Raccoon

A Massive Attack song played and Jonathan drove faster and faster down the freeway. It was two in the morning, he was slightly tipsy, and he knew this was a bad idea. But the freeway was empty, so at worst, he thought, he would careen into the concrete divide and kill himself or else he would run over a raccoon. And he had a beef with them anyway. They’d dug into his garbage can so often that he’d realized that the animal control department wasn’t heeding his phone calls. His date – Tanya? Or Tina? – had said that raccoon were adorable.
“Adorable my ass,” Jonathan muttered and hit the steering wheel hard with the palm of his hand. He jumped as a honk sounded. Then he giggled at his own surprise. Then he stifled the giggle and glanced sideways, just to make sure that no one was watching him make such a stupid face. And then he remembered that he was alone, tipsy and driving on the freeway and he quickly brought his eyes to face front again. He had to straighten the car, which was veering into the right-hand lane. When he managed, he felt very proud of himself.
Tanya or Tina had been pretty. They’d danced together for a couple hours but she hadn’t agreed to come over to his apartment. “You’re drunk,” she’d said, frowning. “And I am too. Let’s go to a cafe and sober up.” He’d ask her if she’d agree to come to his apartment after they did that and she laughed very suddenly and said that probably not. Then she’d punched him on the arm, lightly, in a brotherly guyish kind of way that turned him off. So he’d invented a dog that he remembered he had to walk – because it was good to keep a good impression and not to close any doors with rude remarks, and everyone knew that girls liked guys who liked animals.
Jonathan wondered if he should actually get a dog. Then he realized that it would mean two things. First, he would need to walk it, pay for its shots at the vet, and in general stand having it around. Second, it would mean he wouldn’t be able to bring home girls who were allergic to dogs. And what if the girl of his dreams would be allergic to dogs?
Not that he was a romantic. No, he had no false notions of love or tenderness. He knew what he wanted and how to get it. His older brother was married and claimed to be happy, but Jonathan was pretty sure that he was actually miserable.
He wasn’t a complete bastard. He had friends who were girls, and he knew that women were people, too. But he didn’t really think that he wanted to have one around all the time. He’d been in several relationships in his life, but he always got tired of the girls he’d been with and so he’d ended it. His big brother told him that he was an immature man-child. Jonathan took that as a compliment.
He got home without causing an accident. There was a raccoon digging around in the trash can again. He tried to kick it and fell, swearing. So he went inside and tried calling animal control again, forgetting that they weren’t open at three in the morning.

Blind Date [Flash Fiction]

His incisors gleamed in the cold fluorescent light and for a moment I imagined he was a vampire. Maybe he would sweep me off my feet, violently take me in his bed, sink his teeth into my flesh and suck the life out of me one tortuously sweet moment at a time.

Then again, maybe he would just bore me to death right at the dirty McDonald’s table. I stared at the splotch of ketchup that was dangerously close to his pristine white sleeve. I knew it was going to happen – I’d been spending the last hour and a half just waiting for the moment to happen. I thought it would at least bring some variety and interest to this dullest of all possible blind dates in the history of the world. Finally, as he wiped his mouth of the grease that had adorned his too-red lips, it happened. His elbow moved just half an inch sideways, apparently slipping, and a red dot adorned his sleeve. But even that didn’t help – he didn’t notice it had happened and just kept smiling at me weirdly.

It wasn’t that he was a bad guy. He was probably very sweet. But come on – McDonald’s? On a date? This guy had no class. Even though he was dressed in a white shirt with a starched collar, complete with delicate cuff-links.

“Tell me,” I finally broke into his monotonous monologue about his absolutely fascinating job – I still wasn’t sure what it was that he did, but I was convinced that he found it absolutely wonderful, which was, I guess, really nice for him. But he hadn’t managed to get across the simple idea of what on earth his job actually was. “Tell me, do you bring all your first dates to McDonald’s?”

He looked at me blankly for a moment and then picked up the empty carton where his fries had rested in greasy strings a few minutes ago. “We’re at McDonald’s?”

“Uh, yeah? Didn’t you notice?”

“Not really, no. You see, I don’t really pay attention to what I eat. I’m sorry. Was this inappropriate?”

I had no idea what to say. We’d been sitting in a brightly lit food-court munching on bad fast-food and he hadn’t noticed? “Wait. Wait a second. So you’re saying you didn’t actually mean to bring me here?”

“I didn’t bring you here, did I? Didn’t you choose the venue for this meal?”

“Um. No. I didn’t.”

“Interesting.”

What was with this guy? Had he been in a coma during the last couple hours? “Don’t you remember picking me up?”

“I did?”

“You did. Are you even aware we’re on a date?”

“Of course. Your friend, Judith, set us up.”

“Okay. So how do you think we ended up here?”

“I gather that we used some form of transport to reach this – where are we again? Some fast food restaurant, is that correct?”

This was getting to be too weird to deal with. How could he remember we were on a date, that Judy set us up, but not realize how we’re gotten from my place to the stupid mall? I was growing fascinated. Finally, the evening was getting interesting.

A Personal Ad

On the grandest of summer days, beneath a willow tree in the beautiful park that I can see from my bedroom window, I met my true love.

Wait, no, that was only the stupid plot of some sappy romance novel I read a while ago.

Truth is, I’ve never met my true love. How can I, with my line of work, my bad hours, and worst of all, my bad hair? No one could be attracted to this hair, that’s for sure. Sadly, it’s part of the job description.

Nowhere in my very extensive memory can I remember wanting to do what I do. Sure, I was smart. I loved watching all those television shows with chemistry sets and experiments. Yes, I got straight As in elementary, then high school. Of course I got into the best school there could be. But nope, I don’t think I ever really thought that I’d be applying for a post as “Mad Scientist, Female.”

No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not really a mad scientist. I wish! No, I’m only playing one at the Museum of Scientific History and Literature. It’s an odd place, to be sure. They have all these different characters here, some playing cliches like me – there’s a Frankenstein plus monster, of course – and some taking on the parts of historical figures like Galileo or the Curies. Me? I was fired from my grown-up job at the Modern Science Research Center because of “budget cuts.”

With student loans I still haven’t paid off, rent and utilities due every month, and one mean landlord, I had no choice but to get a job as quickly as I could. So here I am, working at the weirdest museum known to mankind: we’re open between 10am to 5pm, and then from midnight to 5am; we have an Einstein who’s got worse hair than I have and a horribly false German accent; drunk science geeks traipsing around in the middle of the night; and finally, to take the cake, a huge fake library with bookshelves bearing fake cardboard books. What’s with the library? As the sign says when you enter: WE’VE CATALOGUED ALL SCIENCE-ORIENTED NOVELS SO THAT YOU WON’T HAVE TO! People are supposed to walk around and write down titles of books and then see if our amazingly understocked bookstore and gift shop happen to have them. They usually don’t. We get lots of complaints.

But it pays alright, and I’m applying for jobs during every spare moment I have. Oh, the hair thing? Well, it’s a wig, obviously, but it doesn’t agree with my real hair, and so my dull brunette mop is matted and disgusting after every time I put that stupid fake tangle on top of it. The woes of the young and… employed?

I know I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. But not having a steady boyfriend since high-school has started to wear on me. During college I was stuck in my books, during my summers I interned everywhere that would take me, and after I graduated I was lucky enough to get a job at the Research Center. Working there for another four years has gotten me to the age of twenty-six without having kissed anyone since I was seventeen. Okay, that’s a lie, there have been encounters here and there, but I’m pretty ashamed and revolted with all of them, so I try to pretend that they haven’t happened.

Yes, people, even science geeks have needs, you know!

The point is, I really would like, for once, to meet someone who isn’t a) a smoker; b) an alcoholic and c) a complete idiot. Is that really so much to ask for? Apparently it is. But don’t they say that intelligent women intimidate men? Well, I seem to have scared all of them away – although I think the ones I dated were all much too dumb to have recognized me as being super-smart anyway.

No, excuse me, I’m not blowing my own horn, I’m simply stating a fact. I’m smart. I have powerful deductive skills, I grasp new concepts quickly, and if I don’t understand something then I’ll work at it until I do. I also have very small and steady hands which are an asset when you’re working in a lab.

So here I am, ready to break through all the barriers and say that Gertrude Jenkins, twenty-six years old, five-two and one hundred and ten pounds, is looking for a date. Not true love, so don’t get freaked. A good date will do just fine to start with.

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