Quick flash fiction for fun –
“Hooked” by D.S.
Wayne watched the stock market crashing again, made him sick to his stomach.
The economy choked, the fires burned, the floods drowned cities and towns, the climate screwed up.
He didn’t know if or when they should move, or where they should move to. The whole earth was turning to crap.
Even if they made a good change, they might drop from the plague at any moment.
Sheila carried the crock pot toward the front door. “I’ll be back in a flash,” she said lightly.
“The shelter again?”
“That’s the third pot of chili this week. They’re beyond gassy by now.”
“Oh, they like my chili, and it’s easy on our budget.” She winked and left.
“Dammit Sheila, you’re fiddling while Rome burns,” he mumbled.
He had to worry double time, cover all the bases, because she did not.
She was clueless.
His worries were like schools of fish wiggling around, too numerous to count.
It helped to keep the web on, the TV on, catastrophic news, keep clicking through the channels.
He poured in more chaos to dilute the important worries.
The worst fish got diluted with more fish, which made them almost disappear, but not quite.
They never disappeared.
At least the noise numbed him.
His belly hurt. With the market in the toilet, he felt destitute.
But he stayed to watch the financial commentary.
Idiots. Nobody had an answer for anything.
Then she came back, all flushed and cheery – from visiting those people, he presumed.
He couldn’t deal with her.
He took a nap.
He awoke to the sounds and smells of cooking. Maybe Italian.
Now the afternoon news.
More riots. More fires. More killings.
Terrifying battles right there in his face.
She floated through the living room like a liferaft.
He didn’t mean to bark at her, but he couldn’t stand it.
“Sheila, you have no idea. Everything is falling apart!”
“Everything but me, I guess,” she murmured, and disappeared into the kitchen again.
His jaw clenched. She was such a Pollyanna.
In a moment she was back. “I’m taking these cannelloni over to Peggy now.”
“What’s Peggy giving us?” he grumped. He did enjoy two different entrées whenever they swapped.
“It’s a surprise – that’s what makes it fun.”
“Listen, I’m feeling bad.” He held his chest.
“Honey, that TV gives you a lot of stress. Makes you uptight, you know?” She shut the front door behind her.
He listened to her car start up and roll away.
His heart felt tight.
Suddenly severe pain, dizzy, hard to breathe.
He dialed 911.
The EMTs came quick, shoved oxygen on his face, slapped stickers on his chest, hooked up a monitor, rolled him to the ambulance.
Sheila was still missing.
Gabbing with Peggy while he lay dying.
That was just ducky, dammit!
He gave his phone to the attendant, to get her butt to the hospital.
When she slipped into his room in the E.R., he glued his eyes to the TV and flipped channels.
“Wayne! Thank goodness you’re awake, how do you feel?” She squeezed his hand.
He gritted his teeth and stared at the screen. “I told you I felt bad. You left me.”
“I’m sorry, Wayne. I didn’t get it. I thought it was just stress.”
“You’re not the brightest tool in the shed, sometimes.”
She crossed her arms.
He flicked five more channels.
“I swear, Wayne. The TV ramps you up. Why do you feed into it?”
“Feed into it? This is reality!” He finally met her eyes, bumper to bumper. “This is the reality you ignore! One of us needs both feet in reality. Every freaking day I try to protect you. I stay current so I can avert disaster for you! If somebody dropped anthrax on us, you wouldn’t even know it! But I would! I would save us.”
“Would you? Could you?”
“And today, the moment I need you, you abandon me!”
“I apologize. I’m here now.”
“You keep your head in the clouds, dammit! Everything is going to hell and you don’t care!”
“Look. I do want the bird’s-eye view, the big picture. We’ll be okay. We live on this planet for a short while, then we move on to something better.”
“Oh right, let it burn, you don’t care!”
“I do care! But it doesn’t help to freak out!”
A young blue-scrubs doctor walked in. “Whoa, take a breath, everybody,” he said with a nervous grin.
Their faces froze.
“Okay,” said the doc. “Do you want the good news? Or the good news?”
Wayne blinked. “Whaddaya mean?”
“According to our tests, your heart is fine.”
“Fine? Why did it hurt so bad?”
“You probably had a panic attack. Adrenaline shoots up, stresses the heart. The pain feels like a heart attack, but – lucky you – it’s not.”
“We’ll have you follow up with a cardiologist anyhow. Mostly I think you gotta take down your stress level, drink more water, exercise. Get out of your head. De-stress.” He smiled and stepped back into the hallway. “Okay, Buddy, I’ll write this up, and you’re outa here.”
“Isn’t there a pill for this?” Wayne called out.
(Thanks to Creazilla for this fish image.)