Some Very Short Stories
He imagined what would happen if he called the police. For a split second he saw his house filling up with neat, sharp, extremely professional and inhumanely polite people. Their shirts would be scrooping, and one of their ties would be appropriate-yet-slightly-special, - say, scarcely dotted with some almost invisible bright-red infinity symbols. This image made him slightly sick. He stared at the ransom note once again. It looked fresh, sharp and clean. Scroopy. The sum required was unbelievable. He put the note down on his pillow and scrupulously checked the pockets of his jacket again. There was nothing else in there, except the expected dust and a long white thread running out of the cheap lining. Then he read the note again. The sum was stunning. He imagined calling his first wife, - kind, rich, soft and sentimental woman, the riches person he knew. But even for her the sum would be unimaginable. She would cry her eyes out for poor Lora while the police would be questioning her. In any case, she wouldn't be a suspect: that day, four months ago, she was in the hospital giving birth to her second son, a tiny, tough redhead with her new husband's crooked ears and button-like nose. He remembered that greedy feeling he had when he's got the first glance at their newborn daughter seventeen years ago, that primitive greedy desire to find his own features on her crimson, almost shapeless face. He was neither redhead nor crooked-eared; it took a couple of years to see that Veronica had his eyebrows. Her graduation was the reason he took the jacket out of the closet, put his hands into the pockets, found the ransom note. “We have your wife”, - it said. The sum was cosmic. Four months ago, the day he was buring his mother, almost a hundred people touched him, hugged him, patted him on different parts of his body. He looked at his wife. Lora was sleeping with her mouth open, as usual. An afternoon light falling through the brown curtains made her puffy face look dark-red. Almost a hundred people were there, a pretty thick crowd, full of pockets. He would never be able to gather such a sum. He took his nail scissors out of their leather pocket, cut the ransom note into a few large uneven pieces and carefully placed them on Lora's greyish dry tongue. Come on, - he thought, - breath them in. Come on, breath them in.
The war lasted eight days; they won. His dog was the only fatality. It was ridiculous. One newspaper ran a caricature. Another one called him and said they wanted an interview. He asked whether they were kidding. They said: “No”, - many people felt for him, they wanted to know more about him and his dog and the ways he was processing his grief. He asked whether they were going to pay him. They said they needed to think about it. That was the last time he heard of them.
He wrote that the biggest lesson he has learned this summer was something that happened about ten days before the end of the break. He was helping his grandmother to make him a turkey sandwich and cut a side of his left palm with the very point of the knife. It bled a little. Grandmother went to her room and by the sad, sweet smell that has reached his nostrils he knew she has opened her medicine drawer. A tiny, stunningly beautiful oxblood dome was slowly growing just below his little finger. Grandmother has aimed a band-aid's soft insides at the dome, and it was slowly sucked in by the soft velvety material. She's adjusted the sticky straps to the both sides of his palm and told him to make a fist two or three times so that the glue will settle properly. He did. Later, when he went out, a turkey sandwich in his cut hand, a cell phone in the his good one, he decided to take a pic of the wound and text it to Janney. The sandwich made this whole task pretty complicated, and at some point he had dropped the band-aid. It made a soft sound hitting a wet mess of the old autumn leafs. When he finished uploading a photo and looked down, at least ten ants were walking, pulling, sniffing, feeding off the brown stuff in the velvety middle of that band-aid. “Two minutes”, - he wrote in his essay, - “Believe it or not, teacher, but two minutes are all it takes them when it's time”.