the macabre as characters attempt to cope with high-stakes melodramas that drift further out of their control.

The collection’s opening story “Captcha” begins with a perfect wife — mathematical genius and Kokanee beer model Margo — sending her husband Pete off to work before setting about her household chores. When she finds Pete’s filing cabinet unlocked, curiosity gets the best of her and she makes a life-changing discovery. The oddity increases in “Johnny Longsword’s Third Option” where a male stripper sits impatiently in a mysterious waiting room reflecting on his life as the by-the-books gatekeeper tests his patience. In the title story, Greg is convinced that the assistant estate manager at a bankruptcy office, green-eyed Fiona, is an Irish banshee. Could she be a mythological fairy who has appeared as a prophet of doom, washing the dirty laundry of a person whose demise is approaching?

The threat of something sinister lingers beneath the surface in many of Fawcett’s stories, as she explores the messy “what ifs?” of life and the ever-present paradox of free will.

List price: $9.95

Your Price: $7.96

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

19 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Captcha

ePub

Captcha

THE DAY I DISCOVERED MY TRUE nature began like any other day: I woke up, gave Pete a blowjob, and went downstairs to fry up a pan of bacon.

It was June 14th. Ten degrees outside, with falling barometric pressure. There were periorbital dark circles under Pete’s eyes when he came down in his blue dress shirt and yellow tie.

“Is it going to be another late one?” I asked. Pete’s a busy tax accountant with H&R Block. “Because, don’t forget, it’s your poker night. I’ll do wings and nachos. Unless you want me to call the boys and cancel. If you have too much work.”

“No, it’s good. I’m leaving at five tonight no matter what. I need the distraction.” He scratched his genitals through his slacks. “You’d think people would learn.”

I spread Skippy on his toast and filled his go-mug with coffee.

“I swear to God, Margo, the self-employed are the worst. They think they can just hand me a shoebox of crumpled receipts and boom, I’ll magically figure it all out and get them a rebate by the next morning.”

 

Dire Consequences

ePub

Dire Consequences

“EAT YOUR GREENS,” SAID THE MOTHER. “You’ve had nothing but junk all day.”

The girl frowned and pushed the vegetables around on her plate. They made creamy pathways in the cheese sauce.

“You are not leaving this table until they’re gone, young lady.”

The girl put down her fork and crossed her arms. “I will die if I eat this broccoli.”

The boy sat, swinging his legs, smiling with his mouth shut, watching the match. He’d eaten his. And he liked it when his sister got in trouble.

“Quit being overdramatic. You won’t die, honey. No one’s ever died from eating broccoli.”

“Oh, yeah?” The girl shut her eyes and ate the broccoli, piece by piece, lips pulled back so they touched neither food nor fork. Her face twisted in pain, and she dropped her ear to one shoulder as she chewed. She swallowed every piece, gagging slightly on the last one.

“See?” said the mother. “I told you. That wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

 

All-Inclusive

ePub

All-Inclusive

Joyce

The girl sat on the edge of the pool, feet dangling. Her collarbones, her neck, the pale pink curves of her shoulders, sublime. Her hair was coal-black. Thick bangs framed her face, Bettie Page-style. Floyd would love her breasts. Nice knockers, he’d say later. I’d call him a tacky old goat, but I’d think the same thing.

The boy was muscular and lean. Something Chinese was tattooed on his arm. Wavy hair and a big smile. A ringer for Paul Newman. He wore an inappropriately sized pair of surfboarding shorts, but I suppose “a good fit” is no longer the fashion.

Floyd reached his bony, spotted hand between our deck chairs and gently squeezed my bloated, spotted hand. I didn’t have to look at him to know he was thinking the same thing I was.

I smiled and nodded.

She jumped in the water. They were rambunctious, like a couple of puppies playing in fresh snow. Teasing, slapping, chasing, splashing each other. She twisted a finger around the string of beads on his neck, pulled him towards her, kissed him, then let him go and pushed him underwater, giggling. He emerged with a gasp, and lifted her, squealing, onto his shoulders, his hands on her thighs, and proudly tossed her over backwards. Up she burst, eyes shut and mouth wide. Gently, he wrapped his arms around her and slowly untied her bikini strings at the back of her neck. Another squeal; more splashing. We weren’t the only ones watching. Just plain delightful, they were. I wondered aloud if we’d ever had that much energy, ever been that carefree. Floyd said he’d like to think so.

