Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Day Mr . Smith Lost His Wife to Spontaneous Combustion

Mr. Smith remembered the day very clearly, up to and including the moment his wife became a pile of ashes. He recounted the story for the nice shiny police officer, who recorded as much as possible, trying to keep up with Mr. Smith's stream of consciousness.

You see, began Mr. Smith, I'd received our invitations to the Con and we were both so excited! We'd been trying to get a nomination for these past three years. My wife, Mrs. Smith. She's a famous author. Was a famous author. Perhaps you've read some of her work?

Mr. Smith glanced at the lookiloos gathering around them. The officer added an observation to the recording: Victim's husband seemed to shimmer at the mention of his wife in past tense.

Well, continued Mr. Smith. We were very worried that we wouldn't be invited this year. Little did we realize that the one and only work we, er, she completed during the qualifying period, would qualify. Who knew? A cookbook, no less! But there it was, the invitation.

He patted his left breast pocket, which contained the memento he would keep forever, as a reminder of this momentous day.

And here we are, having arrived by taxi-transport this very morning. She just couldn't wait to stop at the first Con-cession stand for a snack. She was such a voracious woman. In many ways... Well, I wasn't hungry, having already had my breakfast. As you know, we Vegans don't eat like most others do. And we are very selective about the preparations as well as the contents of our meals.

He motioned to the Bento Box on his arm.

I prepare and bring my own everywhere, having learned my lesson at my first Con. The food nearly killed me!

The police officer duly observed: Victim's husband seemed to gleam at the mention of his own pristine eating habits compared to the victim, his wife.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smith continued with recounting his day.

She sat at the concession tables to eat, while I went over and picked up our name tags and all the geegaws they give attendees (such silly things, but I do enjoy collecting them regardless). Then I went over to the writer's room and made sure they knew we had arrived (and I tried to drop off my script but they wouldn't accept it, those Uranus holes). I picked up our tickets to the ball (I have the most fabulous costume this year!) and then when I returned to the tables, she was still eating. Seems she had gotten thirds already, of whatever atrocities they call food around here.

Mr. Smith moved his head as if trying to shake something out of it. The police officer observed: Victim's husband turned dark when mentioning the writer's room; he is hiding something.

Her voracious eating is what caused me to miss the very workshop I wanted to attend more than any other. She made me go back and get her a fourth helping! Oh, I was so mad that I missed the Killer Bees. They're the Demon kNight Master Awardees this year. Do you know, a swarm award, now that's a first. But they are so deserving. Each of their works is Astounding. Fantastic! Amazing Stories. Um, do you read science fiction, officer?

The police officer delivered a monotonous, "No."

Too bad. I highly recommend it. Very good for entertaining oneself while others are off hobnobbing about and leaving you to tidy up their galleys. Treating you as if you didn't exist... Oh my! Where are my manners?

Mr. Smith seemed a bit startled at what he had just let slip. Usually he was very good at keeping his personal thoughts to himself. He brushed a few stray filaments out of his eyes, and pushed the brass-rimmed spectacles up higher on his nose.

The police officer waited as Mr. Smith composed himself.

Um. Well. I think it was that fourth helping that did it... When I brought it back to her tables I could tell that she was having some troubles. She was, well, with every other bite she would let out a loud burp. That should have been the first sign, to warn her. But, she just wouldn't stop eating. I was embarrassed by the way she would devour her meal, and then she would wipe the dribble from her chin and, oh my...

Mr. Smith was mortified that he couldn't stop himself.

... it was just so disgusting. She would put her mandibles in her mouth and suck them clean! And, with each bite she would make these horrible gurgling sounds, as if, as if she were a starving animal eating its first meal in nearly a full rotation! I just couldn't sit there watching her any longer.

The police officer observed: Mr. Smith is negatively charged now.

So, I got up and left for the exhibit room. We agreed to meet at the entrance to the art show. It was then, while I was waiting in line, that I heard the commotion from across the room. When I turned to look, I saw a line of officers (just like you) encircling my wife. It all happened so fast.

"Yes," the police officer said, reviewing the recordings of that particular event. "Ganymedans must be quickly contained when they become gaseous, because they are poisonous to most all other life forms."

(And explosive.) Yes. I saw one of those other officers (or was it you, you're so hard to tell apart) ignite a protective pod. You should be very proud of the speed of your work, you encased her before she blew. 

Mr. Smith paused.

And now she's dead. My poor, poor wife. What will I do without her? Um, is there anything else, officer?

The officer observed in his recording: The victim's husband is now positively charged.

"Thank you for your report, Mr. Smith. We will get back to you after we finish our investigation. Would you mind. We would like to inspect your Bento Box."

The Vegan moved slightly, as if to protect his box.

Whatever for? It's already been inspected, at entry. It was required.

"Yes, we have noted the inspection sticker and number," replied the officer as he took the box from Mr. Smith's arm, "but we must investigate all possibilities. Please do not leave the Con location until we have finished our investigation. Here is the tracking pin you are required to wear. We will contact you in the morning."

The police officer tagged Mr. Smith with the tracking device, logged his recording in the central police database, then transported off to his next interview. A shocked Mr. Smith carefully kept his thoughts close to himself as he watched the officer beam away.

(Oh the shame! Damn that woman! Taking the glory all for herself. Now I suppose I will never get the credit my work deserves.)

He nearly spat on the floor at the thought. Instead, he pulled the Invitation from his jacket pocket, and held it with the utmost reverence.

(At least I can enjoy the rest of Con.)

And with that positive thought giving his aura a subtle glow, he turned to go back to the line for the art show, carefully sidestepping the cleanup crew.

<word count: 1234>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved it! Very funny and it created such a great visual in my head.