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Short Story 35

Shot in the Dark



Have you ever noticed when you spit toothpaste into the sink and the water begins to drag it away, it resists, pulled apart in white threads down the basin and then out of sight? It is interesting the things people are aware of and even more the things they aren’t.


“What are you trying to suggest?” His stern long face revealed nothing, the question sagging from his thick lower lips. He was the sort of person where every word came from his lower lip, sagging off of it from that lower set of slightly uneven teeth, dribbling like spit from the slop. This was a part of him so much so that when he smiled and you saw the upper set you were surprised, you never would have imagined they existed behind that thick upper curtain of flesh.


“I think you have every idea of what I am referring to.” This other person spoke without moving his teeth at all, like a gigantic dam they stood clinging to each other, longer than the average set of teeth. You saw them an unmoving force, guarded by his slender purplish lips, which articulated every word precisely, painfully.


“You say this, but I am afraid I am quite at a loss to understand you.”


“Give it a moment for the idea to sink in, I’m positive that you will recall without me having to go any further.”


This was awkward to say the least. The dinner had only just started, and yet the two of them had to begin before the food had even been served. Honestly, it was quite annoying for all of us, but no more than the fact that the two of them argued whenever we sat down to any meal.


“This is absurd.” Only as much as me failing to mention the name of my large lipped friend. Some of this is done out of self-preservation, if there was anyone in the world who would make my life difficult by perceiving themselves as ‘misrepresented’ it would be him. For sake of argument, and to avoid incurring his wrath, let’s call him Frances.


“Not at all my friend, you and I, as well as all those at the table are very aware how this is a most important matter.” My friend with the clenched teeth we shall call Witting, for similar reasons.


I should quickly put in that other than myself, Witting, and Frances there were three others. One was a young woman slender and very well dressed. She was the image of something doll like, and we shall call her Cynthia. The second was the oldest of them, a gentleman who wore a very old suit that likely was new when he was. His hair was rather long, and his eyebrows grew over his eyes and a bushy mustache consumed his lips. We shall call him Urban. The last is a woman of middle years. There is something in her look that is rather plain, but also extraordinarily beautiful at the same time. This unassuming appearance allows her to very easily sit in the background without normally falling prey to the sort of thing that is now happening. We shall call her Barbra.


“I resent this; you have no evidence for your accusations. None at all, and yet to defame supper by blaspheming me before everyone.”


“Why Frances, past history creates precedence enough to make them. You do overreact so easily.”


“Do you hear this? Do you all hear this? What a thing. What a horrible experience. How can I be expected to take this. I shall not digest at all at this rate. You know very well ill temper prevents proper digestion. You are purposefully trying to frustrate my GERD in spite.”


“I don’t see why you’re fussing so much, this literally happens every time.” Witting gave a singularly clenched smile, his teeth audibly strained against it.


“You fiend, you horrid little fiend, it is always you who are accusing me. You make me a witch and then light the torch to burn me. You always tell terrible lies about me. Like that time, you said I stole the teapot.”


“I’m sorry to interject but the teapot was found in your room later that night Frances, packed in your bag, in a white linen shirt, if I remember correctly,” This was Barbra, she was very gentle when she spoke and looked at everyone with a perfectly innocent eye, as if she were just the auditor telling you that somehow you had missed a decimal on your taxes.


“You too, Barbra! I never expected it. How can you say that! You, the one I admired the most out of all here for your presence of mind. I shall now have you all remember the time with the toast rack, yes, I was accused of stealing that too. While all along it was in the cupboard. The cupboard you hear. Does that not prove my innocence? Is that not too evidence in my defense?”


“That still does not explain the teapot my darling.” Barbra wasn’t fazed at all by France’s exasperation, in fact, she retrieved a sugar cube in the tiny tongs near her and plopped it into her teacup, where hot tea waited to digest it.


