Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Mr. Burley by T Kira Madden

“I have never created anything in my life that did not make me feel, at some point or another, like I was the guy who just walked into a fancy ball wearing a homemade lobster costume.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, April 25 1999

Tourist Day

Today was a day to be a tourist

I even went out for breakfast. A local southern-fried kind of place. Grits for breakfast with iced tea so sweet it makes your teeth ache. In Texas tea is served in big plastic tumblers, free refills, no sugar unless you put it in yourself and watch the crystals fall bouncing off mountains of ice cubes. Someone here asked our Carolina waitress if they had unsweetened tea and she looked like she’d been hit in the back of the head.

Then we were off to the area’s biggest attraction, the Battleship North Carolina . It was an interesting visit. The ship is very well preserved and a lot of work is done on the upkeep. A lot of the below deck areas are accessible and this might be the most interesting part; seeing how the daily life on the ship was done. We toured sleeping quarters, stacks of folding canvas bunks, giant kitchens, huge steam pots, dining rooms, post office, movie projector, convenience store, heads. An entire city below decks, behind armor plate.

Up above though, that illusion of a busy but tranquil life is destroyed. Crawl into a cramped gun turret and it isn’t hard to conjure the image of young men, still teenagers, fresh off the Iowa farms, crammed into the steel chambers. Humid air, hot South Pacific sun beating, heating the metal. Tremendous loud sound as the guns fire. Zeros drone overhead, dive suicide toward the ship. Anti-aircraft crews pray a shell will find its way as they stare straight into the onrushing enemy. Imagine the smell of fear sweat as every one goes about their job wondering if the bombs will hit the ship, if the armor will hold.

I’m thankful that I could simply walk off, over a gangplank and through the gift shop. Thankful I could sit for awhile on a bench. Thankful the most dangerous thing around was Charlie, the semi-tame local alligator trying to soak up some spring sun.

That evening we all went out to a regular dinner at the Marina’s Edge, a local seafood emporium. The food was excellent, I had Jerked Mahi Mahi, nice and spicy.

They did have something at the restaurant I hadn’t seen. You know those games where you put money in and a crane will move over and you try to get a piece of candy or a prize? They had one there, but it was mounted over a live lobster tank. It was called The Lobster Zone . Put in two dollars, use the crane to try and grab a live lobster. If you caught it, you eat it. Pretty weird .

I’m not surprised, but the animal rights folks aren’t too happy about this.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Mr. Burley by T Kira Madden

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