 

Johnny Longsword’s Third Option

ePub

Johnny Longsword’s Third Option

THE MAN AT THE GATE TAPPED his pen on a clipboard in a rhythm that reminded Johnny Longsword of the opening bars of a certain AC/DC song off the Highway to Hell album. Or was it Back in Black? Didn’t matter. What mattered was getting the fuck out. Getting back. That’s all.

“We have an established protocol here, Mr. Longsword.” The man spoke as if through a pinched nose. “It is the same for every living soul. Until we process your claim, check your credentials, and go through due process, I cannot authorize you to pass.”

Johnny Longsword clenched his jaw and smoothed his eyebrows with his index fingers. It was bullshit. Normally he would simply slip the bouncer a fifty and be let through pretty much anywhere. Apparently the rules here were different. Besides, he didn’t have his wallet. “You can’t take it with you,” Moira had once said. Turned out she was right.

He nearly bit it twice on his way back to Seating. His bare feet kept getting caught up in the stupid cotton gown they had made him put on at Threshold. Everyone was wearing one. Made it so you couldn’t tell the men from the women. That’s not true. You could tell. Just made it so you didn’t really want to.

 

Lunch Date

ePub

Lunch Date

THE GIRL AND HER MOTHER ARE at the usual table in the usual restaurant for their once a month lunch date. The girl orders a virgin rum and coke and the waiter laughs. The mother orders a gin and tonic. “Make mine slutty,” she says and he laughs again, louder. The girl’s face gets hot so she looks down and clicks her thumbnails together and does not look up again until the waiter finishes filling their water glasses and leaves.

The restaurant is dark even though it’s the middle of a sunny spring day. There is a wall of mirrors with crooked gold marble lines. There are carnations in a small vase and an unlit candle on the table.

It’s Thursday, so the other seventh graders will be doing track, but the girl brought a note and was dismissed thirty minutes early. This is good because she sucks at track.

“They want you to think it’s happy hour,” says the mother leaning on her elbows, her chin in her hands. “That’s why they keep the lights down low. Plus it’s more flattering.” Some mothers have cleavage where their breasts squeeze together. This one’s like an old chicken. She has a bony space between her breasts.

 

Lenny and the Polyamphibians

ePub

Lenny and the Polyamphibians

AS USUAL AT THE END OF the week, the accounting office closed at noon and Lenny was out the door by 12:05. He texted his wife from the parking lot:

Beautiful day. Meet me @ the spit?

Cant. Showing barker house. Wish me luck

U will b grt. C u ltr.

OK :)

The May sunshine felt too good to waste, so Lenny drove to the public beach anyhow, to the spot where he and Helen used to spend every weekend when they were first married. He found a smooth washed-up log, took off his tie, his shoes, and his socks, rolled his pants to mid-calf, rubbed his bare heels back and forth in the sand, and pulled a Thermos of iced coffee out of his bag.

He took a picture of a windsurfer hopping the waves in front of him and texted it to Helen.

Gotta love fridays!!!!

He pressed send and listened for the iPhone swish as the message travelled through the ether to his wife.

 

The Little Washer of Sorrows

ePub

The Little Washer of Sorrows

YOU SIT IN THE WAITING ROOM, a thick bile-coloured envelope in your lap. Beside you is a chair that holds your wife’s purse. Beside that is a chair that holds your wife. You didn’t talk the whole way here. In the envelope are the documents they’ll need: credit card statements, letters from collections agencies, mortgage papers, the lease from the car. You wrote Greg and Shauna’s Dirty Laundry in Sharpie on the front, trying to lighten things up. Your wife didn’t smile. There is a brochure rack on the table. The people on the covers of the brochures are smiling. Their lives are just fine. They don’t get tricked out of their savings by co-workers they once called friends. Or invest in condos that were never built, or have boat repair bills up to here. Or, admit it, play poker online late at night when you should have been marking papers.

