Funny stories in under 500 words.

Blue Pill Time Bomb

Here’s me in a grocery store, Sunday morning and I’m in a rush. I tap the shoulder of the lady in front and politely ask, “Uh, ma’am could I please cut in front of you? Seeing as how you have a full, one might even say, overflowing grocery cart.” To her dried apple scowl, I add, “It’s a shame they only have one cashier on duty at 7:30 in the morning and keep five people in line ahead of us. But, could you just give me a break here? I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t an emergency...of sorts.”

“If you got a emergency,” she crabs, “call 911.”

“Well,” I say, “it’s not like that. Not life and death or anything.”

Hitching her hip, she asks, “So, what kind of emergency is it, that you gotta bother a nice lady for cuts?”

“I’d just as soon not have to get into it. Here. With you.” Looking up I notice the cashier glaring down the conveyor belt…stopped. “And everyone else,” I add.

The lady drops her chin and stares over the top of her bifocals.

“Okay. Okay. If you must know, I’ve taken a pill and it’s about to detonate.”

“Are you mad at me?” the lady asks.

“No,” I go. “I’m not mad at you...yet. Why do you ask?”

The gargoyle paws her cheek. “Your face is red.”

“Ah,” I allow. “That’s from the pill…facial flush.”

“I thought maybe from a laxative,” she says and turns away.

I’m desperate. Decide to try one more time. “Look, could I just cut in front of you? I’ve only got one thing to buy.”

She squinches her mouth at me. I need to give. So, I whisper in her ear, “Viagra. Okay? And it takes two hours to work and I’ve got ten minutes to get back home. And so help me, if you don’t let me take cuts…”

She flinches under my imaginary raised arm and turns to the cashier as if to call for help.

I try to calm her down. “No. No. No need for a fuss, here. You are in no danger of being assaulted...ha, ha,...that way. Believe me.” From the look on her face, I probably shouldn’t have kept going. But sometimes you just can’t stop. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you couldn’t be the subject...for that kind of...let’s say ha, ha...fantasy...or...or even science fiction.”

Have you ever been diced by a pair of razor gray eyes?

I better apologize. “You’re right. I...I do apologize. Let’s just say it was the medicine talking...a chemical testosterone storm. So, now can I please go ahead of you?”

Now she tilts her head back in a defiant defense of sisterhood. “Does your wife know about it?” she demands.

“Well,” I begin sotto voce, trying to time my words to the boop of the cashier’s barcode reader. “Yeah, every month or my age…”

Grundle glares.

“Oh,” I twig, “you mean right now.”

She nods, slowly.

“Well, if you must know, I left her in bed, sleeping. This was going to be a surprise.”

From the depths of a deep strangled growl, I hear, “Don’t like surprises. My fifth child was a surprise.”

I hasten to assure her that won’t happen to us.

“Call her.”

My jaw drops, “You want me to call her. To warn her or you won’t let me take cuts.” Then my chin raises, “No. No way.”

When she turns her back, I’m on speed dial. “Hello, honey? Well, I’m in the grocery store and there’s this lady who wants to warn you...”

There’s this one thing about Purleen, you should know, she doesn’t slide into spontaneous. To put it nicely, she would never make it in improv. So, here’s the two-legged roadblock leaning on her cart, dialed in and smurking at my side of the conversation:

…Look, I’m here to get some ‘stuff’. We were out of it and I thought I would hustle over...

… ‘Stuff’...You remember...our secret code word know...

…Intimate lubricant?

…KY... KY Jelly, okay?

…What do you mean what for?

…And what does this lady want to warn you about?

…Me. That I’ve got a red face...

…The red face I get when I, you know, take a pill.

…THE pill. Our little blue friend.

…Oh, you’ve never noticed the red face.

…Well, I don’t know how she knew and you don’t. Maybe she doesn’t close her eyes when we...

…Okay. Sorry. You’re right. I shouldn’t be talking about this on a cell phone in the check-out line with the cashier slowing down with every beep. Honey, what’s that noise I hear?

…You’re in the garden spraying the weeds.

…No, No, I’m glad to hear you’re wearing overalls, a mask and rubber gloves.

…You thought you’d get an early start on a hot day. Actually, that’s kind of what I had in mind.

…Lemonade. Lots of ice cold lemonade. Yes dear. I’ll be sure to pick some up.

…Uh-huh. I’m sure I’d like some too.

I turn to the woman behind me who is probably about to draw blood from biting her lips so hard and politely ask, “Ma’am could you hold my place in line?”

This story comes from Joe Novara. A former priest, retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Published works include a memoir, poems, novels, short stories, plays, anthologies and articles. Seven Young Adult novels are accessible through Story Shares. He also maintains a web/blog titled, Writing for Homeschooled Boys. Check out his recent novel, Come Saturday Come Sunday by Cawing Crow Press, available on Amazon.


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