Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Sales Associate by Henri Feola

“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Goldfish Pond, Dallas Arboretum

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Tuesday, September 08, and Saturday, September 12, 1998

Tuesday, September 08, 1998

Houdini toad

….. After work, I drove to pick up Lee at Nick’s piano lessons and took him home to get ready for soccer practice. I went over to feed K’Nex and Mortimer (pronounced More-Timer) and while I was shaking the live crickets into the aquarium I noticed there was only one toad.

We have had an escape.

I have absolutely no idea how the little bugger managed to get out. I cleaned their little world yesterday and am absolutely sure I put both back in. The lid is held down securely with suction cups and was tight today. Usually they can’t climb the glass of the big cage, but they are always trying, so I suppose he could have made it to the top and somehow jimmied open the clear plastic locking feeding gate.

At any rate, he’s out. So we have the attractive proposition of having a small, colorful, poisonous toad loose in the house somewhere. We are mostly worried that the giant killer dog might find the toad. I’m not sure exactly how toxic these guys are; I hope a moose-sized Labrador Retriever Mix might have a chance of surviving a meal.

I have devised a trap. At first I thought about using some crickets as bait, but on reflection I think that the toad will be more desperate for water than for food (there are plenty of bugs hidden in a house). I’ve set out a plastic box with a plate of distilled water in plain view. We’ll keep the dog in the back bedroom for awhile. Hopefully, tomorrow I find a lil’ green dude sitting in the plate of water.

If not, well, we’ll have to assume he’s escaped the house entirely, met some untimely end, or been abducted by aliens (which to me seems the most likely way he escaped in the first place). We haven’t mentioned anything to Nick or Lee so we’ll be able to sneak off to the pet store and purchase a replacement….

Oh, yeah, if you happen to know us, DO NOT mention this to Nick or Lee or any of their friends. For obvious reasons.

…I hope I can find one that looks enough like the old to fool the kids. Actually, that’ll be easy; green toad, red belly, black spots… they all look alike.

Candy is pretty freaked out at the thought of having an amphibian loose in our happy home. I’m freaked out ’cause I can’t figure out how he did it.

A little green escape artist.

Saturday, September 12, 1998

A runaway returns

….. I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. Tossing and turning and turning and tossing, I ended up on the couch in the TV room. I kept hearing a noise from the window. A tapping, or maybe a melodious scraping sound coming from the window. My exhaustion muddled mind imagined all sorts of horrible possibilities for this sound; when I’d turn on the lights, there would be nothing there.

Finally I realized that what I was hearing was simply the sound of raindrops hitting the glass. It has been almost four months since it has rained at our house, I had forgotten the sound completely.

Today I was out of sorts, headachy and tired. We ran some errands in the morning (soccer games canceled because of muddy fields) and Candy dropped me off at home while she took the boys to a church carnival. I made an omelet and was sitting on the couch eating, watching “Planet of the Apes” and generally trying to imitate a vegetable when a movement in the kitchen caught my eye.

There he was, hopping across the tile floor, heading out of the kitchen, our missing toad. I guess he’s been hiding behind the cabinets or something; luckily I was there to see him make his run. He was hopping pretty well, seemed no worse for wear for his few days on the lam. I scooped him up before the Giant Killer Dog woke up and deposited him back into the aquarium.

We had to come clean with the kids, had to tell the truth about why there were now three fire bellied toads in there. They weren’t upset at our deception, only happy that we now have three toads.

They decided to call the new one “Runaway.”

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

Sales Associate by Henri Feola

from Flash Fiction Magazine