You reach over the purse and gently place your hand on your wife’s forearm. You want to tell her that this is a good thing, that it will all work out, that the harassing phone calls and threatening letters will finally stop. And, in seven years, it will be wiped from your credit ratings.

 

Candy On the Jesus Bar

ePub

Candy on the Jesus Bar

A TALL MAN IN A TUX and cowboy boots, shiny black hair, and mirrored sunglasses leaned against the side of a long trailer, sucking on a cigarette. One knee bent, like a number four, he looked just like the guy on that billboard.

I tucked a stray chunk of hair behind my ear, checked my fly and wiped my nose on my sleeve before he saw me.

Back there, behind the scenes, it smelled like mini donuts, cigarettes, sweat, and puke. This was the brain of the midway, extension cords twisted across the stained asphalt like nerves in a bio textbook diagram. You could still hear muffled sirens from the Tilt-A-Whirl, screaming from the Forbidden Palace of Horrors, the blare of carnies asking “pretty ladies” and “big fellas” to step-right-up and try their luck.

The man slid his glasses down his nose. His eyes were Gatorade blue.

“Excuse me. Hi. Hello.” I bit my lip. “Is this 6N? They told me to come to 6N.”

He looked at my runners, then to the rest of me. I had to pee. “You Katherine?” said the man. I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

 

BLK MGC

ePub

BLK MGC

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR EMILY, I can’t help you.

She was in deep, Em. I didn’t know how deep, at the time. How serious. Not until the end, and then it was too late. I found out more of the story later. From her ex, Norm. Peyton’s dad. He said she’d had a few good months, when she first signed up. Made some money. Got her very own website. A free canvas briefcase was sent to her. So she went to the higher level. Upped her commitment. Upped her risk. He said she did it all wrong, Norm did. Too last minute. He said she didn’t do her research. But you know Norm, always has to do things “just so”. I figure that must have been when it all started going sideways and whatever happened in the parking lot happened.

That was the day she called me up to meet her after her kid was asleep.

“It’s not a pyramid scheme,” she tells me over a couple of honey crullers and coffee at Nell’s All-Niter. She squishes her cigarette into the ashtray. She has Band-Aids on four different fingers and her hair’s frizzled and knotted, like she slept on it wet and had bad dreams. A real mess, she is.

 

Cannonball

ePub

Cannonball

“LUKE, WE HAVE TO TALK,” SHE says.

We’re on our way to the pool for Public Swim, and she’s been quiet until now. She’s driving cautiously, stopping at orange lights and crosswalks. I figure something’s up. She puts out her cigarette in the ashtray between our seats. I know I’ll be able to breathe better soon.

“Yeah?” I say. With her, I know it won’t be talk like as in having a conversation. That kind of talk, ping-pong style, back and forth, that isn’t so bad. That I can do. Like with me and Carma. But Mum’s “we have to talk” means she wants to unload about how tired she is of doing everything around the house or lecture me about setting an example for the twins or discuss sexuality and how normal my feelings are or how I have to pull up my grades. “We have to talk” means I have to listen and she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say even if I were to come right out and say it.

“There’s something important I have to tell you,” she says.

 

The Siren Sisters

ePub

The Siren Sisters

(No. 18): I choose to accept that which cannot be changed. I repeat this over and over in my head, but I still can’t fall asleep. It’s like a movie that plays on the inside of my eyelids. The four of them in that boat, just before it capsized. The screams. Hands grabbing for ropes. Someone’s hat. A boot. Yesterday’s Daily Affirmation (No. 17): I allow my feelings to ebb and flow, without overanalyzing them. I have fifty I rotate through. At first you just want to indulge in tears and give in to the darkness, but eventually the words start to sink in. They are the only way I have to deal with my feelings of guilt, uncertainty, loss, and the pressure to be perfect. Affirmations have always been part of my life, but after what happened last Monday, I need them more than ever.

