prompt: torrent, title: innocent misunderstandings in misc. flash fiction

  • July 26, 2023, 7:32 p.m.
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  • Public

“It ends with us,” she said, “I do not know what to do with that.” “Of course it ends with us,” I replied, “we’re closing shift today.” “No,” Jess laughed, “the novel It Ends with Us, the Colleen Hoover book, I don’t know what to do with it.” “Oh,” I reasoned, “less fun than the end of days, more fun than the end of shift. What’s the issue?” In service of our library’s monthly book club, Jess likes to get some kind of token to give out after their discussion. Something themed to the story, a memento that won’t break our programming budgets. “But this book is a downer, Mike, a bummer. It’s about spousal abuse and cycles of violence and while that is worth discussing, you don’t want to hand it out as a keychain at a library book-club.” Yeah, I could see the torrent of complaints that could come down from it, now that our national past-time has transferred from baseball to football to our current champion, complaining for no good reason.

“Well,” I finally reckoned, “her name’s Hoover.” “Correct.” “How about you forgo theming it to plot and theme it to the author’s name instead?” She looked at me, not entirely sure where I was going. Which is fair. I don’t always know where I’m going, either. “I’m sure there’s little party favors shaped like vacuum cleaners online somewhere.” “But why vacuums?” “Like hoovers? Hoover vacuum cleaners?” Her eyes lit up. “Oh! Yeah, that’s cute! I thought you were going somewhere weird with that.” “Not for Book Club, Jessica, heaven forfend.”

So, after a flurry of typing, we did end up with a pretty good option to commemorate Hoover’s book without delving into darker themes: tiny metal vacuum cleaner party favors, Sixties-style, with the bag hanging off the back and everything, just a smidge more than a dollar from one of those Chinese drop-shipping sites with weird names like Temu or AliExpress or Macklemore or something. Cute, cheap, hard-to-forget, just like me. Until.

“Hey, Jess.” “Yeah?” “I think we have another problem here.”

You see, as she was preparing to order a dozen, I had rotated the images on my computer, to see if there were any “made in” or “made by” logos on the bottom. Nothing like that, though there was a hole in the bottom of them. Oddly enough, there was a hole in the top of all of them as well. Almost like they were straws, almost like they were…

“Jessica. I think these things are actually coke straws.” “What?” “And not like Santy Claus polar bear Coke straws. Like cocaine coke.” “We probably shouldn’t give out drug paraphernalia at the library.” I look at the description’s fine-print. It calls them Speed Bullets. “Yeah, probably not.”

Jess ended up making nice little magnets with maps of Boston in them, to give away. I guess it takes place in Boston. And that’s the only thing I remember about the novel “It Ends with Us”.

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