This week we have three stories that play with the phrase “fly on the wall” in rather creative, unexpected ways. Two returning writers Kelli J. Gavin and Sunil Sharma, as well as first-time contributor Debjani Mukherjee, have given us readers three very distinct and yet equally enjoyable short stories this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
The Van That Went Missing
Kelli J. Gavin
I sat shaking outside the closed door. I learned back in the chair and rested my weary head on the wall. When the door closed, my heart started to race and my mouth was so dry. What was being said? Who spoke first? If I stood up and walked a bit closer to the door, would I be able to hear anything that was being said? I have never wished more than at that moment to be a fly on the wall.
My Freshman year of college, a campus van went missing. It hadn’t been seen in over 24 hours. Someone decided upon learning that the vehicle was missing, to report that I had something to do with the disappearance or knew something about it. Lots of practical jokes were played and often Freshmen were blamed. Usually, pointing the finger at someone was done in fun. But a campus van was missing and I was being blamed.
“I have nothing to do with the missing van. I have been the target of a few pranks directed at underclassmen. They just want to see how far this can go.” I started out with gusto.
I was quickly interrupted by the Student Affairs Officer. “Four people have come to the Student Development Office. One said that they overheard you talking about the van and that you know more about where it is. Two people said that they were told you were responsible for the van disappearing. And the fourth person only said that we should start asking you questions. Are you telling us all four are lying? What do they have to gain?”
“Yes. They are lying. They probably thought it would be funny to blame the Freshman girl who doesn’t even have a driver’s license. I have never even driven a car before!” I exclaimed.
“You don’t even drive? Ever?” The Campus Security Chief asked.
“Never in my life! This is a prank and I bet you anything the van has been hidden and you will find it soon.” I shouted louder than intended.
They looked at each other and then at me in total exasperation. I was excused from the office and then asked to wait in the lobby. Twenty minutes had already passed.
Both crossing their arms over their ample middle aged stomachs, they entered the lobby where I was waiting. “We just got a phone call from the athletic department. The van was found unlocked in Faith Village (married student housing) with the keys on the front seat. A note was left with the keys that said, “Sorry, needed a vehicle. Hot date.” You may be excused.”
They were silent. I laughed. I didn’t just l laugh. I cackled. Made a fool of myself laughing. I stood, bowed, and left as quickly as I could. I needed to get out of there before I let on that the boy I went on a date with was the one that referred to me as a “Hot Date.”
Kelli Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She abhors walks on the beach (sand in places no one wishes sand to be), candle lit dinners, (can’t see) and the idea of cooking two nights in a row (no thank you).
Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin
Blog found at email@example.com
Perhaps, it was meant to end like that only.
Masks— a room full of them!
—How are you?
I turned around to face a mask facing me.
—What is that?
—The Noh-men or Omote.
Replied Harsh, my ad-hoc host.
—Got a big collection.
He removed the mask: Welcome home, buddy!
—You keep on surprising.
—Well, the collection is worth three lakhs.
He said. I nodded.
—Harsh is crazy!
An announcement in a female voice.
—Meet your new sister-in-law, Smita, crazier than me.
We shook hands. Moved to the sea-facing balcony.
—How is the view? Harsh asked.
—Hmm! Nice! Yaar, it is spectacular! Worth 15 crores, this 24th-floor house in this part of the vertical Mumbai.
A waiter poured drinks. The sun-set indeed looked beautiful!
—Not for me. I do not drink.
—Come on! A French import. Cost me a fortune. A bit?
They both sipped.
—How is life?
—Where you live?
—Never heard about that place.
She shrugged haughtily.
—You are lucky.
I said. She remained grim, playing with her diamond ring.
—So, what is going on?
—As usual. Nothing exciting. You?
—Lots of excitement. A model as a wife. Wonderful kids. Going abroad for three-week vacation.
—Are you still there?
—Want to join my start-up?
I said nothing.