This week’s been a bitch and I’ve relapsed four times. My sisters still aren’t talking to me. They say I stole their futures and they blame me for everything. I feel like shit but there’s no reasoning with them. Things are still too raw and the tension’s as thick as honey. Phone has been driving everyone batshit, doing scales and arpeggios non-stop; her emotional outlet. Thexie hasn’t so much as brushed her teeth since the accident. She tends to ride the crazy train whenever there’s no sailor for her to fix, but of course this week it’s worse than ever and the empty bottles have been piling up all over the island.

 

Mabel and Arnie

ePub

Mabel and Arnie

June 1

Dear Mabel,

You win. I get it. You’ve made your point. You wear the pants around here. There. I know how much it means to you to hear me grovelling. Fine. I’ll beg, if that’s what it takes for you to realize where you belong. Where your responsibilities lie.

I almost broke my neck climbing on the kitchen chair to take down the blasted smoke detector. Thing is so sensitive a man can’t even fry an egg without getting the whole fire department out. One of the fellows laughed at that fridge magnet you’ve got: Think like a Man, Act like a Lady, Work like a Dog. Why don’t you take your own advice? I wonder how “ladylike” Mr. Fireman would think it is for a wife to leave her husband and go off gallivanting for days on end?

Enough is enough.

Arnie

June 2

Dear Sweetheart,

Linda stopped by but I didn’t invite her in. I told her you were in the bath. She said it wasn’t like you to have a bath before lunch and I told her you weren’t feeling yourself. Lord, that woman pokes around more than a rat in a Chinese restaurant.

 

Swimming to Johnny Depp

ePub

Swimming to Johnny Depp

THE NATTERING VOICES OF CHILDREN DIGGING for snacks and goggles and dry towels, the incessant wheeze of a debarked wiener dog tied to a picnic table, the shrieks of bikinied teens on an innertube splashing each other — it all fades to a dull hum when I see him.

Far across the rippling water, standing godlike on a raft floating in the middle of the lake, untouchable, sparkling in the sunlight.

On the dock I shake my head and rub my eyes. Could it be a mirage? A miracle? Heatstroke? He runs his fingers through his hair, and wipes the back of his hand across his forehead. Shifts his weight from hip to hip. Licks his lips.

I hear birds singing. Exotic birds. Extinct exotic birds. And some harp music.

The distance between us is an eternity yet it is nothing. His body glistens — tanned and dripping wet. He has the sleek muscles and taut skin of a racehorse. I don’t need my glasses to know that it’s Johnny Depp. Without that French girl. There’s a Tibetan mastiff by his side. A glass of Chardonnay in one hand, a strawberry in the other. His hair cascades to his shoulders, oh, the shoulders of a man who could hold me tenderly one moment and build a set of shelves the next, shelves for his collection of literary classics and tastefully framed photos of his mother.

 

Bounty

ePub

Bounty

I LEAN THE WET CROSSBOW AGAINST the wall outside the door and tiptoe into my old bedroom. I don’t want to wake up Warren or little Maisy, so I say the words “ever so quietly, ever so quietly” in my head. It helps me focus on not making a peep — no easy task in these clumpy boots, which, come to think of it, I should have taken off on the porch. Oops. I drop my gloves and those good-for-nothing HotShots hand-warmers on the dresser beside our wedding photo. (Jesus, was I ever skinny! Both of us. Charles and Diana we were, back then. People even said so.) I clasp my hands together like I’m praying, just to keep them from shaking. I’m breathing like Dave’s old dog Shep, so I stop. But that kind of hurts so after about five seconds I start panting again.

Jagged light from the hall shows me where not to step: Maisy’s Groovy Girls tent trailer, Brenda’s yoga bag, Warren’s jeans.

I’ve got the spare room downstairs now, which is very comfortable. I can get out hunting early without waking a soul. I’ve got all the amenities a man could ask for. My own TV, a closet big enough for a foosball table, and a bathroom that no one uses but me, which I keep tidy and only flush when I feel like it.

 

Your Best Interests

ePub

Your Best Interests

REST ASSURED YOUNG MAN. YOUR PARENTS always have your best interests at heart. Always. Your health, wealth, and joy was — is! — their number one priority. And they know that a quality education is the foundation. Wise folks, your mother and father.

Now. Have a seat while I review some of the changes with you.

Wipe your nose.

Oh, not on your sleeve. What are you now? Five? Use a tissue.

