Monday, November 28, 2011

Magpie Tales: Creature comforts


I.

A red couch sits beneath the freeway overpass. Nicer than what you would expect of street furniture, but nothing most affluent would want sitting in their living room or would dare invite guests to sit upon. Denizens of the street have less concerns with what others may think. A free place to lay your head is treasured, all the more so if it bears some comfort.

Scrawled on the wall in dripping red spray paint, where those entering its lair will clearly see, are the words 'BeWare Couch!!'

II.

"Hey! Hey! What do you think you doin man?"

Startled, Joe raises his eyes from their view of the next square of sidewalk, the one after the one he was currently crossing, which came after many others since being rousted from his place behind a dumpster on Twelfth Street. Everything he owns is stuffed in plastic grocery bags tied together and affixed to an old broken broom handle. A small bit of blue rubber that once coated the whole think provides little comfort for the hands that now carry it.

A ratty man, hair nesting in large fern-like growths at odd angles on his head and eyes of angry bees ran arms waving up the asphalt toward Joe, screaming. Pants that are several sizes too small inch closer to the mans knees as he raises each leg high as a flamingo before bringing it down to slap the asphalt. Slap-slap, slap-slap. Each footfall a double tap due to disengaged soles that hang like dog tongues.

"I said what you doin?" the man repeats, through chipped yellow teeth filling the puckering gash of his mouth, though his hands do most of the talking.

"Looking for a place to sleep," Joe mumbles, continuing to move forward despite the crazed man.

"Don'chu go sittin on dat couch, da couch is not the sitting kind, eatchu up n' ruin yo mind," his fingers dance as if to cast a spell, moving in ways knuckles should not.

"What couch," Joe begins but before he can finish the man is on him, all arms and legs, tugs and pulls, no punches.

Joe collapses under the surprising weight, the stick flying from his hands as the tries to gain purchase to pull the man off of him. Old mustard and vinegar smells run down Joe's tongue, his gag reflex taking over from there. The man's hands push into his face driving it into the grit of the road, the small ledge of the sidewalk creases Joe's back. The burst bags of his possessions spill their entrails in puddles of shirts, an old can rocks. Steaming vomit chars his throat and sprays across the grey black toward the yellow line down the middle.

"I tell's you no couch, why you make me hava do dis," the man's fetid breath leaks into the hollows of Joe's cheek.

Sepia pictures of a swing set, his little girl in a billowy dress, with a gap tooth grin fill Joe's eyes, forcing a tear from the corner. The pressure on his head, in his head is suffocating and he succumbs to the shadows that laugh as they overtake him.

III.

"Honey, did you see that man on the couch?"

"What couch dear? I am trying to focus, the only reason I took this way is because someone took too much time selecting the right jewelry to accompany her dress tonight. If there was a couch, it was probably some bum. The city needs to clean up their mess, it only encourages them."

The car settles into silence, its headlights slashing the night toward more civilized sections.

IV.

Clouds. An ocean. Joe is floating. His bones no longer hurt as they grate against each other inside his flesh. Spreading his arms he relaxes, letting the waves take them where they want. His finger finds something semi-solid. A bag? Slimy and cold. Tight weave cloth, rough, a stick, coil in his back. His dirty body.

Awake once more, Joe only moves his eyes, surveying where he is. His feet burn from loss of circulation, propped on the arm at one end of---a couch? One arm rests across the top, a used condom under one finger. He pulls the hand to his chest and checks but the old rope belt is still cinched tight at his waist. He rolls to his side, wincing as he puts his back firm against the back of the couch.

Across the road, against the opposing concrete wall, the crazed man that attacked him crouches. The man's long fingers dig in a ball of aluminum, pulling bits of something then bringing it to his mouth. He hums and chews, licking his greasy fingers, before turning his head to look at Joe.

"I tells you dat couch is bad noose. Shoulda listen. Mama sed listen. Da couch is hungry doe. No time ta listen."

"What are you talking about?" Joe croaks the words, pain coming alive along his body like red ants, but unable to muster the energy to move.

The man is crossing the road on all fours, eyes wide, yellow as the teeth. Joe sighs hard, wanting to escape but his muscles unwilling to answer his call. The man is close, his hand crawls on Joe's cheek, turning the head to look directly at him.

"De couch is hungry," the man laughs, a mixture of screeching tires and steel drums then retreats back across the street.

He is picking once more at the aluminum, when Joe feels the first tugs at his lower back, then the gnawing and begins to scream.

V.


A red couch sits beneath the freeway overpass. Nicer than what you would expect of street furniture.

This is a Magpie Tale.

90 comments:

Anyes said...

That is scary, Brian I am having trouble sitting on my own couch as I type these words ;-)
Awesome!!!

Pat Hatt said...

Crazy old coot liked his couch
What an old grouch
I guess he wanted to keep it nice and neat
So no one could take a seat
I'll remember to look the next time I sit
For some nutty guy may think the couch is bad news and I'll get bit
Oh the germs
That's a whole other can of worms..haha

Laurie Kolp said...