“Yes, I do remember that it was an unfortunate find the following day. A waylaid toast rack can do much for causing tension. And my good young man was accused of it indeed, most unfoundedly.” This was the moment where Urban felt the need to interject. He was a kind old thing and rather dislike the sensation of things being off balance, so of course when it seemed that Barbra had taken Witting’s side, he had to aid Frances.

“You see there. Did you hear that at last Witting you old devil, Urban has attested. That toast rack was in the cupboard the whole time. It was there, and yet, I was accused. Me and no one else, you here, and this is just a tale as old as time. I am positive I will never be truly free of these accusations as long as there is you to be the devil on the world’s shoulder.”


“You do talk don’t you. Yes, I admit, it might have been in the cupboard. And you may very possibly have been wrongfully accused. Its appearance the following day, may prove that it had been there all along, and you hadn’t returned it that night without being found out. But that does not negate that both I and Barbra remember your little faux pas with the teapot and the vase of roses.”


“The vase of roses, the vase of roses, you always bring that up when I have already told you that it was delivered to your room by mistake, it was only natural I would take it into my room and put it on my tea table, by the bookshelf.”


“It’s funny you should say that, because the card said something completely different. Not only that but the delivery boy attested to leaving it outside my room, number four. That was what he had said, not number seven which is yours.”


“I still don’t understand why we are making such a small thing into something so big. Are there not enough mountainous mole hills in this world without us adding to them.” This was the one moment within the conversation where I sought to interject. It was, as I assume you can imagine from the tone and the way the conversation was going, received poorly.


“What are you saying it is of no consequence, of course it is, it is not appropriate in any place worth being to have a thief so widely accepted, and even to have excuses made for him, as if his deeds are not advocate enough for who he is and what cloth he is made from.”


“Thief, thief. I cannot, I will not. I must have satisfaction.” Frances flung himself up, nearly toppling his chair over in the process. How that thick lower lip of his shivered with disdain.


“Oh really, must you.” Witting did the same, though with a subdued, unaffected air, his wall of teeth grinding against the words, “And how exactly will you get that?”


“A no holds bar game of battle checkers.” At this moment Frances quit, threw his gently soiled napkin at Witting, who in turn went a pale shade of scarlet.


“How dare you Sir, throw that napkin at me.”


“Do you cower from my challenge, Sir.”


“Quite the opposite. I will meet you at the table with pleasure.” These words were slid through the cracks in Wittings teeth, which were quite suffering against each other.


“Stop! Stop!” This shriek of pain came from our fair Cynthia, who had this whole time been sitting quite in seemingly perfect harmony, her porcelain face distorting with emotion, her face so unused to it, it was unsure how to wrinkle to allow for it, “I can not take this,” She was up on her pretty crystal incrusted heels, the folds of her elegant yellow gown near bursting over the table into her plate, “It is torturing me to hear you speak so, and now I must say in great shame that it was myself who did it. I ate the mustard and the butter as well. I didn’t mean to,” She was quite bursting with tears at this point, “And it was also I who ate the jam and jelly preserves served with breakfast a fortnight ago. I was too ashamed to admit it, but I quite licked the jam jars when I was finished, to my great shame, it was all me!” And here her tears overcame her, and she fell into the arms of her chair which caught her with gallant and sturdy arms.


“You see, you see, the jam wasn’t me either. Listen to this you fools, I have been vindicated!” Frances squealed this at the top of his voice, but he was joined by Witting yelling in his turn.


“You have done more than enough to be blamed for you idiot. Cynthia’s confession does not save you from accusations well deserved.”


“I didn’t mean to, I didn’t mean to!” Cynthia projected over us all.


And quite before Barbra and Urban could participate I stood and excused myself, deciding that I would from that day forth choose to eat outside of the boarding house and avoid our included board. A café was far more inclined to my temperament anyway and I rather enjoyed leading my day without a headache joining me right at the beginning or even more so unpleasantly at the end.




End



Thank you so much for reading everyone!!



Prompt: Shot in the Dark


Word Count: 1778


©DecemberKnight 2023


Special thanks to Hamide Jafari from Unsplash for the use of the image!


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