Tuesday 9 May 2023

You'll Need a Crowbar by Mercedes Lawry, Dirty Martini

 The demons are quiet tonight. I’ll not be fooled. That’s wind in the curtains, a soft, gentle stirring. I won’t be seeing torment. I’m not what they say, gone with the fairies, or so my great-great grandmother would’ve said. We’ve slipped so far from who we are. There was a reason I had no children and here it is – no one to badger me into the old folks home – assisted living – same as a prison with flowery pillows. Oh I had plenty of reasons not to have children, all solid as boulders don’t you know, but this one, this very reason is now top of the pile. Still there’s those who want to shift me. Have I burned the place down? No. Have I wandered into the city, become confused and got on the wrong bus? No. I’m quiet here in my little home. I bother no one. The birds come to my trees and don’t judge me and I’m happy for an hour. I know there are dark days – roiling and tumult and electrical storms in the brain but I manage, I manage. Haven’t I thus for all the years of my life? Some pills, yes, a mix of this and that. Not too much of the booze. And everything gets delivered now, that’s a godsend.


There’s an excruciating amount of time spent thinking on death since it’s waiting right outside the door. What’ll it be? What’ll it stink of and will it come like a bolt of lightning? Doubtful – rare – especially for us old ones. Slow and ugly, that’s what’s ahead.  And when is the moment you could still speed it up yourself before your mind is mangled or your body is nothing but a pool of noodles? If Marge sticks her beak in, if somehow she gets the leverage on me, I’ll have to move fast. Marge, who is nobody to me and paid to be a guardian – what a fucking joke – one of the best scams going, you can read about it, watch a program on TV, everybody knows but it goes on and on. That’s how it works. Evil roots into society and there’s no getting it out. Marge the Liar, Marge the Deceiver. She’s got a stable of olds I’d warrant. We’re fodder. I’ve no doubt most of them kowtow to her, go along with her “recommendations” or they’re too far into the stratosphere to realize whether their sweater is inside out. An easy mistake to make though in a dim light. Margie’d be getting a cut or a kickback or whatever it’s called for shifting me into Happy Sappy Memory Estates. You can be sure anything called estate is a shoddy place in sore need of some basic care if not the full renovation.


I’m not a people person, I told Marge, the first time she came by and I was stupid enough to open the door to her. I apologized but said I’d more than likely bash some geezer over the snout with his walker, or spit in their oatmeal or sing out at the top of my lungs with my gift for the off-key while they’re trying to watch Real Housewives of God-Knows-Where. I’d be a pain, a nuisance. They’d have to put me in lockdown and slip my grilled cheese under the door.

Marge didn’t flinch, did she? She knew my kind and she said so with her eyes. She’s one up on me, so she thinks. It’s entertainment for her. I doubt it’s crossed her mind, what I might do to her if she comes again, alone, and I play like I’m now of a different mind and considering her offer. And she relaxes a bit, not all the way, for certain she’s not sure she can trust me. She’s sniffing for the truth, her little pointy nose twitching like a rabbit’s.

It's her or me, that’s what it comes down to if she pushes to the limit. I’ve got my plans, a strategy. Plans, A, B and C, damn it. It might depend on my mood, how heavy the darkness has embraced my soul, or just convenience, opportunity. I like to think I’m nimble even if my bones are evolving into sponge. Nimble of thought. If she comes with somebody else, it’s a no-go. But if she comes alone with her clipboard and her tippity-tappity shoes, well, we’ll just have to see. 

About the author

Mercedes Lawry has published short fiction in several journals including, Gravel, Cleaver, and Blotterature and was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. She’s published poetry in journals such as Poetry, Nimrod, & Prairie Schooner. She’s published three poetry chapbooks and her collection, Vestiges, was just released by Kelsay Books. 
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