—Manage that. Will pay five times more—for old times’ sake. And a car and chauffeur to drive you around in the city.
I kept mum.
—Think over. Do not get stuck in that hell-hole for life. Move up—as I did.
—Not many old friends would make such a life-changing offer.
I smiled. Smita looked at my workday clothes and rolled her eyes.
—That is why I called you up for this meeting. A big offer for my old friend.
Just then, my cell rang.
I went inside the huge hall where different masks stared at me from varied angles. After I finished, I made for the balcony—that wide deck full of flowers and a privileged view of the city-sprawl.
Her voice made me stop.
I felt like becoming a fly-on-the-wall. Fixed—listening.
The voices grew louder. Smita’s tone was high. His, subdued.
—We go a long way, hon. His father was my father’s chum. Come from the same Kolkata. We spent college days together.
—Try to understand, hon.
—You try to understand, dear Harsh. Not worth our time and money.
—I know. He is not worth but we need honest guys…
A mask swayed in the sea-breeze.
Then others began dancing—frantically.
And an Oni mask fell off before me.
Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.
Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:
For more details, please visit the blog:
The aroma of the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon float from one room to the other. The rusty flavour of roasting onion on a low flame swirled out, from the kitchen and unfurled its blanket on the open varanda showing the cracks out its wall and the bedroom on the other side of it where Mithilesh was reading a book on contemporary art. Sunday is the only day when he finds some time for himself. Tito was playing In the Varendra. Mithilesh can see him from his armchair, striking the tiny metal balls with the bagatelle stick. This was his childhood board game which was kept safe by his mother and now gifted to Tito. Old games like this are vanishing from the toy shops nowadays. The various types of games they used to enjoy at their childhood are all getting replaced rapidly by the virtual game world of the computer.
The aroma of the cooking coming out of the kitchen is enough to tempt even a non-foodie like Mithilesh. His wife Keka is a great cook always coming up with delicious new dishes. Mithilesh always appreciates this quality of hers in his mind but never poured down in audible words. Unlike Keka he is a quite person less expressive in his emotions. Keka keeps on muttering about this but basic human nature is hard to change.
The aroma of the afghani chicken watered the mouth of the seven years old. Tito waddled to the kitchen with his bagatelle, his little hands with unstable balancing skills tilted the bagatelle and dropped all it’s little metal balls just in front of the kitchen door. The balls bounced off to different directions. Some behind the flower pot by the kitchen door. Some under the big wooden chest filled with age old bronze utensils. Some inside the kitchen. Tito put down the empty bagatelle in front of the kitchen door and scratched his head. He sat down on his knees bending his head low and got busy seeking the tiny balls from their hiding place. He slipped his little hand under the huge wooden chest and moved to and fro to search them. He got one and then another the little fingers continued hobbling around when he heard his mom talking over the phone. It’s Rudy uncle she was talking to. Rudy uncle is a musician he knows how to play the piano. They went to his house several times. Where there is a big piano kept in the huge black and white sitting room. Tito saw him playing it several times. Mom was still Talking to Rudy uncle. Tito got almost all of his balls and kept them back on the board again and this time he took it up carefully and slowly went back to his Papa blanching the bagatelle balls rolling all over the board.
“What is it, Tito?” Mithilesh asked softy pulling Toto near to his lap. “I lost two balls,” he said. I slipped the bagatelle in front of the kitchen door and all the balls rolled there and there. I got them back but two are still missing. “Why didn’t you ask Mom to find them back? “ Mithilesh asked in a pampering tone. “Mom was talking to Rudy Uncle. She was inviting him for lunch today. She was saying Mithilesh never appreciates any of my cooking, I don’t like to cook for him but I love to cook for you and today I cooked your favourite Afghani chicken. Please Come fast I will be waiting for you eagerly.” Mithilesh couldn’t say a word he froze on his armchair.
Debjani Mukherjee is a MBA in applied management and also a poet and a writer. Her poems, short stories and articles are published in several international anthologies and magazines.