Creepy... and very creative. Joe should have heeded the warning, huh?

Doctor FTSE said...

Fantastic imagination at work here, Brian.

Carrie Burtt said...

...and I thought he just did not want to share the couch with Joe....captivating write Brian. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! :-)

Tess Kincaid said...

I like what you did with dat couch...

anthonynorth said...

Kingesque. Excellent.

Magpie said...

Spooky good!

Mama Zen said...

Creepy! Fantastic job with the (not so) crazy guy.

JANU said...

amazing and fantastic fiction.

ladyfi said...

Oh - brilliantly creepy! Shivers....

Sheila Moore said...

Hehe.... Nice character development! Great story - very Stephen King-like

izzy said...

Bizarre- opposite end of the spectrum! takes all types and
experiences. Great details.

Suz said...

move over Rod Serling


loved loved it

happygirl said...

Yep, this was spooky. I feel my couch drawing me in when I get home from work. I have to fight the feeling or nothing will get accomplished. :) btw, my couch is red. :)

Eva Gallant said...

Definitely a Twilight Zone type of tale! excellent!

Eva Gallant said...

Definitely a Twilight Zone type of tale! excellent!

Valerie said...

Definitely scary. I think I'll avoid going to bed tonight... first let the image disappear from my brain.

Tara Miller said...

ewwww! I have to say, I imagined one of these characters as the guy that was on x factor - you know the one ;)


eeewwww but you have a way of writing creepy good my love!

Shawna said...

Sounds like a fun ride ... for the couch, anyway. :)

I love this section: "'Don'chu go sittin on dat couch, da couch is not the sitting kind, eatchu up n' ruin yo mind,' his fingers dance as if to cast a spell, moving in ways knuckles should not."

I smiled to see that you went the route of magic with this one too. I enjoyed the read, Brian.

Daniel said...

Whoa dude, that had some craziness behind it! This was a fun read.

Zeba said...

That couch! WOW. It makes me want to curl up on it and dream. Sigh. And the stuff you wrote. Brian! You are inspiring. Very much so.

Marilyn said...

Great write ...scary!

Glenn Buttkus said...

Brian, you are a poetic machine.
You write more in a week than
most of us do in a month; good
on you. The macabre gem is a
perfect response to the prompt,
and oddly, my piece of poetry
runs in the same gutter vein;
love the parallel dribblings of
our two cortexes.

The Noiseless Cuckooclock said...

dark, creepy, and beautiful tale.

Lolamouse said...

Like a cross between Stephen King and the Twilight Zone! Scary good! Or maybe they're both just mentally ill, and the couch is just a couch. Much to contemplate here, Brian, but I sure won't be sitting on any strange couches any time soon!

Tom said...

my couch devours me every afternoon.

Chip said...

Looks exactly like my couch! Creepy :p

pspacer11 said...

The Christine of the sofa world huh, friggen funny, but slightly scary.

Or a simple tale from Nightmares and Dreamscapes?

Either way, a great read that sent a shiver or two down the spine.

Suko said...

Very creative mag! I had some similar ideas, but wrote a short poem instead.

Titanium said...

Hot damn! That freaks me out. Completely. Glad I don't even own a couch. Probably for the best, now that I've read (red) this.

Gar, matey.

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Just good for novermber write... Like it!

JJRod'z

RNSANE said...

Good grief, I knew I should have kept on task at clearing out my bedroom. This gave me the creeps. Did you eat too much leftover turkey, Brian?

You have a bit of Stephen King in you, I think.

Kay said...

haha...me bag lady you bag man!!! loved where you took us..fab!!

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

This prompt seemed to draw a lot of creativity out of you, I enjoyed these.

Bernie said...

Way to go Mr. Hitchcock, I loved it.....:-)Hugs

Other Mary said...

Great work...love the dialog!

Ginny Brannan said...

Oooh, eerie!! Shades of Stephen King. Clever and fun to read, Brian!

Okie said...

absolutely creepy and gorgeously descriptive

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Powerful! Creepy! Couldn't stop reading even though it repulsed me. This is a story I would not want to read at home, alone. Well done, Brian.

Belinda said...

So, the dripping red spray paint isn't really paint, I'm guessing...

Your descriptions make everything so easy to picture. Great job. Glad I read this after lunch ;)

hedgewitch said...

All the detail really makes this extra wicked, bri--I think that couch actually does look hungry--it ate its own cushions, even...Loved the car interlude--too bad they don't have one of the same waiting in their living room at home.

Helen said...

... where oh where do these gems come from? Almost afraid to hear the answer.

kaykuala said...

Brian,
This is just creepy, unsettling even. But I kept wanting to re-read it for a no. of times. Kept me on my toes wondering about this has-been. Great verse!

Hank

ayala said...

A creative write, Brian. Creepy but so good...as always.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Nice one! I almost heard the laughter from Tales From The Crypt! I damn sure could smell this scene1

Rick

Lyn said...

Bad couch, bad...bad...
and "Eyes of hungry bees"..what a vision! Perfect!!