Where was I? Ah, your parents. Good people. They know their priorities. They know the meaning of the word “sacrifice”. When it comes down to it, they know the Academy of the Refined Mind is simply a better school than the one you were assigned to by the Federal Department of Education. What was it called? Oak Street Elementary or some such thing.

Another tissue?

Of course, had you enrolled at Oak Street Elementary, a publicly funded institution, your parents’ finances would not have been an issue.

But you? You deserve better. Your parents want you to be special. That’s why they registered you here, choosing health, wealth, and joy over sick, broke, and depressed. And we know that they will have no regrets, don’t we? Let’s see … it says here you were on our waiting list for twenty-one months before you were born. That’s what I call Planned Parenthood. It’s not your fault their dreams outpaced their personal finances. Sometimes things just happen.

 

Suburban Wolf

ePub

Suburban Wolf

FROM ACROSS THE PARKING LOT, NO one can tell us apart. Except Steele, who’s obvious, by his giant shoulders and how he stands with his legs so wide. And Amber, by how she slants towards Steele. Our hoodies — including mine — are like dark blue snowy fur glowing under the streetlight. We all sneer the same way. I look carefully at Steele to be sure. We look hungry and bored, which we actually aren’t. Well, a bit bored.

“Carry on, pigs. Carry on,” Steele growls. Sometimes it’s like that; you don’t give them the finger or leap on the hood of their car or throw rocks at them or run when you see them and they just leave you alone. After a bit, the cruiser does carry on, slowly. Driver’s side cop catches my eye. I accidentally smile, so Steele tunes me with the back of his hand.

“Dickhead,” he calls me.

“Sorry, man. Sorry.”

Amber’s lip curls up, her teeth catch the orange light, lip rings sparkle. Her eyes are big and sad like a cartoon deer’s, almost covered by her bangs. I look away, warm. Stupid.

 

Scratching Silver Linings

ePub

Scratching Silver Linings

MIKE, A SKINNY, FRECKLED NINE-YEAR-OLD WITH crusty eyes and buck teeth, stood facing backwards on the karate club’s Canada Day float as it cruised down Frontier Street, his arms folded across his chest, serious as a national anthem. Beside him, kids did barefooted high kicks, chopped imaginary piles of bricks, and shouted joyful hi-yas! at the crowd of halter-topped girls, cowboy-hatted men, and sticky children.

The float itself was no more than a ribbon-festooned flatbed trailer hitched to Wayne Sensei’s old Chevy. But being in a real live parade was no trivial affair for Mike, who would not permit even an inchworm of a smile to crawl across his face that morning. Not only was he patriotic, he was also terrified he might fall off. Eight fat Shriners giddily circled their tiny cars in the Chevy’s exhaust, and Mike was sure that should he fall, their little tires would run over him repeatedly.

Beyond the Shriners’ maroon fezzes with their swinging yellow tassels was the Only-A-Loonie Store’s float, upon which his mother Petunia and two other jiggling, bikini-clad women romped in a large plastic kiddie wading pool. He watched them flipping their bleached hair this way and that and spraying the crowd with water pistols.

 

Representing Literature In Music for You

ePub

Representing Literature in Music for You

FIRST OF ALL, NO MORE MR. Williamson. It’s Mr. W from now on. In fact, why don’t we drop the formalities altogether? You can just call me Paul. Okay? Welcome to off-campus class at Tim’s! Wave to the staff. Good. Hopefully you guys all did your homework. We don’t have a lot of time, so get your coffee and donuts and whatever and let’s get going. Gonna be a super-exciting class. Trey, what song did you choose?

“Spank Me Before You Leave”.

Okay. Coolio. Thanks. So. Before we look at the video, can you tell us what it is about this song that represents literature in music for you?

I don’t know.

Well, what’s the song about?

It’s rap.

And why did you choose it?

It’s good?

Okay. Let’s take a listen. Turn your computer so everyone can see. Travis, can you see? Trenton? Bring your chairs closer. Oh. Yeah. They’re attached. Well, just gather round. Troy, stand where you can see.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000038840
Isbn
9781771870665
File size
698 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata