October 1, 2014

Flash Fiction: "Battery" by Mitchell Grabois

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois' poems and fictions have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital is available for .99 cents on Kindle and Nook or as a print edition.

I was nine when my grandmother died. She was more than my father’s mother, she was my life raft. I wondered if I could make it without her. I wondered, not in words, but in my body. 

My mother put on a dress that accentuated her plush 1950’s figure, and my father put on a dark business suit to wear to the funeral. They were leaving me home. My father was below average height, but towered above me as he bent to kiss me goodbye. His lips came out of a cloud of Old Spice. They left. I watched the car pull away through the ground-level den window, the same window through which my pal Richie and I sneaked frightened peaks when we watched monster movies. It was a grey and windy day, ordered for the occasion.
I wondered why my grandmother had to die. Even at nine I had a religious and philosophical bent, but no way to express it. I had yet to discover nature. I had yet to discover poetry. My father liked to talk to me about stocks and bonds. He thought if he encouraged me, I would become financially precocious, and knowledgeable enough to become rich before I reached my twenties. From where he got this strange idea, I don’t know. All I wanted to accumulate was understanding, to understand my suffering and the suffering of the world. That the world was full of suffering was clear to me, the way my father presumed the secrets of trading of stocks and bonds would become clear to me. I perceived the suffering of the world, not in words, but in my body.
After my parents left for the funeral, I sat around for a while, then got the idea to cut open a battery, one of the big square ones my father had in the garage, the ones we’d need when the Russians unleashed World War III. My idea came, not from scientific impulses, but religious ones. I wanted to see the power that was held inside a battery. I had the idea that I could eat the power and, as in my comic books, become a super-hero, though I was troubled by the fact that I would be required to keep arch-villains in line. That worry accompanied me out into the cold garage to get one of those batteries and some tools, tools to unlock the secrets of the universe. I didn’t see myself as someone who could dominate villains, but figured that once I had the power that hid within batteries, I would find a way.
I sawed and pried. I wasn’t good with tools. My father had never taken the time to train me. He was too busy training me to be a wunderkind investor, but I was persistent. I sawed and pried until I had opened the battery’s case. I was crushed when all I found was black powder, nothing that looked like power at all, nothing that looked like answers or consolation.
A careless child, I tracked this black powder all through the house, on the white carpets that I believed were the furs of little white French Poodles. Even as I grew into adolescence, I would not let go of that belief, even as I put the final nails into my father’s boy-investor fantasies with alcohol, drugs and delinquency.
My parents finally came home from the funeral. They saw the black footprints tracked throughout the house. They saw the mutilated battery I’d left in the den. Rage from grief, from the stupidity of life, from onerous obligation, quickly grew in my father.
~Mitchell Grabois

Total Pageviews