Sunday, 1 February 2009

Flash Fiction: Nursery Noir

Nursery Noir
Nathan Ryder

I'm sat at my desk when the quiet's broken by a dame. I put down the blocks I'm building with – maybe a house, maybe a doggie, I haven't decided – and walk across the classroom.
My name is Jonah Jones, I'm three years, three months and some change old, and I'm a gumshoe.

Lisa's a sweet girl. Aside from wailing she isn't much for talking. I'm a sucker for a redhead though, and Lisa think she's a princess. I'm sure her parents do too. Go figure.
She's stood there next to the dress up corner, crying like a kid cutting her teeth. I have a quarter of a grape stuck behind my teeth, and I chew it over whilst standing there waiting for her to calm down. She's way too upset to get any sense out of, and I wouldn't expect miracles from a dame when she ain't crying.
My eyes wander and I notice the ripped princess costume in front of her. I stoop to grab it, feeling my pull-ups ride up. I smell something funny but I'm dry; it's early – not even milk time – and I'm usually fine but there's plenty of time for things to go wrong. I try to hand her the torn pink dress and she goes on crying even louder.
Then something goes wrong. I feel the hand of Miss on my shoulder, turn and knew I've been tapped as a fall guy.

Miss gives me a dressing down. I stand there and take it, mind elsewhere; my Mom's sure to hear about this.
Lisa isn't talking, can barely string a sentence together anyway. Maybe she doesn't know, but someone does. Someone's happy for me to take the fall. I might not be able to convince Miss, I might not be able to convince Lisa, but I will find the truth.
I vow that I'll find the rat and make him pay.
Then Miss puts me in Time Out. My investigation is on hold.

It feels like a week, but it's probably only five minutes. Still, I'm ready to snap by the time she lets me out to play with the paints. I stand at an easel and hold my arms out for Miss's Assistant to put an apron on me.
I begin to paint a picture of the crime.
Lisa's favourite dress has been ruined, torn almost in two. Miss has me collared for the job, and Lisa's unable to get me out of it because she's a big crybaby. Way I figure, it's a senseless crime, but who knows? The world is full of crazy broads and bastards (a bad word I heard my Daddy say) and none more so than in the Nursery.
Chubby Smith sidles up to to me and asks what all that was about. Nothing seems to get by Chubby, and for a minute I consider asking him if he saw anything. Information is never free from Chubby, I tell him to scram for now. He takes off smiling though, and I have a terrible feeling that I'm going to have to speak to him again before all this is over.

I'm trying to figure the angle, and have ended up with what I think is a nice picture of a tree, but it's no help. I go to see Mr Bear.
Sure, he's a big stuffed bear, but he usually helps. We talk for a while. Well, I talk, and he listens. I sit on top of one of his legs and look at his immobile face. I know he isn't real, and at the same time I know he's taking it all in.
I tell him everything, and just as I'm finishing I smell something funny again – not funny ha-ha either. I look up to see Stinky Tyler grinning at me. The smell from him takes my breath away for a second; realisation dawns as he speaks.
“Play time's over. Boss wants to seeya.”

Miss is the authority, but the Organisation is something else. I've known about them for a few weeks now, but never crossed paths with them directly. Before me now, hiding in plain sight, their Boss, Chubby Smith. Stinky Tyler's hand is on my shoulder as he leads me over to the sandbox.
“Can't have you talking Jonah,” says Chubby, studying the tower of a sandcastle.
“I had next to nothing until you and Stinky poked your beaks in,” I reply, looking around casually. All the guys I'd figure as bad apples in the class: Jimmy Crayons, Wet Tony, Wheezy Jackson.
“How about now?” asks Chubby as his eyes meet mine.
I shrug.
“A protection racket, right? You get 'donations' from other kids, their favourite things stay nice and unbroke.”
Chubby smiles.
“You're not so smart are you though Chubby?” He frowns and stands up.
“You didn't have Lisa figured as a screamer, did you Chubby?” I continue, “You knew she wouldn't talk – hell, she can't – but you didn't have a head for these hysterical dames.”
“And you, you stupid baby, you just wander in and start asking questions, thinking about things...” mutters Chubby as he signals his boys to come over.
I think fast; they'll work me over, nothing obvious, and I'll have to keep shtum.
Only one thing I can think of can get me out of this, even though it pains me to do it.
I'm a big kid now, but even big kids slip up. I let it go, and feel my pants filling and start to cry. For a second Chubby laughs, thinking that I'm not such a tough guy, but then as my wailing gets louder he wises up.
Too late.
Miss and the Classroom Assistant are there, just as I'm surrounded by these slightly bigger boys, my pants smelling ripe. There's a few explanations for the scene that they're seeing, but in all the obvious ones, I'm the victim.
I smile through my tears as Chubby starts getting told off.

Miss found other kids' toys and possessions hidden in the sandbox. They started asking questions and Chubby started crying. My guess is it'll be a long time before he even thinks about anything like that again.
Half an hour later I'm changed and back at my desk, trying to figure out from the blocks whether I was working on a house or a doggie. Neither makes much sense.
“Th-thank you.”
I look up and see Lisa smiling, standing awkwardly, shifting from one foot to the other. I wink at her and indicate the chair next to me, pushing half of the blocks in front of her place.
“You know doll,” I say, leaning back and grinning, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...”

*
Creative Commons License
This short story is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License. Feel free to repost and share it with others, so long as you credit me (Nathan Ryder, 2009) as the original author and link back to this page. It would also be nice if you dropped me a comment!

2 comments:

noisms said...

This is the best one you've done so far.

zero_zero_one said...

Cheers! I really enjoyed writing it, was thinking that it had turned out alright, but always good to hear that someone else liked it.