New

Broken



When I open the door she’s in a burlap sack and nothing else. We stare into each other’s eyes with equal horror and terror. “Can I – can I help you?” I muster.

“Oh, please!” She collapses into my arms and starts weeping. Her bones pierce through the thin woven fabric, and she convulses in violent shivers.

I carry her inside and set her on the couch. There’s a wool blanket and space heater in the storage closet, so I wrap her up and set the heater on full blast. After making tea for both of us, I sit across from her. She’s no more than twenty-four, fragile, pretty, sad. “I’m Gavin,” I tell her, “do you want me to call the police for you?”

She shakes her head.

“Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

She shakes her head again and says, “I’m just lucky to have this burlap sack.”

My eyes bulge, “What? The burlap sack?”

She sets her feet on the ground and unwraps the blanket, “Yeah, burlap is incredibly strong,” she says, tugging on the fabric, “and it’s also eco-friendly because it’s made from the jute plant.”

“Okay,” I draw a blank.

“Surely if I’d been in the cold with any other material, I’d have hypothermia by now.”

Confused, I respond, “Sorry, did you want me to call the police for you?”

“No, that’s alright, mister – sorry, I didn’t get your last name.”

“Spencer.”

“Mister Spencer, did I mention that hessian-styled clothing provides ample space for concealing your possessions?” She reaches behind into her sack blouse and pulls out a clipboard and pen. “I’m going door-to-door today selling burlap sacks. We’re doing a special, four for twenty-five dollars,” she hands me the clipboard and points to a few lines with the pen, “I just need your credit card number there and signature here.”

I look at her and take out my wallet on impulse. When I finish, she reaches for the clipboard and double-checks my work, “Looks good, mister, mister,” she forgets my name, searches the paper, and says, “mister Spencer. Pleasure doing business with you, the burlap should arrive in four to six weeks.”

She lets herself out, and I remain motionless for hours.

#

The next day I check the price of burlap sacks online: four for thirteen dollars, with free same day delivery. Hornswoggled by a smarmy burlap salesman yet again.

This story was written by Orson Krupnick Newstat. He is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, CA, and a former baker turned writer. He has previously been published in the Los Angeles Citadel.
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