Jim Swindle said...

I'm not into horror fiction, but you wrote a very chilling tale, Brian.

KB said...

Scary stuff. Love it!

TALON said...

Loved it! A couch with attitude is a couch to be taken very very seriously. Always a pleasure, Brian.

Brandee Shafer said...

Rats in the couch?

Brian Miller said...

you know what jom...i appreciate you for reading even though it is not your cup a tea...thanks brother..

Susie Clevenger said...

Goodness what a dark tale...I didn't expect the ending...Love it!

The Cello Strings said...

splendid writing.

It is good to visit the dark space inside us from time to time.

Your magpie always stands out and amazes all.

This one comes out with different flavors and has tremendous power in imagery and creativity.

Thanks for impressing us once more,

;)

Joanna Jenkins said...

"I tells you dat couch is bad noose."
And this is a fantastic story.
jj

Lena said...

Spookily brilliant! I think I'll have some sage or saintly trinket nearby when I'm alone wit da couch!

Slamdunk said...

I was not expecting this when I looked at the photo.

Creative Brian--ok, frightening as well.

ds said...

Remind me to be kind to the furniture... Wonderful story and such vivid descriptions ("eyes of angry bees"!!). Wonderful wonderful tale, sir. Thank you.

Olive Tree said...

WOW!!!!! Excellent writing, and an even more brilliant imagination. Da red couch! This is one powerful couch. It can pull out so many ideas and emotions from people. Loved, loved, loved this piece, Brian. Halloween all over again. Thanks for stopping by to mine too.

rel said...

Some things are best left to the ashe pile, but still the call of comfort undoes us!
Images too clear to ignore.
rel

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

I want that couch :D

P.S: I loved your previous post :)

Lydia said...

A.mazing and freakish story. I love the way you brought in the couple driving through the scene..... and I especially loved these two descriptions:A ratty man, hair nesting in large fern-like growths at odd angles on his head;
Each footfall a double tap due to disengaged soles that hang like dog tongues.

You are the Hitchcock of our Time, that's who you are.

Karen said...

Whoa! I didn't see that ending coming, but then I was engrossed in the tale so well told!

Dave King said...

Super post. Almost ameditation - well, it had me meditating, so I think we could call it that. Thanks for it.

Daydreamertoo said...

The stuff of nightmares. Poor Joe.
A great write!

Heaven said...

I enjoy this other side of your writing, darker and grimmer. The tales of that red couch ~ superb ending too ~

Thanks Brian ~

manicddaily said...

Oooooh. (Ha.) K. (Love the red ants in pants.)

Lorraine said...

I have to cut down on my visits and everything else i hate not visitin you..but internet is increasing and Ihave to keep it for emergencies though God knows you never needed me, you have all bloggers xxx take care

the walking man said...

That is one fucking ass couch!

SueAnn said...

Poor Joe!! That is one hungry couch!!!
Good read today!!!!!!!!!!
Hugs
SueAnn

indiwriter said...

Macabre! Roald Dahl and Du Maurier rolled into one..

The Bug said...

I think you should write new Twilight Zone episodes :)

Sue said...

Okay. THAT is creepy!

And really, really good.

=)

Claudia said...

oh goodness...just wanted to head towards the couch..but maybe sitting here on the floor is not such a bad choice...you never know...ha...creepy good..

Old 333 said...

(snort) that was great - thanks for it!

chiccoreal said...

Dear Brian: A very realistic portrayal of hunger. It reminds me of a movie, as your vivid imagination and sensitivity to the blight of others comes shining through! The couch does indeed take on new life! Brilliantly executed in the mini chapters!

william said...

I covered my couch after reading this lol, well told mate.. hehe

lifeisaroadtrip said...

You had me seeing, smelling, tasting every word of it, Brian. I guess I should thank you for that. LOL.

Kathe W. said...

holy moley- couch revenge...ouch!
Cleverly written-never would have tought of that!

secret agent woman said...

God Lord, Brian - THAT'S going to make an appearance in my nightmare tonight!

Baino said...

Hmm very nice..all my couch eats is coins and hair clips.

Nicholas V. said...

I enjoyed reading this Magpie. It's amazing how many different ideas we all have and what different types of inspiration will create of the same image!

myheartslovesongs said...

nice and creepy!

adeeyoyo said...

Oh, no! Gross images of long toothed rats gnawing anyone foolish enough to sit on the couch. They could make a meal and finish you off in minutes! Yuck, Brian!

lori said...

You had me holding my breath and grimacing (or is it wincing). Either way, holy cow. You're good.

Mijayami said...

Didn't see that coming. Excellent tale :)

Syd said...

Very much a horror story. I am glad to not have any man eating couches around.

Myrna R. said...

Hah. And I was expecting a great moral point to the story. Great write Brian. It was so original.

zongrik said...

the venus fly trap of living room furniture

Ed Pilolla said...

lots of fun. i dig fright night:) you speak in scene, the best showcase for your images. eyes of angry bees and digging in a ball of aluminum i like mucho.