Phil Temples – FAMOUS UNDERPRICES

“What does ‘C.S.I.’ stand for?”

Timmy mimicked the lines from one of Eliot and Barry’s famous Jordan’s Furniture television commercials. He glared at Andrew, challenging him to supply the well-known response.

“Cushions,” replied Andrew. “Sofas and, and …”

Andrew struggled to complete the popular television jingle, but faltered on the ‘I’ portion of the acronym. Tired of being teased and called stupid by Timmy, Andrew instead tried a different tact.

“Watch this, Pee Wee.”

Andrew grabbed a nearby saucer-shaped lamp shade and flung it into the Living/Dining Room section of the furniture store. It crashed into a large hutch almost thirty feet away, narrowly missing the glass front. Even in the dim light of the deserted store, Andrew could see that his shade-projectile had inflicted a noticeable ding on the hutch’s wood finish. Proud of himself, Andrew slumped down into a chair, sporting a boyish grin on his face.

“Meathead,” taunted Timmy. “You’ve seen that commercial as many times as I have and you still can’t remember what those guys say. I don’t know why I hang out with a dirt clod like you.”

As he verbally lashed out at Andrew, Timmy struggled to gain a purchase in a nearby chair. He managed to hoist his small, 3’5” high frame into the tall, padded leather chair situated in front of a deluxe computer desk/cabinet combo. From this vantage, Timmy’s dwarfish, physical status was momentarily negated; he was eye-to-eye with the much larger Andrew as they both sat.

“Says you, Tiny Tim.”

“Fuck you, Andrew,” Timmy growled.

The mentally slow Andrew was dangerously close to winning their verbal sparring match. It was common knowledge to Andrew and everyone else that Timmy’s nickname was ‘Bimmy’. But no one dared refer to him as the “Bite-sized Timmy” anymore. Timmy reacted violently whenever someone called him this. In fact, Timmy was involved in an altercation a few months earlier in a local bar. After using his taboo nickname in public company a former friend left the establishment sporting a nasty cut across his cheek and neck, courtesy of Timmy’s switchblade.

This particular exchange with his best (and only) friend, Andrew, was making Timmy so angry he could barely see straight.

Andrew wisely decided to change the subject.

“Hey, Timmy, let’s go get some popcorn and cookies.”

“Yeah—okay, Dumb Shit. Lead the way.”

Timmy was the “brains” of the odd duo. It was his idea to break into the furniture store. Actually, to trespass—since, technically speaking, they didn’t break in. Andrew and Timmy simply neglected to leave the store when closing time arrived. They weren’t breaking the law—merely bending it, Timmy assured Andrew. Andrew started worrying that the two might get into trouble.

Timmy and Andrew hid under a king-sized mattress/spring combo until the night manager turned out the lights and shut the back door. Timmy instructed Andrew to immediately head for the alarm console behind the customer service desk. There, he deactivated the alarm within the 60-second grace time by pressing the “Cancel” key.

“Look out world—it’s the J-Team!” Timmy screamed, prancing about like a puppet on strings. He and Andrew were going to have some fun tonight.

Andrew reached into the popcorn dispenser and grabbed several handfuls. He alternated between stuffing his mouth with popcorn and throwing some popped kernels at Timmy. Timmy grew quickly irritated at Andrew.

“Stop it, dumb shit. Gimme some of that.”

Andrew obediently scooped up a large serving in a paper bag and handed it down to Timmy.

When Andrew and Timmy weren’t trespassing in furniture stores, they hung out in an abandoned warehouse off Moody Street in Waltham. At 27, Andrew was seven years Timmy’s junior. A retarded, good-natured young man, Andrew lived with his parents in a small, single family home near Lexington and Main. Timmy, on the other hand, was far from good-natured. A mean drunk by reputation, Timmy had no permanent residence; the streets were his home. When he wasn’t hanging out with Andrew, Timmy roamed the water fronts and back alleys collecting bottles and other odd items to redeem or pawn. Most residents of this suburban Boston community who knew Timmy shunned the angry, little man.

Standing on his tip toes, Timmy reached up and fingered the coffee dispenser, letting the still-hot, steaming liquid spill down onto the counter top and dribble down to the floor.

“Want some?” asked Andrew.

“…Help yourself to our complimentary snacks and beverages!” exclaimed Timmy, gleefully. Timmy continued to keep his finger on the dispenser button for a full 30 seconds as the liquid pooled at his feet.

As they walked through Bedroom Sets, Timmy and Andrew came to a large vanity mirror. Timmy jumped up in the air to see himself. He was able to catch a glimpse each time he reached his maximum trajectory. Unsatisfied with the momentary glimpses, Timmy grabbed an umbrella from a nearby display and proceeded to poke at the mirror. He attempted to pivot it so that it would point downward in his direction.

The mirror did start to pivot downward. However, Timmy’s persistent prodding with the umbrella moved the mirror’s base perilously close to the edge of the vanity. The mirror came crashing down, shattering into a million pieces. Both Andrew and Timmy were startled.

“Jesus!” cried Andrew.

“Well, fuck it,” replied Timmy. “I’ve had ten years of bad luck. Now I get to add 13 more. No biggie. Let’s go, Tree Man. We’re on a mission from God.”

Later, Andrew wandered off and took the elevator to the second floor and started exploring. There were an incredible number of knickknacks—plants, books, statues, pictures—all strategically placed among the bedroom sets. Andrew grabbed some large peacock feathers sticking out of a vase and started to dance, waving the feathers to and fro. Andrew closed his eyes and imagined he was dancing along side many small pixies in a faraway, magical land. The pixies were polite and kind; unlike Timmy, they treated him with respect.

