Funny stories in under 500 words.

The Mother Lode



George had rigged up a vacant office with a card-table, two chairs, a pot-plant, and a box of tissues. It looked as hopeless as I felt.

“This can’t work, George.”

“Poppycock!” he roared while teasing a tissue to stand proudly in its holder. “Remember, Jack: she’s mad. All you have to do is pretend you’re a therapist. There’s nothing to it: ‘tell me about your childhood’, ‘what’s your dirtiest dream’, blah, blah. Then bring up her mother—she’s sure to spill, and when she does—we’ll be millionaires!”

The light changed. We both turned to watch a shadow darken the office’s frosted-glass door. There was a timid knock.

“That’s her!” George hissed in a monstrous whisper.

Terrified, I checked my watch. “It can’t be! It’s only—”

“She’s mad, remember. Time to her is like silly string. I’ll hide in here!” George started for the little washroom.

“But George—I can’t—I’m not ready—”

I’m not here!” George hissed, pulling the door almost shut.

There came a second knock, even quieter, on the dark frosted-glass.

“Come in,” I croaked, and rushed to take up a seat behind the card-table.

The door slowly opened. I could only stare. It was the biggest woman I’d ever seen, dressed in floral.

That’s Louise!” George hissed from the washroom.

“Shut up!” I spat over my shoulder.

“Sorry,” the big woman said, and started to leave.

“No, no—not you, Louise!”

She paused, looking at me worriedly.

“I was talking into my Dictaphone,” I ran on desperately, “about another patient.” She wasn’t convinced. “I…it’s a form of shock therapy—a patient tells me they don’t like their mother and I tell them to ‘SHUT UP!’—it helps to jolt loose any repressed memories…”

She came in doubtfully. “Doctor, I don’t know if it’s me, but… I can’t see your Dictaphone.”

“No, no, that’s fine—size isn’t everything. As Sigmund Freud once said: for God’s sake leave the cigar alone for five minutes… ha ha…”

Angrily from the washroom: “Tell her the Dictaphone is in the box of tissues, idiot!”

“Forget the Dictaphone, moron!” I snapped.

“Oh I will, I promise!” said Louise, upset. “Will that help, do you think?”

“Oh, sure to. Now please, Louise, take a seat.”

“Before we start,” the big woman said, “I, um, just need to use the bathroom.”

She can’t,” George hissed. “I’m in here!

“I know that!”

Louise was shocked. “You can tell that I need to…?” An angry flush darkened her big cheeks.

“Louise,” I said, gripping the card-table. “Wanting to go to the toilet is a very common fixation. It usually means a person has a desire to talk about their mother, to bring the sordid past into the open.”

She glared at me with a face like thunder… but, gradually, almost magically (although not quite inaudibly), her darkened visage faded and cleared to a blissfully serene smile. “Thank-you, doctor,” she said, stepping carefully to the door, “you’ve been a wonderful help.”

This story was written by Jack Tilley. Jack Tilley works in a chicken hatchery where the eggs are warm and the chickens always in a hurry.




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