When Andrew opened his eyes, Timmy was standing in front of him, waving a peacock feather too. But Timmy had taken a cigarette lighter and set his feather on fire. Timmy jabbed the flaming feather menacingly towards Andrew’s crotch.

“…There is absolutely no pressure from our sales staff!” Timmy snarled.

“Stop it!” cried Andrew. Andrew took a step backwards.

“Aw—did I scare the po’ lil’ bay-bee?” mocked Timmy.

Timmy went over to a computer desk. He stood up on his tip-toes and placed his hands on the computer keyboard and began to type. Instead of a satisfying “click, click” sound, Timmy’s fingers pressed down instead on soft cardboard.

“What kind of crap is this?” cried Timmy. “This computer is FAKE! Jesus! How am I supposed to know if this is THE desk for me if HALF the goddamned stuff is FAKE!”

Timmy reached up with one arm and slid the fake keyboard and monitor onto the floor, then he proceeded to stomp on the props until they were reduced to lumps of shapeless cardboard. When he grew tired of stomping on it, Timmy dropped his trousers and proceeded to urinate on the disheveled remains.

Andrew was puzzled by Timmy’s behavior. He walked up behind him and said, “Timmy, there’s a bathroom on the third floor.”

Timmy turned around quickly and caught Andrew’s feet with his spray.

“Gotcha, Dufas!”

“That wasn’t very nice, Timmy.”

Timmy picked up his pants and ran over to a nearby sofa and crawled under it. He looked comical to Andrew: two little feet sticking out, no body. It appeared as though someone had dropped an oversized couch on the little man.

“Wat’cha doin’, Timmy?” asked Andrew.

“Looking for Jordan’s ‘Famous Underprices.’”

“Really?”

“OF COURSE NOT, DILDO BRAIN,” shouted Timmy. His voice was muffled coming from under the sofa.

Presently, Andrew heard a noise that sounded like fabric ripping. Timmy had cut out a large swath of material from under the couch. He inched his way out, feet first, his knife clenched between his teeth. In one hand Timmy held the coarse material. He took the knife out of his mouth, and said, “I always wondered what this shit was. Looks like horse’s hair, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it does. Do you suppose it hurts the horse when they cut off his tail?” asked Andrew, innocently.

“I imagine it does hurt like hell.” Timmy added, “How do you think you’d feel if I cut a piece out of your ass?” Timmy laughed, nastily.

Andrew ignored Timmy’s question. He walked over and stood underneath a ceiling lamp in the shape of a wagon wheel. He reached up and grabbed the lamp and proceeded to swing from it with his full weight. The lamp rotated about three-quarters of a circle. Then, the lamp, the fixture, and a large chunk of ceiling came crashing down on top of Andrew. Andrew fell to the floor with a loud thud.

Timmy was paralyzed by the comic event he’d witnessed. He tried to laugh but nothing came out except gasps and tears. It was the funniest thing Timmy had seen in a long time. He was doubled over, holding his diaphragm.

Andrew regained his senses. He glanced over at Timmy and was immediately alarmed. Timmy was in distress—in fact, Andrew thought that Timmy was choking to death. He rushed over to Timmy’s side and began to pound him on the back. Soon, Timmy’s wheezing attempts at laughter turned into angry howls, followed quickly by a stream of profanity.

Timmy reached up and slapped Andrew across the mouth.

Andrew momentarily forgot his size and strength. In a fit of anger he grabbed the little man by the neck and pinned him against the wall. Timmy’s profanity stopped; all his speech stopped. Timmy’s face turned blue as he gasped for breath.

“I hate you, Bimmy! I hate you! I hate you!” cried Andrew, repeatedly.

Andrew was filled with anger and rage. He failed to notice that Timmy repeatedly jabbed him in the side with a knife. Andrew continued his iron-grip on Timmy’s neck for what seemed like hours. Eventually, Timmy ceased his futile stabbing motions; the knife dropped to the floor, his hand came to rest at his side. Timmy stopped breathing.

Andrew held onto Timmy’s scrawny neck for another half minute before letting go. Suddenly he was aware of the large pool of blood on the floor beneath the two of them. Although Andrew felt a dull pain in his chest and abdomen, he was completely unaware of the severity of his injuries. He attributed the pain to his fear and anger resulting from the fight.

Andrew felt remorse for making Timmy turn blue and—he believed—for causing Timmy to stick himself.

“You’re a mean, little man,” muttered Andrew.

And a little later: “Sometimes you can be nice.”

Maybe Timmy would be nicer, now. Andrew really didn’t hate him, after all. He wanted them to be friends again.

“I’m sorry that I called you ‘Bimmy’. And I don’t hate you.”

“Please wake up, now.”

“…Timmy?”

Andrew waited for dawn and the store to open. He cradled Timmy’s lifeless body in his arms and dreamed of pixies.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Temples grew up in Bloomington, Indiana but has lived in and
around Boston for the past thirty years. He works as a computer
systems administrator at a Boston area university. For over ten years,
Phil has written flash and short sci-fi/fantasy primarily for his own
enjoyment.

His stories have appeared (or will soon appear) in several online
journals, including: Bewildering Stories, The Zodiac Review, The World
of Myth, InfectiveINk, Daily Frights 2013, Bleeding Ink Anthology, and
Stupefying Stories. Phil recently produced a full-length
murder-mystery novel, “The Winship Affair” that will be published by
Blue Mustang Press in 2013.

In addition to his writing activities, Phil is a singer in a garage
band as well as an avid ham radio operator.
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